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PHILIPS AND WIDESCREEN

The widescreen television bandwagon is gathering speed, with almost every TV manufacturer jumping on board over the past couple of years. This has given the market much needed momentum in the run up to digital TV, but the trend towards widescreen TV actually began some six years ago, when Philips launched the very first domestic 16:9 TVs in Europe.

 

Philips dived in at the deep end with a 37-inch monster, known as the 8906. It still looks stunning, even today. The styling was imaginative, bold and uncompromising, designed to emphasise the shape of the widescreen display. Outboard speakers either side of the screen, increased its apparent width, and it perched on a narrow console, fitted with a gutsy Bose sub-woofer. The price was impressive too, it originally sold for just under £3500! Oddly enough it didn’t have Dolby Surround sound but it was clear from the start that Philips placed a great deal of importance on picture quality.

 

Further improvements to picture performance quickly followed, with the introduction of 100Hz ‘flicker-free’ displays and digital scan technology on the 8762 and 32W962A. They appeared in Philips’ 1992/93 model line-up, sporting  67 and 78cm screens (28 and 33-inches), which they rightly judged would fit more easily in British homes. Nevertheless, they continued to cater for those with room for a really big screen, with the 0895, a giant back-projection model with a huge 117cm (48-inch) screen.

 

The 32W962A and 0895 heralded a number of other important developments, and welcome reductions in prices. They had twin-tuners, so that two TV programmes could be viewed on the screen at the same time. Both sets had NTSC playback, to take advantage of the growing accessibility of imported widescreen movies on tape and laserdisc, and the 32W962A was one of the first widescreen TVs to feature a panorama stretch mode, that electronically enlarged a 4:3 aspect ratio picture, to fill the 16:9 screen, without adversely cropping the top and bottom of the picture.

 

That year Philips also introduced the FR940 Dolby Pro Logic AV receiver and 22AV1440 DPL surround sound system, built into a console stand, designed to partner their widescreen TVs. This was yet another signpost for the future, giving their customers an easy and affordable upgrade path to full home cinema operation.

 

Dolby Pro Logic became a built-in feature on the 28W662BZC, 289631P and 329631P, that arrived in 1994. The latter two models were based on the ground-breaking GFL chassis which featured PALplus upgradability and Crystal Clear video processing, a combination of technologies that produces a noticeably clearer, sharper picture. They sounded good too, with additional digital audio signal processing, and no less than 11 speakers, including a separate sub-woofer.

 

Philips commitment, to broaden the appeal of widescreen TV was clearly illustrated once again in their 95/96 range which featured the 24PW6321, one of the first 24-inch 16:9 TVs. The list goes on, however, behind the constant innovation and succession of model launches Philips are the first to admit they have an underlying strategy. It was born of their involvement in all aspects of television, from studio and broadcast equipment right through to the receiver in your living room. They have been key players in all of the major developments that are helping to shape the future of television, and the most important one is digital broadcasting.

 

Whilst there is no shortage of widescreen material on tape, disc, and broadcast from terrestrial and satellite transmitters, digital television will provide TV viewers with the most compelling reason yet, for switching to widescreen. Before the turn of the century we can look forward to hundreds of new digital television channels, most of them in the widescreen format.

 

Whilst many other TV manufacturers were content to adopt a wait and see attitude, Philips spent the last few years actually designing, building and marketing widescreen televisions and home cinema system. In the process they’ve built up an unrivalled heritage of experience and expertise. Digital television is just around the corner. With any new technology there’s bound to be a lot of questions, it’s comforting to know at least one company has all the answers.

 

BOX COPY 1

CURRENT  RANGE

28PW6332C, £799

Whilst this is billed as an entry-level widescreen TV, the specification is far from basic. The Blackline S tube and Scavem circuitry delivers a pin-sharp picture in all display modes. Dolby Pro Logic sound and a powerful 42 watts RMS amplifier -- piped through five speakers -- provides dramatic and involving sound to match. Remarkable value!  

