Philips 17PF9945 Review

The Philips 17PF9945 provides versatility and style without sacrificing any aspect of performance.
The Philips 17PF9945 provides versatility and style without sacrificing any aspect of performance.
The Philips 17PF9945 provides versatility and style without sacrificing any aspect of performance.

Highs

  • Can double as a computer monitor
  • can be hung on the wall

Lows

  • You cannot watch TV while actively on the computer
  • no picture-in-picture

DT Editors' Rating

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Key Specifications

Features
720p
Screen size
17"
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Summary

While this unit is too small for the whole family to enjoy in the living room it is perfect for the home office or den. The picture provided is sharp, free of defects and easy on the eyes. The Philips 17PF9945 offers style and a small footprint so it will not take up too much real estate on your desk.

It can double as a computer monitor making it a truly dual purpose purchase. The Philips 17PF9945 is small enough to hang from the wall if you wish without the worry that you will hear a crash in the middle of the night.

Even though this is not intended for a family room all the features of its big brothers are included. The Philips 17PF9945 provides versatility and style without sacrificing any aspect of performance.

Introduction

With flat panel displays becoming the norm for home TV and computer displays, several manufacturers are offering displays that perform dual duty – as a TV and a computer monitor.

One such device is the Philips 17PF9945 17-inch widescreen display. Its screen size makes it best suited for the den or home office, but in its element, the 17PF9945 is a top-notch set that far exceeded our expectations.

The 17PF9945 handles almost any video source, can act as your computer monitor and even bring in your favorite radio stations for your listening pleasure.

Features

The 17PF9945 is a high-definition-capable 1024×768 pixel display with built in flat speakers. Performance aside, this is one good-looking monitor.

A light, compact unit that is easy to place on almost any desktop, the 17PF9945 can also be easily hung on a wall.

It features DCDi (Directional Correlational Deinterlacing) technology by Faroudja, which eliminates the jagged edges that appear when standard interlaced video is viewed on Progressive Scan displays.

The connections are made either on the bottom or by removing one of two plastic access panels on either side of the back of the unit. After installation, the covers can be replaced to maintain the look of the unit and protect the connections. The stand allows the unit to be swiveled slightly up or down for the optimal viewing angle. The Philips 17PF9945 is a good looking television that will fit in to most decors.

Installation

There are three sets of access panels to connect the plethora of cables and wires required for the typical operation. One set is at the bottom of the unit while the other two are located behind removable panels on the right and left sides of the television. The bottom input panel has the following connectors for the primary AV channel (AV1):

  • AC Input
  • Coaxial Cable Input
  • Coaxial Radio Input
  • HD Component Audio/Video Inputs
  • Component Audio/Video Inputs
  • Composite Audio/Video Inputs
  • Computer Monitor Connector

The Left Panel provides the second AV channel (AV2):

  • Data Jack (Service Personnel Use Only)
  • Sub Woofer Output
  • Headset Output
  • Composite AV Input
  • Composite AV Output
  • S-Video Input

The Right Panel provides the third AV channel (AV3):

  • S-Video
  • Composite Video

With all the options noted above this set can handle just about any source you can throw at it. It takes only a few minutes to get oriented and correctly install all your devices. Since the main television inputs share AV1 with the computer input you cannot watch TV while actively on the computer. Unlike other TV/Monitor LCD displays we have seen from other manufacturers, there is no picture in picture option available in this unit.

Video Testing

Right out of the box the video quality was amazing. The Philips 17PF9945 provided a crisp, clear picture and allowed us to notice the smallest detail.

When we ran the Philips 17PF9945 through the video calibration DVDs Video Essentials and Ultimate DVD Platinum and only slight adjustments were required. The brightness and contrast had to be lowered to get the optimal picture; however not much else was needed. There was almost no over-scan when watching an anamorphic 1.85:1 DVD. We found there to be just the right hint of black bars at the top and bottom, typical of a properly adjusted scan.

In order to make sure the adjustments persist when changing video sources the, Auto Picture feature had to be employed. This feature automatically adjusts the picture no matter what video source you are using. Since the calibration discs do not require that adjustment modes are active, we had to run through the calibrations, note the required changes, go into Auto Picture set up and reapply the changes.

The result was a consistent picture whether we were watching cable, a DVD or using the 17PF9945 as a computer monitor. This was done in the Personal mode of Auto Picture. There are some pre-configured modes also available such as movies, sports, weak signal and multimedia. There were no details in the literature provided to describe the exact changes each mode enforces. The Philips 17PF9945 has a light sensor to provide feedback to the unit allowing it to adjust for changes in the room’s lighting.

