Plasma TVs have taken a few knocks recently with the release of some extremely capable LCD screens at comparable sizes. Not one to take a fight lying down, Pioneer is still championing plasma as the definitive technology and in their 427XD could well have dealt a killer blow.
For starters it looks great, with a sleek black bezel finish and swivel stand contributing well to the extremely solid build quality. You’ll find a generous array of connectivity including two HDMI ports, three Scart, component, S-Video and an analogue RGB PC input. Handily you’ll find additional audio and video inputs along with a headphones port on the side, so you won’t have to twist yourself into knots to find the right ports if you want to plug in a console, multimedia player or other source device temporarily.
There’s also an integrated digital tuner and a whole host of new digital picture processing technologies that promise to offer the best performance yet from a plasma screen. We’re very pleased to say that without going into detail as to what they all do, the end result is very, very impressive.
Relatively low-resolution pictures are nice enough through the integrated tuner or Sky+, although at this level you will benefit from tweaking the settings a tad to improve colour reproduction. Thankfully you’re provided with a range of presets to make this pretty straightforward, and although the menus don’t offer quite the range of adjustments the serial tweaker might demand, all the most important are here.
Pioneer’s haymaker lands when you move on to high resolution content, results here are, for want of a more original word, outstanding. Colour reproduction is fantastic, with beautifully crisp blacks and a level of detail that puts much of the rest of the industry to shame.
These are some of the most realistic and engrossing images we’ve seen on a high definition screen to date, leaving us cursing under our breath that there isn’t more HD content around so we never have to watch anything else again.
Of course anything less than an HDMI connection to enjoy this experience just isn’t good enough, but in utilising one you’ll also benefit from excellent digital audio from the under-mounted speakers that generates an enthralling pseudo-surround experience, particularly if you wire a sub up to the subwoofer output to round things off.
This is a real HD user’s dream, although those with upscaling DVD players will notice that the screen only accepts 24Hz 1080p signals so you won’t be able to establish 50/60Hz 1080p signals if your hardware allows it.
After some impressive offerings on the LCD front from Sharp and Samsung, among others, we’ve been leaning towards this side of the fence in recent times. Pioneer has shaken things up again with its latest range and we’re once again fascinated to see who, if anyone, will win out in the end.
The only real drawback here is the price, even though you can make substantial savings over the retail value online you’ll still find equivalent sized and similar specification LCDs for a bit less, but if High Definition is your priority it’s worth it for the extra performance.
Pioneer really has backed up its argument that plasma is best with this new range. The 427XD is well featured, stylish and performs superbly on all fronts but high definition content really has to be seen to be believed.