Philips 42pfl7404h

At the heart of the 7404 is Philips' Pixel Precise HD engine, not to be confused with the more powerful Perfect Pixel HD engine found on the company's high-end sets.

If you're not already familiar with the technology, allow us to recap: this picture engine is a descendant of the top-end Perfect Pixel HD engine and is capable of processing 250 million pixels per second.

Its purpose is to put the boot into bothersome picture artefacts and boost detail levels to eye-popping levels. What's more, the 14-bit colour processing generates four trillion different hues, about the same number found in the studio décor of Loose Women.

Philips 42pfl7404h

Under Pixel Precise HD's rather large umbrella you'll find a host of modes designed to enhance various aspects of the picture. These include 100Hz LCD, which ups the refresh rate using Double Frame Insertion to reduce motion blur, resulting in a response time of 3ms, which Philips claims is twice as fast as 'conventional' LCD sets.

Pricier Philips sets up the refresh rate to 200Hz using Clear LCD technology, but from our experience the 100Hz version also does a great job of removing motion blur.

It's joined by HD Natural Motion, which uses complex algorithms to estimate movement, thereby eliminating judder and making movement look much smoother than regular LCD pictures.

That's ideal for watching movie material with a low frame rate (such as 1080/24p Blu-ray films), or stuff that contains a lot of fast movement like sport, although in the past we've found that HD Natural Motion can sometimes make movement look a little unnatural.

Excellent contrast

In terms of contrast, the 7404 generates a ratio of 80,000:1 thanks to its Dynamic Contrast mode, which is designed to offer bright pictures, deep blacks and decent definition during dark scenes.

There are more than enough connections to go round. Four HDMI inputs cater for all your HD sources, and one of these is handily fitted on the side. Fork out for one of Philips' top-end sets and you get a fifth HDMI, but in all honesty four should suffice for the average user. You also get component, PC, composite and S-video inputs.

Also on the side is a USB port, which lets you play MP3, JPEG and MPEG-1/-2/-4 (AVC) videos – it's pleasing that Philips has included this feature despite the 7404's midrange price tag. You also get two RGB Scarts and a coaxial digital audio output for piping sound to your amp.

There is, of course, a Freeview tuner on board with an 8-day EPG and common interface slot that lets you add pay TV channels. It would be wrong to expect a TV at this price point to sport a Freeview HD tuner, but if you buy this TV it does mean you'll need to add a set-top box if you want terrestrial hi-def when it comes to your region.

Among the other features is a range of picture presets, including Game, Movie, Vivid and the eco-friendly Energy Saving mode. Audio-wise you get Incredible Surround, which is designed to make sound from the invisible speaker system hidden below the screen seem more expansive.

Internet TVs are all the rage right now and Philips' higher-end TVs boast its Net TV service, which zaps web content to the screen over a wireless connection. This feature unsurprisingly isn't included on the 7404, which is a shame but not a deal-breaker.