We recently got a close look at the latest 1080p Ambilight LCD TVs from Philips, the ones that cast colorful glows against the back of your wall in a way that is known to soothe and delight Brian Lam. First introduced at CES, they mostly have "2-channel Ambilight" but one, the premium 42-inch model mentioned below, has full "Ambilight Surround."
If tripping the Ambilight fandango isn't your idea of a good time, there are other features that might be more interesting to you. The 120Hz refresh rate found on half of the models is intended to beat the 8ms response time. (This effect is achieved using a multitude of differing techniques, and it might take six months or so for us to be sure who has it figured out.) The Perfect Pixel HD technology for sharpness is also key. Make the jump for my thoughts on a side-by-side comparison with a Samsung, a gallery of my Ambilight shots, plus a cute little newcomer called Modea.
When I went to the Philips suite, the first thing I noticed was a 42-inch 1080p Philips next to a 40-inch 1080p Samsung (the side-by-side shots of the gallery below). And as usual with a bake-off challenge, there were aspects of the Philips that beat the Samsung, but aspects of the Samsung that trumped the Philips. For instance, in the shot of the wave, you can clearly see the added detail that the Perfect Pixel HD technology provides (not to mention the extra diagonal two inches of real estate); however, when you look at the rocky cliff, even scaled down, you can make out more detail in the Samsung.
Of course much of this can be fixed; in fact, last Friday I demonstrated how friendly Philips' picture-tweaking interface is for people who don't know their hue from their saturation. However, I tend to shrink from side-by-side comparisons set up by one manufacturer.
That said, the TVs were tasty (check out the snikety-snak detail on the PS3 game showing on the 52-incher) and competitively priced for 1080p. Here's the recap of pricing and availability.
42PFL7432D 42" 1080p - Currently available for $1,999 April
42PFL9832D 42" 120Hz 1080p - Coming next month for $2,999
47PFL7432D 47" 1080p - Currently available for $2,499 April
47PFL9732D 47" 120Hz 1080p - Coming next month for $2,799
52PFL7432D 52" 120Hz 1080p - Coming in September for $3,599
The unexpected arrival was a cute little 19-inch LCD called Modea. With a high (enough) definition panel resolution of 1440x900 and a white finish, it's a bit of a statement, but it's aimed right at Middle America. It just went on sale at Target for $449.99, along with its 26-inch $799.99 brother. Modea doesn't have Ambilight technology though, so if you were planning to buy it for Brian for his birthday, think again.
Ambilight TV Press Release from CES [Philips]