Pioneer 435/436/505/506-SXE/RXE/FDE/XDE - FAQ Part 1

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Pioneer PDP Plasma 434/435/436/504/505/506 - HDE/SXE/RXE/FDE/XDE - Frequently Asked Questions

Use THREAD TOOLS => SUBSCRIBE TO THIS THREAD to get updates when the FAQ is changed.

Happy to cover other Pioneer plasmas - just send me a personal message with updates.

Many people's comments in existing posts and direct to me have helped to make this FAQ what it is - so my thanks go out to these folk: Gordon @ Convergent AV, TheDoctor, damo_in_Sale, Reaperman, TrevorG, Deepcore, lyserman, Piers, jakal, zmaster007, StooMonster, Mighty Chipster, choddo 2006, gizlaroc, bix, huntere, mateybloke, Neil Fellows, andymyles, mmahmed, sikenny, p203557, JackMan, Attu, sbowler, Dave-S, Seek, dthong, k0rn, loalq, blossom, sathelp, en6jwrs2, mateybloke, chedmaster, k0rn, TekHousE, PDP-434HDE, MAW, Jeffers01, JenSh, coolbox, churchwa, fredman2005, allgabi, allenweeden, MJG1985, netherne.

General Model/Purchase Questions

Q: When did these models come out?
A: Pioneer series 5 (435/505) released in UK in Sept 2004. Pioneer series 6 (436/506) released in Sept 2005. The 436 RXE/SXE were released in early 2006.

Q: When are the next models coming out?
A: Upcoming:
  • Pioneer PDP-5000EX: There is a £5,000 new 50" coming out around July with a 1920x1080 native resolution at 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. It will be display only (i.e. no built in tuner). The official press release is here.
  • PDP-507HX (1365x768) - stand model with integral connections and tuners (no seperate box) - details here. Expected in the UK in October 2006.
  • PDP-427HX (1024x768) - stand model with integral connections and tuners (no seperate box) - details here. Expected in the UK in October 2006.
  • It is expected that there will be a 42"/43" model supporting 1080p natively coming in mid-2007.
Q: What is the lifespan?
A: 60,000+ hours in the Series 5 models (i.e. approximately 13 years @ 12 hours/day). This means that after this time the screen will go to about 50% brightness.

Q: How does the SXE/RXE differ from the FDE/XDE? How can I decide between them?
A: As follows:

Picture Quality
The plasma screens are the same.
  • 50" FDE/XDE is the same display
  • 43" RXE/SXE/FDE/XDE all use the same display so the image quality is exactly the same.
Integrated Audio
For the FDE/XDE you need to buy a separated speaker set. The RXE/SXE both have integrated speakers.

The SXE/RXE is an all-in-one panel with connections on the panel itself. The XDE/FDE comes with a separate receiver box (see below) that connects to the plasma with a dual cable. In other words, the SXE/RXE has all the cables plugged into the back of it. The FDE/XDE have all the cables plugged into the receiver box, which then connects to the plasma using a dual-cable. This means that the FDE/XDE when wall mounted only needs the dual-cable feed + a power cable. This is why the RXE/SXE is a box that is designed for use with the stand and not wall mounting.

A quick summary would look like this for the 6 Series:
  • XDE - Seperate Media Box - Digital & Analogue Tuner - 2 HDMI - no speakers
  • FDE - Seperate Media Box - Analogue Tuner - 1 HDMI - no speakers
  • SXE - Connections built in - Digital & Analogue Tuner - 1 HDMI - integral 13w speakers
  • RXE - Connections built in - Analogue Tuner - 1 HDMI - integral 13w speakers
Q: What is the difference between the RXE and the SXE?
A: The number of connections and thus the number of options. If you look at the pictures below you will see that the SXE has a Digital tuner and a digital audio optical out, for example.

Photos of the front connections for the RXE and SXE are the same and are shown here.

Photos of the RXE rear connections are here and here.

Photos of the SXE rear connections are here and here.

Q: What is the difference between the FDE and the XDE?
A: The difference is in the media receiver box that connects to the panel. The media box for the XDE is the PDP-R06XE and for the FDE is the PDP-R06FE. The XDE has more connections and thus supports more options (e.g. XDE has digital tuner, supports display of photos on a memory card via Home Gallery).

Pictures showing connections of the PDP-R06XE are here and here. Pictures of the PDP-R06FE showing connections are here and here.

Q: Do Pioneer provide any online manuals?
A: Yes:
Buying New and Second Hand

Q: Where can I get a new Pioneer cheap?
A: Have a look at my post here. This one shows stores not matched by John Lewis Reading on that specific day, and as such indicates stores that deliver low prices via the web.

Note that LE Concepts give a total of 3 years warranty I think and John Lewis give a total of 5 years.

Also beware of scams as indicated in the thread here.

Q: I have an opportunity to buy a model second-hand - what do you think?
A:You need to find out the following information:
  • How many hours does it have on it?
    [*]This is like the number of miles on the clock for buying a second-hand car.​
  • What picture settings have been set for each of the 4 inputs (or at least for the inputs most likely to have been used as some may not have been)?
    [*]This is like working out how hard the second-hand car has been thrashed whilst it's been driven or whether it's been run-in properly. If you're looking at about 40 on the contrast, Gamma above 1, Dynamic Contrast = on, etc. for every input (or those that were used), then the chances are the TV has never been altered from factory settings. This means it hasn't been run in properly. However, just because it has lower settings doesn't mean it has been run-in properly. These are areas that can send warning signals about how well it has been used and how likely it is to suffer retention/burn issues later.​
  • How does it look when it is connected to an HDMI source? Does it have any retention or burn issues? Any stuck pixels?
    [*]You need to get a view of how this looks under the best source quality you can get - so try it to see how the picture looks. Whether this is a DVD player or a PC graphics card using DVI-to-HDMI (and overscan correction); use the best connection you can
    [*] If there is no HDMI connection, then use the best quality analogue connection you can after that to test (component, RGB, S-Video, Composite).​
If you can't test the plasma before you buy it, then that's just like buying a car without taking it for a test drive. If that's the case then you could be lucky or you could be unlucky with your purchase - caveat emptor.

