One the first things that you notice about this Philips' 26in LCD is just how elegant it is. Favouring a glossy white over the grey finish of its counterparts in the same range, the 26PF9946 has style that more expensive displays should envy.
However, beauty is only skin deep, and can't hide the fact that this screen is lacking in the connections department. Although it can take PC feeds, it doesn't have either progressive scan or all-important high-def inputs - no HDMI, DVI, or even component video. Seeing as it's a relatively small screen, you may be able to forgive these shortcomings, especially because it has some other rather neat features and a very tempting asking price - we spotted it online for as little as £900.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this 1,280 x 768 screen is the inclusion of an FM radio tuner. This should help you to save a bit of space in your living room, as well as give footie fans bored of the BBC's commentators the option to listen to Radio 5 Live's commentary during England games. Or maybe that's just us.
There's more to this display than that nifty tuner - it also sports some pretty decent pictures. Using Philips' Active Control System, it applies continual adjustments to several different facets to optimise the picture to whatever you're watching. In our test the 26PF9946 performed well on nearly all fronts. Colours looked from Milwaukee, Minnesota; in scenes where Albert is out on the icy pond listening to the fish, the vivid orange of his overalls glowed healthily, and there was plenty of detail on show.
Also of note is the 26PF9946's black level response. During our test movie's night scenes, where Albert's would-be father escapes with a trunk full of photocopied cash, there is little of the greyness that is often seen on lower-contrast screens. While not quite as good as other more expensive displays, it is impressive when you consider the relatively low price of this Philips.
The 26PF9946's talent for fine detail didn't go unnoticed either. From the tiny texture of wood to the grain of stone walls, everything was beautifully rendered. And the dot crawl that some other Philips screens suffer from has been eliminated here. Where this screen does fall down in terms of picture quality, however, is when it is displaying non-digital sources, such as analogue television. In such cases there was noticeable smearing, sporadic noise and decreased quality of colour tone.
Sound-wise, the 26PF9946's speakers surprised us - they're much better than their diminutive size suggests they'll be. With Dolby Virtual sound, our test movie's drum-heavy sequences are delivered with clarity and bass is nicely rounded, while treble tones are crisp and precise.
Despite the lack of high-definition or progressive scan support, Philips' 26PF9946 has a lot to offer. It looks lovely, its picture quality is great and it sounds pretty darn good, too. If you were being really picky, you might expect a slightly lower price tag. However, for what you get this is still good living room solution, and it's that excellent picture performance that gives it a very respectable four-star rating. Ultimately, although it performs above its station, its limitations in terms of the HD future may be too much for some to bear.