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Pio PDP-5080XD Design & Operation

by Andrew Fee
10 October 2007
TLC Broadcast

As with all televisions these days, setup of the Pioneer PDP-5080XD was relatively easy. The 50" models of these televisions are not supplied with stands or speakers however, to give the buyer more options. If you want to do without speakers and have a cleaner looking television, you can, or you can choose between an under-mount speaker or ones that fit on either side of the screen.

Front

There are also various stand options available. There is a fixed stand, (of which there is a model for use with the under-mount speaker, and one without) a swivel stand and the set can of course be wall-mounted.

Depending on your point of view, this could potentially save you a few hundred pounds, or it could be costing you that much more on top of the cost of the display itself.

I was supplied with the fixed stand, however it was the one designed for use with the under-mount speakers which were not supplied, so there is a gap under the screen with cables visible in all the photographs.

The back is all metal, and the television feels very solidly built. The piano black finish is by far the best that I have seen from any manufacturer so far. Normally I am not a fan of piano black finished AV equipment, as it often looks cheap in my opinion, but this certainly looks the part.

Back

The bezel is slim and angular, which makes it very unobtrusive. It is one of the smallest 50" displays I have seen, which I think is a good thing, as it may allow you to go for a larger sized screen without it having as much of an impact on the room.

Connections

The Pioneer 5080 has a generous selection of inputs available - there are three HDMI 1.3 inputs, but unlike most other displays, all three of them are on the back, rather than having the third on the side/front, which makes it far more useful. This is a great design choice and I hope other manufacturers do the same. Another nice feature of the HDMI inputs is that they will accept a 1360x768 signal and display it without any overscan/scaling.

Underside Connections

There are three SCART sockets, a Component input and VGA on the back as well, and your typical Composite/S-Video inputs on the side.

Rear Connections

As with most other televisions, there are also buttons down the side to control it without a remote, but I doubt these will ever be used.

On-Screen Menu

These are exactly the same as the menus found on the other models in this range. They are responsive, and have a significant amount of options available to let you calibrate the screen. When making adjustments, it takes a long time after receiving no input from the remote before the menu disappears, which helps make calibration even easier.

A great feature which I have not seen on any other display so far is the "before/after" option. After making your adjustments, before closing the menus you can press the blue button on the remote. This will toggle between your previous settings and the new adjustments to let you evaluate your changes. If you exit the menus when the "before" image is being displayed, it will revert to those settings.

Remote Control

Remote

This is one aspect where I feel Pioneer could be doing a little better. The remote is absolutely massive for this television. It's not that it has significantly more buttons than other remotes, or that the buttons are larger to make pressing them easier, it's just very big for some reason. It also has a strange "brushed" texture across the top and feels a bit cheap in general.

Functionally, the remote is very good though. It is well laid out, and has discrete input buttons along the top. This means that, rather than having to press an "AV" button multiple times, or go through a menu, you just press the button for the input you want and you will go directly to it.

However, while this should have been a great feature, Pioneer have managed to implement it in such a way that it significantly limits the number of devices you can have connected to the television. The problem is that, while there are three HDMI inputs, three SCART sockets, Component, VGA and Composite/S-Video, these are all shared.

  • So SCART 1,2,3 are all assigned to the input 1,2,3 buttons by default.
  • HDMI 1,2,3 are assigned to inputs 1,3,4
  • And Component is assigned to input 2.

As you have no doubt noticed, a lot of these numbers overlap, and this is where Pioneer's handling of the situation falls apart. You cannot share these input numbers.

  • Input 1 can only be assigned to HDMI 1 or SCART 1
  • Input 2 can only be Component or SCART 2
  • Input 3 can only be HDMI 2 or SCART 3
  • Input 4 is HDMI 3

So while the television has seven main inputs (3x SCART, 3x HDMI, Component) you can only ever use four of them. Switching the function of the input from one to the other is buried deep within the menus, and they share the same picture settings, so it is not something you can change quickly. (if I remember correctly it takes something like 10-15 button presses)

So while discrete input selection is a great idea, the execution is terrible, and makes me wish Pioneer had never thought of it, as it severely limits the number of devices you can connect to it.

A smarter way of doing things, in my opinion, would have been to have each input button toggle between the two inputs. Eg pressing input 1 the first time would take you to HDMI 1 and pressing it a second time would take you to SCART 1. This way you would have been able to use all the inputs and still have quick access.

I really do wonder what was going through the mind of whoever was responsible for this at Pioneer.

Update: It has been brought to my attention that, if the devices you are connecting up via SCART support auto-switching, even if that input is set to HDMI or Component, the TV will switch to it when you turn that device on, however I cannot verify this as the television has already been collected.


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