Running In, Screen Settings, Retention, and Screen Burn

Q: How long do I run it in for?
A: Between 200 and 500 hours. Some folk at Pioneer have been stating 1000 hours :eek:

Q: How can I see how many hours I've watched it?
A: You need to use the installer menu - see later section.

Q: I hear loads of bad things about screen retention or burn in these plasmas - what is the situation?
A: Screen burn is permanent damage. Screen retention is temporary and is due to pixels still holding charge that needs to be released. Burn is very rare on any plasma - Pioneer included.

Three things seem to have been causing retention problems:
  • Your plasma TV needs running-in whether it's a Pioneer or something else. This will reduce retention. Unfortunately the screen default settings aren't recommended for the running in period - mostly because of the very high CONTRAST setting - so people using the defaults have had problems :(
  • Pioneer make some recommendations at the front of the manual, but don't highlight the need for running-in well enough so many users just use the same settings that it ships with
  • There was a problem in earlier editions of the 436 where the voltages were set too high. Pioneer engineers can patch the 436 with new firmware to reduce the voltages, but only if the screen has run less than 200 hours. New models shipping since Feb 2006 (see next question) now have the voltages reduced.
Two of the original threads (summarised in this FAQ) are here and here.

Q: What does Pioneer say about screen retention?
Pioneer give the same advice to 436/506 FDE/XDE/RXE/SXE owners.

Taken direct from page 7 of the XDE manual it says:
Usage guidelines
All phosphor-based screens (including conventional tube-type televisions) can be affected by displaying static images for a prolonged period. Plasma Display System’s are no exception to this rule. After-image and permanent effects on the screen can be avoided by taking some basic precautions. By following the recommendations listed below, you can ensure longer and satisfactory results from your plasma:
  • Whenever possible, avoid frequently displaying the same image or virtually still moving pictures (e.g. closed-captioned images or video game images which have static portions).
  • Do not display Teletext for a prolonged period of time.
  • Avoid viewing the On Screen Display for extended periods, from a decoder, DVD player, VCR and all other components.
  • Do not leave the same picture freeze-framed or paused continuously over a long period of time, when using the still picture mode from a TV, VCR, DVD player or any other component.
  • Images which have both very bright areas and very dark areas side by side should not be displayed for a prolonged period of time.
  • When playing a game, the “GAME” mode setting within “AV Selection” is strongly recommended. However, please limit its use to less than 2 hours at a time.
  • After playing a game, or displaying a PC image or any still image, it is best to view a normal moving picture in the “WIDE” or “FULL” screen setting for more than 3 times the length of the previous still moving image.
  • After using the Plasma Display System, always switch the display to “STANDBY” mode.

The following are typical effects and characteristics of a phosphor-based matrix display and as such, are not covered by the manufacturer’s limited warranties:
  • Permanent residual images upon the phosphors of the panel.
  • The existence of a minute number of inactive light cells.
  • Panel generated sounds, examples: Fan motor noise, and electrical circuit humming / glass panel buzzing
Taken direct from page 8 of the XDE manual it says:
Plasma Display protection function
When still images (such as photos and computer images) stay on the screen for an extended period of time, the screen will be slightly dimmed. This is because the protection function of the Plasma Display automatically adjusts the brightness to protect the screen when detecting still images; so this does not designate malfunction. The screen is dimmed when a still image is detected for about three minutes.
Taken direct from page 9 of the XDE manual it says:
Panel sticking and after-image lag
Displaying the same images such as still images for a long time may cause after-image lagging. This may occur in the following two cases:
  1. After-image lagging due to remaining electrical load
    When image patterns with very high peak luminance are displayed for more than 1 minute, after-image lagging may occur due to the remaining electric load. The after-images remaining on the screen will disappear when moving images are displayed. The time for the after-images to disappear depends on the luminance of the still images and the time they had been displayed.
  1. After-image (lag image) due to burning
    Avoid displaying the same image on the Plasma Display continuously over a long period of time. If the same image is displayed continuously for several hours, or for shorter periods of time over several days, a permanent after-image may remain on the screen due to burning of the fluorescent materials. Such images may become less noticeable if moving images are later displayed, but they will not disappear completely.
  • [*] The energy save function can be set to help prevent damage from screen burning (see page 38). [FAQ Note: this refers to changing Power Save to "SAVE 2"]​
Q: How can I see when my panel was made?
A: Check the rear of the panel for a small sticker.

Q: If I suffer screen retention - what can I do?
A: Don't Panic! :lesson: Run a snow channel on your screen, ideally overnight whilst you're in bed. A snow channel is an analogue channel tuned to get only the fast moving white dots onto the black background. This is how:
  • Within the power menu disable the no signal auto power off feature
  • Select an analogue TV channel and pull the aerial out of the Media box/wall to get the snow signal
  • Set your screen to Dynamic as this helps the pixel to go from high power (brightness) to none, and therefore facilitates to release the excess of energy that causes the retention
  • Wait a few hours and this normally fixes it :D
If this doesn't fix it - contact Pioneer.

