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Pioneer PDP-428XD

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      05.10.2010 20:36
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      Sad demise of plasma kept alive by this wonderful screen

      Lets not get too embroiled in the historical reasons for Pioneer exiting the plasma market, but if you look closely you will see a company basing it's long term strategical planning on an ever increasing loss of ground to Panasonic and a very clever insight in to the future of flat screen TV's.

      When considering this particular brand and even model of plasma it's important to remember that, just prior to the announcement that Pioneer had decided to pull the plug on plasma manufacture, they had invested billions of dollars in creating the worlds best plasma sets - the Kuro range. It's not that Pioneer were making poor screens, in fact totally the opposite, they just couldnt catch rivals such as Panasonic, they were losing vast amounts of cash and plasma was becoming a dirty word in the consumer world.

      All this makes for an interesting recipe resulting in the emergence of the 8th and 9th gen Kuro screens.

      I own this 428XD and frankly I am still astounded at the picture quality and detail even 3 years on. So, when in standby it's not the most stylish looking with it's 90 degree sharp corners but switch on and you get an immediate indication of what this screen was designed to do.

      Starting with SD signals (that's standard definition, non HD signals) the screen looks detailed, sharp, rich yet natural colours and no motion pixilation even at the quickest of movements or picture panning, in fact you would almost think you were viewing HD. This is what sold me in the first instance, that and the black levels. Speaking of which the contrast ratio on this panel boasts a claimed contrast ratio of 16000:1 - a huge 80 per cent improvement over anything Pioneer had managed before, the result is such a natural and well balanced picture it's simply a joy to watch.

      The plasma has three HDMI inputs. These are no ordinary HDMI inputs, they're compatible both with the 'CEC' industry standard, and with the 1080p/24fps 'pure' HD movie format used to encode the vast majority of films to HD disc. Plus there are all the usual connections associated with a TV digital tuner; a D-Sub PC port; a subwoofer line-out; a digital audio output; an RS-232 port; and a USB 2.0 input for viewing digital stills in glorious high definition via Pioneer's Home Gallery software. This is all on top, of course, of basic TV stalwarts like SCARTs, S-Video inputs, component etc.

      Perhaps the biggest surprise about the 428XD is that it is not a full HD screen - indeed, its 1,024 x 768 native resolution entails some rescaling of an HD source. Yet the processing engine driving the TV is so accomplished that HD pictures actually tend to look cleaner and sharper than with many full HD TVs - especially models that use LCD rather than plasma technology. I run mine at 720p and friends are still amazed at the performance compared to most screens around even now.

      In summary if you get a chance to pick up a decent one of these then dont hesitate, they are superb screens even 3 years on. Dont be put off by all that plasma burn rubbish either - sure if you leave a static screen on for 24 hours you will see a burn but with Pioneers latter technology even that sort of burn would fade out over time. The plasmas also have around the same running life as an LCD screen.

      As you can tell, I love this set - get one if you can!

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