Philips 42PFL7666 review

Passive 3D meets Ambilight on this stylish 42inch LED Smart TV from Philips

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Ambilight Spectra 2 lighting

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    Well-stocked IPTV portal

  • +

    Fine hi-def picture quality

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Challenging image calibration

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    Jaggy looking Passive 3D

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From 21:9 models to Ambilight illuminated widescreens, Philps has always strived to be different. Now with the Philips 42PFL7666, it throws Passive 3D tech into the mix

Typically selling for just over £800, the 42PFL7666 is an enviably well made, svelte-looking LED backlit TV with a specification that ticks all the right boxes – Smart, 3D, gorgeous. It's also available in 37-inch (37PFL7666) and 55-inch (55PFL7606) guises, so should fit all rooms. Its main competitors are likely to be the Samsung UE40D8000 and Sony KDL-40EX723.

Philips 42PFL7666: Features

In addition to stereo Ambilight LED mood lighting, which changes hue and intensity depending on TV content, this Freeview HD TV is fully networkable and offers Passive (Easy) 3D. Two pairs of polarising spectacles come in the box, but you can always liberate 3D goggles from your local multiplex if you need more.

The set connects to a well stocked Smart portal which offers BBC iPlayer, YouTube, DailyMotion and Acetrax amongst others. It can also play files back from local USB (AVI, MP4, MKV, VOB, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and AIF) and across a LAN.

Additional feature carrots include recording to USB and customisable wallpaper JPEGs.

Philips 42PFL7666: Design

There's nothing cheap about this set. The brushed metal finish and touch-controls smack of sophistication, and even the rounded remote control is artful. Weight watchers should note that the two vertical LED Ambilight strips on the rear do not add significantly to the Philips' girth.

Philips 42PFL7666: Specs

Connections are plentiful. Wi-Fi is built in, but there's Ethernet if you prefer wired networking. There're four HDMIs, component and PC VGA inputs, plus a digital optical audio out. Media playback comes via two USBs and an SD card reader.

Philips 42PFL7666: Performance

Hi-def picture quality can be considered top draw, but you'll need to get your hands dirty to make the image really sing. While the screen isn't short of presets (Personal, Vivid, Cinema, Game, Dutch), there's a heap of Pixel Precise HD settings to master if you want top-flight performance - and like every Philips TV ever made before it, obfuscation comes as standard.

Our advice is don't rely on the Picture Wizard and avoid chronic edge-emphasis by turning the sharpness setting down to just One on the slider; similarly, treat HD Natural Motion processing with care as it can add smudgy artefacts all its own. Get the balance right though, and pictures look superb.

Generally the inclusion of Passive 'Easy' 3D on a TV can be taken as a manufacturing euphemism for 'Pah! Take it or leave it, we really don't care.' But while there are inevitable sacrifices to be made when it comes to horizontal resolution (the screen reduces 3D clarity by half), this Philips' stereoscopic images are bright and deep.

For most users we suspect the comfort of wearing simple, lightweight polarising glasses outweighs the jaggy look characteristic of Passive 3D tech.

Audio quality is excellent. The set's 2x 14w output is defiantly bolshie and there's pronounced stereo definition.

Philips 42PFL7666: Verdict

Overall, Philips 7000 series can be considered good value. Build quality and design are a cut above the norm, and its networking abilities are solid. HD picture quality is very good, and Easy 3D is fun too, provided you watch square on to avoid crosstalk.

Philips 42PFL7666 availability: Available now

Philips 42PFL7666 price: £899

Steve May

For over 25 years, Steve has been casting his keen eyes and ears over the best that the world of TV and audio has to offer. He was the creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and contributes to huge range of technology, home and music titles along with T3, including TechRadar, Louder, Ideal Home, the i newspaper, and more.