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Pioneer PDP4280XD Test Conclusion

by Vincent Teoh
15 July 2007
TLC Broadcast

SUMMARY
Pioneer's 8th-generation plasma is no hype... the PDP4280XD offers the best post-calibration picture quality I've seen to date.

PROS
> Deepest blacks among all the HDTVs we've tested*
> Gorgeous colour reproduction with accurate decoding
> Excellent video processing including 1080p/24 handling

CONS
> Slightly indistinct shadow detail
> Noisier picture with certain settings
> High price tag

Pros

  • Deepest blacks* among all the HDTVs I've reviewed so far (objectively and subjectively)
  • Gorgeous colour reproduction with accurate decoding
  • Excellent video mode deinterlacing
  • Competent film mode deinterlacing (except in 480i/60 and 1080i/60; see Cons)
  • "Advance" [PureCinema] mode removes telecine judder
  • Good scaling quality
  • Fluid motion handling as expected from a top-tier plasma
  • Effectively no posterization
  • No image retention
  • No screen uniformity issues
  • Generous connectivity: 3 HDMI ports, 3 Scarts, optical audio out, etc.
  • Plenty of calibration options in the user menu (but may be confusing; see Cons)
  • Independent input memory settings
  • Automatic PC adjustments over VGA and HDMI to eliminate overscan
  • Excellent viewing angle (> 160°)
  • Recessed grip handles and pre-attached stand facilitate quick setup
  • Remote control sports high-quality finish and dedicated input buttons

*Update 16 August 2007: I've since reviewed the Pioneer PDP508XD which has a lower black level (although not by much).

Cons

  • Slightly indistinct shadow detail due to skewed 0-20% gamma tracking
  • Certain settings increase PWM noise (shimmering pixels)
  • Sluggish and flaky 3:2 cadence lock over 480i/60 and 1080i/60
  • Plasma buzzing may annoy those with sensitive ears
  • The sheer number of options in the user menu can be confusing, especially when...
  • The manual does not explain a lot of the functions in the user menu clearly
  • Reflective screen may pose a problem if ambient light is not controlled
  • Priced at a premium compared to plasmas with similar specs
  • EPG lacking in usability

Conclusion

I'm not sure if I have exhausted my vocabulary of superlatives in this review, but I'll sum it up in one sentence: the Pioneer PDP4280XDBuy this for £1139.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £60.00 discount
is the best flat panel television I've tested to date. After calibration, it fulfills most of my criteria for a reference-level picture quality. Awesome blacks? Check. Enormous dynamic range? Check. D65 greyscale? Check. Saturated but not overblown colours without hue and decoding errors? Check. Smooth as a baby's bottom 24fps handling? Check. Top-notch video processing? Check. No image retention, screen uniformity issues nor posterization? All check.

If you've been following the reviews on this website, you will know that the previous (seventh) generation of Pioneer plasmas were crippled by disappointingly average black levels and the infamous "dirty screen effect". By addressing and eradicating these shortcomings, Pioneer have a winner on their hands in the form of the PDP4280XD... I've even seriously considered keeping it as a point of reference for all my future reviews.

Reference Level


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