Some folk would rather shop at Waitrose than Lidl. Others would sooner die than drive a Ford. They all do pretty much the same thing – but some, for a price, just bring a certain panache.

And so it is with tellies. Our collective strangled cry at the price of this Philips screen could be heard clear across the offices at Stuff Towers and right out to Heathrow. So, what on earth can the 42PES001 offer for double the money?

Svelte and sexy

Well, for starters there are the looks. In a market of me-too, same-again designs (with Samsung an honourable exception), the PES001 (or ‘Essence’, as Philips’ marketing types prefer) is a genuinely great-looking TV.

Its narrow bezel means it’s physically no bigger than the above-mentioned Sony set despite having a larger screen, and the Philips is slim (3.8cm) and light (16kg) enough to be a realistic wall-mounting proposition.

To make installation even easier, the speakers at the bottom of the set can be taken off simply by removing two screws, and the TV comes with a self-levelling wall-bracket.

Usefully, the provision of a media box (or ‘connectivity hub’ – thanks, marketing guys) to deal with all the processing and many inputs means there will only ever be one connection to the screen.

Take time to tinker

Like so many Philips screens of the recent past, you might find the PES001 a bit of a pain to get the best from; Philips’ extensive picture processing options require in-depth investigation.

The on-screen menus are certainly clear enough, and the remote control is both a tactile treat and simple to use, but Philips’ crown as manufacturer of the most laborious televisions to set up seems safe for a little while yet.

Persevere and you’ll get big rewards, though. Via either its analogue or digital tuners, the Philips offers stable, detailed and convincingly coloured TV pictures. Black levels, both in terms of detail and outright ‘blackness’, are impressive, and motion is tracked doggedly.

Scrolling text stays intact from one side of the screen to the other, and skin-tones are lifelike and natural, as is contrast.

Hi-def treat

The Philips is just as impressive at the other end of the picture-quality scale – 1080p/24fps Blu-ray images. From the vibrancy of Wall-E to the grungy look of American Gangster, the PES001 rarely steps out of line. The brilliantly even backlighting makes very dark (or very bright) images consistent and smooth, detail is lavish and colours are broad and convincing.

The same is true when you come to watch standard-def footage. The Philips upscales confidently; noise and motion issues are practically non-existent. Even the sound from the neatly integrated speakers is a cut above the (admittedly more affordable) norm.


So it’s really a question of priorities: yes, you can pick up a set that performs almost as well for much less money. But if you go into your next TV purchase with your eyes – and wallet – open, you won’t regret forking out for one of these.

It’s a flexible, fantastic-looking and, above all, high-performance flatscreen that we adore.


Stuff says... 

Philips 42PES001 review

Almost lost a star for that price tag, but the performance and looks deserve nothing less than full marks