Q: Should I run the panel in?
A: Yes. It prolongs the life of the plasma and makes it less likely to have problems.

Q: But someone in my house complains that the run-in settings make it look absolutely rubbish and too dark!
A: So run the snow screen (or a channel without a fixed image/logo/DOG) overnight or during the day to get through the first few hundred hours faster.

Q: So what are the shipping settings and recommended run-in settings?
A: It is likely that the box is delivered with settings like Contrast at 40 :mad: The recommendation is to run the box in using these settings. Items in RED are the most important. Be warned that EACH INPUT SOURCE WILL NEED TO BE SET SEPARATELY! :lesson: That means do this for INPUT1, then do it for INPUT2, and so on. These are also contained in an attached text file to this post.

Note that you have profiles for STANDARD, DYNAMIC, MOVIE, GAME, and USER (as well as ISF DAY and ISF NIGHT for ISF calibration). If you change the defaults of STANDARD, DYNAMIC, MOVIE, & GAME - these will be changed for all inputs simultaneously. However, we recommend that you change those for USER, which is what they are designed for - USER configuration - and if you do this, you need to change the settings for all of your inputs separately. This is important to remember. Note that it is unlikely that ISF DAY and ISF NIGHT will be used by whosoever does your ISF calibration due to some limitations in these modes, and so it's likely that your calibration guy will use the USER modes anyway.

  • Picture / AV Selection = USER

    [*] Contrast = 15 to 20 (this is the killer bit for running in)
    [*] Brightness = -10 to 0 (lower is better, but it's your call as to what is reasonable to watch). Brightness should be set to the point where you can't see the pixels starting to emit light in dark parts of the image. Having brightness too high is unlikely to cause any issues during run in except make the image look washed out. Contrast is the killer not brightness.
    [*] Colour = -10 to -5 (lower is better, but it's your call as to what is reasonable to watch). Most people never go below -10.
    [*] Tint = 0
    [*] Sharpness = -9 to -3
    [*] Pro Adjust

    [*] Pure Cinema OFF (for progressive source) & STANDARD (for interlaced source), but see the question dealing with judder/interlacing in the Picture Quality section. It doesn't matter what this is for running in.
    [*] Colour Detail
    [*] Colour Temp = MID-LOW or if you want to MID depending on preference for white balance (the default colour temp is very cyan)
    [*] CTI (Colour Transient Improvement) = OFF
    [*] NR (Noise Reduction)

    [*] DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) = OFF or LOW
    [*] MPEG NR = OFF or LOW
    [*] DRE (Dynamic Range Expander)

    [*] Dynamic Contrast = OFF (very important)
    [*] Black Level = OFF
    [*] ACL = OFF
    [*] Gamma = 2. The gamma tends to flip between 2 or 3 dependant on the source. Some people swear by GAMMA 1, although there's a feeling that 2 is likely to be most accurate most of the time.
    [*] Others

    [*] I-P Mode = 1
    [*] Power Control

    [*] Energy Save = Save 2
  • Option

    [*] Drive Mode = 100Hz (DVD and PC input should be 75Hz)

The following recommendations also seem useful during running in, but your mileage may vary:
  • Play video games using the "GAME" mode (under AV Selection) for the screen, and try not to play them for more than a couple of hours at a time
  • Don't leave static images on the screen, and definitely for less than 2 hours at a time

Q: What settings could I change after running in for 200+ hours?
A: You can slowly alter your settings as you use the box more (i.e. you could slowly adjust settings every hundred hours or so). Exact choices depend on the light settings for your room and how your sources output to your box. Everyone has different settings. Recommending how to setup your box for your specific house doesn't really work. You really need to use a DVE disk yourself (cheaper) or get someone in to do a professional ISF callibration (more expensive) - for more details see the GENERAL PLASMA FAQ

However, there are discussions running round on how to set things up, so these are included here for information only. Things that forum folk have changed after runnning are as follows - but there is no guarantee these will look good in your room :( :
  • Contrast = 27 to 34 (although some say above 30 is still on the high side). As this is the major setting that can cause problems, it's better to increase this in small increments bit by bit (say every hundred hours or so)
  • Brightness = -1 to +2
  • Colour = nothing lower than -10 (although some people have set this as low as -18)
  • Tint 0
  • Sharpness 0 to +1
  • Black Level ON
  • CTI = ON
TrevorG has included his wildly different settings in a TXT file in a post below this. This goes to prove that your mileage WILL vary in all this and no one can really tell you what the right settings are for your room unless they are an ISF calibrator :D

Q: Hang on! What about Dynamic Contrast? Can I turn that on? :lease:
A: :nono: This setting is to make it look very bright in a large shop filled with fluorescent tube lighting. Folk recommend that you calibrate with a DVD (or ISF) or adjust other settings other than this one.

Q: Can I use a product to "wash away" screen retention?
A: See details in this thread

Picture Quality

Q: Tell me about how I can try and calibrate this myself without going to the expense of ISF?
A: Your options are:
  • Use THX Optimode to calibrate both video and audio on your system for a specific THX disc. Example discs that include this are Toy Story 2, Fight Club, and Star Wars.
  • Use a proper calibration DVD like Digital Video Essentials (DVE) or Avia Guide to Home Theatre. These can be bought from places like Amazon for less than £10 (or rented from most DVD rental services, so you could always join one for a free trial and grab the disk that way :devil:). Note that whilst good, it is said that the DVE menus and content are not as easy to use if you don't take the time to really listen to the disk and follow what it says.
  • If you want to go one stage further look into a Colorvision Spyder TV calibrator that uses a PC and a sensor that you attach to the screen to calibrate your plasma.
You can find more details in this thread here. There is an interesting discussion around DVE and Spyder that could also be useful here.

