Review: Philips 42PFL5604H 42″ LCD TV

Wednesday April 21st 2010


The now end of life Philips 42PFL5604 represents the 42″ model of entry level 5000 series range. Despite it being Philips’ entry level 42″ LCD TV, it is still a Philips product; this means at around £650 it is not entry-level pricing, but then it certainly does not deliver entry-level performance.

The 42PFL5604 is a compelling choice as an entry level Full-HD 42″ monitor. Large format, entry-level monitors are only capable of displaying screen resolutions of 1024×768, and carry a price tag similar to that of the 42PFL5604. Most TV’s, even Full HD ones, can only display VGA video at resolutions no higher than 1368×720, but Philips are different in this respect, it can natively display VGA at the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080. To get similar results, you would need to spend over  £1400 on a Full HD capable monitor, and you wouldn’t get built-in speakers or the same diversity of inputs.

First impressions

In the box you get a manual, CD manual, remote control and table-top stand.

First impressions of the set is that it is well built, but only as solid as a plastic trim can be. The styling and the bezel is similar to that of a BenQ monitor or even a Sharp LCD TV, nothing spectacular. The curved piano black plastic bezel is fairly chunky, but then it does need to hold a sizeable LCD panel in place. The unit has none of the high-end Philips features such as Ambilight or advanced video post processing.

The back of the unit has only a basic set of inputs which should be sufficient for most applications, these include VGA, 3 HDMI, 2 SCART, Component, USB and composite. The table-top stand is sturdy and heavy and provides solid support for the TV set and allows for the set to be pivoted on the base over a reasonable arc.

Usage tests

After powering on the unit you are run through a set-up menu, which is notably, err, prettier than most set-up menus, in fact it is better than most TV sets we have worked with. The same smooth graphical style reappears when the TV provides feedback on remote control commands (volume, input selection, etc). The set-up process also includes basic image calibration process which anybody can complete.

Our tests centred on typical ‘TEA London’ usage scenarios which is almost exclusively computer generated video – Windows Media Centre  et al, so although this is a TV, we have not conducted intensive testing on its tuner capabilities – and given that over half of the FreeView channels are highly compressed, there seemed little point to test this as our viewing would invariably settle on the best, BBC and the worst, Viva/ITV/Five.

VGA output is clear, well defined and sharp. Using standards Windows applications that are displayed legibly at our test distance of 3 metres away from the screen. There is a slight softness to text and hairlines, so the display output is not as well defined as a professional monitor such as the Panasonic TH-42PF11 series plasma monitors, so this monitor is perhaps not the best choice for the display of text based video output such as spreadsheets, high resolution charts and small text.

With graphics applications it is certainly a comfortable size to be working off. The TV’s settings give you quite a number of display calibration settings, and with some work you can get accurate colour reproduction on the screen, although I would not go so far as to recommend that professional photographers, publishers and graphic designers use the 42PFL5604 as a primary reference, but if you don’t have the cash for a monitor, this is the next best thing you can buy, although to any professional I would always recommend they spend their £850 on a high-end sub 26″ monitor instead.

When it comes to video, this is where the 42PFL5604 starts to shine. The TV did need some image calibration, the out of the box settings are not bad, but the image can be greatly improved by applying some manual tweaks to the settings applied by the set after running the initial Philips Image Set Up routine. No matter what video we threw at the monitor, it produced an excellent image, that is well defined and shows no strong or visible motion blurring in fast moving scenes. The set smooths out lower resolution video cleanly, and shows pin-sharp definition with HD content such as blu-ray movies. In fact we can find very little wrong with the 42PFL5604’s performance considering its price point, you would be hard pressed to find something with similar performance for the same money.

So what we have is a TV set that is capable of being used as a monitor which opens up a number of possibilities at this very compelling price point. To put it simply, no TV can match the sharpness and brightness of a professional monitor, nor would a TV be flexible to reliably display resolutions other than its native resolution. The build quality of professional monitors is far better than any entry to mid-high level TV, the monitor will have a glass front, normally uses a higher quality display panel and is engineered to have a very long lifespan – so please do not take this review as an endorsement that a TV should be chosen over a monitor for computer generated video, but the Philips 42PFL5604 does provide you with a compelling choice for an entry level large format LCD display.

