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Finding the ideal home cinema sound system to match your swanky new flat-panel TV can be a tricky task given the amount of different styles and designs on the market. But if you own one of Pioneer's delectable Kuro plasma sets, then that decision is about to get a lot easier.
Pioneer's LX01 system is designed to compliment the company's latest plasma range both aesthetically and technologically. It's made up of a combined DVD/HDD recorder, a large 400W subwoofer/receiver unit and four omni-directional speakers (two combined front/centre speakers and two rears) each of which has a distinctive ‘3D' shape that helps them output sound in every direction. There's also a neat little display unit that links to the recorder and receives commands from the remote, allowing you to hide the other components out of sight. Not that you'd want to, mind - the whole system is dressed in a sleek piano black finish that makes it look absolutely gorgeous, but in a high-end, esoteric sort of way. Stunning.
But the LX01's looks are only a small part of what makes it so special. It's packed with an astonishing array of features that make this a candidate for the ultimate home cinema system. The main unit is a combined DVD/HDD recorder, fitted with a 250GB hard-disk that holds up to 711 hours of TV, and a built-in DVB-T tuner. The hard-disk gives you the flexibility to pause live TV and simultaneously watch and record programmes, but the deck can also record onto every DVD format you can think of.
You can also transfer MP3, WMA and JPEG files to the hard-disk and use the LX01 as a media jukebox. The files can be copied from disc or transferred from a flash memory device or PC running WMP10 connected to the front-mounted USB port. What's more, you can slip a CD in the tray and rip tracks to the hard-disk in lossless LPCM quality at up to 16 times the normal speed, and the inclusion of the Gracenote CDDB database means that track, artist and album title information are added automatically. The system also plays back DivX files from CD or USB, but sadly there's no support for DVD-Audio or SACD, which is unusual considering the system does everything else.
Also on board is a choice of two 7-day EPGs - Guide Plus and the regular Freeview version - which lets you choose how you surf for something to watch (though we recommend the more intuitive Freeview version). There are seven recording presets on board which let you alter the quality to fit more recordings in the available space, and these are backed up by 32-step manual modes, giving you a great deal of control over the quality of your recordings.