Philips 32PF7521D review

Philips goes back to basics

Our Verdict

Needs to be better with SD pictures or a good few hundred pounds cheaper


  • HD pictures can look OK

  • two HDMIs


  • Colour and black level issues with quality sources

  • too expensive

Philips' new LCD range boasts TVs equipped with all manner of cutting-edge features and designs. But the 32PF7521D isn't one of those.

Instead it's designed to hit an affordable price point - as you can pretty much tell just by looking at its 'budget' design that's definitely more in keeping with the lower end of the market than the premium end.

On a brighter note, the connections include two HDMI inputs - a radical improvement over the connection stinginess of many previous Philips' LCDs. The HDMIs will take PC feeds too, while elsewhere there's a component video input, all the usual TV basics and two jacks indicating the presence of a built-in digital tuner.

These jacks are a CAM slot for adding subscription services to your basic Freeview package, and a digital audio output for sending Dolby Digital 5.1 - should Freeview broadcast it - to an AV receiver.

The 32PF7521D boasts a native resolution of 1366 x 768, and thus earns an HD Ready badge. More unexpectedly, it also wears a Pixel Plus badge - but here's the catch. For Philips has loaded the set with its first generation image processing technology. This means it lacks all manner of refinements introduced in later Pixel Plus versions - including various noise and colour reduction techniques and the tools for processing HD material without having to downscale to SD first.

Sadly, the 32PF7521D's pictures sometimes look as dated as its Pixel Plus system, so when it comes to black levels, the TV's unpromising claimed 800:1 contrast ratio was confirmed by noticeable greyness over dark parts of the picture.

Colours are affected by some orangey reds and flesh tones, and look slightly pallid overall - problems which get more noticeable the further down the source quality chain you go, becoming quite serious at digital tuner level.

A more minor complaint is that the picture can look a bit gritty and harsh - a reminder, perhaps, of how old this set's Pixel Plus system is.

We came across an operational quirk too, as the 32PF7521D's HDMI jack had more trouble than most syncing with our resident Marantz DV9600 DVD player.

On the plus side, the picture can look detailed and sharp, motion is reasonably clear, and with HD footage our noise and colour complaints reduce drastically. In fact, with very bright, colourful, largely static HD shots the TV can suddenly produce what's actually a really pretty picture. It's just a pity the conditions required for such moments are rare.

The 32PF7521D's sound is as expected from a fl at TV and needed more bass, but the soundstage is wide, clearly defined and reasonably free of harshness and distortion.

Our biggest complaint about the 32PF7521D is its price. At around the £900 mark it could have made a solid budget option, but at £1200 it's in the same price region as the latest 32in sets from the likes of Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba - and we're afraid that it just doesn't hold its own against them. John Archer