First looks: Yamaha RX-V465 review

Wednesday January 27th 2010


Yamaha RX-V465

First Looks

The 2009/2010 range of Yamaha home surround amplifiers are noticeably smaller than most AV receivers on the market. Make no mistake, the more heavy-weight units still are of similar size to the original amplifier units, but the lower end of the range, the footprint of these units are smaller than previous versions. It is roughly the footprint and height of a component tape-deck. The smaller footprint means the unit will be able to fit onto shelves and storage units with limited depth, which can be an important consideration when selecting a product.

The look and feel of the RXV465 is as solid and well made as the mid-range amplifiers, and there is no noticeable skimping on product quality despite its very attractive price tag, until we took a look at the rear.

We were mildly disappointed by some of the rear connections, the surround speaker terminals are push terminals, rather than a standard 4mm binding post; be aware of this, there is little point in investing in decent speaker cable terminations for anything other than your front left and right speakers. This approach may be to save precious space on the unit, but these sort of connections are more akin to budget, or home-cinema in a box surround systems. Considering this unit is capable of cleanly driving some weighty speakers, we feel this minor cost saving in manufacturing may be indicative that other aspects of the unit are cheapened to save a few more pennies on its manufacturing costs, and these cost savings may be lurking underneath the RXV465’s skin.


As the RXV465 is a very well priced unit, putting it well within the reach of the tightest of budgets, it is bound to have some weaknesses, or a reduction in capabilities when compared to its mid-ranged siblings that would cost £200 more.

Yamaha RX-V465 rear connections

The RXV465 is a 5-Channel surround amplifier, delivering 105W per channel when configured with 5 speakers, a lot of AV receivers are 7 channel (or more). The lack of the extra surround channels means the unit can’t handle the more advanced sound tracks available, it also consequently can’t be configured as a 2 or 3 zone amplifier.

The unit is capable of decoding all major sound track types including HD audio, we consider this to be a vital feature when considering any new AV receiver purchase. In order to get the most out of modern blu-ray movies you really do need to ensure your surround amplifier supports both DTS-HD and Dolby True-HD sound formats and the RX-V465 does both as well as all of the preceding DTS and Dolby sound formats; this is perhaps one of the amplifier’s most salient features, as it does mean the unit is bang up-to-date and capable of decoding the most demanding audio sound tracks found on blu-ray movies.

The 4 HDMI inputs should be plenty for the average front room, giving you enough HDMI inputs to cover a games console, PC, satellite receiver and disc player. There are additional inputs for analogue connections, including component video, s-video and composite video. There are 2 optical and 2 digital coaxial connections, we feel this should be sufficient, albeit somewhat limited; keep in mind that connecting a SKY receiver will take one of the Optical inputs; HDMI V1.3 support will however ensure that as long as your other source components are V1.3 compliant, audio can be delivered through these ports.

Be aware that the RX-V465 does not have any video scaling capabilties, it will output the video signal it receives, using the same signal output type as the input, i.e. if you intend connecting source components that use video signals other than HDMI, you will need to connect your TV or monitor to the same outputs on the RX-V465; for example if you are connecting up devices that use HDMI, component video and composite video, you will need to connect the same cables from the Yamaha to your TV set; if you consider the cost implications and clutter this may create, you may be better off considering slightly more expensive AV receivers that are capable of upscaling, such as the RX-V565 or better.


For our tests we thought we should set the RX-V465 through its paces using a comparable budget priced speaker system. We opted to use the ever popular and award winning Q-Acoustics Q-AV system for the front speaker array with a Monitor Audio Vector VW10 subwoofer. We used our RED-JNR media centre PC as audio and video player and a Panasonic TX-P42g10 plasma TV as a monitor.

We initially configured the surround system using Yamaha’s automatic sound calibration system known as YPAO; this is an automatic equalisation and calibration procedure. It is a simple procedure that requires you to plug in a small microphone supplied with the RX-V465, placing the microphone at the ideal listening/seating position, and starting the sequence.

