Pioneer PDP-508XDA

The Pioneer PDP-508XDA is without a doubt one of the best televisions ever released, with excellent black levels and oodles of detail.

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury

It's not often that a home theatre product makes us completely rethink what we expect from the performance of our products. One so pants-wettingly good that we weep a little for the competition. And though the Pioneer PDP-508XDA is not perfect, it has single-handedly redefined what we expect television to look like.

With the hyperbole out of the way -- let's get on with the review.

If there was ever an identifiably 'oughties trend in design it would have to be piano black. Hard to keep clean and a little gaudy, though, so it's hard to imagine the fad lasting longer than another 12 months. However, to give Pioneer credit, it was one of the first companies to use it. And of course the new Kuro range is draped in it.

This is not to say that the PDP-508XDA is ugly because it certainly isn't. Despite the need to dust it regularly, it's actually stylish in a very understated way. The speakers meld into the design seamlessly and the stand is also very unobtrusive.

The screen's true blacks are apparent from the get-go -- the screen is coated with a dark filter and it looks black without even turning the TV on. Despite this coating, the TV is still less reflective than other Pioneers, and so there's no real issue about seeing yourself during dark scenes.

Unlike the barebones approach of the Pioneer PDP-5000EX's remote, the Kuro's remote is packed with buttons. Unfortunately, unless you're familiar with TV pictograms you may need to look up what some of the buttons do. The remote also acts as a semi-universal remote as well, and will control Pioneer DVRs and disk players.

The Pioneer PDP-508XDA is a 50-inch TV with a 1365 x 768 resolution, and boasts bang-up-to-date features such as 24p movie support, 72Hz upsampling (as opposed to the 100Hz modes offered by other TVs) and an Optimum mode that adjusts to the level of light in your room.

As we've previously discussed, the Kuro range boasts an unheard of level of contrast -- in this case 16,000:1. In order to achieve this, the company rebuilt its TV from scratch. How did they do this? Well, there's a lot of technical gubbins that goes into the long answer but the short explanation is that there is a new "superchip" running the show, and a redesigned screen layer.

Unlike previous Pioneer models, the PDP-508XDA and the rest of the Kuro range now feature a HD tuner. No more need for an extraneous set-top box here.

If you're looking for connectivity, then the Pioneer has plenty: three HDMI version 1.3 ports, three component inputs, optical audio output, and a USB port for use with the onboard media gallery function.

The TV also caters to tinkerers, as it comes with a full set of ISF functions. While set-and-forgetters will be happy with the main picture modes, calibration can be as complicated or as easy as you like.

Even before we calibrated the television, the pictures that the "Standard" mode gave us out of the box simply blew us away. We slipped a copy of the Blade II DVD into the player and we were immediately impressed by the contrast levels -- we had never seen what we thought was simply a murky transfer give out this much black detail.

In the opening shot a tram travels under a bridge and when viewed on the 508XDA you can actually see the brickwork -- on our reference screen the bricks were obscured by a grey fog.

No matter what kind of source you have, the Pioneer should accept it. It will downscale full 1080p to its natural 1365 x 768 resolution, and it does a marvellous job of this. We watched our old favourites -- the King Kong and Mission Impossible III HD DVDs -- simultaneously on this TV and our reference 5000EX. After calibrating both, the enhanced black level of the new Kuro was immediately obvious. And it wasn't at the expense of detail -- dark and bright images alike came to life on the new TV. Blues in particular were richer, and skin tones more natural. Detail levels were also very good, though the 1080p 5000EX still has a very thin advantage here with 1080p content.

The Pioneer also accepts a PC input, whether by HDMI or VGA, and we found it does this quite well. Text was relatively sharp and Vista found and matched the native resolution automatically. The only thing we noticed was a tendency for self-noise on lighter sections of the screen and around text -- a sort of mosquito buzzing. It was very subtle but could get annoying if you choose to use this as your main monitor.

Gaming was a very enjoyable experience on the 508XDA -- we used a PlayStation 3 to play Motorstorm and the combination of sound and vision helped completely envelop us in the action.

Watching TV through the onboard tuner was a little disappointing after watching true HD content. Though many channels show HD content through the day it is usually of poor quality in comparison to Hollywood movies. Despite this, we did notice some softness to the images in comparison to our Topfield TF7000HT. Unlike other TVs, the digital and analog tuners have two separate inputs and require the use of the supplied pass-through cable to connect them. Other brands do this better.

Apart from the tuner, our only other minor criticism of this TV is that the pixel structure is occasionally visible -- also know as the fly-screen effect. However, and this is a major caveat, this is only when you sit close enough to touch the screen, which most people wouldn't do. At a normal distance, this isn't noticeable at all.

Sound, on the other hand, was very good. Dialogue was crisp and soundtracks had a vim and vigour that eludes inferior speaker sets. Bass was lacking, but there is a subwoofer output if you desire more welly.

It's very difficult to see where Pioneer can go after this TV. Though the bezel of the television is still darker than the actual screen itself, it won't take many revisions until they are indistinguishable. This is something that we doubt backlit LCD technology will ever be able to accomplish.

If anyone still pines for the "superior pictures" of tube television after seeing one of these babies, then something is very wrong.

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David.C-Mighty Manly 1st posted a comment   

The Good:Great TV love it heaps

The Bad:Need Diagrams of actual cords and where they go.

