Without question one of the finest TVs we’ve looked at to date in our pre-World Cup TV marathon has been Pioneer’s PDP-436XDE 43in plasma. But even that slice of home cinema heaven had a couple of issues that might put some people off, namely its slightly high price and its use of a separate external box for tuner and AV connection duties.
Cue Pioneer’s PDP-436SXE: a new 43in plasma model that slashes £500 off the XDE price and shifts all the connections onto the screen itself, making it a more direct, fuss-free replacement for your current TV. But has this more affordable all-in-one approach forced Pioneer to sacrifice any of its trademark quality?
Aesthetically there seems little sign of compromise. In fact, even though it fits the speakers into the main body of the TV rather than providing detachable speakers like the 436XDE does, the 436SXE’s design is arguably even prettier. The speakers are so cunningly integrated that they’re nearly invisible, the chassis looks remarkably compact, there are some new and very cute curves around the screen’s corners, the high-gloss finish is dramatic, and the fascia is stunningly minimalistic. In fact, the only word we can think of to sum the whole thing up is ‘hubba’…
The 436SXE’s connections, however, aren’t quite as impressive as those of its XDE sibling, as moving everything onto the TV has led to three dropouts. For starters we find just one HDMI jack versus the XDE models’ two. Also, there’s no sign of the XDE’s photo-card slot. And most annoyingly, unlike the XDE models there’s no way of attaching a PC. You can still attach an Xbox 360 for HD gaming via a set of component jacks, but we’re sure at least a few of our readers will find the lack of any PC interface pretty distressing.
Elsewhere, though, everything looks OK, with highlights including three SCARTs, an S-Video input, and an RS-232 jack that can, uniquely in the UK plasma world, be used for getting the TV’s picture professionally calibrated to Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) standards.