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Pioneer PDP-508XD review

Pioneer’s ‘mid-price’ 50in plasma is more expensive than many same-sized rivals – but far better, too

As much as we hate to sound like an advertising campaign, we have to underline that Pioneer plasma TVs are so much better than anything else you can buy it’s slightly embarrassing. The new Kuro range isn’t just class-leading, it’s class-dominating: whether you’re after a 42in, 50in or 60in, there’s only one brand to buy – unless, of course, you can’t afford the price.

Which is where Pioneer’s PDP-508XD comes in. It’s not quite as good as the company’s flagship 50in TV, the PDP-LX508D, but it’s still comfortably better than every other 50in TV on the planet – and it’s also £1000 cheaper than its illustrious sibling. If price is a big factor in your buying, that’s food for thought.

Lacking Full HD

So what’s the deal with this cheaper Kuro? In many regards, it’s the same high-quality offering as ever: you get three HDMIs, automated picture-enhancing, ambient light sensor modes and more.

Like its 50in sibling, the PDP-508XD is also sold as a display, with speakers as an option, rather than a standard-fit, because most typical customers already have external audio systems of better quality.

However, the PDP-508XD does cut down the pixels: it has a resolution of 1365×768, as against 1920×1080 in the £4000 ‘LX508D. It also uses a slightly less capable colour filter, and has a lower contrast ratio – although this is still a highly impressive 16,000:1.

Pixels aren’t everything

Do you notice those pixels in practice? Depends. If you’ve got a PDP-LX508D around, and you put the two sets side-by-side, and then stick the same content into both of them, then, yes, you do. A little. The Full HD set is slightly sharper and more dramatic, and it has even more three-dimensionality to its picture.

But – and here’s the real point – compared to every other telly around, including Panasonic’s similarly priced Full HD 50in plasma, you won’t find anything to complain about. Every other strength the Kuro range possesses, from amazing black depth to extraordinary contrast and vivid-yet-realistic colours is present and correct – and together, these assets combine to produce an unbeatable telly.

It looks terrific with TV signals, excellent with DVD and plain fabulous with Blu-ray or HD DVD, and it’ll also cope happily with 24fps/1080p content.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5