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Pioneer Plasma TV Review PDP-4270HD 42" Flat Panel Plasma TV

Model: Pioneer PDP-4270HD
Description: 42" Plasma Television, Widescreen 16:9 Format
Resolution: 1024x768 (HDTV)

Includes: Integrated pedestal stand and 26W integrated speaker system, NTSC and ATSC (HDTV) tuners, 2 HDMI high-definition inputs, 3 component video, 4 composite video, 2 S-Video connection, PC Input.
Color: Glossy black bezel with black trim and Glossy black table stand

Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Review Date: August 2006

INTRODUCTION

The Pioneer PDP-4270HD hits the market with a more updated look and refined feature set than the previous generation PDP-4360HD. Although the diagonal screen size is one inch smaller, its lack of the archaic "media receiver box" (all of the 4360s television's input connections were included in the media box) makes it more attractive for the high-end consumers to which Pioneer is aggressively marketing. Also, Pioneer makes a good decision placing the PDP-4270HD's integrated speakers underneath the screen instead of on its sides. This allows consumers with space limitations to purchase the larger 42" plasma rather than having to settle for a smallish 37" LCD television.

PICTURE: 98/100

While the Pioneer PDP-4270HD's picture is a bit too bright out of the box—it is set to the Dynamic picture setting, the effect is not as bad as most of its competitors. Changing the picture mode to Standard or Cinema is a quick fix to enjoy a more natural picture. Our initial impression of Pioneer's latest offering is quite good—it reproduces the local news from our HDTV Over-the-air antenna quite well. There are no motion artifacts with quick sequences, and we can see each gray hair on the anchor's balding head!

Pioneer HDTV Plasma Review

The Pioneer PDP-4270HD displayed excellent color reproduction on our screening of the Braveheart DVD

The PDP-4270HD has excellent black levels, but this is to be expected from a premium brand like Pioneer. No irregularities are present in the picture when viewing HDTV, regular definition programming, or test patterns. In order to fully optimize the color reproduction of our PDP-4270HD, we used a colorimeter, a Sencore High-Definition signal generator, and a specialized software suite to calibrate the television to the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) standard color temperature of D6500K.

The following table contains the picture settings for the PDP-4270HD after its ISF calibration. We highly suggest that, if you own or purchase a Pioneer PDP-4270HD, you imitate these picture settings and save yourself several hundred dollars by doing so (rather than having a calibration specialist set it the same way). By configuring the television to the settings found below, we were able to maintain the color temperature in between D6400K and D6600K depending on the picture's brightness—a virtually flawless calibration. Using the below settings to regulate the color temperature and white balance virtually perfects the picture of the PDP-4270HD:

Pioneer PDP-4270HD Optimal Picture Settings
AV Selection User
Contrast 32
Brightness +3
Color +5
Tint -2
Sharpness -4
PureCinema Off
Color Temperature Low
CTI Off
DNR Low
MPEG NR Low

Figure 1. Optimal picture settings for the Pioneer PDP-4270HD using ISF Calibration.

To move any closer to D6500K would require modifying the television's service menus—a method which could potentially destroy the television. This would be essentially pointless because of the accuracy of the calibration.

The higher Color Temperature settings make the picture's white balance too bluish. Because our tester PDP-4270HD was calibrated with ISF-certified equipment, using Pioneer's proprietary picture improvements, such as PureCinema, is not necessary. According to our research, other measures such as Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) actually seem to degrade the picture of these upper-tier plasma televisions.

Wow, we thought that the picture on the PDP-4270HD looked good after our initial adjustments, but the picture is truly amazing after the ISF-calibration. Using our reference Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD player, we watched the Scarface DVD upconverted to 1080i. As Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) brutally takes over as Miami's drug kingpin, the PDP-4270HD uses its Advanced Pure Cinema 3:3 pulldown technology to flawlessly display the dazzling scenes of early 1980's Miami Beach. Dark matter detailing in the night scenes of the movie is superb—one can easily see the details in the outfits of each character.

The last twenty minutes of the movie, arguably the most violent in movie history, engross the review staff as the PDP-4270HD accurately displays the fast-action gun-fighting sequences. The flamboyant colors from Montana's mansion and the bright flashes of gunfire do not blend together at all. As Tony screams the famous line, "Say Hello to my little friend!" the PDP-4270HD excellently reproduces the intricate details of the sweat dripping from his brow and the cocaine still caked onto his nose. While the size of the PDP-4270HD does not compare to that of a movie cinema, our review staff agrees that the picture quality reproduction matches even the most advanced projection systems.

