NB: This review has been updated. See additional note at the end for more details.
This is Philips' replacement for the highly regarded 37PF9830, boasting the same 37-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel high-definition screen, but some spanking new technology and a revamped design. That 1080-line panel makes it the highest resolution screen in the Philips range -- there are more pixels here than on the 42-inch flagship model, the 42PF9831D. Even so, its designers have not made it able to accept a 1080p source (more on the significance of that later).
It's a pricey television by today's standards -- around £2,500 on the high street and £2,000 online -- but recent Philips LCD efforts have been nothing short of stunning.
Thanks to its glossy black finish, this is a fantastic-looking set. Because it doesn't have the full four-sided Ambilight of the 42PF9831D (it's a three-way one instead), Philips has not implemented the large, white background board used on the bigger set. While this can render Ambilight a little less effective -- the board on the 9831 acts as a 'screen' for the coloured light to shine on -- it also keeps the size of the television down. The result is a more compact TV that's prettier and a lot easier to live with.
The build quality is up there with the best, too. The 37PF9731D feels far more solid than similar-sized models from Samsung and Toshiba, and on a par with Sony's fantastically well-made KDL-46X2000.
The screen comes with a glass desktop stand, which swivels, but isn't motorised like the one supplied with Philips' previous 37-inch model. If you prefer, you can buy a floor-stand or wall-mount it.
A set of basic controls are located on the right side panel, while the left features basic composite video, S-Video and analogue stereo inputs as well as two USB ports and a 2-in-1 memory card reader.
Around the back you'll find the interesting stuff: two HDMI inputs; one component video input; two RGB-capable Scarts; a VGA PC input; coaxial digital audio in and outputs; analogue stereo in and outputs; centre channel speaker inputs and an Ethernet connection. The latter allows you to connect the TV to a home network for photo, video and music streaming.
It's a decent set of connections, but aside for the component video and coaxial audio ports, they're all stuck under the screen and can be a little tricky to get to if you've used the desk stand -- it blocks space and only leaves a bit of room. It's a minor issue but it can be annoying if you're plugging and unplugging stuff on a regular basis.
The remote is a nice-looking bit of shiny whiteness, and the controls are all in reasonably logical places -- so it gets a thumbs-up from us.
As we said earlier, this TV will not accept a 1080p signal, despite having a 'Full HD' 1,920x1,080 screen. 1080p sources are few and far between at this moment in time, but Blu-ray and HD DVD will soon be making use of it, along with the Xbox 360 and PS3 at some point in the future, so some will be a tad miffed that Philips has decided not to add support for it on its high-end tellies.