We were rather disappointed with the results of the YPAO calibration, and found that it is better configured manually. We have read elsewhere that some Yamaha amps are better configured manually, and this is certainly one of those cases. Maybe the close proximity of the LCR speakers on the Q-AV speaker system is a cause for this anomaly, or perhaps this is because YPAO only takes one measurement for calibration with smaller models.

After we manually configured the speakers and deactivated DSP processing, the speakers sound absolutely wonderful, detailed, spacial and responsive. The Yamaha drives a very crisp and clean sound, leaving your speakers to eke out the tonal nuances of your sound tracks. The opening scene on Inglorious Bastards created a perfect eeriness and tension to the polite SS interrogation, to sharp and loud gunfire at the end of the scene. Further scenes revealed that the RX-V465 not only delivers the sound clearly, but seems to do so effortlessly, even when there are rapid changes from loud to soft.

The RX-V465 adds a great sense of motion and ambience to the video. In fact we can find no real faults with it when watching DVD or Blu-Ray discs from our RED-jnr BDS media centre. All sound playback from the RED was clear, well defined and fettered.

TV sound is often limited by how well or uncompressed the broadcaster chooses to transmit their video, so there will be variations in sound quality and equalisation. We found that the Yamaha’s DSP came handy in adding some body and clarity to poor quality or 2-dimensional sound. A good reference channel such as BBC HD found sound to be very clear and spacious both from the TV’s own tuner and from the RED-JNR.

Normally AV receivers are not very good for stereo playback, but I found the Yamaha to be a very satisfying listening experience at any volume, however if you opt to play stereo in 2.1 sound mode do you get a really complete and satisfying audio experience.


The Yamaha RX-V465 is a great amplifier choice for those of you just starting with hi-fi surround sound systems, or if you are on a really tight budget. I would go no less expensive than this amplifier. For similar money there is some competition in this field both the Denon AVR-1610 (1 less HDMI input) and Onkyo TX-SR507 (not Panasonic friendly) are very worthy alternatives with some strengths over the Yamaha.

Product information

Price: £345
Available Finishes: Black, Titanium


Channnels 5.1-channel
RMS Power (8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz) [THD] 105W x 5 [0.9%] (1kHz)
Advanced Features iPod Compatibility via Yamaha Universal Dock Yes
Bluetooth Compatibility via Bluetooth® Wireless Audio Receiver Yes
Front Panel Mini Jack Input Yes
FM/AM Tuner Yes
YPAO Sound Optimization Yes
Compressed Music Enhancer Yes
Adaptive DRC (Dynamic Range Control) Yes
Initial Volume and Maximum Volume Setting Yes
Audio Delay for Adjusting Lip-Sync Yes (0-240 ms)
Remote Control Unit Preset
High Sound Quality 192kHz/24-Bit DACs for All Channels Yes (Burr-Brown)
Dolby TrueHD Yes
Dolby Digital Plus Yes
DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
Dolby Digital EX Yes
DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS 96/24 Yes
Pure Direct Direct Mode
High Picture Quality 1080p-Compatible HDMI Yes
Deep Color (30/36 Bit) Yes
x.v.Color Yes
100/120Hz and 1080p/24Hz Refresh Rates Yes
Auto Lip-Sync Compensation Yes
Surround Realism DSP Program 17
Adaptive DSP Level Yes
Extensive Connection / Multi-Zone Control HDMI Inputs/Outputs 4 / 1
Audio Digital Inputs (Optical / Coaxial) 4 (2 / 2)
Component Video Inputs / Output 2 / 1
Front Panel Video Aux Terminals Mini Jack
Preout Terminals Sb/Sw
Dynamic Power/Channel (8/6/4/2 ohms) -/110/130/150 W
Total Harmonic Distortion (20 Hz-20 kHz, CD) 0.06%
Signal-to-Noise Ratio (CD, 250 mV) 100 dB
Dimensions (W x H x D) 435 x 151 x 364 mm
Weight 8.4 kg


Monitor Audio BR5 Review

Monday January 18th 2010


The BR5 represents Monitor Audio’s most entry level floor standing speaker, as part of its award winning Bronze loudspeaker range.

