capsule review

Pioneer PDP-4280HD

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder PDP-4280HD

    TechHive Rating

    This very expensive set's loaded with four HDMI 1.3 inputs, a CableCard slot, and a built-in amplifier and speaker outputs.

On image quality, Pioneer's PDP-4280HD tied for fourth out of twelve HDTVs in our November 2007 issue's roundup, even though it's a 720p model. To our juror's eyes, it produced great images across all of our tests. But its expected street price of $2700 renders it too expensive for a set that lacks 1080p resolution.

Still, it's a great set if you can ignore the sticker price. The PDP-4280HD has four HDMI ports, a CableCard slot so it can receive scrambled cable broadcasts without a set-top box, and a USB port to help you display photos and listen to MP3s. There's a headphone jack in case you want to tarry in multimedialand while your spouse sleeps. The set also has picture-in-picture, though using it is a bit tricky unless you consult the manual. Like all of the other TVs with PiP reviewed here, the PDP-4280HD doesn't let you view two shows at once, though you can monitor, say, a TV show and a DVD.

The Pioneer supports HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control, which Pioneer calls HDMI Control); this feature, too, allows you to control other components connected through HDMI with the TV remote. The PDP-4280HD comes with TV Guide Interactive--a superior on-screen guide for finding your favorite shows. And in case you're concerned about your carbon footprint, the Power Save options include screen dimming and the ability to shut off the TV automatically after 15 minutes without a signal.

The Pioneer is the only set here with an amplifier and external speaker connections, so you can upgrade from the built-in speakers without having to use an external receiver. On the other hand, since there are terminals only for right and left speakers and a subwoofer, you can't obtain true surround sound this way.

Setup is complicated by a design in which the coaxial and HDMI inputs face down; they're set unusually far back on this model, too, making them particularly difficult to work with. The on-screen menus aren't terribly friendly, with small text and some unclear instructions. Many of the manual's 100 English-language pages look crowded and difficult to navigate, though they are comprehensive. Like most manufacturers, Pioneer makes a PDF version of the manual available online (it's much easier to search than the paper one), but Pioneer makes you register at its site before you can use the electronic manual.

The Pioneer's remote is one of the best around--large but comfortable, programmable, and equipped with big buttons that glow in the dark.

Lincoln Spector

This story, "Pioneer PDP-4280HD" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    This very expensive set's loaded with four HDMI 1.3 inputs, a CableCard slot, and a built-in amplifier and speaker outputs.

    Pros

    • Better picture than most
    • great set of features

    Cons

    • Outrageous price
    • difficult to set up
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