The Good Produces the deepest shade of black of any big-screen display we've tested; accurate color decoding; dejudder processing option; 72Hz mode for 1080p/24 sources works well; superb antireflective screen; streams photo, music, and video files over home network; fine connectivity with four HDMI and one PC input.
The Bad Expensive; inaccurate primary colors; lacks advanced picture controls; frame causes minor reflections.
The Bottom Line Best-in-class black levels and excellent all-around performance places the Pioneer PDP-5020FD near the top of the picture quality heap, but it will cost you.
Pioneer Kuro PDP-20FD
Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
When it comes to black levels, you apparently get what you pay for. Pioneer's PDP-5020FD is the company's cheapest flat-panel plasma HDTV for 2008, yet it still costs significantly more than the poshest plasmas produced by Panasonic. We really liked the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U we reviewed earlier this year, and despite the Pioneer's capability to produce a darker shade of black--the most-important ingredient in overall picture quality--we don't think the newest "Kuro" is worth the steep price of entry for most high-end HDTV shoppers. Don't get us wrong; the PDP-5020FD is still a superb TV, and deep-pocketed videophiles who prize the absolute blackest black available will find plenty of reasons to spend the extra money for that inky goodness. However, with this TV's color accuracy issues and lack of adjustability, we expect more than a few of those deep-pocketed videophiles to spring for the Elite version instead.
If you liked the look of last year's PDP-5080HD, you'll like the external appearance of this year's PDP-5080FD. There's basically no difference. The 2008 model has the same-size, equally unadorned glossy black rectangle surrounding the screen, below which is the included speaker. Aesthetes can remove the speaker for a cleaner, nearly all-picture look, an option we love, although we're not the biggest fans of the stark, nonswiveling stand. Overall, we preferred the appearance of the Panasonic plasmas, with their flush pane of glass, but Pioneer's clean look is no slouch.
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