With Philips' extensive range of large LCD televisions, it's all too easy to forget that the Dutch company also boasts a nifty line in plasma screens, and has done so for a long time.
The 42PF9967D is its range-topping 42in plasma - a fact reflected in the £2,300 price - and comes brimming with features like Ambilight, Pixel Plus 2 and an all-important high-definition- compatible DVI input. There's even a motorised stand, which swivels at the touch of a button on the remote control.
The 42PF9967D is easy enough to get to grips with, although menu navigation seems a little sluggish in comparison with some rivals - and indeed with the system seen on Philips' high-end LCDs. The first time you switch on, it moves straight into the auto tuning menu, so all you need to do is hook up your aerial and let the TV do the rest.
Connections are decent, but not among the best we've seen. Our main quibble is that the Philips' DVI input has to be used for hooking up component, VGA or HDMI - and you'll also need an adaptor or appropriate cable. So if you want to connect two of these sources simultaneously, you're out of luck.
Thankfully, the 42PF9967D's performance is altogether less of a disappointment. Firstly, Ambilight is a great feature in our opinion. As odd as it sounds - two lamps at the back of the set shine different coloured lights onto the wall behind it - it has a subtle but noticeable improving effect on picture quality. And it also looks really, really cool. This TV uses the original version, rather than the updated one seen on some other Philips screens, but there isn't a huge difference in effectiveness.
Likewise, you get regular Pixel Plus 2 here, not Pixel Plus 2 HD. Pixel Plus has always been something of a 'Marmite' processing system (you either love it or you hate it), and this is very much the case here. On the upside, it certainly ramps up picture detail. When we gave an episode of Lost on DVD a spin, we found Sawyer's stubble and Kate's freckles to be more pronounced, and the jungle foliage bright and vivid.
On the downside, however, the odd motion artefact sometimes cropped up during camera pans. Oddly, this occurred more during our tests with regular TV and DVD footage than with fast-moving video games. Still, those that don't like the image that Pixel Plus 2 produces can always switch the processing off. Overall, though, the 42PF9967D's pictures are noticeably poorer than those from Philips' latest LCDs. The main difference is a weaker contrast ratio, which gives a little less depth to dark areas of the image.
The set's sound is generally impressive, and the Virtual Dolby Surround mode actually works effectively towards creating a wider soundfield. It's also worth noting that the TV can replace your home cinema system's centre speaker, with a socket at the back providing the link.
This is a decent TV, but it demonstrates how far plasma has fallen behind LCD, at least in terms of Philips' sets. It's cheaper than the equivalent Philips LCD, but doesn't come close to it in terms of performance.