Other significant findings on the 436SXE include a fully specified digital tuner, colour fine-tuning tools, and the facility to switch between 75Hz and 100Hz in case you find one mode works better than the other for different kinds of footage.
And so to the moment of truth: does the 436SXE’s performance match that of the stunning XDE models? Happily, when it comes to pictures it does. In fact, the 436SXE’s images are, as far as we can tell, absolutely identical in quality to those of the 436XDE.
For starters, this means that high definition footage looks sensationally sharp and detailed, with supreme amounts of texture and practically no video noise to spoil the show.
Colours are exceptional too, in terms both of their vibrancy and how naturally toned they are, even with tricky skin tones during dark scenes.
Rich, natural colours are commonly accompanied by a good contrast performance, and so it proves here, as the 436SXE’s black levels succeed in being both profoundly deep and jam-packed with the sort of subtle shading that gives pictures more depth and vitality.
Motion, meanwhile, looks wonderfully smooth and sharp, with practically no trace of the sort of softness or dotting noise still seen on numerous plasma TVs. Also impressive is how flexible the 436SXE is, with even standard definition pictures from its digital tuner looking surprisingly clean, sharp and enticing.
As with the 436XDE, analogue tuner footage can start to look a touch rough on the 436SXE. And the sheer richness of its colours mean you have to be even more careful about screen burn than normal, especially during the first 100 hours or so of the TV’s life. But otherwise the 436SXE’s pictures are simply as good as flat TV gets.
The 436SXE isn’t quite as accomplished sonically, however. The built in speakers simply don’t have as much bass as the external ones found with other Pioneer sets, reducing the impact of action scenes. The speakers still produce clear trebles without harshness, though, along with rich, clean dialogue. So they remain pretty good by flat TV standards.
Pioneer’s bid to deliver a cheaper, simpler plasma option isn’t wholly without its compromises – especially the lack of a PC connection. But the most important thing is that it’s still got picture quality to die for.