Next, the Pioneer’s picture manages to combine unusual sharpness and clarity with an almost complete absence of video noise of any type. This is particularly true with immaculate high definition sources like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion on an Xbox 360, but actually standard definition pictures like those from the digital tuner also look cleaner than we’re used to seeing them on a screen of this size.
Usually even the best flat panel TV has some picture flaw among all the good stuff, but in this Pioneer’s case its pictures really do get frighteningly close to perfection. In fact, our only concerns are more ‘housekeeping’ than actual performance woes.
First, we feel that the TV seems rather more susceptible to screen burn than most current plasma TVs and all LCD TVs. Screen burn occurs in plasma technology when you leave a particularly bright part of a picture, like a channel logo, on screen for too long. The bright image portion ‘tires’ the phosphors in that part of the screen so that under extreme circumstances you can be left with a permanent shadow of the bright item ‘burned’ into your picture. So our advice with the Pioneer is that you take special care not to leave the same channel logo on screen for too long at a time, especially within the first 100 hours of the TV’s working life.
Our second concern is that you need to be careful with the TV’s processing options or else motion starts to look a bit jerky. But provided you follow these fairly simple rules, it’s all (spectacularly) good.
The sonics from the 436XDE’s detachable speakers do the superlative pictures proud, combining almost ‘hi-fi’ levels of detailing and subtlety with bags of distortion-free power, and adding plenty of vocal clarity and bass depth into the bargain.
As you may have guessed, we rather like the 436XDE. In fact, we love it. Its pictures are the best we’ve seen on a 42in-plus TV to date, and as such they suggest that while it might not be the fashionable flat TV option right now, plasma still has the potential to be the best.