Q: All these manual settings are too much hard work! If I wanted to pay someone to ISF calibrate my display to get the best out of my sources and light levels in my room - what sort of cost am I looking at and when can it be done?
A: Average price from the forums seems to be between £250 to £300 including travelling expenses. More details in the GENERAL PLASMA FAQ. You can get it done any time after the running in period.

Note that the FDE/XDE have "ISF day" and "ISF night" modes as user selectable "picture modes" once they have been set up by an ISF calibration technician. However, you do not have to use the ISF Day / ISF night modes, and a number of UK calibration folk steer away from them. All Pioneer plasma's can be ISF calibrated to highly accurate standards with no reference to the ISF modes at all. This is why there is nothing stopping an ISF tech calibrating the other modes (even modes on the SXE/RXE) but they obviously won't say "ISF day" or "ISF night".

Q: I'm seeing DVD judder / scrolling text ticker tapes with interlace lines through it making it unreadable / seeing a slowdown effect on things like Football - how do I fix this?
A: This relates to Pure Cinema settings. In the normal course of events, Pure Cinema should be OFF (for progressive source) & STANDARD (for interlaced source). If you see scrolling text with interlaced lines, try switching to one of these settings. Also make sure you're using the 100Hz screen refresh setting below.

However, in certain cases, you can set the Pure Cinema setting to ADV (Advanced) as it is likely to stop judder with NTSC DVDs (and won't effect PAL anyway and so is effectively off).

Pure Cinema essentially automatically detects a film-based source (originally encoded at 24 frames/second), analyses it, then recreates each still film frame for high-definition picture quality. Settings are as follows:
  • OFF - Turns it off
  • STANDARD - Produces smooth and vivid moving images (film specific) by automatically detecting recorded image information when displaying DVD or high-definition images (e.g., movies) having 24 frames per second. It helps prevent interlacing artefacts on, for example, SKY/Freeview, and is greyed out when watching PAL DVDs.
  • ADVANCED - Produces smooth and quality moving images (as shown on theatre screens) by converting to 72 Hz when displaying DVD images (e.g., movies) having 24 frames per second. When watching NTSC DVDs this stops judder by converting 75Hz to 72Hz. 72 divided into 24 (fps) = 3, so there is no 3/2 pulldown taking place.
Note these cannot be set as follows:
You can also read this article here, which covers more ideas for Pure Cinema for a Pio 50" panel.

Q: I have dead pixels - can I get the screen replaced?
A: Quote from XDE instruction manual (page 8):

Information of pixel defect
Plasma screens display information using pixels. Pioneer plasma display panels contain a very large number of pixels. (Depending on the panel size; over 2.3 million cells in case of a 43 inch display, over 2.9 million pixels in case of a 50 inch display, over 3.1 million cells in case of a 61 inch display). All Pioneer display panels are manufactured using a very high level of ultra-precision technology and undergo individual quality control.

In rare cases, some pixels can be permanently switched off, or on, resulting in either a black or coloured pixel permanently fixed on the screen.

This effect is common to all plasma displays because it is a consequence of the technology.

If the defective pixels are visible at a normal viewing distance of between 2.5 and 3.5 meters whilst viewing a normal broadcast (i.e. not a test card, still image or single colour display) please contact the supplying dealer.

If, however, they can only be seen close up or during single colour displays then this is considered normal for this technology.

Q: I have a Set Top Box and a SCART and the picture isn't very good - what can I do?
A: Try an RGB-enabled SCART, setting the screen input to RGB, and setting your set top box to output RGB.
For Sky:
  • Services => System Setup => Picture Settings => Video Output
For Telewest:
  • Settings & Services => Display & Audio => Set TV Output Colour Format <RGB>
Q: What options do I have to connect my PC to the XDE/HDE at the best resolution and quality?
A: First, you have to go through the receiver. It is not possible to bypass the receiver box and try and drive the panel directly via the DVI - there was a thread on this here.

You essentially have two choices:
  • Connect over a standard 15-pin analogue VGA via the receiver box front socket and a standard male-to-male video cable
  • Connect via a graphics card to one of the inputs on the back of the receiver box, for example:

    [*] Get a PC graphics card with DVI output and an inexpensive DVI-to-HDMI cable via the receiver box rear HDMI input.

    [*]Please note that Pioneer state: The HDMI connection on the 4th and later generation screens can be used with a DVI to HDMI converter but the DVI signal must include HDCP (Hi Definition Copy Protection) signals. Without HDCP the HDMI link will shut down, you can only use a DVI to HDMI converter with PCs that have DVI outputs and feature HDCP.
    [*]This has been disputed now and may not be an accurate statement. We have now heard of a 505XDE (5th gen) panel working with a 4 year old ATI card via DVI-HDMI that does not support HDCP either in the card or in the drivers. We also know of a 436XDE working over DVI-HDMI with a Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800 PRO 128MB 8xAGP, again without HDCP.
    [*] Get a PC graphics card with HDMI output and an inexpensive HDMI cable via the receiver box rear HDMI input
    [*] Get a PC graphics card with component and a component cable via the receiver box rear component input
If you use analogue VGA you can connect at 1024x758 @ 75Hz for 43" screens, or 1280x768 @ 75Hz for 50" screens.

