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Pioneer KURO KRL-37V 37in LCD TV
If I'm honest, when I first heard Pioneer mention that it was going to start making LCD TVs to go alongside its world-beating plasma TVs, it sounded like a mistake.
After all, Pioneer can hardly expect me or anyone else with even a passing interesting in AV technology to forget overnight all the pro-plasma, anti-LCD rhetoric the brand has been presenting to the world for years now. So immediately there's the question of whether Pioneer's debut LCD TVs can suddenly be so good that they justify the brand flying in the face of its own philosophy.
Pioneer's decision to ‘go LCD' also initially struck me as an admission of failure; a tacit admission that however persuasive its plasma arguments - not to mention its KURO plasma TVs - the sheer weight of market support for LCD had finally made it impossible for Pioneer to avoid its ‘hated' rival format.
As one further and most pressing concern, I couldn't help but fear that Pioneer's switch to LCD might end up devaluing the ‘expensive but worth it' status the brand has been so carefully building over the past couple of years. After all, Pioneer doesn't make its own LCD screens (they're sourced from part owner, Sharp), and hasn't had anywhere near as long to develop a clear performance advantage with LCD as it has with plasma.
With all this in mind, it's fair to say that the first Pioneer LCD TV to cross the threshold of our test facilities has a hell of a lot of pressure on its shoulders. Just as well, then, that the KRL-37V starts alleviating that pressure - and some of the near hysteria surrounding the whole Pioneer LCD decision - almost immediately, simply by virtue of its size.
For at 37in across, it's currently the largest of Pioneer's LCD models (ahead of an upcoming 46in model). And as such it suddenly becomes prosaically clear that the 37V doesn't actually represent Pioneer caving in to the LCD crowd, but rather it's simply Pioneer catering for people who want a Pioneer screen but can't fit/don't want a 50in or bigger screen in their homes (Pioneer's 42in plasmas have pretty much disappeared now).
So with Pioneer's LCD decision so extensively depoliticised before we've even really got the TV out of its box, the only things really left for me to worry about are whether the TV justifies its relatively premium price point, and whether it does the Pioneer name proud. Both of which essentially boil down to me simply deciding if the TV is actually any good!