Philips’ light and skinny new set looks ideal for wall-hanging – but will the exclusion of Ambilight let it down?
The rise of the flat panel has made wall-mounting your television simpler than ever – but Philips’ newest LCD screen takes things to a whole new level of easy-peasiness.
The 42in Essence is a skinny 38mm deep and weighs only 16kg, and comes supplied with a ‘smart’ leveling bracket that makes sticking it up on the wall as straightforward as hanging a picture.
Ending cable spaghetti
Philips has wisely cut down on cable clutter by providing a separate media hub box that houses the digital tuner and connections. This box hooks up to the screen via a single cable that carries both an AV signal and power, so you don’t have to trail a messy tangle of wires up your wall.
The speaker is similarly well designed. It’s a single bar that can be attached to the bottom of the television if desired, but if you wish to use separate speakers you can leave it in the box and keep the TV sleek and unadorned.
Packed with tech
In order to keep the screen lean, the Ambilight backlighting system used on all other high-end Philips TVs has been given the chop, but that’s about it in terms of concessions to design.
Other tech - the Perfect Pixel HD Engine image processing, 100Hz Clear LCD and Perfect Natural Motion – remains intact, so you’re not losing out on picture quality just because the TV is smaller and thinner than the norm. There’s even DLNA media streaming courtesy of the media hub’s Ethernet port.
Picture (mostly) perfect
In fact, picture quality is generally superb, with smooth, judder-free motion, sharp edges and low noise, particularly in HD images from a Blu-ray player or Sky HD box.
But it’s not perfect – pictures from an Xbox 360 connected to the media hub via analogue component video cables looked washed out and lacking in depth and clarity compared with a (much cheaper) Samsung LE40A856 TV we were testing at the same time.
Bearing in mind that games normally look excellent on Philips’ high-end TVs, we suspect that the media hub and its long cable result in some image degradation when used with analogue sources.
Still, audio quality is surprisingly good. Despite the small size of the speaker module, it produces a big, beefy slice of sound that puts most standard television speakers in the shade.
Review continues after the break...
If you’re one of the growing number of telly addicts that fancies the idea of hanging your goggle-box on the wall, this is currently the best one-shot solution we’ve seen.
Sony’s KDL-40ZX1, even thinner and boasting a wireless AV connection to reduce cable clutter even further, could be the one to beat it, but at the moment a combination of strong performance and design make the Essence the wall-mounter’s TV of choice.
Philips Essence 42PES0001D review
A light, thin and a solid performer. Quite simply the ultimate TV for wall-hanging