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Pioneer PDP-MXE1 quick review

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by John_N, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. John_N

    John_N
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    As mentioned in my earlier thread, I was comparing
    the panasonic TH-42PW7 (Standard resolution panel) against this pioneer panel because I was tempted by the special offer I saw at Richer sounds.

    The earlier thread is

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=198140

    Once I got it home and set it up last night roughly:

    5004 input card in the device.
    DVD player into component video input
    Sky+ into S-video

    I turned it on.
    Initial impressions over both inputs were of a very bright picture with rather too much brightness, contrast and colour. These are probably set these up to look impressive in shops or something but I immediately had to turn down the brightness,contrast and colour to more manageable settings which had an immediate positive effect on the picture.

    Sky+ quality I felt was gated on the bitrate of the channel and the fact that the panel did not really smooth over the imperfections in the signal very well. This meant that news on BBC1 didn't look very good, but yet 'The matrix' on Sky movies looked a lot better. I think that to get noticeably better quality from sky, I would be tempted not be a simple RGBs to VGA convertor, but rather by an external scaler or HTPC which would perform a bit of smoothing and enhancement on the image.

    Moving over to component video over DVD, again I was immediately struck by the contrast/brightness/colour settings all being too high. Once adjusted the picture was a lot more film-like.

    The resolution of 1024*768 gave a noticeably finer picture structure than the Toshiba standard resolution panel 852*480 which I have viewed in a relatives house. Given that we sit only about 12 feet from the panel, I felt this was important and also the ability to accept 720p has an impact (although the digital input is not HDCP compliant I feel that either sky will have an analogue component output for HD, or an aftermarket device will have to appear to fill the gap in the market).

    I believe the panel would benefit greatly from a greyscale calibration. I'm going to mess around with AVIA on it to try and get the flesh tones a bit more realistic and see what settings are available to tweak the picture, but as I said, useful improvements could straight away be made from factory by reducing brightess (black level) and contrast (white level) and the colour settings which were too saturated.

    There seem to be a variety of the usual pIp modes and the panel is very clearly pointed to the professional market rather than the consumer one. There are a choice of colour spaces for component to use, and a choice of frame-rate-conversion options, which I have yet to try. I haven't fully read the manuals yet so you will have to excuse the vagueness.

    On this forum I heard a lot about poor black level of this unit and people not being happy with the analogue image through the 5004 card, on account of it crushing black detail.
    To be honest therefore, I expected the picture to be awful and to definitely need a scaler or a HTPC. I was suprised - to be honest I was pleasantly suprised at the quality of the picture - it was a lot better than I expected and certainly better than the standard resolution panels that I have looked at.

    I know this was over a short 2 hour viewing period and I think that messing with the settings using AVIA will almost certainly yield a decent improvment - particularly if there is a 'service menu' that I can get to where you can change the R/G/B bias and gain for each input.

    Does anyone know if there is a service menu available?

    So to sum up, for £1799 including graphics card from RS, I would say that this is pretty good value for an XGA resolution panel.

    Over to you.
     
  2. PioRow

    PioRow
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    I thought RS only did the panel for £1800? Did you get the 5004 card as well as the panel for £1800 from RS?
    Where can I find a list of available input cards for the MXE?

    Cheers
     
  3. John_N

    John_N
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    The price does include the 5004 input card. As I said I paid £1799 for the panel and the input card from Richer Sounds.

    I believe there are only two input cards available - this is based on my doing searches on the web for cards.

    The 5003 - which has BNC connectors
    The 5004 - which has RCA style connectors.

    The 5004 contains 3 inputs for
    (3) S-video
    (4) Composite video in/out
    (5) Component video in or RGB.

    The bare panel has inputs
    (1) - D-Sub VGA
    (2) - DVI input
    There is also a scart socket I think but I haven't read the panel yet to see how it works I'll let you know. There are also other inputs and outputs for audio and stuff. I haven't really had time to look at all the features and inputs/outputs yet.

    The panel has one expansion slot that can take either of the above cards.

    J
     
  4. philipb

    philipb
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    For service menu - press and hold display, then you see all the operating data, then press menu.

    Default values certainly are too high.

    It certainly is a myth that Pios can't do blacks, well no worse than any other plasmas.

    I would recommend using RGB scart out of Sky via either a VGA or component converter - the former is probably marginally better. JS Tech ones are the best. Although it is true that the s-video performance of the panel is very good.

    As a monitor, its best performance will be via DVI. To get the absolute best from this display a HTPC or scaler is a very worthwhile option - not cheap though. Then you could buy a SDI modded Sky+ and really go to town :) .

