Plasma in Steps Page 4

Philips 50PF9830A

A stylish set up


The Short Form
PHILIPSUSA.COM / 800-531-0039 / $4,499 ($5,299 LIST) / 55.75 x 30.75 x 4.125 IN / 132 LBS
•Crisp-looking HDTV pictures. •Sleek, attractive design. •Swiveling TV stand.
•Single custom picture preset for all inputs. •Mediocre shadow detail. •Dark scenes look patchy.
test bench
The Philips 50PF9830A displayed 720p-format HDTV programs at full resolution. Choosing its Warm color-temperature preset resulted in reasonably natural-looking images, but red push from the set's color decoder forced me to reduce the color level in the picture menu. Full lab results
When watching movies and HDTV, bigger screens are better, and at $4,499 - a sweet deal for a 50-inch plasma TV - the 50-inch Philips 50PF9830A makes it tempting to step up in size. But if the lure of extra inches isn't enough, this set's ultra-stylish looks are bound to grab you. The glossy black-bordered screen is flanked by silver speakers, and the TV comes with a swiveling glass stand. Aside from a big Philips logo, the front panel is super clean - control buttons, inputs, and a set of flash-media slots and USB ports are stowed away on the sides.

The Philips has a built-in HDTV tuner and an up-to-date suite of video connections, including two HDMI inputs. But its most notable extra is Ambilight 2 backlighting. This feature, unique to Philips TVs, throws colored light against the wall behind the TV that shifts in hue and intensity to match the changing image onscreen (it can also be set to beam a steady white backlight).

The set's slim remote control feels substantial and has a clean layout. Along with providing cool features like one-touch access to digital snaps on a flash-memory card, it lets you cycle through video sources and select from seven display modes. But you can watch HDTV programs only in the 16:9 Widescreen mode or in Automatic, which zooms in on 4:3 pictures to fill the screen.

SETUP & USE When I plugged in my antenna to test the tuner, the TV grabbed all of the digital channels in my area, but its reception of both PBS-HD and CBS-HD were intermittent unless I realigned the antenna. After testing the more far-out Ambilight effects, I preferred to configure it as a simple warm, white backlight at a constant brightness.