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Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Review

by Vincent Teoh
3 July 2008

It probably wouldn't be too far from the truth to say that Pioneer has single-handedly reignited the interests of would-be HDTV buyers in plasma televisions since the introduction of their Kuro line in 2007. Which is no mean feat considering how the LCD TV camp have all but dominated the flat screen HDTV market over the past couple of years.

It was actually around this time last year that we first encountered a Pioneer Kuro plasma TV in the form of a HD-ready PDP-4280XD. This year there will no longer be a 42-inch version in the new Kuro lineup: every model in Pioneer's ninth-generation (9G) plasma range will be sized 50" or above, and will feature a true HD native resolution of 1920x1080.

Let's kick things off with a review of the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 which has been generously provided on loan by authorised Pioneer retailer TLC Broadcast.

Design

Just like previous Kuros, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma HDTV sports a clutter-free glossy black bezel which is adorned only by Pioneer's logo along the bottom border, and some red/ blue (the intensity of which can be adjusted in the user menu) LED indicators at the bottom left corner. As is the case with all plasma televisions we've reviewed thus far, the reflective screen on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 takes on a dark grey appearance in a bright room, strengthening the case for stringent ambient lighting control to prevent the potentially inky blacks from being excessively "diluted" by stray light.

Pioneer PDP-LX5090 

The Pioneer PDP-LX5090 is supplied as a standalone panel: its undermount or sidemount speakers, pedestal stand and/ or wall mount accessories have to be purchased separately should you require them, though some retailers do bundle them together with the plasma panel as a package. Because the speakers were out of stock when we placed our order for the PDP-LX5090 review sample, we couldn't comment on its sound quality. But we did receive a PDK-TS36B pedestal stand that has impressed us with its sturdy weight, matching polished black coating, and swivelling/ tilting capabilities.

An inspection around the back of the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 reveals that while build quality remains more than acceptable, the material and finishing lack the über-premium feel of its 8G predecessor. This is perhaps unavoidable due to a combination of cost-cutting (the RRP of PDP-LX5090 at launch is £1000 less expensive than that of PDP-LX508D last year), bulk-trimming (27mm or 22.5% slimmer in depth) and weight-shedding (33.5kg vs 38.3kg).

Rear view Grip handle and power button
Rear view of connections & swivel stand
Recessed handgrip & power button

A pair of recessed handgrips are thoughtfully embedded at the back of the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma TV to aid lifting. For those of you who are not familiar with Pioneer plasmas yet refuse to RTFM, here's a tip that may save you from needlessly calling any warranty/ returns/ exchange helpline: the master power button is located near the bottom at the rear of the panel.

Connections

The 3 HDMI ports behind the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 now face backwards rather than downwards (the way they were implemented on the 8G Kuros), making them easier to access. However, this effectively means that owners who wish to mount their plasmas flush to the wall may have to bend and stress their HDMI cables to some degree even though the compartment housing the HDMI inputs is somewhat recessed relative to the rear plane of the panel.

Rear left connections
Rear left: 3 x HDMI, VGA, Common Interface slot, aerial, RS-232C service port
Rear right connections
Rear right: 3 x Scarts, component, analogue/ digital audio/ subwoofer out, speaker terminals

While there is undoubtedly an abundance of connection interfaces on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 plasma HDTV, just like previous Kuros certain inputs are shared in a mutually exclusive manner. For example, HDMI port 1 and Scart interface 1 are both assigned to [Input 1], so even if you have devices connected to both ports, you'll have to delve deep into the user menu to activate one and disable the other should you wish to swap source. That said, there are probably enough input permutations to satisfy everyone but the most demanding of connection junkies.

Side connections
Side: composite, headphone out, USB port, control buttons

A side USB port allows you to view JPEG photos on the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Kuro plasma. The absence of an S-video input is probably not going to be missed by many.

5 Star Rating: Reference Level

 

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