We know what you’re thinking: just what makes Pioneer think it can get away with charging a cool £5,370 (and that’s the cheapest price we could find) for a 50in plasma TV, when similar-sized models can now be had elsewhere for barely a third as much? Well, the answer’s actually pretty simple: the 5000EX is the first 50in plasma ever with a genuine 1,920 x 1,080 ‘Full HD’ pixel count. No fancy pixel-‘creating’ processing, no chicanery with shared electrodes and the like (a la Fujitsu/Hitachi’s Alternate Lighting of Surfaces technology) – just 2,073,600 real pixels.
If you’re now puzzled as to why it’s taken so long for plasma to deliver the full HD pixel monty when LCD has been doing it – and on smaller screens at that – for some time now, the answer lies in the sheer physical space demands of the gas chambers that make up a plasma TV’s pictures. It’s just not possible to fit 1,920 x 1,080 traditional plasma chambers onto a screen as ‘small’ as 50in. Which is why Pioneer has had to develop new plasma chambers barely half the size of traditional ones for the 5000EX, incorporating a groundbreaking T-shaped electrode design that Pioneer claims was the only way they could stop the smaller plasma chambers from misfiring.
Now it’s becoming clear how much innovation has gone into making the 5000EX possible, that six grand price arguably starts to make more sense. Having said that, Pioneer seems to realise that a healthy chunk of the 5000EX’s target market is likely to be the professional displays/broadcast market, for it ships minus the built-in speakers and tuner you’d expect of a truly domesticated machine.
To our thinking, though, the lack of these two normally key TV basics isn’t the great hardship it first appears. After all, surely anyone considering forking out nearly £5.4k on a TV will a) be driving it with only the best sources, such as a Sky HD receiver (which makes a tuner unnecessary) and b) be using it with some sort of external audio system (which makes built-in speakers unnecessary).