• Stunning pictures
  • Excellent image processing
  • Ambilight wins
  • Superb BLu-ray performance


  • The price
  • Soft Freeview pictures

With tumbling prices and features galore, standing out in the big-screen TV market isn't easy.

However, Philips has managed it with distinction in the last 12 months - and amazingly the 40PFL9704 tops its previous successes.

It's part of Philips' 9000 series LED Pro range of TVs, which also includes the 46-inch Philips 46PFL9704.

A brushed aluminium frame and three-sided Ambilight system lends this 40" LCD TV a unique look, but it's the sheer quality of its hi-def pictures - and, more unusually, its built-in speakers - that give the 40PFL9704 the enviable status of being one of the best flatscreen TVs around.

Its on-screen success is largely down to what Philips calls LED Pro, a backlight system that features 224 LED lights arranged behind the entire screen, which can switch on and off individually.

Philips uses LED Pro to differentiate the 40PFL9704 from other less serious variants of LED tech available.

Compare this Philips' 'local dimming' system (where any segment of the screen can be in total darkness while the segment beside can be at maximum brightness) to 'edge' LED lighting from the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG.

Edge LED systems are self-explanatory - LED lights around the frame shine light into the panel, potentially leaving the middle of the screen far less dynamic.

Philips 40pfl9704 lcd tv

But although the 40PFL9704's LED Pro system seems relatively high-end, it's very similar to that found on Sharp's recent sub-£700 LED TVs; at £1,800, this Philips is going to have to put in an exemplary performance.

Picture quality on this Full HD set is given a further boost by Philips own Perfect Pixel HD engine, the most interesting parts of which are a 200Hz system and Perfect Natural Motion, circuitry that's designed to rid Blu-ray playback of blur and judder, respectively.

Ins and outs aren't typical either, with a stunning five HDMI ports included alongside a multimedia USB port and, best of all, a built-in Wi-Fi module.

Philips 40pfl9704 lcd tv

The latter allows the 40PFL9704 to stream music, video and photos from a computer on the same home network, though its primary function is to power this set's Net TV feature.

A collection of widgets include some giving you access to YouTube videos and Ebay, and are operated solely from the TV's remote control, a luscious affair that matches the TV's silky metallic design.

Adding to its aura is Ambilight Spectra 3, a collection of yet more LED lights around the outside of the TV that projects coloured light on to the walls behind

Designed to reduce eye strain, Ambilight underlines the 40PFL9704's high-end status. It's presented here in its three-sided version, with lights around the sides and top of the rear of the TV.

Elsewhere in the 9704 Series is a 46-incher, while those after something even more unique should head for Philips' 56PFL9954H. Otherwise known as Cinema 21:9, that £3,500 LCD TV can present Blu-ray discs in their native 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 aspect ratio.