    After a couple of hundred hours get it calibrated. Well worth the money.

    I've had this and the previous model for about 18 months now (I broke the first one :rolleyes: ). Any tips and pointers just ask. There are a lot of very happy MXE1 owners on the forum - you have bought the best display currently available.
     
  5. John_N

    John_N
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    Thanks for the information. I will look at the setup menu with interest this week and try and do a rough 'by eye' calibration using AVIA which should yield a useful improvement.

    I don't know if I'm the only person, but when I first starting reading this forum, it was almost as if the Panasonic PW7 and PWHD7 were the only plasma that is worth buying - is it just a coincidence that a lot of members own panasonic panels?

    I'm sure that a lot of these owners will take issue with the 'best in the market' comment. The only thing I would say is that I think that at £1800 it's very good value if you want an XGA display and don't want to start looking at paying £2400 (+boards) for a panasonic HD7. The other thing that swayed my decision was that the pioneer price was 'all in' whereas any panasonic needed hundreds of pounds spending on input boards because I need inputs for component AND composite AND s-video as well as the DVI and VGA connections. This pushed the price of a standard definition TH-42PW7 up to almost the same level which I thought was perhaps getting a bit excessive.
     
  6. wannabeav

    wannabeav
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    John sorry to raise a question on something very obvious that you've already answered but ... does the MXE have a DVI input as standard? Is that on the display or a seperate card? As you say this seems to be one of the best displays to get at the moment and the price is good too. Thanks JP.
     
  7. Dutch

    Dutch
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    John,

    Congratulations on your new MXE1 - you got a bit of a bargain there. I paid nearly twice that for my 20 month old MXE! A nice Lumagen will do wonders for your Sky+ as Philip says, especially if you get it SDI-modded. At least you have a chance of having an HDCP compatible display with one of the upcoming cards, unlike me. :rolleyes:

    wannabeav,

    The MXE1 does have the DVI connector on the actual panel and not on the card as on the MXE. Unfortunately it still only takes computer resolutions, and not video ones. Hope this helps.

    Steve
     
  8. symphara

    symphara
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    Thanks for the review - if you have a digital camera please take some shots and post them here. Enjoy your new toy! :)
     
  9. wannabeav

    wannabeav
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    Thanks Steve, if using a scaler could you output a signal (1024*768) which originated form a DVD source (which might be at 1280*720). Would this get around that issue or am i missing something? :rolleyes: Appreciate a basic question but this Pioneer plus a scaler could be the option for me.

    JP
     
  10. John_N

    John_N
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    As far as I know, there should be no issue in setting up a scaler to give a 1024*768 signal either via DVI or VGA output. The one thorn in your side is likely to be the HDCP protection. A HDCP protected DVI input is known as an HDMI interface, and this uses the same physical connector as a DVI port but means that the signals accepted can be HDCP protected. The pioneer DVI input is not HDCP compliant.
    In other words;

    DVI input -> Can take non protected DVI signals
    HDCP input->Can take non protected DVI signals
    Can take HDCP protected DVI signals

    This is not much of an issue apart from if you wanted to pass through the new (and still untested) sky HD format which is reputed to use a HDCP protection 720p at 50hz. However, my personal view is that sky will be forced to also give the new 'HD' set top box an analog component output or similar in order to appease customers who bought plasma and projector over the last few years (virtually no-one supports the sky 'standard' right now). In addition - if you go to sky and buy a plasma from them, they will happily sell you a shiny new plasma which will not work with their own HD service!

    I've gone off the subject a bit here..
    I was going to post a few more comments about the screen.
    I messed around with the colour/contrast/brightness and noise reduction settings last night and got flesh tones looking more acceptable - on factory default everything was far too bright and unnatural.
    Just out of interest, I compared some dark scenes from lord of the rings on the plasma and the projector - and I didn't find the black level or the black level detail objectionable at all - it was better than my Sony HS10 projector in any case.
    Altogether I found the whole thing very watchable and a lot better than I had been lead to expect given comments about "poor black level on pioneer".

    To be honest, I was going to buy a scaler but now I'm not sure. The only reason I would thing of it would be to improve the quality of the sky picture. I think the quality of the sky picture is due to the lack of bandwidth of the channel - Sky one seems particularly bad - and I'm not sure that a scaler or HTPC will be able to improve these artifacts to be honest.
     
  11. Dutch

    Dutch
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    Hi,

    I'm feeding my Lumagen via RGBHV to my MXE at 1080p, and a Momitsu DVD player set to output native 1024x768 to the DVI. :smashin:

    Steve
     

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