HDTV Bargains Page 3

Philips 46PP9302 Philips is known for its flashy plasma and LCD TVs, but it also makes plenty of traditional tube-based models. One look at the 46PP9302's all-silver finish and slim, tapered cabinet, and it's obvious that the high-tech aura of the company's flat-panel TVs has rubbed off on this set, the lowest priced Philips HDTV. Its height is perfect for a console model, and I liked its monolithic façade, which is broken only by a strip of control buttons directly below the screen. The A/V input on the side of the cabinet can be easily reached for camcorder hookups. Philips 46PP9302

HDTV connections on the back panel include a set of component-video jacks that accept both 480p and 1080i signals and a VGA-style RGB input. Most new high-def satellite receivers feature a DVI output, so I would have preferred a DVI jack. I was also surprised that the set's second component-video input handles only standard 480i signals, which means you can't use it with a progressive-scan DVD player. Philips 46PP9302 back

Philips 46PP9302 remoteThe remote control has a partially backlit keypad, and a flip-up door on the bottom half conceals additional buttons, including the ones for toggling between the TVs inputs and changing its display formats. The options include 4:3 and 16:9, plus a number of zoom and stretch modes. And if you hate black bars, selecting the Auto mode automatically eliminates them through a combination of zoom and stretch. But these display modes are active only for standard (480i) signals, however, so if you're using a progressive-scan DVD player, make sure it has aspect ratio control to correctly display both standard and widescreen images.

A 35-point manual adjustment really lets you get in and fine-tune the convergence of the set's red, green, and blue tubes. There are five picture presets as well as a Personal picture mode that you can customize for each of the TV's inputs. One adjustment, Eye Fidelity, gives you Interlaced and Progressive options for upconverting standard signals. Both of these appeared to bump programs up to 480p resolution, but I'd go with Progressive since the Interlaced mode introduced some jitter. And since neither mode provided 2:3 pulldown for film-based programs, some scenes in the movies that I watched had jagged stairstep artifacts on diagonal lines.


DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 44 1/2 x 52 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches WEIGHT 150 pounds PRICE $1,600 MANUFACTURER Philips, Dept. S&V, 64 Perimeter Center E., Atlanta, GA 30346; www.philips.com; 800-531-0039

After selecting the Warm color-temperature setting and making picture adjustments, I put on the Resident Evil DVD. When Alice entered one of the mansion's ornately decorated bedrooms, I could see a fair amount of detail in the curtains and bedspreads, as well as in the shadowy areas of the hallway she wandered into next. And in an earlier shot where she wakes up on the marble floor of a bathroom, her skin looked natural and her eyes were a striking shade of blue. Because the Philips set strongly emphasized reddish tones, however, I had to knock back the color control a few steps, which made otherwise vivid colors paler than normal.

High-def Monday Night Football looked crisp, although a bit softer overall than on the other two sets. Even so, I could clearly see the mesh texture of the players' uniforms in closeups. Switching over to an HDTV cooking program on PBS, I could see the pebbled texture of an eggshell in a closeup shot. High-def football and cooking shows airing at the same time? I guess there's finally something on for pretty much everyone when it comes to HDTV.

Philips's 46PP9302 is a very cool-looking HDTV that offers good performance at a really reasonable price. If you're looking to go high-def without the high prices, it's a fine option.

PDF: In the Lab PDF: Features Checklist