If you use the other inputs, you will be subject to the fact that the XDE receiver box overscans images by 5% from all inputs, except analogue-VGA, so you lose the edge of the screen. Thus none of these offer pixel perfect options. Overscan is not adjustable - this is a hardware limitation. If you want to eliminate overscan, you need to change the output resolution from your graphics card. To do that depends on your graphics card as to how you can fix this:
  • If you have a new nVidia graphics card, nVidia have adjustments you can make to compensate for the 5% overscan
  • For other graphics cards, you need to see if your card is supported by a shareware Windows utility called PowerStrip. This allows detailed control of graphics cards' display modes and enables you to create a new custom resolution within the existing one and adjust the discrete H & V timings. For example, if you had an ATI Radion 7800XT connected via component to a 50" screen, PowerStrip could create a custom resolution of 1218 x 684 (1280 x 768 minus 5%), which means no loss of screen edge.
There is also an article (containing roughly the same information) in the Pioneer Customer Services FAQ - the link is in the last question in this FAQ.

Q: My Windows XP Media Centre Edition (MCE) PC / Home Theatre PC (HTPC) is looking bad (motion blurring and/or lag) when it outputs to the plasma - what can I do?
A: Your MCE may be defaulting to 60Hz and you need to force it to 50Hz. First make sure it's setup in PowerStrip to 50Hz. You could also try an MCE Customiser to force it to 50Hz. Alternatively you could try this Registry hack here.

Q: I'm seeing motion blurring on fast moving scenes from my XBOX360 - can I fix it?
A: This is part of the game. It's a special effect written into the code to make it seem more realistic. Honestly. Don't ask us why, but they did it on purpose.

Q: Anyone seen a rainbow effect on their plasma?
A: See this thread here.

[Q: For Pioneer 435 owners only - Screen covered with marks??? - Poll
A: See this thread and poll here

Connectivity Questions

Q: What options do I have for the cable between Media Receiver and Panel?
A: Pioneer produce four cables that provide both MDR & DVI-Dtogether. They are:
  • PDAH01 - 3m (approx £100)
  • PDAH02 - 7m (approx £190)
  • PDAH03 - 10m (approx £200)
  • PDAH04 - 30m System Cable & Repeaters (approx £650)
The one supplied with the plasma is PDAH01 - the shortest one. Alternatives are created by both BetterCables and WireWorld. When buying alternatives you need to make sure you get a compatible cable that delivers both MDR & DVI-D. Please check compatibility before spending money!

Some Wireworld examples are available from places like this.

Some BetterCables examples are available from places like this.

To find others, just do a search for DVI MDR cables using a search engine. There is no reason why you can't buy these cables separately if you like.

Q: Do I need an expensive HDMI cable to get the best quality out of this plasma?
A: No. It's a digital signal. If the 1s and 0s get through, then they get through. TV editing and the like doesn't user uber-quality cable to transmit digital bits around. The standard lead that comes with your DVD player or SkyHD should be perfectly fine. If you want to get a cable with a custom length, take a look at Mark Grant for cables.

Q: How can I connect XBOX360 to my Plasma?
A: There is an article in the Pioneer Customer Services FAQ - the link is in the last question in this FAQ.

Please remember to use GAME mode when playing games, and the recommendation is to limit to less than 2 hours at a time during running in.

Q: What video component lead will match this panel?
A: Try a Mark Grant component lead or see the forums area for connections and leads.

Q: I want to use more than one component lead. Does the XDE take component via VGA? I'd like to plug a component lead in via a VGA converter. Can it do 720p this way?
A: VGA-PC only and not 720p (which is supported from component and HDMI only). Why not get a component video switch (either via an AV amp or standalone from somewhere like John Sim who does an automatic one).

Installer Menus & System Settings

CAVEAT: Many people recommend not even entering the installer menu as you can make your plasma inoperable. Unless you know exactly what you are doing - change nothing.

Q: How can I access the installer menu?
A: Bring up the information service-installers screen as follows:
  • Switch to normal TV, through an aerial (you do not need one connected), by pressing a channel on your remote - say channel 2. Note that this does not work if you put it in standby from an input source, you must switch it to TV - even if you don't have an aerial connected - and then put it in standby for this to work.
  • Put the plasma and the media box is in standby.
  • Press and release the following button BEFORE THE SCREEN CLICKS:

    [*] 435XDE/505XDE/436FDE/506FDE: Display/Info button below 4 button
    [*] 436XDE: Display/Info button below 9 button
    [*] 436SXE/436RXE: TV/External input mode button (i+) below 7 button
  • wait for 3 seconds
  • press Left, Up, Left, Right, Power On to get the INFORMATION page.
It may take several attempts before you get into the service menu.

Q: How can I see the hours used?
A: Access the installer menu main page and press up/down to get to the hours usage display.

Q: Can you tell me about firmware in the plasma and how it gets updated?
A: You can tell your current firmware version from the installer menu first screen by looking at the item called MAIN, which is the software version. The version most recently known about is 58 on a 505XDE (as of 7th April 2006) or MAIN -05E = 01E on a 506XDE (as of 16th April 2006). Anyone who has a higher version on any panel - please Private Mail me the details and I'll update the FAQ.

Your plasma will attempt to download updates to itself over the air using the aerial, so if one is not connected, this will never happen. If an aerial is connected, then it updates according to this schedule page here, if there are any updates scheduled for Pioneer. If no aerial is connected, then it will log the number of times it tried to download any updates (or check for updates) in the installer's screens.

The way the Pioneer works with updates is to delete it's current software, attempt a download, and if it fails then you have no original software to return to. This means you will have a non-functional device and need Pioneer to help by having a Pioneer engineer bring round a PC and upload new firmware.

Q: How can I do a factory reset?
A: Home Menu => Setup => DTV Setup => Installation => Restore System Defaults => OK.

