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Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV review

John Archer

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Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 50in Plasma TV
  • KURO PDP-LX5090 127 cm 50" Plasma TV (DVB-T MPEG-2 - HD Ready 1080p - 16:9 - 1920 x 1080 - 1080p - Surround)

Summary

Our Score:

10

If there was ever a TV that needed no introduction, it's Pioneer's KURO PDP-LX5090. For this 50in plasma TV has been receiving all manner of frenzied media coverage/speculation for some time now, for two key reasons.

First, it's the second proper generation of Pioneer's truly revolutionary KURO technology - a technology which earned universal rave reviews and redefined expectations of what's possible with flat TV technology.

Second, the LX5090 has fascinated us media types because it's the last 50in screen design that's going to roll off Pioneer's own production lines. The next Pioneer generation will emerge from Panasonic factories, as part of a co-operative deal struck between the two companies earlier this year.

Pioneer continues to assure us all in the strongest terms that the move to Panasonic production lines will not affect the quality of its future screens in the slightest. But even so, I suspect there are at least a few telly fans out there kind of hoping that the LX5090 really is a belter, so that they can get one now and not have to worry about any future Pioneer/Panasonic shenanigans.

Not surprisingly, the LX5090 certainly looks the part. It effectively wears a slightly more refined, more slender (94mm) version of the straightforward but strikingly minimalistic high-gloss black bezel that has adorned Pioneer plasmas so classily for a good couple of generations now. It's beautifully built, too.

It's also well connected, with three v1.3 HDMIs standing out, as well as a USB port for digital photo viewing (with Pioneer's superb Home Gallery software to back it up), a CAM slot to support what's clearly a built-in digital TV tuner, a subwoofer line-out, and a digital audio output.

I guess I wouldn't have minded a fourth HDMI on a TV with such a premium price tag as the LX5090; at £2,349 (or more if you want the speakers, stand or wall mount options) it is, after all, around twice the price of something like Panasonic's TH-50PZ80. But I'm kind of hoping the LX5090 will deliver enough goods elsewhere to make me quickly forget such trivial wishes.

All the on-paper evidence suggests that the LX5090 certainly will deliver the goods where it matters most: picture performance. For it turns out that rather than sitting on its hands for a year, as many manufacturers might have done having established such a technological lead as Pioneer did with its first KURO TVs, Pioneer has been doing anything but standing still.

In fact, remarkably the brand claims that its new screens deliver black levels five times as deep as those of the previous KURO generation - even though the black levels of that previous generation were so far in advance of the competition that they actually led to the birth of the KURO sub-brand name, since KURO is Japanese for black.

The LX5090's black level advances are down in no small part to the introduction of a new, even more refined version of Pioneer's already class-leading Direct Colour Filter technology, via which Pioneer has managed to pretty much completely stop plasma cells from bleeding light - something that inevitably results in reduced contrast in surrounding pixels and reduced brightness in the pixel that's ‘leaking'.

With accidental light seepage removed, the latest, newly optimised generation of Pioneer's picture processing is now free to control each pixel much more independently and accurately, with the net result that pictures should have much more black level depth, colour naturalism and brightness than they did before.

Wackywavinginflateablearmflail

August 6, 2008, 6:29 am

I'm beginning to get aroused...Is that wrong?

Hugo

August 6, 2008, 7:00 am

Normally, yes. But with a Kuro....

ilovethemonkeyhead

August 6, 2008, 11:05 am

they're putting up a 50 incher up at work, below the last gen one. the black levels on the old one were enough to make me think the set was off half the time. i'm expecting the new one to melt my head :D

Riyad

August 6, 2008, 2:26 pm

It's a general rule of thumb that if a tech journalist actually puts his hand in his pocket and buys a tech product, it must be seriously good, and I actually bought one of these!





Right now, there are no better TVs on the market and if you take your high definition movies/gaming seriously, you want a Kuro. As always, black is the new black!

adoniteINK

August 6, 2008, 3:52 pm

to TRs,





please I will like to see an editorial article on which is better in this current generation of projectors and huge flat screen televisions. With TVs boasting a lot of contrast ratio and black levels, it will be interesting just to know where the better image quality usually lies. A comparison of entry-level to high-end level will be absolutely great.


I hope sometime in the future (not too far away) we get you guys accredited opinions.





Thanks

stranger

August 6, 2008, 5:43 pm

"I couldn't help but feel the pain of technophobes as I had to delve deep into the LX5090's menus just to ‘enable' its HDMI connections."


Come on John, it takes about 3 seconds to do this:-)





And on the upside pricewise it has come in at over � less than the set it replaces.

Wackywavinginflateablearmflail

August 6, 2008, 8:23 pm

Riyad! When are you inviting me over??? :)

Tommy K

August 7, 2008, 1:42 am

is there any way to post any photos of comparing the picture to the old kuro and another make of 50inch tv? I would like to see some pictures :)

Riyad

August 7, 2008, 3:11 am

Actually I had the same problem as John, since the TV comes out of the box with only one HDMI port configured. Then the manual tells you to configure HDMI, but doesn't tell you that you need to have to manually select each input before you're allowed to select HDMI.





