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Some TVs – especially mid-rangers like this – have a tendency to load-up on flagship TV features while forgetting about processing power. By stripping the user interface and picture engine down to the essentials, the 42PFL5008 remains a quick TV that's fun to use. And that's a crucial part of its appeal.
Great-sounding and great-looking, Philips' budget-busting 42-incher is primed for life in a living room. Ambilight adds an awesome touch of class, but the 42PFL5008 is already half-way there. Cracking HD detail, a good remote control, impressive all-round images and a super-fast, simple user interface encompassing comprehensive digital file support and creative file-swap apps seal the deal. The build quality, too, is excellent for the money.
Smart TV on the 42PFL5008 is take-it-or-leave-it, while the appearance of motion blur and judder are a predictable side-effect of a relatively weak Pixel Plus HD processing engine and basic 100Hz panel. Standard definition TV upscaling is fairly unsuccessful, while the EPG is poor.
With Ambilight, smart TV, great sound, a fine outward appearance and heaps of HD detail, the 42PFL5008 is a tempting proposition. However, there are some cracks in the performance – most notably motion blur and judder along with some weak upscaling. But the lack of powerful picture processing and a fairly lightweight smart TV platform has its flip-side in a super-fast, responsive user interface. That helps to make this mid-ranger a highly usable and highly likeable TV.
Of slightly lower grade picture quality, but still a sterling choice is the Finlux 40F8030-T (we've reviewed the 32-inch version, though it's a couple of inches smaller. For major brand competition, have a look at the broadly similar Panasonic TX-L42E6B and Samsung UE40F6400, the latter of which adds voice control to some features, as well as a 200Hz panel. If you want something with Ambilight, but with better pictures, there's only one competitor – the step-up version of this TV, the Philips 42PFL6008.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),