HD picture quality is nothing short of stunning in all kinds of ways – though arguably the single greatest impact comes from its phenomenal sharpness and clarity, which rivals the very best available from the LCD world, and outdoes anything previously seen from a 50in plasma. Naturally this helps the 5000EX deliver awesome results with highly detailed Xbox 360 games like Test Drive Unlimited, but arguably its impact is actually greatest with video sources like an HD football match, since we’re just not used to such fodder looking so remarkably pristine.
Obviously the extra clarity and texture in the 5000EX’s picture is partly down to the screen’s extra native pixel count. But it also clearly helps that the screen can map 1,920 x 1,080 sources directly to its own pixels, rather than having to use potentially messy scaling processing to ‘downgrade’ true 1080 sources to fit a lower resolution like 1,366 x 768.
The 5000EX’s high pixel count can also be seen in the outstanding subtlety of its colour blends and shading, as the extra resolution makes it possible to portray much finer gradations.
Other more general strengths familiar from Pioneer’s lower resolution plasmas are thankfully also still in evidence. Black levels, for instance, are among the best the flat TV world has to offer, thanks to their combination of profound depth, and retention of subtle shadow details. In this respect in particular the 5000EX outperforms any LCD TV we’ve seen, and so provides arguably the most telling argument for choosing this screen over all other current full HD flat TV models – so long as you’ve got £5.4k to spare.
Colours are superb too, having sufficient vibrancy to power off the screen, while also retaining tones that look effortlessly realistic and involving. Finally we have to say that while certainly not perfect, standard definition pictures actually hold up noticeably better on the 5000EX than on most 1080-line LCD TVs we’ve seen.
So is there anything wrong with the 5000EX’s pictures? Only that the screen seems unusually susceptible to plasma’s screenburn problems, where prolonged exposure to a really bright image segment such as the Sky News channel logo can lead to a shadow of that image being ‘burned’ permanently into your screen.
Provided you’re extra careful to avoid screenburn, especially during the first 100 hours of the screen’s life, and provided you can afford it, you can snap up a PDP-5000EX safe in the knowledge that it delivers simply the finest 50in pictures we’ve yet seen.