This future-proof specification is supported by some advanced plasma technologies that complement the stylish design with exceptional performance. At the forefront is Pioneer's unique Pure Black panel, which enhances colour discharge in plasma cells to create purer colours and incredible contrast using the deepest blacks. And contrast is encouraged again using a special filter in the screen that eliminates light reflections, even in bright rooms.
The Pure Drive2 video-processing system has won numerous plasma technology awards and uses several state-of-the-art digital processing and noise reduction systems to produce immaculately clean images.
All this technical innovation leaves many advanced settings to contend with, but the stunning menu system offers an easy escape route, using various preset modes. If you're a serious enthusiast, you can control every element of the picture using ProAdjust. Here you can access an abundance of image enhancements and noise direction systems, and fine tune every aspect of the picture. It may take a trained eye to discern the effects of all adjustments, but few screens offer such complete control. Incorporating more short cut keys, though, would be useful.
The picture performance of the 436SXE shows just how far plasma screens have evolved in recent years. Whether you're watching TV broadcasts, analogue or digitally induced DVDs, the screen sets a new standard for image quality -- provided you are far enough away.
The deepest black levels create images with amazing depth and a sense of realistic perspective that at times feels like you're looking out a window. The detail in tones and textures is remarkable, with smooth gradations leaving little unresolved, even in dark scenes. Every colour is accurately reproduced with excellent balance between superficial and natural shades. Digital disturbances, like background noise or motion streaming, are kept to an absolute minimum. In fact, the picture is so impressive you'll need to be extremely cynical to find any flaws at all.
Sound performance is just as impressive, especially as it's from a set of integrated speakers. There's enough detailed expression in the midrange to enliven everyday TV programmes while low frequencies carry ample weight and authority to supplement explosive film scenes.
Pioneer's 436SXE is reasonably expensive but it is a vanguard of unmatched technology and performance -- the best large screen plasma display yet.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield