To be honest, we didn't really want to like the Philips 37PFL9604. With its £1,200 price tag, it's easily one of the costliest TVs for its size, so we felt it would be a bit predictable if it was also the best.

However, the 37PFL9604 has turned out to be so blatantly superior that any concerns about predictability have given way to puppy love.

The 37PFL9604 sets about the seemingly Herculean task of justifying its price right away, having an extremely eye-catching design. Part of its appeal is down to the unusual combination of solid aluminium and charcoal grey in its bezel.

Light fantastic

The rest comes from Philips' Ambilight system, which sees coloured light sympathetic to the colour content of the picture spilling from the TV's left and right sides.

Further confirmation of this 37-incher's premium nature can be found in the connections: five HDMIs take the connections standard to a new level only seen on premium sets.

Also noteworthy is a USB port able to handle an astonishing variety of file formats, including – deep breath – AAC LC; MP3; AC3; LPCM; .alb slideshow files; JPEGs; GIFs; PNGs; MPEG1/2/4; AVI H.264/ MPEG4 AVC; and WMV9/VC1.

The 37PFL9604 can play the same file types from a DLNA-certified PC, either wirelessly, via a built-in Wi-Fi system, or courtesy of its Ethernet port.

Even better, the last two connection options can also be used to access the depths of the internet.

Unlike the online services of any other TV brand, the 37PFL9604's package includes a full web browser alongside some really nice 'home' content specially formatted for TV navigation.

Best of all is the killer app: Philips' Perfect Pixel HD video processing engine. With its silky smooth Perfect Natural Motion element and ability to handle 500 million pixels per second, this is arguably the most powerful picture processing system available on a mainstream TV.

Picture perfect

In full swing, this Philips' high-definition pictures are jaw-dropping. Fine detailing is peerless; colours are among the boldest and most accurate we've seen; motion handling is amazingly fluid and crisp (with Perfect Natural Motion engaged, obviously) and black levels are exceptionally profound by LCD's standards.

Perhaps even more exceptional, though, is the standard-definition performance. The amount of sharpness and detail the Perfect Pixel HD engine adds to a humble DVD or Freeview broadcast has to be seen to be believed.

What's more, Perfect Pixel HD delivers its dramatic effects without generating nearly as many processing side effects as earlier Philips processing engines.

As if all this wasn't enough, the 37PFL9604 also sounds superb, with far more power, clarity and dynamic range than any of its rivals. The 37PFL9604's high price forces to us look exceptionally hard for problems, but, aside from a slightly limited viewing angle, all we could come up with is the fact that the TV is unusually labour intensive.

You have to regularly revisit things like the noise reduction, Natural Motion and 100Hz settings to keep getting the best picture quality. That said, it's a very minor concern – and one that scarcely detracts from the overall brilliance of this full HD gem.

Give it the attention it truly deserves, however, and the 37PFL9604 really delivers a masterclass in what LCD technology is capable of.

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