A niche carved into flat panel display.
Philips and their Magnavox counterpart have been offering us some unremarkable TVs. It used to be simple. If you wanted to be sure you were getting a good TV you bought Hitachi, Sony or Mitsubishi. If you wanted to save money you bought a Philips, Sharp, Magnavox or RCA. If you wanted to get so cheap you were willing to go where angels fear to tread you might go for a Goldstar (today's LG), Lloyds or some other off brand. But those days ended sometime in the late 90s.
The explosion in display technologies today means these companies have had a chance to realign and re-evaluate and in many cases revalue themselves. Sony dips into shockingly mainstream fare, so the Sony name on a TV can no longer be assured of the quality it used to. Sharp practically owns all the LCD panel manufacturers out there and Hitachi is praised time and again for reliability by consumer reports. They've re-branded themselves as the workhorse of TVs.
What's up with Philips?
This is a Dutch electronics company, like Thompson. Philips originated in 1891 by Gerard Philips who made light bulbs and other electrical equipment. The first Philips factory is now a museum in the Netherlands. In 1939 Philips was the first to market the electric razor, the Philishave. Other firsts for Philips included the compact cassette tape and laser disc. The Laserdisc didn't get far but the cassette tape eventually delivered us from 8-track and would kick around the front seats of teenager's cars through the late 70s and especially the 80s. It seemed Philips was on a roll when they developed their own standard of video cassette called the V2000 but it was destined to go nowhere. Unable to sustain itself in the face of competition from Beta and VHS, the V2000 was deemed a failure.
Phliips TVs today enjoy renewed vitality; a keen eye for innovative features and development has put Philips sets to the forefront of the competitive flat panel TVs. Ambient light TVs are an interesting feature and the MiraVision TV is one of the coolest new TVs around.
Ambient Light Technology or Ambilight is a new feature found on some of Philips flat panel TVs. Basically it reduces eyestrain by putting a field of ambient light behind the TV. The ambient light has a limited ability to present similar colors to the display at any given time or can just be set up to display a single color of soft lighting. It's a great idea that may even be worth paying a little extra for, but how much it's worth to you is a personal matter. Since you can duplicate ambient lighting easily and cost effectively inside your viewing environment it's not likely a feature that will have people breaking down the doors to their local Philips dealer.
The flat panel product line by Philips includes LCD and Plasma TVs. The LCD offerings range from 15" up to a hefty 42" model with all Philips' bells and whistles. Philips' Plasma line starts at 42" and goes up from there, rounding up to 50" flat TVs. By bringing the consumers up to more expensive Plasma after 42", Philips is following conventional wisdom that serious gains in Plasma technology really starts when you're looking for a flat panel over the 42" range. Smaller flat panel sets are better off using LCD technology for the cost benefits. But go any larger and Plasma's abilities to provide faster pixel rise/fall (among other benefits) make Plasma a superior choice.