Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Japanese home entertainment equipment maker Pioneer is presently raising the stakes on flat panel performance. Its latest ‘Eighth Generation’ series of four displays represent a marked leap above all that has gone before.
Here I look at just one of the four, the 127 cm Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX508A plasma TV.
Last year Pioneer released the PDP-5000EX. This was the first 127 cm true high definition (1920 x 1080 pixel) plasma display. Initially it sold for $14,999 and that was without a TV tuner or loudspeakers.
This year the PDP-LX508A outperforms it, comes kitted for out-of-the-box high definition TV operation, and sells for half that price. That alone would be impressive, but in developing this TV, Pioneer went back to the drawing board and redesigned it from scratch.
That has allowed it to develop such hugely impressive specifications as a contrast ratio of 20,000:1. Its predecessor managed just 3000:1. None of this is achieved with ‘dynamic’ processing tricks. This is the native performance of the display, so you get that ratio regardless of what is playing.
Pioneer has also developed a whole new set of video processing electronics to ensure that the picture gets from the inputs to the screen with the highest possible quality.
The TV comes with three HDMI inputs plus plenty of analog sockets, and a USB port into which you can plug flash memory for photo display.
The name ‘Kuro’ is Japanese for black. As you can see from the photo on this page, the surround for the panel is indeed black. But so is the screen. Even when it is switched on, and no signal is being applied.
In fact, it can be hard to tell that it is on at all, aside from the blue LED on the front panel, because of the extreme blackness achieved by this TV. That makes for incredible picture quality because without deep blacks, it’s hard to make the colours and the whites stand out. It also allows exceptional detail to be seen within dark scenes.
On this front alone, this TV is better than any other panel display out there.
But it also does a brilliant job on processing the video for its presentation on the screen. With Blu-ray high definition images, it does very little processing. Especially if the player delivers the video at 24 frames per second, it simply shows as close to a perfect representation of what is on the disc as the state-of-the-art presently allows.
But even DVDs and standard definition digital TV are beautifully presented, with a top notch scaler increasing the size of the picture, and various de-noising circuits eliminating all the irritating artefacts that creep into all displays from time to time. And I do mean all of them.
There is a whole range of other features, too varied to detail fully here. So the best thing to do would be to make your way to your nearest selected Pioneer dealer and have a look for yourself. If you’re not convinced at first glance, have the shop set up the TV in a dark room, along with any other TV, and compare the two. Then you will be convinced.