General Questions

Q: What is the Sky code for controlling the Pioneer 435 / 436 / 505 / 506 with the Sky remote?
A: The code is 0194. For instructions on how to apply the code - see here.

Q: I want to display photos on my Pioneer using the Home Gallery option. What do I need to do?
A: First, you need an XDE and not an FDE as the receiver box for the XDE is the one with the right slot for the PCMCIA card reader you need to buy.

Second, buy and insert a PCMCIA type-2 card adapter that functions as a memory card reader into the receiver box. The PCMCIA card reader must support the memory card media your camera can use :rolleyes: In other words if your digital camera uses SmartMedia, buy a PCMCIA device that you can put the SmartMedia card into. These are some recommendations (but this isn't an exclusive list):
Third, you need to insert the card into the PCMCIA reader and use the Home Gallery feature. However, remember that there are minimum and maximum pixel sizes the plasma can display. Taking full 5MP or 7MP resolution photos and trying to display them just won't work; these would probably be displayed as JPG thumbnails with an exclamation mark sign :nono: The best bet is to shrink your photos to a max resolution of 4.3MP (i.e. a max of 2400 x 1800) on the card before you try to display them.

More here from Pioneer (if link fails try the link in this last question in the FAQ to get there).

Q: What about if I have a fault with my power supply (i.e. a loud bang and the screen going dead or similar)?
A: This should be replaced free of charge under a lifetime warranty. Some people outside of the UK have complained of faulty power supply problems - more info on this thread here.

Q: Anyone having tuner/EPG problems?
A: Discussion on this thread here.

Q: How do the aspect ratios work - the manual isn't clear?
A: FULL is normal 16:9 whereas WIDE stretches 4:3 sources to 16:9 size, but progressively stretches the picture (i.e. stretches less in the middle but more to the sides) and zooms in a little bit.

Q: Why when I select 720p in my DVD player connected via HDMI does my Pioneer say 750p in the info banner? Same with 1080i showing 1125i? Same with 576i showing 625i?
A: You're not getting extra resolution, this relates to the hidden lines of data that are being added to the number.

Q: There is a GREY side mask in 4:3 mode. Can you explain why the side mask bars are grey?
A: The grey side bars prevent image retention and screen burn. If the side bars were black (i.e. no burn at all) there would be uneven wear across the screen and you would end up with the 4:3 section having more wear and hence more burn than the edges.

If you want a worse idea, try changing from FIXED (i.e. grey) to AUTO in the menus. This will replicate an inch wide strip from either side of the 4:3 picture in monochrome continually to the edge of the screen :devil:

Q: If I have a plasma with one HDMI input (like the 505XDE) - how can I get more HDMI inputs?
A: Buy an HDMI switch (see this thread here discussing them for SkyHD) or an AV amplifier/receiver that has HDMI inputs and an output to the screen.

Q: Is there any danger to the panel if I clean it with different types of cloth?
A: Yes you can scratch it. On "piano black" screens this is noticable. To make sure that this never happens, get a MicroFibre cloth (like the one made by 3M) from Tescos (or similar), costing less than £5. Most folk seem to replace the supplied cloth with one of these. Use the cloth dry. Washing the cloth regularly to get rid of dirt, is all that seems to be needed. You could also go with Monster cleaning solution and the like if you really wanted to, but the following comes straight from the manual:

Cleaning the surface of the screen and the glossy surface of the front cabinet.
  • When cleaning the surface of the screen or the glossy surface of the front cabinet, gently wipe it with a dry soft cloth; the supplied cleaning cloth or other similar cloths (e.g. cotton and flannel). If you use a dusty or hard cloth or if you rub the screen hard, the surface of the product will be scratched.
  • If you clean the surface of the screen with a wet cloth, water droplets on the surface may enter into the product, resulting in malfunction.
And the following comes from the little pink A5 leaflet that comes with the screens now:

Wash the cleaning cloth provided by diluting a natural detergent to about 1% and wash thoroughly. Rinse cleaning cloth with water so that none of the detergent remains in the cloth. Allow cloth to dry before use. Although the cloth's colour may fade, its performance will not. You can order replacement cloths from your dealer, or purchase a commercially-available lens cleaning cloth.
And from a post by Jeffers01:
Jeffers01 said:
I work for a company that makes antiglare coatings for displays. What is often the case is that the coating works by creating a nano structure in the surface. This is effectively a very fine textured finish. What happens is that any type of residue (especially oil from fingers) fills in this nano texture and is very difficult to remove from the bottom of the 'pits'. Microfibre cloths have fibres that are so fine they can reach down into this texture and absorb the oil. Therefore you can imagine that any houshold cleaner that may leave a residue of, say, silicone (to give a nice shine) will clog up the nano texture. This has the obvious visual effect but also destroys the antiglare property until it is removed. 'Plasmawipes' contain a gentle solvent that, combined with a good cloth, will dissolve/remove the residue (without replacing it with other rubbish!). Be careful not to rub too hard or you may do physical damage that is permanent.
If we go on any further on this topic, it will end up being the saddest question in the FAQ if it isn't already. :eek:

Q: Occasionally my screen clicks - is this a problem?
A: This appears to be thermal expansion/contraction of components and depends on heating in the room. Consensus is this isn't a problem. See here for an example thread.

Q: I can hear some small noises from my plasma/receiver - is this normal?
A: From page 8 of the PDP506XDE manual:

Radio interference
While this product meets the required specifications, it emits a small amount of noise. If you place such equipment as an AM radio, personal computer, and VCR close to this product, that equipment may be interfered. If this happens, place that equipment far enough from this product.

Plasma Display driving sound
The screen of the Plasma Display is composed of extremely fine pixels and these pixels emit light according to received video signals. This principle may make you hear buzz sound or electrical circuit hamming from the Plasma Display.

Also note that the rotation speed of the cooling fan motor increases when the ambient temperature of the Media Receiver becomes high. You may hear the sound of the fan motor at that time.

Q: I can hear a very annoying ringing/buzzing background sound when my panel is on - what can I do?
A: This sounds like (no pun intended) it is the coils resonating. You may need a new power supply. Contact Pioneer.

Q: Can I change the input names from INPUT1, INPUT2, INPUT3, etc.
A: Not as far as we can tell.

Q: I have an analogue and a digital tuner in my Pioneer receiver box but can't get Free to Air Digital TV channels (e.g. Freeview in the UK) to work at all. Normal analogue TV works fine (i.e. channels 1 to 5 in the UK), but tuning to Freeview gives me 0% on all frequencies, and thus can't find any channels. What am I doing wrong?
A: If you can only get analogue channels only, then your cabling is almost certainly wrong. Check the manual for wiring of the antenna - this is an easy step to get wrong without checking that page.

On boxes with a digital tuner, there is an RF in for the digital + an RF-out to the analogue-RF-in for analogue as well. Do not plug your aerial feed straight into the analogue RF input :nono: Put the RF lead into the digital RF-input then from the digital RF-output wire another lead to the analog RF-input :smashin:

Q: Can you clarify how Picture-in-Picture (PiP)works?
A: PiP is all about displaying two pictures side by side (Left and Right) on the screen, or displaying one image full size, and one very small in the bottom right corner of the screen. PiP tends to work on the following combinations:
  • Analogue TV and Digital TV
  • Analogue TV (or Digital TV) and any external source e.g. inputs 1-5 or PC
Q: Can I do Picture-in-Picture (PiP) with two external sources?
A: It is possible to get round this and use PiP with TWO external sources, by essentially "tricking" the TV into thinking Input1 is one of the internal sources. You do this by setting Input1 as Analogue TV and then can use PiP with any other external input and DTV together, but not with another Analogue TV channel.

To set this up, one of the sources has to be INPUT1, and the other doesn't matter. Do the following:
  • Plug a picture source into INPUT1 and show a programme
  • Go into HOME MENU => SETUP => ANALOGUE TV SETUP => (password normally 1234) => MANUAL ADJUST => PROGRAMME ENTRY => (choose a programme number say 99 or 01 or whatever) => and then make sure that DECODER is set to INPUT1. Leave everything else the same. Name the channel with a label if you wish.
Every time you choose 99 (or whatever you chose) you get the picture from your device at input 1. This is the internal part of the splitscreen. For the other part of the splitscreen you can choose any other external input.

Do this by pressing the Splitscreen button (probably just below and left of button 0 on the remote) and then use the button to the next of it to swap the split screens. Then you can choose one of the other input sources for the image if you wish by pressing the input source button.

Q: I get this error "'Aerial short circuited turn off DC and check cables'" - what can I do?
A: Turn off the Aerial power in the settings menu.

Q: Where can I find my serial numbers?
A: The serial numbers for registration & support for most panels can be found both on the screen (rear and top) and - if you have one - on the media receiver box (rear and inside silver front panel).

Q: I NEED MORE HELP! :mad: Is there anywhere else that has other useful FAQ information that might help me further?
A: Some FAQ answers are available via Pioneer Customer Services here.



  • Pioneer Plasma Running-In Settings.txt
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Last edited by a moderator:


Active Member
I am no expert but have been getting to grips with DVE and SpyderTV over the past few weeks.

My November purchased 436XDE is now configured with the settings in the attached text file.

I've only included the setting for my calibrated sources, Input 4 (Telewest TVDrive) is set by eye using the other inputs as a starting point.

To date I have had no problems at all with retention/burn, the screen is on for about 14 hours per day.

Hope this is of some use.



  • XDE Calibration.txt
    2.5 KB · Views: 2,421


Great post alistaln :)

My 506XDE gets delivered on Saturday afternoon.

Dazza Cole

Active Member
Alistaln - I see you're undecided on a new DVD player - I have the 436 XDE and can't recommend highly enough getting the Oppo (look in DVD forum, you'll very quickly find the thread). Connected via DVI-HDMI and at 720p it's the absolute mutts nuts

Gordon @ Convergent AV

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Just wanted to point out that I have NEVER charged anyone &#163;350 for calibrating an XDE plasma. My average is significantly lower.....perhaps no one I've done was polled to come up with this "average".

Also, the posted settings for greyscale are not of much use. You can see from the txt document that has been put here by someone with some tools that are relatively accurate for measuring this that he has VASTLY different settings for his two sources. The default USER temp is very cyan if you feed the panel the correct greyscale source. Better advice would be to use the MID-LOW temp as it's default is probably closest to correct. Some folk may find it too "warm" looking in which case go with MID temp until you can get someone to set it up accurately with the correct tools.

Pure Cinema: Standard is a good setting if you are sending ANY interlaced signal to the panel. The only time to turn it off would be if you see scrolling text on ticker tapes breaking up or if you see a sort of slow down affect on Corry/Easties/Footie......but the benefit of having it on should outweigh that for most folk I'd expect.
If you are sending progressive signal to the panel then it shoudl be set to OFF.

Hope this adds to the XDE knoweldge base.....



Active Member
Just wanted to point out that I have NEVER charged anyone £350 for calibrating an XDE plasma. My average is significantly lower.....perhaps no one I've done was polled to come up with this "average".

Mea culpa - that was my fault :oops: Too much editing and I missed it. It should have said between £200 to £300 depending on travelling expenses. I'll fix it now.


