Pioneer PDP-435XDE review

A plasma ideal for displaying on a wall

Our Verdict

It blazes a trail in terms of DVD and high-def material, it's not the ideal replacement for a CRT

Amedia box makes things much easier when wall-mounting, because it takes all the connections to DVD players, amps and speakers, meaning there's just one cable to hide. But it's not just the media box - and optional wall bracket - that makes this 43in Pioneer plasma ideal for displaying on a wall. Far from it.

This is a typically sumptuous Pioneer, boasting a high-gloss black body with contrasting silver stand, not to mention an innovative plastic 'Direct Colour Filter' screen, instead of glass, designed to boost contrast and reduce ambient reflections.

Equipped with a HDMI input for pure digital connection of a DVD deck with a suitable output, the PDP-435XDE should be a great screen on which to watch DVDs (not to mention the fact that it'll be compatible with Sky's high-def broadcasts when they begin in 2006).

There's also a built-in Freeview digital tuner, and a handy PC card slot with which you can view your digital photographs.

Pure pictures?

Features include a more flexible version of Pioneer's respected PureCinema processing system, for '2:2 and 3:2 pull-down' to improve motion with different sources; an MPEG noise reducer for blitzing digital blocking noise on digital broadcasts; a contrast booster; colour transient improvement and an EPG for digital TV.

At times - and especially with pristine high-definition or progressive scan footage - the Pioneer's pictures look nothing short of magnificent. They boasts beautifully rich and pure colours, acute fine detail and premier league solidity and stability. Despite the drifting mist in the Motorcycle Diaries scene when Che and Alberto sail into Peru, the amount of detail in the surrounding fiords was quite stunning. What's more, the new Direct Colour Filter does an amazing job of removing on-screen reflections, even during the sunniest of afternoons. In terms of DVD playback the PDP-435XDE is hugely impressive and proudly stands at the head of its plasma peers.

Broadcast bomb

However, with the more mundane 'chore' of broadcast TV - and this includes much of the programming from a Sky Digital receiver or the TV's own digital tuner - a twin assault of so-so contrast and noticeable picture noise sometimes brings the quality down a touch.

Contrast has never been Pioneer's strongest point, but previously the exceptional subtlety the company's screens have shown when picking out minute colour and greyscale gradations has carried the day. The main problem now is that many rivals have upped their contrast game, making Pioneer's short-comings even harder to take. Using the 'high' setting on the 'DRE' contrast boost facility helps - but not enough.

Standard digital or analogue TV sources also suffer from grain, dot crawl and low-level 'plasma fizzing' - although the bright studio footage that is typical of news and magazine programmes looks good.

The speakers are pleasingly impressive. They possess a rich, smooth tone that is redolent of Pioneer's renowned hi-fi talents. A bit more raw power is always welcome, and would really have been the icing on the cake, but if you're after a smooth, soothing tone rather than one that simply blows your socks off, the PDP-435XDE is just the job.

While the PDP-435XDE blazes a trail in terms of DVD and high-def material, it's not the ideal replacement for a CRT. But if TV fans might be slightly disappointed, those who watch mainly DVDs or have a dedicated cinema room should look no further.