On the subject of menus, the Philips has a quite good menu system that's easy to navigate and seems logically laid out. It's not the most beautiful thing we've ever seen, but it's functional. The TV will even help you adjust the picture settings through a wizard system that shows you a series of images and asks you which you prefer. By answering these questions, you're adjusting the brightness, sharpness and other TV settings without even realising it. Very clever.
Blu-ray material looked terrific. We put on Spider-Man 3 and were impressed by the strong colours and image detail. We also noticed that the special effects in the movie are little cack at times, and it's fair to assume we noticed that because the Philips produced such a clear picture.
Black levels were good too, and the viewing angle was quite wide, so movie fans will appreciate that. We opted to turn off the motion smoothing mode -- but if you use it you'll probably be pleased by the job it does, especially on the lower setting, which smoothes the picture without totally removing all of the charm of film.
Overall, we were very happy with the TV's HD performance and thrilled by the sound system, and we found the Freeview performance to be fairly good, though not perfect.
The 42PFL7603 might be cheaper than the 9703, but considering the Freeview picture isn't that impressive and the Ambilight isn't anywhere near as involving, we think you should stick to the very capable 42PFL9703.
If you want better value for money, look at the Panasonic plasma range, which has 1080p TVs, some with built-in freesat, that cost significantly less than this TV. If you want an LCD, check out the Z-series Toshiba TVs or perhaps one of the new ultra-slim Samsung LCDs.
Edited by Marian Smith