 

32PW6332C, £1499

If you’re looking for something a little larger, then how about this stunning 32-inch model? It has the same general specification as its smaller stablemate, but with the added benefit of an even more powerful sound system. Amplifier output has been increased to 48 watts, and it comes supplied with a sub-woofer as standard.

 

28PW9513C, £1199

Picture quality gets top priority on this smart-looking 28-inch Dolby Pro Logic widescreen TV. It has a 100Hz flicker-free display plus a range of Crystal Clear enhancements. Display format switching is automatic and the multi-standard video processing circuitry can handle NTSC signals. Surround sound is heard through six speakers and a sub-woofer, in the TV and matching console stand. 

 

32PW9713C, £1799

Another very well-appointed 100Hz set, this time with a larger 32-inch screen. This is the replacement for the multi-award winning 32PW9631, the specification is broadly similar to the 28PW951C, though it has an additional Crystal Clear mode. This produces smoother, more natural-looking motion, without sacrificing loss of detail or picture sharpness, that can occur on a bigger screen.

 

32PW9763C, £1999

Without doubt Philips finest widescreen TV to date! In addition to all of the features of the 32PW9713 it has a twin-tuner, for watching two channels at once, advanced picture zooming facilities, uprated Crystal Clear functions, a total of 11 loudspeakers and an electronic programme guide, that promises to make digital channel surfing a lot easier.

 

BOX COPY 2

KEY FEATURES

 

* BLACKLINE SUPERFLAT TUBE

Blackline S picture tubes -- now used on all Philips home cinema TVs -- are designed to provide the best contrast, brightness and colour fidelity, in as wide a range of ambient lighting conditions as possible. Furthermore, viewing angles are improved and unwanted reflections minimised by the super flat screen. 

 

* CRYSTAL CLEAR

Not one, but a range of constantly evolving picture enhancements that Philips use to improve picture quality on their home cinema and widescreen models. They include 100Hz display, scan velocity modulation (Scavem), digital scanning, noise reduction and comb filter, dynamic contrast adjustment, motion smoothing and luminance transient improvement.

 

* DOLBY PRO LOGIC

This key home cinema feature is based on the same multi-channel surround-sound technology that is used in cinemas. Dolby Pro Logic equipped TVs and audio systems reproduce the dramatic and often stunning effects contained within the stereo soundtracks of most movies, and many recent programmes shown on TV, or recorded on tape and laserdisc.  

 

* 100Hz DISPLAY

Conventional 50Hz TV pictures can generate a small but sometimes noticeable flicker, which may become more apparent on larger screens. 100Hz displays eliminate the problem by doubling the speed at which the image is refreshed, at a rate the eye cannot detect, at the same time producing a clearer, more relaxing picture.

 

BOX COPY 3

PHILIPS AND HOME CINEMA

In spite of being one of the leading manufacturers of home cinema TVs Philips are keen to stress they’ve got all bases covered, from complete ‘one-box’ solutions, through all types of audio and video components to systems and  upgrades.

 

Take the MX900PUK for example. It’s Dolby Pro Logic without tears, all you need is a NICAM TV. The amplifier and decoder are built into the centre channel speaker, all connections are colour coded and installation takes just a few minutes.

 

Ease of installation figures prominently on three DPL-equipped mini hi-fis from Philips. The FW375, FW672 and FW90 come with everything needed -- including a full set of speakers --  to create a first-rate home entertainment system.

 

If you simply want to upgrade your existing hi-fi, Philips can help there too, with the FR752 and FR732 Dolby Pro Logic AV receivers. To make life even easier the FR732 is available bundled with a set of five matching speakers, in the attractively-priced MX732 package.

 

Philips home cinema speakers are all available separately. The FB505 outfit includes compact centre and surround speakers. FB210 is a 50 watt active sub-woofer. The FB550 and FB560 are five-speaker packages, complete with smart-looking floor-standing enclosures and the FB350 comprises a centre speaker and four bookshelf-sized enclosures, for the front stereo and rear surround channels.     

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997 0306

 

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