There are several modes available for viewing:

  • 4:3 full screen
  • Super wide (stretches the picture to fill the screen)
  • Zoom 14:9
  • Wide screen
  • Zoom 16:9
  • Subtitle zoom (like Zoom 16:9 but shifts the picture down to make the sub titles visible)

As with most sets the use of the various zoom modes noticeably degraded the quality of the picture. For best possible results, we recommend you stick with the bars and leave the zoom modes off.

One thing that we really enjoyed about this model is the ability to use it as a television set or as a computer monitor. Since it is a bit too small for the whole family to enjoy, placing it on the desktop makes it perfect for the home office. You can easily switch between a high resolution monitor and high definition home theater source. For the audio you can either go with one of the many six-channel computer audio systems or use a small, home theater in a box audio set up. Either way with the Philips 17PF9945 providing the video you may never leave your den or office again.

When using this model as a monitor it provided very responsive video. There was no ghosting as items were moved around the desktop. With a decent broadband Internet connection the viewing of MPEG files and streaming video was equally as good.

For RF and composite video sources the unit includes a three-comb filter to enhance the picture. We tested the television in composite, component and s-video modes. Naturally, the component high definition mode worked the best but even with the composite connection the picture was more than adequate. In high def mode the picture was far better than we imagined we’d see from a set of this size.

Auto Picture or Active Control permits the Philips 17PF9945 to maintain the same video characteristics regardless of the source. While it did work fairly well it, did limit the options than can be set and the ability to properly calibrate the unit.

Audio Testing

Since the target audience for this model is a den or desktop the intrinsic audio is more important than for a larger, family oriented set. The Philips 17PF9945 comes complete with several enhancements to provide a decent quality of sound.

The Philips 17PF9945 comes with what they call ‘Dolby Virtual’ mode. This is actually their name for Dolby Prologic 2, the latest in two-channel surround sound matrix conversion. In this mode mono and two-channel audio sources are processed to provide an emulation of six-channel audio.

No matter what the literature states this is no replacement for true discrete surround sound but when activated it did provide a rich, fairly full sound field. We tested this mode with some true six-channel sources. The matrix that came out of the little on board speakers was a bit light on the lower frequencies as we had expected, but very good for the venues in which this model will most likely be used.

With six-channel sources, the rear effect was diminished quite a bit. There was better performance using DVDs with two channel audio tracks specifically mastered for use with Prologic or Prologic 2. Using some powered computer speakers via the headset jack provided a drastic improvement in the audio quality. Of course, going through any of the several audio out jacks into a small home theater setup gave an excellent performance.

There are three ancillary audio modes available:

  • Incredible Sound: widens the perceived sound making it seem wider and fuller.
  • Dolby Virtual: Standard Dolby Prologic 2, simulates a full home theater environment.
  • Spatial: Similar to Incredible Sound, widens the sound field.

The Spatial mode did not seem to enhance the lower frequencies as well as the Incredible mode. We found it better to use Spatial with older mono films and Incredible mode with stereo audio sources.

The internal radio receiver worked fairly well but, at least in the area we tested it in, was prone to static. You are able to preset channels for the radio in much the same way as you do the television stations. This does work nicely when using the unit as a computer monitor and you’d like to hear a little music while working.

Among the options for modifying the audio characteristics of the Philips 17PF9945 there is a five band equalizer, 120 Hz, 500 Hz, 1200 Hz and 5000 Hz. There is the standard balance control and something they call AVL, automatic volume level. When activated this feature helps to maintain an even volume level. This feature was useful when watching late at night and those overly loud commercials come on. SAP, secondary audio program, is also available.

There are two ways to send the audio signal from the Philips 17PF9945 to another piece of equipment. Fixed provides a preset level to the external device. This permits volume control only from the external device. This is best used when hooking the Philips 17PF9945 up to a home theater setup. Variable allows the volume to be controlled from the Philips 17PF9945. This is a slightly better way to go since you don’t have to switch the remote control between devices. You can control volume and channels with the same remote control mode. With both of these modes you can turn off the internal Philips 17PF9945 speakers, using only the externals.

Remote Control

The Philips 17PF9945 comes with a pretty standard universal remote. There are both preset options for most of the major label equipment you have and a learning more to help customize the features you want for the remote.

Conclusions

While this unit is too small for the whole family to enjoy in the living room it is perfect for the home office or den. The picture provided is sharp, free of defects and easy on the eyes. The Philips 17PF9945 offers style and a small footprint so it will not take up too much real estate on your desk.

It can double as a computer monitor making it a truly dual purpose purchase. The Philips 17PF9945 is small enough to hang from the wall if you wish without the worry that you will hear a crash in the middle of the night.

Even though this is not intended for a family room all the features of its big brothers are included. The Philips 17PF9945 provides versatility and style without sacrificing any aspect of performance.