To test the Pioneer PDP-4270HD against standard-definition input, we watched a rerun of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on a local channel. There was minor pixilation in dark scenes, but this may be attributed to the relative weakness of the analog over-the-air signal. The Panasonic plasma television line, a direct competitor to Pioneer, seems to reproduce standard definition programming with fewer artifacts and pixilation. However, the picture reproduction for standard definition seems to be quite good when compared to the rest of the industry.

The PDP-4270HD has little to no problems with glare and it has nearly a 180-degree viewing angle. Pioneer includes several aspect ratio settings for the PDP-4270HD: 4:3 (with sidebars), Full, Zoom, Cinema, and Wide. The Full mode evenly stretches the image across the screen while Wide uses a special algorithm to minimize the picture's distortion. Cinema mode cuts off the far edges of the screen of movies to minimize the size of the letter-boxes for 2:35:1 aspect ratio movies.


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: 97/100

Aesthetically the PDP-4270HD is relatively unchanged from its predecessor, the PDP-4360HD. This is not a bad move on Pioneer's part because their previous models have received many accolades in the television industry for their aesthetic appearance. One notable difference is that the speakers are located at the bottom of the screen, not on the sides. While consumers' personal opinions may vary on the style factor of the change, it enables users to use the television in tighter spaces.

Pioneer includes Split-screen / Picture-in-Picture functionality with the PDP-4270HD. Some users, especially sports fanatics, find this to be a useful feature, but it cannot be used with a cable or satellite TV box because it requires two separate inputs. Additionally, the PDP-4270HD has the TV Guide On-Screen Interactive Program Guide. Again those users who utilize a cable or satellite box or a TiVo unit will rarely use this feature.

The PDP-4270HD has two HDMI inputs—up from one on the PDP-4360HD. This addition has become the industry standard as more devices are switching to HDMI as they push towards high-definition programming. There are several other inputs as well—three component video inputs, four composite video inputs, two S-Video connections, and a PC Input. Additionally, Pioneer is one of the few brands to include the much-maligned CableCard slot in its latest series televisions. While hooking up their components into the right input connections may be a daunting task for the everyday consumer, the direct-input buttons on Pioneer's included universal remote control make it possible to switch inputs with ease.

The Pioneer PDP-4270HD's On-Screen menu system is easy to navigate with all applicable categories, Picture, Audio, etc., easily recognizable. Buttons on the remote control are logically laid-out and appropriately sized. The remote is universal, but it effectively hides the rarely-used buttons for other sources under its slide-screen. Although the remote is quite functional, it is a dull gray color—it does not match the glossy black finish of the television—and it is very inexpensive-looking. But most users will be using their own universal remote anyway.

The PDP-4270HD has an Energy-saving mode to reduce power consumption. If you are watching in a dark or semi-dark environment, you can reduce the power consumption and thus the brightness of the screen. This is an intriguing additional feature, but it remains to be seen whether consumers will see the benefit of Energy-saving mode on their electrical bills each month.


VALUE: 88/100

Pioneer's plasma televisions are consistently of very high quality. They are also higher-priced than the plasma televisions made by their primary competitors, Panasonic and Samsung. Pioneer work hard on ensuring classy aesthetics and a full feature set such as Picture-in-Picture, cable card connection and upgraded sound quality not to mention quality plasma cell structure. All these features compare to the upgraded models from Panasonic and Samsung. When reviewing this unit from top to bottom the word "quality" echoes thoroughly. If Pioneer is your choice, I would not hesitate to recommend the PDP-4370HD or PDP-5070HD over the Pioneer Elite models. From a value standpoint, you get all the features of the Pioneer Elite models at a couple thousand dollars savings. The Elites models have "upgraded" casing and bezel and a 2 year warranty but all else including the picture quality is the same.

The big box retailer price for the PDP-4270HD is around $3500, but the it can be had for much less at authorized Internet outlets with lots of extras like free warranties and shipping. Be sure to always buy your Pioneer plasma no matter what model from an authorized dealer as Pioneer's warranty repair is not valid if the product is purchased from a dealer outside their authorized dealer network. Despite the higher price, the PDP-4270HD is perfect for those consumers who want the very best aesthetics, connectivity, performance and quality.

OVERALL RATING (WITH PICTURE DOUBLE-WEIGHTED): 95.25/100*

* Ratings from 70 to 100. Ratings in the 60s for any category are reserved for product with a serious defect or design flaw.






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