Philips 15PF9936 review

Does this 15in LCD make the perfect bedroom buddy?

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Our Verdict

Great price and images, but few inputs. Could please web addicts and radio heads

For

  • Resolution is high-def capable

    Great image quality with contrast and colours

Against

  • Only one Scart connection

There's a lot of competition in the market for bedroom LCDs, and we don't just mean competitive pricing. We've seen a host of unusual extras of late - LCDs that double up as all-digital PC monitors, LCDs equipped with widescreen for watching movies, screens with embedded Freeview tuners, and even HD-ready screens - and this Philips is no different.

An advanced and (in theory) HD-ready 1,024 x 768 XGA screen, an analogue PC input, and a novel FM tuner are the extras of interest here. Sadly, however, the 15PF9936 has a 4:3 ratio screen, and is therefore not up to correctly displaying widescreen movies.

Despite the add-ons, the 15PF9936's low price tag indicates that it's a budget model - something that is confirmed by its connections. There's only one Scart (although it is RGB-enabled, for the best pictures), which sits alongside S-video and composite inputs.

So, despite the screen's high-definition-capable resolution, high-def TV doesn't get a look in. You'd be better off pairing this set with a media centre and waiting for the internet to crank up to HD, because there aren't even any component video inputs for analogue high-def. There's no digital Freeview tuner either.

Our mood improved greatly when we checked out the Philips' pictures via RGB Scart, using the love triangle antics of star-vehicle Closer as a test disc.

You may think that Natalie Portman strutting around smoky clubs in her underwear would look good on any TV, but this set has enough in the way of contrast and colour skill to show both the film's shadowy footage with plenty of detail and its bright footage with vibrant and natural colours.

Other aspects of the 15PF9936 are a bit of a let down, however. Aside from the 4:3 aspect ratio, the viewing angle is poor and sound isn't up to much - unsurprising, as speakers with a scant 3W of power were never going to impress. Even some fairly basic PC speakers would do a better job, but the audio is reasonable for TV viewing.

Bedroom antics

Make no mistake, though - this is great TV for the bedroom. A picture of such quality on such a small screen is a real boon, albeit a 4:3 ratio one. The 15PF9936 also makes a fine PC monitor, with its 1,024 x 768 screen able to get the best out of internet footage as well as DVDs. Moreover, you'll struggle to find a comparable LCD of this size for £460.

With both PC and DVD skills, it seems to us that this Philips is playing for a place in a kid's bedroom. Of course, that FM tuner is a poor substitute for a Freeview tuner, the latter of which would give you a multitude of new channels and access to all UK radio stations as well.

But, while corners have been cut to get it down in price, paired with some decent PC speakers the 15PF9936 would make a great 'hub' for users with a PC full of music and video.

It's poorly connected, but able to produce a quality of image with DVDs that's not yet matched by any other LCD manufacturer at this screen size or price. The Philips 15PF9936 is a niche product that will please those who realise and accept what it can and cannot do.