A well-specified contender, Philips' 32PFL9613 has got the price tag to match, but unlike some premium wannabes, this one is worth every penny.

The love affair begins as soon as you look at the set: that slender, gloss black screen surround, offset by a transparent fin that curves forward around its outer edge, it really is gorgeous.

Its aesthetic appeal is further enhanced by Philips' Ambilight technology, where pools of coloured light spill from the TV's sides in a display that's been proven to make viewing easier on the eyes.

The positive impression grows as we set about cataloguing its enormous set of connections, of which the USB can play multiple file formats, including MP3s, JPEGs, slideshows and MPEG video, while the ethernet port can import files from your PC. Note, though, this port is not internet-enabled.

Exploring the onscreen menus, meanwhile, uncovers an intimidating array of options. Most are associated with the TV's Perfect Pixel HD video system. Motion, detail, colour and contrast processing... there's little you can't tinker with.

Which is just as well, since if there was ever a TV that demanded extensive and repeated picture tweaking, it's the 32PFL9613. If you don't continually adjust such aspects as the Perfect Natural Motion tool, to suit different footage types, you'll regularly notice distracting processing glitches.

Performance

If you can commit to giving it the attention it deserves, though, the set produces some of the finest 32in LCD pictures ever.

Sharpness and detail levels, for instance, are extraordinary with HD. But so powerful is the Perfect Pixel HD engine that it also makes standard-definition material look closer to high definition than any other 32in TV around. .

The combination of 100Hz and Philips' HD Natural Motion processing also means there's practically no loss of sharpness when pictures get moving.

The 32PFL9613 impresses greatly with its colours, too. They're extremely well saturated dynamic, blended with almost incredible finesse and are superbly natural in tone. It helps the colours, too, that they're really given room to shine by one of the deepest black level responses we've seen from a 32in liquid crystal TV.

As if the extravagant picture glories weren't reason enough to make a potential buyer drool covetously over the 32PFL9613, the set is also endowed with superb audio strengths, serving up levels of dynamic range, bass and treble clarity that seem to defy the laws of physics given the size of chassis they're coming from.

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