Active Member
When choosing my Plasma I found the online manuals a god send in answering all the little questions I had.

436 XDE
506 XDE
436 RXE
436 SXE



Active Member
Just following on from Gordon's comments.

Obviously the two sources/inputs I have calibrated are different manufacturers but it's also worth pointing out that the Samsung on HDMI is set to Brightness = 3 in its setup menu and (due to being a digital source I believe) does not output blacker than black. I guess that if I connected the Samsung via component, the figures would be different again.

From other threads I have read, ISF calibration is a worthwhile expenditure if you can afford it.
This thread gives a pretty comprehensive description and assessment.

A DVE disk plus SpyderTV comes to about £200 which is probably not much cheaper than ISF calibration.

I decided against ISF in the short term and purchased a SpyderTV because (as I understand it) ISF calibration is charged by source/input.

Considering that I will probably be going down the Blu-Ray/HD DVD route in the next twelve months I would then require recalibration and as I now have the kit this will cost me nothing.

I hope that, if Gordon or Piers services result in a 100% picture quality (relative to the equipment) then my efforts are 80% or more although I will never know unless/until I go the ISF route later on.



Active Member
Now this is a very useful Thread.....:smashin:
Well done Alistaln for getting it going...


Active Member
Hi alistaln !

Great thread - thanks for pm - excellent info

Had Pio 436XDE for 10 weeks now & glad to report no problems at all - screen seems to improving by the day !!

Thanks again !:smashin:


Well-known Member
good thread mate - dealer said new pioneer 1080p out in next few months, i believe it is panel only - will try to find some info
alistaln said:
If the defective pixels are visible at a normal viewing distance of between 2.5 and 3.5 meters whilst viewing a normal broadcast (i.e. not a test card, still image or single colour display) please contact the supplying dealer.

I have two defective pixels and I quoted Pioneer the above. They just said 'it's within spec' and no amount of arguing would change their mind :mad: I payed &#163;2700 quid for my 435XDE too. I called my supplier a couple of weeks ago and they said their supervisor would get back to me, but never did. Appalling customer support from Pioneer.


Active Member
damo_in_sale said:
I have two defective pixels and I quoted Pioneer the above. They just said 'it's within spec' and no amount of arguing would change their mind :mad: I payed £2700 quid for my 435XDE too. I called my supplier a couple of weeks ago and they said their supervisor would get back to me, but never did. Appalling customer support from Pioneer.

Where did Alistaln's statement come from...?


Thanks for the info, my 506 XDE comes in the next two weeks or so, lots of reading to do 'till then :thumbsup:


Active Member
Originally Posted by damo_in_sale
I have two defective pixels and I quoted Pioneer the above. They just said 'it's within spec' and no amount of arguing would change their mind I payed £2700 quid for my 435XDE too. I called my supplier a couple of weeks ago and they said their supervisor would get back to me, but never did. Appalling customer support from Pioneer.

Originally Posted by reaperman
Where did Alistaln's statement come from...?
Straight from the early pages of the manual (page 8 for the XDE).
alistaln said:
Straight from the early pages of the manual (page 8 for the XDE).

Yeah, but Pioneer ignore this.


Standard Member
Excelent thread.

I haven't purchased a Plasma but I am just about to and I will probably settle on the 436xde, after many days (and nights) of research. Next step is to audition a unit live.

So my question to you owners is: for Sky digital broadcasts, what kind of picture quality can I expect from the 436...most of my viewing will be - DVD (over RGB) and Sky digital (sports and Kids channels).


Dao said:
Excelent thread.

I haven't purchased a Plasma but I am just about to and I will probably settle on the 436xde, after many days (and nights) of research. Next step is to audition a unit live.

So my question to you owners is: for Sky digital broadcasts, what kind of picture quality can I expect from the 436...most of my viewing will be - DVD (over RGB) and Sky digital (sports and Kids channels).



Sky will look largely horrible. Some stuff will be acceptible. DVD can be superb, but not over RGB scart. You need at least component or even better HDMI, and a decent player makes a world of difference.


Active Member
damo_in_sale said:
Sky will look largely horrible. Some stuff will be acceptible. DVD can be superb, but not over RGB scart. You need at least component or even better HDMI, and a decent player makes a world of difference.

And of course your impression will vary. Due to testing some things at the moment, I have this running from an old Sony DVD player over RGB scart and from Sky over RGB scart - and I like the pictures...of course it could be better, but I don't think the picture is bad using these...
Alistaln, what's your reaction to Pioneers stance on my dead pixels? And I think if you come round, look at my Sky picture through my Lumagen, and then go back home I dont think you'll find your Sky images look acceptible anymore.


Active Member
damo_in_sale said:
Alistaln, what's your reaction to Pioneers stance on my dead pixels?

Call your supplier and get them round to see it. If they agree that it is visible when it shouldn't be, reject the TV as not of merchantable quality (sale of goods act, amended) and demand a replacement. If you bought with a credit card - jointly reject with them (as they should also be covering your purchases). That sort of thing.

damo_in_sale said:
And I think if you come round, look at my Sky picture through my Lumagen, and then go back home I dont think you'll find your Sky images look acceptible anymore.
I'll agree with that.
alistaln said:
Call your supplier and get them round to see it. If they agree that it is visible when it shouldn't be, reject the TV as not of merchantable quality (sale of goods act, amended) and demand a replacement. If you bought with a credit card - jointly reject with them (as they should also be covering your purchases). That sort of thing.

It's over a year old and the pixels have recently died. I've found a third this weekend too. I believe that all 435XDE's have a 2 year warranty though.
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