Philips 42pfl7404h

If you've ever dreamed of owning a Philips TV but don't have the budget for one of its incredible top-end sets, then the 42PFL7404 is a brilliant compromise.

Unlike some rival budget or mid-range sets, the 7404 doesn't feel overly stripped down or basic – you get a lot of TV tech for your money and there's a healthy dose of features to keep you entertained.

OK, there's no Net TV and the picture modes aren't the most powerful in Philips' arsenal, but the versions included here still deliver very good results. Some of the omissions are harder to swallow than others – Ambilight for one – but on the whole this set is a terrific choice for people on a sub-£1,000 budget.

We liked:

What stands out is the Philips' outstanding picture quality. Hi-def material looks eminently crisp and clean, and this clarity is helped no end by the complete absence of judder or motion blur – hats off to HD Natural Motion and 100Hz LCD.

Colours also blaze from the screen and there's some surprisingly deep, solid blacks in the picture too.

Aside from picture quality, there's lots more to admire. The 7404 is incredibly easy to use, thanks largely to the simple-but-effective on-screen design, and despite the inevitable cost cutting there's still a decent amount of features on board, including detailed optimisation tools, a USB port that supports playback of several digital media formats and a healthy array of sockets.

Let's not forget either that this is one good looking TV, almost as attractive as the price in fact – at around £750 the 7404 is terrific value, which will be music to the ears of anyone looking for a feature packed 1080p LCD with decent performance on a tight budget.

We disliked:

As much as we love the images mustered up by the 7404, it has to be said that they're not perfect. On occasion the 100Hz LCD and HD Natural Motion processing cause some shimmering around moving objects, and standard definition pictures do look a tad waxy at times and contain a noticeable amount of noise.

We're also slightly miffed that Philips couldn't stretch to some form of Ambilight – even the bog standard version would have been better than nothing – and some people may be aggrieved at the lack of Net TV access.

Verdict:

Anyone with a sub-£1,000 budget would be absolutely mad to ignore this impressive LCD proposition, which boasts features-a-plenty, solid performance and a terrific operating system.

This review was written in conjunction with:

What Video & Hi-Def TV magazine

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