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Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Conclusion

by Vincent Teoh
3 July 2008
The best flat screen HDTV we've tested to date has landed. Its name? Pioneer PDP-LX5090.

Pros

  • Deepest black level we've ever measured (0.0031 cd/m2) on a flat panel HDTV
  • Enormous dynamic range with full preservation of shadow and highlight detail
  • Calibrates extremely well to D65 greyscale and 2.2 gamma
  • Stunning colour reproduction thanks to accurate hues and decoding (and wonderful blacks)
  • Excellent high-definition and standard-def video processing
  • Renders motion fluidly with minimal motion blurring
  • Displays 1080p/24 video signal without telecine judder if [PureCinema] engaged
  • [Dot-By-Dot] mode allows for 1:1 pixel mapping and zero overscan for 1080 source
  • Generous connectivity with 3 x HDMI inputs, 3 x Scarts, USB port, etc. (but some inputs are shared in a mutually exclusive manner; see Cons)
  • Comprehensive array of picture adjustment options available in the user menu (although they may be confusing; see Cons)
  • Settings can be saved separately for each input (but only in [User] mode, and not the [Movie] mode which provides the best gamma profile out-of-the-box; see Cons)
  • Excellent viewing angles with no visible drop-off in contrast and colour up to 150°
  • Exhibits virtually no posterization (as long as the source is up to par)
  • Extremely resistant to image retention/ screenburn
  • Offers picture-and-picture (PaP) and picture-in-picture (PiP) multi-screen viewing
  • Premium-quality remote control with dedicated input buttons
  • Slimmer, lighter and cheaper than its predecessor LX508D (but build quality suffers slightly; see Cons)

Cons

  • Subtle uneven blotches/ streaks on screen (mostly invisible during normal viewing)
  • Certain connections are shared in a mutually exclusive manner, requiring you to delve deep into the user menu to swap source
  • The mind-boggling number of picture controls (coupled with some vague description in the user manual) makes it easy for users to accidentally introduce video artefacts by applying the wrong settings to the wrong source material
  • Settings in the [Movie] mode (which gives the best gamma profile) are universal across inputs
  • Build quality is slightly inferior to its predecessor, though still very good compared to other makes
  • The usual issues of PWM noise, glass reflection, phosphor trails and panel buzzing which are present on all plasma televisions to a certain extent
  • Matching speakers and table-top stand needs to be purchased and assembled separately
  • More expensive than similarly-specced models from other manufacturers

Conclusion

If you've read through all the reviews on this website, you'll discover that every single HDTV which has been awarded "Highly Recommended"... or better... delivers excellent black level. Inky blacks enhance the realism of dark scenes, bolster image depth, and lend richness to colours. All things being equal, it is truly a straightforward case of "May the HDTV with the best blacks win".

And it is in this aspect that the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 stands peerless. Sure, the Samsung F96 LCD TV can produce 0 cd/m2 true blacks by switching off its local-dimming LED backlight, but only when there's little to no content on screen. During normal viewing, the blacks on the Samsung F96 LCD looked noticeably greyer compared to the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 Kuro right beside it. Although the improvement in black level going from an 8G (which is already miles ahead of other flat screen televisions on the market) to 9G (PDP-LX5090) Pioneer plasma is perhaps not as dramatic as the significant leap from a 7G (the generation prior to Kuro) to 8G (the first generation of Kuro), it is still visible nonetheless... certainly more than subtle in a dimly-lit viewing environment.

It's not as if the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 performed poorly in other areas. In fact, it aced pretty much every criterion of picture quality we could think up: D65 greyscale, 2.2 gamma, accurate chromaticities, spot-on colour decoding, excellent video processing, fine detail resolution, high motion resolution, and wide viewing angles. Even taking into account a couple of niggles, we firmly believe you cannot find another consumer flat screen television that can come close to matching the image quality delivered by 9G Pioneer Kuro plasmas. No surprise here then: the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 directly replaces its predecessor the PDP-LX508D as the best flat panel HDTV we've tested to date.

Reference Level

5 Star Rating: Reference Level

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