Absolutely worth every cent, great size, colours on screen no complaints, however does anyone have diagrams of actual cords and where they go as i have recently moved house. Am wanting to install TV i have numerous cords for all my electronic stuff, which i had installed by a tech guy in my other house etc. Do uyou think i know where it all goes no way. Please hope would be muchly appreciated and i would thankyou heaps and heaps,


Nick posted a review   

The Good:Incredible Black Levels
1080p 24p Support For Blu-Ray
Very Resistant To Image Retention

The Bad:Not For Sale Anymore.
TV Tuner Interface Is Average

Brilliant TV. Worth every cent. Lol at the idiot giving a rating based on delivery issues.


Pablo posted a review   

The Good:50 inches of viewing pleasure, wouldn't want it any bigger. Sound is so good, we rarely turn on our 5.1 surround.

The Bad:none

this television is fantastic. The picture is awesome, and the sound is beyond our expectations.


Maestro posted a review   

Carrotman:- "this is my last comment on the matter", lol.

You've shown that not only do you not keep to your Statements but that you do so stubbornly and with a complete lack of comprehension. It's clear that the distinction between retailer and manufacturer is beyond you.

You've made 4 false ratings now after saying the 3rd one would be your "last comment on the matter". Time to at least have some respect for your own words and to stop littering what would otherwise be a useful resource.

PS. Anyone wanting to know the "true" average User Rating for this TV, ie. minus the three users who were upset at their chosen "Retailer" (JB HiFi in each case) for over promising on delivery time, the answer is 8.9

John P

John P posted a review   

carrotman, it's good it will be your last comment. People don't want to hear about your troubles with a particular retailer or delivery. They want to know about the screen and service/quality issues with the manufacturer.


carrotman posted a review   

this is my last comment on the matter as this is not a forum discussion board. you can no longer buy this model, so a rating on its quality is pointless. i am still going to express my dismay at the lack of service, and if this breaks any of the voting rules, then by all means remove my posts and ratings. peace out.


Maestro posted a review   

I am far from "an avid supporter of Pioneer". Let's just say I'm an extremely fair and judicious chap who has a good understanding of fair play.

Please feel free to vent your frustrations in a public Forum, you're more than entitled to and it's useful for others to know, ie. the “lesson to learn” being not to put money down on TV's that are not in stock and not to listen to salespeople that tell you anything different. That is a good lesson to disseminate. But and it's a big but, people want to hear what's good or bad about the TV (including any install/repairs etc performed by Pioneer and how they were dealt with) – that is all relevant to a User rating. The average User rating is a very useful tool when everyone is doing their job properly much in the same way that a jury works best when everyone does their job properly.

Your gripe, on the other hand, is misplaced. JB sold you the TV and as you should be aware there was a massive rush and sell-out of a now finished model BECAUSE the price was dropped substantially. People were eager to get onboard and pay upfront to get a piece of the deal (many more missed out). I don't think it would be a stretch to surmise that JB would have sold as many as they could on this basis - after all, the money would be sitting nicely in their account(s) until the TV's materialised. Now I am not sure who made you promises that weren't kept but your gripe should be confined to them. From what I can tell, all Pioneer did was reduce the price on a TV that was universally reviewed as being the best in its class (by quite a margin).

So by all means, vent your spleen and let everyone know the source of your frustration if you think it will help BUT don't serve up ratings of 2 & 4 (ie. which combined equates to about 5 below the average prior to your rating) just because JB overpromised on availability. The contract of which you are aggrieved is the one with JB. As for the TV, just rate it on its merits or faults which may include Pioneer's install service or any problems experienced after receiving the TV.


carrotman posted a review   

Thanks Maestro, glad you are such an avid supporter of Pioneer. To me its not just the TV, but also the level of service and customer support you receive. At the time of voting I had not heard a word from either JB or Pioneer and therefore, regardless of TV quality, have no choice but to vent my frustration on a public forum. Its all I can do since I get no response from manufacturer. I have since received the panel, but not one apology or explanation on delivery about the delay. I dont expect them to grovel to me, but a simple "we are really sorry about the delay, but hope you enjoy this great plasma". It doesnt take much. So, great TV yeah, but service experience has been terrible enough that I wont be spending my money at Pioneer again. Therfore Ill go 4 stars this time - an apt description for the self acclaimed "Pioneer Experience"


Maestro posted a review   

Hey, it's very stupid for people to leave bad reviews because a TV hasn't yet been delivered!

Leaving a score of 2 because you haven't received your set has NOTHING to do with TV and it ruins the User averages which are meant to be a general guide to User opinion.

Just rank "the TV" as you see fit, not "the delay" in obtaining the TV or the lack of service from the store it was purchased.


CJ posted a review   

The Good:People have been saying that there reeeeaaallly good.

The Bad:We've been waiting for so long

We payed for our Pioneer 508DXA from JB-HIFI 4 weeks ago and we still haven't got it. SUPPOSEDLY!! they LOST it.

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User Reviews / Comments  Pioneer PDP-508XDA

  • David.C-Mighty Manly 1st

    David.C-Mighty Manly 1st

    "Absolutely worth every cent, great size, colours on screen no complaints, however does anyone have diagrams of actual cords and where they go as i have recently moved house. Am wanting to install T..."

  • Nick



    "Brilliant TV. Worth every cent. Lol at the idiot giving a rating based on delivery issues."

  • Pablo



    "this television is fantastic. The picture is awesome, and the sound is beyond our expectations. "

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