We think pretty highly of Pioneer’s Kuro screens here at TrustedReviews. Always willing to put our money where our mouths are, both Gordon and myself have actually bought Kuro TVs for our homes, so when Pioneer invited me to its UK head office to see its latest screens, I made sure I was there.
The current Kuro screens represent the 9th generation of Pioneer’s plasma technology, and the company has already walked away with an Editor’s Choice award for its current 50in PDP-LX5090 TV. Now that same screen has been squeezed into a new casing that’s only 64mm deep - shaving around 30mm off the depth of the PDP-LX5090. Just like the standard TVs, these new screens come in 50 and 60in flavours, in the shape of the KRP-500A and KRP-600A respectively.
In order to get these new screens so thin, Pioneer has removed the tuners and all the connectivity from the screen and encased it in a media receiver box. This isn’t a new approach - in fact early flat screen TVs often used this method of connectivity - and it’s one that we’re likely to see a lot more of in the future, as manufacturers all strive for the thinnest and lightest wall hanging screen. This wouldn't be a problem for me, since I don't use the internal tuner in my TV at all, instead I watch everything via my Sky HD box.
Interestingly, Pioneer has adopted a DisplayPort connector for hooking the media receiver up to the screen, citing the more versatile resolution options offered compared to HDMI as a key factor in this decision. A three metre cable ships with the screen, but an optional 10m one is available.
There is however, no DisplayPort input on the media receiver, just four HDMI ports, three SCARTs, one component input, a D-SUB PC input and composite. Obviously anyone who actually uses composite to connect kit to a Kuro screen will be ceremoniously beaten with a large, wet fish until they promise never to do anything so stupid again.
You also get both USB and Ethernet ports, both of which will allow the screen to display still images, audio and video content. The Ethernet port is particularly good news and means that you can stream video from any PC on your network, or even a NAS box if you have one - and you really should. In fact, seeing the Ethernet port on the KRP series screens made me feel ever so slightly disappointed in my PDP-LX5090 TV, but only for a split second.
Being that the KRP screens are based on exactly the same panel technology as the LX TVs, you can be assured that the image quality is staggeringly good. However, the real videophile will find far more to play with. These screens have both light and colour sensors - this allows the screen to adapt the picture to perfectly complement the ambient lighting and colour environments. The AV Optimum Mode can produce a picture that blends in with your room, so that your eyes don’t become overly tired from extended viewing. That said, if, like me, you prefer to watch your movies as the director intended, you can employ the Pure AV mode, which will bypass all image processing and show the incoming source completely unsullied.
Obviously the KRP-500A and KRP-600A are aimed at an even higher echelon of the AV market than the already excellent LX5090 and LX6090 TVs, and as such they will carry a premium of around £400 over their siblings. Personally I think that the media streaming over Ethernet alone makes a pretty good case for that extra outlay, while there’s no denying that having a single cable running to your wall mounted TV is also a very attractive option.
The 60in KRP-600A will be available to buy this month, while the smaller 50in KRP-500A will start to ship in October. Expect full reviews of both screens as soon as we can get our paws on samples.