Having recently seen a similarly priced 50in plasma TV from Samsung that sports a full HD pixel count, it's perhaps slightly disappointing that this screen only carries 1,365 x 768 pixels. And with many plasma TVs now routinely offering claimed contrast ratios in excess of 10,000:1, the 50XR6's 3,000:1 doesn't look too clever either.
But we can at least put a positive spin on this contrast figure since it's the same as that quoted by NEC's now sister brand Pioneer for its previous (non-KURO) generation of plasma TVs - and that figure turned out to be, in our estimation, pretty conservative.
There's one more piece of bad news to report, though: namely that the HDMIs do not take 1080p sources. Or at least they didn't during our tests. According to NEC's official specifications for the screen, 1080p/50/60Hz should be a goer (although 1080p/24fps signals of the sort carried by most UK HD DVD and Blu-ray discs are definitely not on the menu). But the screen remained resolutely blank with our 1080p/50/60Hz sources.
Oops - we've strayed again into covering stuff that the 50XR6 does not do. Sorry about that. Returning once more to positive territory, we find a handy suite of picture-in-picture tools, six memory spaces for storing preferred picture settings, direct pixel mapping of native 720p sources (should you actually manage to find any in the UK), and a cinema mode that tweaks the progressive scan processing to suit film rather than video/PC sources. Oh, and before I forget: there's also the facility to zoom in on the picture by up to 900 per cent. If you can think of a compelling need for such a feature, feel free to let us know…
It's hard not to reflect at this stage that although the NEC 50XR6's features count isn't bad, it doesn't tally with those of Pioneer's own-branded plasmas quite as much as we might have hoped. Thankfully, its performance does.
Or at least, it tallies with Pioneer's previous plasma generation. There simply isn't the same sort of black level depth or colour extension that we've loved on the new KURO sets. But even if Pioneer is only deigning to give NEC its previous-gen technology, that's still more than good enough to make the 50XR6 instantly the finest plasma screen ever to wear the NEC brand.
Take, for instance, its fine detailing. Lovely, crisp HD sources such as Pirates of the Caribbean on Blu-ray look blisteringly sharp and packed with detail to a degree that falls far less short of full HD screens than you might think possible for a 50in 1,365 x 768 screen.