Presumably having noticed the rather huge price gulf between its flagship PF9830 LCD TVs and the sets lower down in its flat TV range, Philips has come up with a classic middle man in the 32PF9967D.
To keep the price £1,500 lower than that of the 32PF9830, it uses last year's Pixel Plus 2 processing rather than the new Pixel Plus 2 HD (designed specifically with high-def sources in mind).But, you also actually gain a digital tuner. Weird.
The 32PF9967D is less extravagant aesthetically than the 32PF9830 - but its satiny silver outer frame and matte black inner frame still coexist very pleasantly, with gentle curves rounding things off a treat.
Connectivity is disappointing, though, as a single DVI socket has to triple up as a component video input, DVI/HDMI input and PC input. So if you need to connect more than one of these, you'll have to keep swapping the connections round.
Still, this connectivity is still sufficient to earn the 32PF9967D HD Ready status, and it's backed up by such goodies as three Scarts, a centre channel line input, a subwoofer line out, a CAM slot and a digital audio output (for potential digital terrestrial Dolby Digital broadcasts).
Another key feature is Ambilight, Philips invention that soothes your viewing experience by creating a pool of light (sympathetically coloured to match the picture you're watching) around the TV.
There are stacks of other features with this model, but the only one we've got the space to cover is support for the Freeview eight-day electronic programme guide, with direct timer event selection.
After finding the new Pixel Plus 2 HD rather hit and miss on the 32PF9830,the older Pixel Plus 2 system employed here proves arguably more consistent. Strong standard definition feeds, such as those from the cleaner channels on Sky Digital, look vastly sharper and more detailed than they do on most non-Pixel Plus TVs - and this extra sharpness is achieved without nearly as many secondary processing artefacts (such as edge shimmering around moving objects and, especially, dot crawl).Even weaker SD sources, such as digital tuner broadcasts don't suffer badly from processing nasties.
As well as looking surprisingly clean and clear, the 32PF9967D's pictures enjoy strong colours, solid saturations, and natural tones. The contrast range impresses too, with tightly controlled peak whites and black levels deep enough to give dark scenes plenty of depth and scale. That said, our lab contrast reading of 395:1 is hardly worldbeating at around half that of Sharp's GD7E set, reviewed in this issue.
Sonically the 32PF9967D is decent. High volumes are hit without rattling the cabinet, and the treble detail is striking. However, these trebles aren't balanced by any particularly deep bass levels, and voices can sound a touch 'boxy'.
Really we have only two niggles with the 32PF9967D.First,our sample's DVI jack refused to accept component 480i signals from our DVHS HD deck. Second, HD pictures only look good rather than great.
Overall, though, the Philips 32PF9967D proves that mid-range doesn't have to mean middle of the road. In fact, for us the 32PF9967D is the finest all-rounder in Philips' current range. John Archer