Pioneer’s 7th generation plasma, the PDP-5070HD makes strides over last years offering, the 5060HD with improved black levels and color decoding. Pioneer has also ditched their media box receiver in favor of an integrated ATSC/NTSC tuner and video/audio connections. With an MSRP of $4,000 or more, there are definitely more affordable plasma TVs on the market. Let’s see what makes the PDP-5070HD worth your hard earned dollar.
Features and Design
The PDP-5070HD is a very nice plasma to look at it. The case features a piano black finish that looks great in any setting. A lot of companies are using silver, which might look good at first, but we have always felt that a black finish helps to enrich the colors on-screen giving them a more vibrant look. Pioneer ships a speaker bar that attaches to the bottom of the PDP-5070HD should you decide you want to use the TVs speakers instead of your own home theater speaker system. Having a speaker bar on the bottom is both good and bad. It’s good because it means that the TV’s width is minimized allowing for an easier installation in a home entertainment cabinet, or in areas of limited space; and at just 48.2 inches wide, this is a very size efficient TV. The downside to having the speakers on the bottom is that you often lose the feeling of a good 2-channel stereo sound because the speakers do not have any distance between them. As for the TV stand that comes with the PDP-5070HD, it matches the same finish as the TV and is really nothing special.
One of the first things you should notice with the new 7th generation Pioneer plasma TV’s is that the media box is missing with everything being integrated into the plasma itself. We tend to have mixed feelings on this for a couple reasons. First of all, if you are like us and prefer to mount a plasma or LCD TV on the wall, you will want to minimize just how many cables are going to the TV. A media box is nice because you can plug your receiver and components into the media box, and then just run the single cable to the TV. This is great for those that install their TV themselves making the job easier and more affordable (since you do not need to purchase extra long cables or switch boxes), although we have heard installers swing both ways here. If you do not plan to mount this TV on the wall, instead opting for a TV stand or cabinet, having the connections integrated into the TV is nice because it gives you more shelf space in your TV stand for other home theater components.
Image Courtesy of Pioneer
As for connections, the PDP-5070HD has everything covered. There are two tuners, one ATSC and one NTSC, each with their own coaxial connection which is nice (the Philips 42PF9831D we reviewed recently has two tuners that share a single coax connection), 2 HDMI inputs, 1 analog VGA input, 2 component video inputs, 4 RCA inputs, 2 S-Video inputs and a single USB input which lets you connect a thumb drive or camera directly to the TV for picture viewing. The PDP-5070HD also features a Cablecard slot if that floats-your-boat. Pioneer was nice and opted to include a 3rd party TV guide to use when you are using the Cablecard connection.
Back of Pioneer PDP-5070HD
The left side has Component video, S-Video and RCA inputs in addition to a USB port
The right side has menu and channel/volume controls
The Pioneer PDP-5070HD has a native resolution of 1,365 x 768 which is pretty good, but oddly is one pixel short of other 50-inch sets on the market (and which is the standard). We asked Pioneer is this was simply a printing mistake, and it is not. What does this mean to you? Nothing really, it’s not a big deal at all and even most videophiles will not notice the difference. Our Pioneer contact also told us that the PDP-5070HD is capable of accepting incoming 1080p signals (through the HDMI connection), but that it will down convert it to 1080i or 720p since the PDP-5070HD does not have a true 1080P panel.
Setup and Testing
Getting the PDP-5070HD up and running is very simple. The on-screen menu is simple to use, and the channel scan is relatively quick. If you are like us, you might prefer to keep your HDTV channels on one coaxial connection and your analog channels on the other. The Philips 42PF9831D for example, shares the coaxial connection between the NTSC and ATSC tuners, and therefore mixes your HDTV channels in with the other non-HDTV stations. This drove us nuts because we like to have all of our HDTV stations lumped together instead of being mixed in with other non-HDTV channels. Thankfully with the Pioneer PDP-5070HD you can do that thanks to the separate coaxial jack. The integrated ATSC tuner on the PDP-5070HD also did a better job picking up the HDTV stations in the Portland area, and reception was more reliable than the Philips.
According to Pioneer, the PDP-5070HD uses a redesigned Deep Encased Cell Structure to elevate brightness and improve image accuracy. The set also features a filter that is supposed to reduce screen glare and improve the contrast and color. We have always been impressed with Pioneer’s plasma TV’s and the PDP-5070HD did not disappoint. We have never been a big fan of picture presets so we were pleased to see that Pioneer lets you manually adjust the color temperature. You can then save the settings for each input. You can also do this for the preset picture modes of Movie, Standard, Gamer and User.
Using our trusty Oppo Digital OPDV971H which uses the DCDi chip by Faroudja, we fired up the system for testing. On the DVD input, we set the color temperature on the PDP-5070HD to low which we feel is the most accurate, and manually adjusted the picture from there.
The PDP-5070HD’s video processing does a great job, but we noticed a little bit of jitter during Kingdom of Heaven on some scenes, otherwise it was smooth throughout the movie. Adam Sandler’s Click just came out on DVD, so we decided to try that out on the new TV. We were impressed with the sharpness of the PDP-5070HD, especially during the close-ups. Color rendition is convincing and accuracy appeared to be spot-on.
We did not experience a lot of screen glare in a well-lit room and picture color looked very good at a 45-degree viewing angle. Plasmas are not as bright as LCD TV’s in general, but we feel the PDP-5070HD holds its own in an environment where there is a lot of sunlight.
The remote control is intuitive to use and has your basic controls. It is not as pretty to look at as the Philips 42PF9831D remote, but it also will not show finger print smudges either. The bottom flips open to reveal more controls for the TV as well as basic controls for your DVD player, satellite/cable box, or DVR.
Pioneer PDP-5070HD Remote
There really is not a lot of negative things to say about the PDP-5070HD. While the MRSP of around $4000 seems rather high, you should be able to find it for under $3000 at most retailers. If 1080P is something that’s important to you, then you might want to opt for the Elite (model ) instead, just be ready to spend more money of course. The PDP-5070HD might not have a ton of fancy features, but it definitely gets the job done and puts your money where it’s important – in the picture.
• Good picture color and accuracy
• Plenty of inputs
• HDTV tuner gets great reception
• Customizable user settings
• Lackluster design
• Boring stand included