Philips 40pfl9704 lcd tv

The 40PFL9704's performance with Blu-ray is irresistible.

Contrast is stunning, with a plasma-like richness to dark areas of the image.

During a space combat sequence in Star Trek on Blu-ray, the fine lights of far-off star systems are visible, with no halo whatsoever; LED Pro's promise of local dimming is a reality and the screen hosts stunning contrast all over the display area.

Better still, the 40PFL9704's wide viewing angle means you can watch from anywhere without any loss of colour or contrast - something that's almost unheard of on an LCD TV (don't let the 40PFL9704's use of LED tech confuse you - this is an LCD TV at heart, which has been updated with a different backlighting system that aims to be more subtle).

Blu-ray smoothing

Though startling contrast is the 40PFL9704's most delightful feature, it's run pretty close by Perfect Natural Motion.

Working only with discs, not live TV, this tech estimates motion in the picture and corrects the judder - and it does it potently.

With Perfect Natural Motion on its lowest setting, Star Trek's opening scene of a young Kirk racing a Chevrolet towards the Canyon is very fluent and easy to watch, though we did notice the occasional flicker.

In another scene where Kirk and Spock walk down the steps of Starfleet Academy, a noticeable flicker rings the edges of actors passing quickly through the shot in both the foreground and background.

The 200Hz system, which can only be used if Perfect Natural Motion is on at least the minimum setting, is slightly less accomplished.

During a panning close-up of fighting zebras from Life on Blu-ray, the 40PFL9704 arranges their markings without much judder or flicker, though there is a slight loss of resolution.

Soft Freeview pictures

In contrast to its superb HD performance, digital TV pictures look rather soft, with a sheen of processing across the picture; the 40PFL9704 does its best work on a hi-def diet.

That's the one area that lets the 40PFL9704 down - and the main reason why you should consider, and certainly compare, this LED TV's performance to that of a plasma.

Far friendlier to Freeview while being sharp enough with Blu-ray (and with comparable DVD performance), plasma's continued success is proof that LCD manufacturers still have some work to do.

Although they appear to have solved LCD tech's problem with contrast and reproducing deep black, it comes at a cost; the 40PFL9704's price tag is around twice that of a decent plasma TV.

What you don't tend to get on a plasma - aside from Panasonic's high-end sets - is a host of extras that are included on the 40PFL9704, such as Wi-Fi, Net TV and video playback from USB.