For a couple of year's now, Pioneer's KURO plasma TVs have towered over the rest of the TV world like some modern day Colossus, delivering picture quality that's simply been in a different league to anything else around.
But as we take receipt of the brand's 60in PDP-LX6090, it's fair to say that the pressure on Pioneer is starting to mount. In recent times, after all, we've seen outstanding plasmas from Panasonic as well as a striking LED LCD TV from Samsung (the LE55A956) that definitely raises at least the possibility of LED technology one day snatching away Pioneer's crown.
However, the LX6090 immediately sets about keeping the Pioneer end up with its build quality. There really is something special about the stunningly robust and opulent feel of the LX6090's bezel. As, I guess, there ruddy well ought to be considering that the LX6090 will set you back the best part of £4,100.
It's worth adding here, too, that although the Comet price we're quoting includes a desktop stand, you'll usually have to cough up a fair bit extra if you want to secure the detachable speakers Pioneer makes for the LX6090.
The LX6090's connectivity is arguably a touch disappointing for such a premium-priced set, in that it ‘only' includes three v1.3 HDMIs when a few sets from the likes of LG, Samsung and Philips are starting to carry four.
But there's some good connection news too, in the presence of a subwoofer line-out, a digital audio output, and a USB port for digital photo viewing. This USB input is made particularly useful by the fact that it's driven by Pioneer's truly excellent Home Gallery software, which represents easily the most serious attempt yet at providing a genuinely useful and high quality interface for viewing photos on a TV.
In looking at other features of the LX6090, we have no choice but to concentrate first on the technological advances Pioneer has made during the time that's elapsed between last year's 8th plasma generation and the latest models. For it's only in doing that that we can really convey a sense of the sort of technological stuff that goes into making Pioneer KURO TVs so different.
Particularly notable is the development for the 9th-gen screens of a new, improved Direct Colour Filter, Pioneer's proprietary - and jealously guarded - technology for slashing the amount of accidental light bleed within each plasma cell. As you would expect, this enhanced colour filter has a massive impact on how black dark scenes can get.
Pioneer has also stepped up the quality of its image processing for its generation nine screens, taking control of colour toning, brightness and black levels right down to the individual pixel level. Plus it's thrown 100Hz on there to enhance image stability.