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You’ve got to admire Pioneer’s stubbornness. For while every other traditional plasma supporter in town – even die-hards like Panasonic and Fujitsu – now produces LCD screens as well, Pioneer is sticking doggedly to its 100 per cent plasma guns. Only last week on a visit to Pioneer in Japan the powers that be reiterated the fact that they simply don’t see LCD as a true home cinema option, and have no roadmap for introduce LCD somewhere down the line.
Of course, such purity of vision would fall rather flat if Pioneer didn’t have the products to back its fine words up. But thankfully every previous Pioneer plasma we’ve reviewed has convinced us of the plasma cause with ease. Still, with other plasma and, dare we say it, LCD screens coming on leaps and bounds over recent months, we can’t help but wonder if Pioneer’s latest plasma generation can remain ahead of the pack.
At the top of the new range (until a 63in model arrives early next year) sits the PDP-507XD: a 50in model boasting all of Pioneer’s tried and trusted plasma innovations, plus a few new tricks thrown in for good measure.
These tricks kick off with an improved take on Pioneer’s trusty Intelligent DRE processing system, which is claimed to enhance sharpness, brightness and contrast levels. Then there’s a brand new set of Intelligent Colour algorithms, aimed at delivering more subtle and therefore realistic colour shading; an improved version of Pioneer’s revolutionary Direct Colour Filter panel design, which does away with the ‘secondary offset image’ visible on standard plasma TVs if you watch them from the side; and improvements to the screen’s phosphors reckoned to make the 507XD’s colour spectrum around nine per cent wider than that of its predecessors.
It’s worth reminding you that these improvements come on top of two key Pioneer innovations we’ve seen before. First there’s the Deep Waffle Rib design of the plasma chamber array, which increases the height of the plasma chamber ‘walls’ so there’s less light and colour contamination between neighbouring pixels. Second there’s Pioneer’s patented Crystal Emissive Layer, which improves the efficiency of each cell’s discharge cycle to deliver radical contrast and brightness improvements.