And no invites until I get a decent sound system sorted to go with the TV :)

GoldenGuy

August 8, 2008, 7:22 am

Oh my goodness, gracious me - Big Bad Mr. Kuro is back IN BLACK!





Must.


Have.


Want.


Now.





I was already sold by the reassurance that they've managed to supersede the black level of the last masterpiece, which, as soon as I saw it, blew me away. But this observation on the monstrously bad '10,000 B.C.' seals the deal for me :





"honestly, the detail levels are so extreme, pure and noiseless that they're almost enough to make you forget about 10,000 B.C.'s awful acting, story and staging"





You're joking, right? I would have thought the Devil Himself couldn't sell me that kind of bad.





I'm also glad you've addressed a growing concern of mine that as amazing as the darkness may be, the brightness of whiteness may be a comparative disappointment, which would be a shame since I believe this element is just as crucial to justify the 10, if not even more so given the constant explosions in blockbusters. I'm so happy you then said :





"consider also the picture's unprecedented dynamism, which finds some of the purest, richest whites we've seen resting right alongside the deepest, most natural and most profound blacks in town"





I hope you're right. A few things I can think of that would confirm this if I were viewing it, would be any viewing of the plain white Pixar logo with those little dainty black letters, and a number of obvious set pieces from the sci-fi thriller 'Sunshine', which would really confirm bright white and colour (I think that's on BD, but not sure).





If we could entertain the idea that I had this kind of cash to play with, I think this line would make me a plasma loyalist consumer. Please do try and prove otherwise though, if you can hunt down an LCD 50 incher to rival it. They tend to be a bit cheaper, right?

D C Burnside

August 11, 2008, 4:44 pm

It's nice to see the "death of plasma" nonsense that tends to fly around the internet take a swift kick in the teeth from monsters like this. I'll be buying this thing's replacement in a year or so, that's for sure.

Roger

November 3, 2008, 7:48 pm

I bought my 36 inch Toshiba three years ago because i thought the picture quality of plasma and LCD, especially on off air programming, was vastly superior. I want to increase size as well so, will this TV give me the quality I want off air as well as with other scources? Also what is the warranty term with this set; the Panasonic is 5 years?

stocky102000

January 3, 2009, 2:01 am

Hi all





In response to Roger's question regarding the gurantee Pioneer are offering a free 5 year warranty on this product if purchased from one of their reccomended dealers before 31/01/09 which is just great news. I just managed to get myself the TV with a 5yr warranty for � froma local dealer which is a bargain.





I have just upgraded from an older 42" Pioneer and I am looking forward to seeing the difference for myself when my new TV arrives tomorrow.

Tristan Summers

January 13, 2009, 1:27 am

I think it's abut time we stopped reviewing things based on a compressed format like Blu-Ray. Is it only me that thinks someone should feed an uncompressed 10bit image into a TV and then say how it fares?

Geoff Richards

January 13, 2009, 4:03 am

Nice idea, Tristan, but since consumers can't (or aren't going to) watch that sort of source material, isn't that a little meaningless? Products are tested in the way in which they will be used by people who buy them.

asanka

January 25, 2009, 2:39 am

Hi,


I am going to buy this TV. I'm SO excited! But I need to find a corner tv cabinet for it. Thinking piano black to go with the tv, or maybe a light coloured wood, maybe oak. Would be greatful for an ideas?





Thanks

stevecost

March 2, 2009, 8:07 pm

I've been saving like crazy since 6th Aug 2008... one last question before I go forth and spend either my golf sub for the year or take an advance out of my season ticket for 2009/10 (not mentioning the club in case it biases any answers) :)





I’m a huge film buff and sport enthusiast, and any queries around the former can more or less be taken as sorted... so, how does the LX5090 handle sport and fast moving white spherical objects? Is the LX508D any better or not as brilliant?


(All digital signals are SD for now)



SteveB

March 17, 2009, 8:49 pm

I'm buying one this month end.


Getting a great deal from my local supplier.....TV, undermounted speakers (I'm still have a full surround sound with my separates!) and stand 5 yr warranty and delivery for ٠k. = :-)

SteveB

April 2, 2009, 2:15 pm

Just to add that if you buy a 5090 now you may get the H model as there are very limited D models available. The H models are being sourced by Pioneer UK from around Europe. Mine came as a H model with a Russian manual. My authorised dealer contacted Pioneer UK who were already aware of this and were advised that the correct manuals will be issued accordingly. A download is available for the correct manual from the Pioneer UK website in the meantime. The warranty offered (5 years) is {perfectly ok and will not be void by owning a H model.


Just thought I'd say this incase people are buying one now.


I think the price has gone up approx 𧹈 again now anyway....

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