Pioneer PDP-427XD £2000

4th Jan 2007 | 00:00

Pioneer PDP-427XD

Pioneer keep rivals in the shade with improvements

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Another astonishingly good Pioneer plasma, which offers near faultless picture performance and all the features you could wish for

Like:

<p>Excellent picture quality</p><p>Stylish looks</p>

Dislike:

<p>Price a little on the high side</p>

As well as the PDP-427XD being 42in in size (Pioneer's abandoned its unique 43in shape), Pioneer has also dropped external media boxes. While this TV's forebearer (the PDP-436XDE) could be wallmounted with only one cable to hide, the PDP-427XD, like all other mainstream plasma TVs, takes all cables into its rear sockets.

The market's dominance of one-box TVs is a pity, but it's no wonder that Pioneer has tried to steer clear from being labelled as a specialist TV manufacturer.

Not that you'd know from the advanced nature of this set's connectivity. We feel that having two HDMIs is essential for a HD-ready flatscreen, but Pioneer has gone the extra yard by making each compatible with 1080p signals. The PDP-427XD can't actually display 1080p sources pixel-for-pixel (that requires Pioneer's much more expensive PDP-5000EX), but this is a feature that no other straight HD-ready TVs at this price point have.

Other inputs and outputs include a set of component video inputs, a PC VGA input, three Scarts, and some basic audio connections alongside a useful digital audio output.

The PDP-427XD's digital TV tuner is supported by an obligatory (and legally required) common interface slot for the smartcard and CAM needed to access the Top Up TV pay-TV service.

Top-level flat TV makers are developing new technologies all the time, but Pioneer's plasma TVs have always been one step ahead. This seventh-generation model is no different. Under the PDP-427XD's hood lies a PureBlack Panel 2, which is supposed to boost the already impressive black levels supplied by Pioneer's TVs.

There's also an Intelligent DRE processor to tinker with brightness, contrast and sharpness of images, and a Direct Colour Filter 2, an update of Pioneer's plastic screen cover that simultaneously reduces reflections and widens the viewing angle.

Colour compatible

In terms of colours, Pioneer again seems to be ahead of the pack. The company's engineers have improved the phosphor elements used in this set's plasma chambers, resulting in pixels that can generate a wider colour range than the company's sixth generation displays. Tonal subtleties have also seen improvements, and Pureblack Panel 2 system processing is on board too, to further improve colours.

Predictably, there are more features on board, including block noise reduction, more colour flexibility and a new Sports picture preset. So far, so Pioneer.

During the PDP-427XD's testing it was really apparent that Pioneer has made signifi cant improvements in the colour departments. Watching a high-definition broadcast of Planet Earth from our Sky HD box (fed through an HDMI), we were delighted to see that trickily toned aspects of the picture are executed with natural colouring. The lush greenness of dense forests particularly benefi ts from these improvements, retaining a more believable quality.

What's more, these colour improvements don't come at the expense of the vivid saturations screens, which is great news. Pioneer has put in a superb job in this department. Elsewhere, the manufacturer has not been idle. The black levels are tremendously impressive, resonating with richness, depth and not a sign of greyness around the gills. Subtle detailing and colour information also impresses in darker areas.

The PDP-427XD also scores serious points for sharpness. As the roving camera eye of Planet Earth stumbles over a cave riddled with myriad insects, the sharpness of detail is staggering, with every limb, and speck fabulously rendered and 3D in feel.

Pioneer hasn't put a foot wrong with the picture performance, particularly when you add smooth motion handling, great brightness, suppression of room reflections on the screen, and a great standard- definition view to the equation. Sonically, the PDP-427XD is no wallflower either, emanating plenty of treble, bass and a cracking soundstage that enlivens any movie or TV soundtrack.

Simply put, this is a phenomenal 42in plasma screen.

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