Philips Ambilight 50 Inch HDTV 50PF9731D Review

Posted: Mar 14 2007, 12:00am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 9:06am CDT , in Home Entertainment

Philips Ambilight 50 inch HDTV 50PF9731D Review


Features & Specifications
The 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV has a native resolution of 1366 x 768p giving it a 16:9 aspect ratio. Brightness is 1500 cd/m2 with a typical contrast ratio of 10000:1. viewing angles are good at 160 degrees both horizontal and vertically. Philips integrates some picture enhancement systems into the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV as well including Pixel Plus 3HD which works on each pixel of an image sent from any source to reduce the amount of noise and artifact for a better picture. Philips also uses 3/2 -2/2 motion pull down, 3D comb filter, jagged line suppression, progressive scan, anti-reflection coating and an anti-aging circuit.

The Ambilight feature on the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV is made up of three full multi color lights with one light on each side of the TV and one light on the top of the set. These lights can be controlled manually and turned off completely if so desired. When turned on the Ambilight system changes colors to closely reflect the colors on the TV screen and changes intensities to match the on screen content as well. The idea behind the lights is to make viewing the TV more relaxing. When we watch TV programs in dark rooms the constant changing of the image on screen causes the room to get brighter and darker quickly leading to eye fatigue because the eye has to work harder to cope with the changed in light levels. The Ambilight system helps to bias the eye so it doesn’t have to work so hard with changing light conditions.

While the native resolution of the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV is 1366 x 768p it can do other video formats including 1080i at 60Hz, 720- at 60 Hz, 480i at 60 Hz and 480p at 60 Hz. You can also connect your PC to the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV and use resolutions of 640 x 480, 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768. Sound is pretty good on the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV with two channels with 15W each that support Virtual Dolby Digital. Bass output was decent for onboard sound and the four speakers have integrated woofers with dome tweeters. The TV is wall mountable and includes a swiveling TV stand.

On the side of the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV is a built in memory card reader that supports CF, memory stick, microdrive, MMC, SD, and SMC. Connectivity wise Philips did a good job, though I would have liked to see more HDMI inputs. With the next gen gaming consoles out you really need three HDMI inputs at a minimum. As it is the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV has two HDMI, two component inputs, and two composite inputs as well as three S-Video inputs. There is also a SPDIF in and out as well as a cable card interface. There is also an additional set of component inputs on the side of the set.

Testing & Use
To test the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV I used HD programming from Sudden Link, and DVD video on an Denon S-301 upscaling DVD player as well as a Blu-Ray movie via my PS3. To start with I watched some HD programming on my cable box. The image quality is great on the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV. Colors are saturated well, skin tones look natural and the overall image was very vibrant and clear. Black levels are good and dark scenes look very good.

One of my biggest peeves when reviewing HDTV sets is when the transitions between light and darks on screen loose detail and become pixilated looking blobs. Most all HDTVs I have reviewed do this to some extent, as does the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV. However, this Philips HDTV did a better job with these transitions than all other TVs I have reviewed save the 60” Elite Plasma I played with.

When I was setting the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV up and placing it on my entertainment center I noticed that the set leans forward quite a bit. While the angle the TV leans forward at did nothing to bother me while watching programming on the set it was disturbing to see that the set leaned that much mostly out of fear that the TV would fall. I wonder if some of this leaning might be associated with the fact that my review unit has been around the block a few times and was well used before I received it. At any rate other than making me nervous and eliciting a few “that looks weird” comments from my wife the stand and the angle of lean was not a problem during use of the set.

The Ambilight system is a pretty cool addition to an HDTV set. It really makes it easy to watch in a dark room and the ability for the colors to match the screen image colors and intensity is really cool too. For instance on a Discovery HD program showing a beach the Ambilight on the top of the screen was blue to match the water while the light on the left way yellow to match the beach sand and the one on the right was green to match foliage. As the bright day turns to night on screen the Ambilight dims itself to match the screen. Ambilight might not be for everyone and to that end you can turn the lights off altogether as well if so desired. I quite liked the effects and improved immersion in the TV programs myself.



  • Ambilight is very cool and can be turned off if desired
  • Large, bright screen size
  • Great HD image quality


  • TV leans forward quite a bit on the stand


The 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV is a great HDTV set that has a large screen size, great image quality and the unique Ambilight system. I would certainly put the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV in the top three HDTVs that I have reviewed, right behind the 60” Elite Plasma. If you want a HDTV that offers something you won’t find elsewhere, the 50” Philips Ambilight Plasma HDTV is a great option that carries a price of around $3700 that is quite reasonable for the size and options the set has.


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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
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