Let me first say that I'm not a home cinema / entertainment expert, I'm not going to fill this review with technical specs and data. I bought this screen based on three factors: press reviews, looks and price so what I will be saying is based on my ownership experience. I can't compare it with others like the magazines can but I can tell you what it's like to use and its plus & minus points.
Immediately contradicting myself, there are some specs that must be mentioned:
42 inch 16:9 Plasma TV
Pixel Plus 2
Scarts: 3 (2 x RGB)
I've picked out these specs (there are many others) as I think they are the ones that are relevant for the average domestic user.
Size: With a 42 inch screen this is a big TV, but being a plasma is only a couple of inches deep. This means that although the screen is significantly larger than my old 32" CRT it can sit much deeper into the corner of the room and take up much less space. While the big screen does grab the attention it is not nearly as dominating as the old TV. Although light for its size it is still a heavy old piece of kit and will take two (or three) to lift and mount.
Looks: The integrated speakers are placed below the screen. This 'squares' up the unit and gives it a nice balance. In my opinion big screens that have speakers either side are too wide and seem stretched. The silver casing is very contemporary and classy looking. The front panel has no control buttons and this gives it a clean look. Buttons for volume, channel and power are on the right hand side and have a pleasant blue back light. All other controls and sockets are on the reverse. This model comes with the Ambilight feature, this is two strip lights on either side that change colour to match the image on the screen. The purpose of this according to the boffins is that a sympathetic ambient light reduces eye-strain. I don't know if this is true but I like it, it looks good and is in no way a distraction.
Picture & Sound: The picture quality on this unit is very good and is a marked improvement on my old CRT. Even sitting quite close (5 feet) allows comfortable viewing. Ideal viewing is from about 8-10 feet away and from here the image quality is excellent, with incredible detail and colour. I haven't connected any external speakers but the sound from the unit is excellent and replicates multi-speaker setups very well.
This model uses progressive scan and Pixel Plus 2 technology, I don't know what these are but I can tell you what they do to the picture. These are choices within the onscreen menu systems and appear to be an either/or option. Progressive scan is standard technology across TVs and when set produces very sharp clear pictures. Pixel Plus 2 is a Phillips technology that does a lot of clever things to improve picture quality. On this setting the picture becomes so impressively rich and realistic that it is quite disturbing and almost off-putting. Once you get over this initial shock you soon come to appreciate the quality of the image you are presented with, it is particularly impressive when watching sports and other shows with lots of movement. Interestingly it makes US shows look like British programs which can be distracting, but again you soon get used to it and will be loathe to be without it.
Ease of use: My unit is back-mounted onto an Alphason stand, this gives the clean installation look of wall mounting while allowing the unit be traditionally placed in the corner of the room. Physical installation is very straightforward although may require two holding and one tightening to accomplish. Set up was rather more complicated and followed a fairly tricky process. From turning the unit on for the first time I had to spend a lot longer going through set up screens etc. than I had bolting it into place. Having said that, now that it is up and running it is very user friendly. The on-screen menu's are easily accessed from the handset and there are a wealth of options and settings to play around with should you want to. The handset is very large and complicated and is quite daunting even now.
I've not had any problems with this TV, functional or otherwise, so cannot complain about the build quality. Nor have I had any need to contact the retailer or Phillips so cannot comment on their customer support.
Summary: My experience of this TV has been very good, I would recomend anyone looking to buy a large screen TV to have a look at this model.