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Pioneer Kuro KRP-600A 60in Plasma TV - Pioneer Kuro KRP-600A
Of much greater interest to those users is the addition of a Pure mode, which turns off all the non-essential processing and drops the sharpness down to -15 in order to deliver the most accurate pictures possible from your chosen source. But if you don't trust these ‘out the box' settings and want to customise the picture yourself, then there's an unbelievable amount of tweaks at your disposal. On a basic level you get the usual colour, contrast, brightness, tint and sharpness settings, but more advanced users can use the Image Science Foundation C3 calibration tools to fine tune the image down to the smallest detail (or get a professional ISF engineer to do it).
The KRP-600A features Pioneer's ninth generation 1080p panel, which has many improvements over the G8 panels, outlined in John's review of the PDP-LX6090. But the most significant improvement is the new Direct Colour Filter which cuts out the reflection from ambient light that can seriously reduce black level. The result is deeper, darker blacks - the thing Pioneer strives for above anything else - but the improvements on this third incarnation mean it carries out this task more effectively than ever before.
The range of other features is typically vast, but the most eye-catching is undoubtedly that satellite tuner. It's not Freesat compliant, so you won't get any of the red-button functions or the Freesat EPG, but you can pick up all the free-to-air channels and it can also handle hi-def MPEG-4 broadcasts - we found BBC HD among the hundreds of available channels and it looks great. All of the channels are listed in an EPG that's cleverly designed but is painfully slow to scroll through the channels.
Elsewhere there are 100Hz and 72Hz modes, the latter allowing 24p Blu-ray content to be displayed without judder. There are also Intelligent Brightness and PureCinema modes, a range of other picture presets (Standard, Dynamic, Movie, and Game) and a range of SRS sound modes.
Pioneer has introduced a new user interface on the KRP-600A and it's a joy to use. Hit the Home Menu button and the current picture is reduced to a small box on a black background with the options listed on the left. There's a real showy, elegant feel to the graphics and text that makes navigating it feel like a privilege rather than a chore - plus it helps that it's really smooth and responsive. Some things are a tad annoying, such as the need to activate the HDMI inputs and its insistence on automatically jumping to the SCART input, but overall this is one of the most assured TV operating systems we've encountered.
The remote is also superb. Its robust build should help it withstand a few falls onto hard flooring, while the intelligent button arrangement makes it a breeze to use from the moment you first pick it up. There's also a backlight activated by a button at the top, which prevents any awkward fumbling when the lights are down low.