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It might only be December 15th as we're writing this review, but for us, Christmas has come early. For sat imperiously on our test benches is something we've been frankly desperate to get our hands on for months: the first of Pioneer's KURO plasma TVs with a full HD resolution.
And now that the LX608D is finally here, first impressions suggest that it isn't going to disappoint. For starters, there's the sheer size of the thing; with its 60in screen it's an attention-seeking behemoth reminiscent of that black monolith at the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sadly we can't say for sure if its presence in our test rooms is having any beneficial effect on our brains in the same way the monolith boosts the mental abilities of 2001's apemen. But you never know. Maybe you'll find this review even more intellectually rigorous than usual.
Anyway, getting back to the job at hand, it's pleasing to find that a 60in TV does not have to look ugly. In fact, with its ultra minimalist, high-gloss black bezel the LX608D is something of a style icon - albeit a very masculine style icon. It also feels imperiously well built, bolstering our already high hopes that the set's innards are going to be of the very highest quality.
And let's face it: they kind of need to be. For at the best part of five grand - and that's the cheapest price we could find - the LX608D isn't a cheap telly by any stretch of the imagination. Don't forget, after all, that we recently tested a thoroughly decent 63in full HD plasma TV from Samsung that cost under £3,500. Can the LX608D really justify costing £1500 or so more than that also very impressive king-sized TV?
Well, it's got enough connections, at least, to bolster its ‘premium TV' ambitions. These include three HDMIs all compliant with the new v1.3 standard, making them compatible with v1.3 features such as automatic lip-synch correction and Deep Colour.
Deep Colour, lest you haven't heard of it before, is reckoned to deliver a much richer colour palette than standard video - though it's dependent on the format being encoded onto a disc, and sadly no such discs have yet appeared on a commercial basis! Still, it's nice to know the TV's ready for it should it ever appear.
The connectivity also includes a component video option, PC port, subwoofer line out, and USB 2.0 input for the direct viewing of digital photos from USB storage devices
When it comes to features, the LX608D's premium status merely grows. For instance, as you'd hope of a set with a full HD resolution, it backs up its HD love-in with a 1:1 mode for showing 1080-line sources with no overscanning. Plus it's unusually handy at showing the key 1080p/24fps format now being output from many of the latest HD DVD and Blu-ray players. Why ‘unusually handy'? Because it's got a 72Hz playback mode allowing for a simple 3:3 pull-down system that should result in a much cleaner, smoother finish than you get with TVs that just try and convert 24fps into 50 or 60Hz.