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Pioneer KURO PDP-LX508D 50in Plasma TV - Pioneer PDP-LX508D
The only slightly bum-note to report about the LX508D so far is that some elements of its operating system aren't the easiest to use. Especially unhelpful is the ridiculously complex system whereby you have to manually ‘enable' the HDMI sockets via an option tucked away within an obscurely named ‘Option' menu selection. Quite why a TV as sophisticated as this can't tell by itself when something's connected to its HDMIs is beyond me.
Still, once you're aware of the ‘problem' and have got all your HDMIs up and running, you shouldn't have to worry about this again. Which leaves you free to be completely mesmerised by how majestic the LX508D's picture quality is.
Rather self-defeatingly, when it first launched its KURO screens in Rome, Pioneer ran a detailed demo explaining how it didn't really feel that having a full HD resolution really made that much of an impact on HD picture quality. But while we understand their point, especially considering how good Pioneer's scaling processing is, for me there's just no doubt that on a screen as large as 50in there is a genuine, visible advantage to watching 1080-line HD footage on a full HD screen. Especially when that screen is as supremely talented as the LX508D.
The full HD benefit can be seen in two, maybe three main areas: sharpness, noiselessness, and colour subtlety. A particularly detailed scene on the impeccable Blu-ray transfer of Mission: Impossible III, for instance, such as the one in the Vatican City bathroom, looks blisteringly textured and crisp, without a trace of the dot crawl, shimmering noise or overstressed edges that can plague rescaled images as shown on a 1,366 x 768-resolution screen.
And the extra pixel density afforded by the full HD resolution likely plays a part in the way the blends of the film's skin tones, or the shifts in blue of the skies above the famed bridge attack sequence, all look impeccably smooth and free of tell-tale ‘striping'.
It's a testament to how crisp and clean HD images look on the LX508D's full HD screen that we didn't start our assessment of its performance by talking about its black level response. For that black level response truly is sensational, reminding us of just how near-revolutionary the KURO system really is. The night-time sequences in Shanghai on our M:I3 Blu-ray, for instance, take place against an inky black backdrop that makes the black level efforts of practically all rival flat TVs - especially 99.9 per cent of LCD ones - look feeble by comparison. Even Pioneer's closest black level rivals right now, Panasonic's Viera plasmas, can't compete with the mighty KURO black level impact. And with extreme contrast ranges being arguably the thing that most separates film from TV footage, the LX508D can almost by default claim to be the most cinematic TV money can buy.