First Impressions

Outs of its packaging, the finish is as you would expect from entry level speakers, where the finish is a striking vinyl that could pass for ‘real wood veneer’ but we believe that the finish does not actually aspire to be anything than a vinyl. The cabinets are solid, yet fairly light compared to more substantial floor standing speakers.

Standard 4mm binding posts on the rear of the speakers are quite close to the floor, which will make cable management an unnecessary exercise. The binding posts support the use of 4mm banana plugs, spade terminal bindings or direct binding. The speakers do support bi-wiring/bi-amping.

The footprint of the BR5’s is relatively small for floorstanders, making it a great choice for those rooms with limited space. It would actually occupy less floorspace than standard bookshelf speakers installed on standard speaker stands. Obviously as these do not require any stands, their price point is worth considering, as there is no additional AV furniture required.

Sound review gear

We started our audition on the suitably entry-mid level Yamaha RXV-1065 AV receiver, ensuring we had a weighty 155W to drive these speakers. We used the Chord Companies’ Epic loudspeaker cable, Chorus analogue interconnect and a TEAL digital coaxial interconnect. We later changed the amplifier to a more pedestrian Cambridge A300 amplifier, reducing the watts to 30; the audition of two amplifiers allowed us to review the speakers in home cinema and traditional stereo scenarios.


We set the speakers through its paces hearing an amazing level of sound seperation, but what is immediately apparent is the BR5’s love to thump out the lower frequencies; great for those fans of indie, rock and electronica. Despite its definite thumping capabilities the midrange frequencies are responsive and well defined, the upper ranges not too harsh. We found however that the bass notes were very dominant on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’s’  Speak to Me created an unpleasant resonance when we drove the speakers very loud on the Yamaha, and found that we had to turn off the PureDirect Settings and tone down the bass, or, god forbid, turn down the volume to a level where our ears stopped bleeding.

We found that these BR5’s and indeed all other Bronze speaker are better listened to without the speaker covers; they do, unfortunately seem to dull sound more than perceptably. We started the audition with the covers installed, after a while we removed them, the sound added a further dimension of clarity and verve. It is a great pity, because the BR5’s do look very nice with the covers installed.

When we changed from the Yamaha home cinema amplifier to a rather pedestrian integrated stereo amplifier, the sound quality improved considerably, we noticed the speakers became warmer, and less clinical – if you like, not as natural, where the harmonic qualities of the stereo amplifier made the BR5’s somehow more pleasant and therefore more enjoyable. This reveals two important points: home cinema amplifiers, whilst capable amplifiers, still do not deliver the same satisfying listening experience that a stereo amplifier can deliver, and also that equipment matching with the Monitor Audio BR5 speakers should be carefully consider; make no mistake we do not doubt that plugged into any good equipment the BR5’s will satisfy even the most demanding ears, but you could be missing out on the full capabilities of these excellent speakers.


For the money, these are great speakers. We recommend these for those starting out with their first set of hi-fi speakers for your front room, or as part of a package for home cinema applications. Very capable, responsive, well built speakers, with plenty of detail and punch.


Price £400 per pair
Finishes available (vinyl) black oak, pearlescent walnut, pearlescent cherry
Frequency Response +/- 3dB 36 Hz – 30 KHz
Sensitivity (1W@1M) 90 dB
Power Handling (RMS) 120W
Recommended Amplifier 30-120W
Cabinet Design Dual chamber bass reflex – Ported front and rear
Drive Unit Complement 1 x 5.5″ MMP®II Bass 1 x 5.5″ MMP®II Bass mid-range, 1 x 1″ (25 mm) gold dome C-CAM® tweeter
External Dimensions:(H x W x D) 850 x 165 x 247 mm33 7/16 x 6 1/2 x 9 3/4 inch
Weight (Individual) 11.5 Kg (25.3 lb)

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