There are other features worth noting too – albeit nothing unique. For instance, it’s great to find the 37V retaining Sharp’s innovation whereby the HDMI sockets automatically detect what device is attached to them. And so, for instance, if you connect a PS3, the HDMI you’ve used will automatically be relabelled PS3. Nice.
This ultra-friendly approach couldn’t present a greater contrast with the extremely unhelpful approach to HDMI activation employed on Pioneer’s KURO plasmas. The set also has an automatic backlight adjustment facility like those found on pretty much any LCD TV these days, and there’s a light sensor built into the TV so that you can get the TV to adjust its picture settings in response to the ambient light levels of your living room.
At this point I have to say that as I was exploring the 37V’s feature count, I couldn’t help but feel that the set’s menus were rather reminiscent of those of Sharp’s TVs. And there was me saying earlier that I wouldn’t labour the Sharp heritage point! Oops.
The 37V’s remote, at least, is all Pioneer’s work, combining the usual gorgeously heavyweight design and intuitive layout.
Let’s now turn, at last, to the key issue of the 37V’s performance. Is it really better than Sharp’s LCD TVs? Is it good enough to justify the TV’s premium price? And could it even be as good as Pioneer’s KURO plasmas?
With relatively little else to distinguish the 37V from other brands of LCD, it’s clearly up to the high contrast filter to really make a difference. And thankfully, it does. My first awareness of what Pioneer’s filter was bringing to the party was really just a vague feeling that somehow I was connecting more directly to the picture than happens with most rival LCDs – including, tellingly, those from Sharp.
Trying to analyse where this feeling was coming from, the first specific point I noted was that black levels look slightly deeper, richer and definitely filled with more shadow detail than is commonly the case in the LCD world.
Then I noticed that colours are better than usual, too, with sumptuously rich saturations going hand in hand with some startling tonal richness and subtlety. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the 37V’s colours when watching HD are among the most expressive and accurate I’ve seen on any LCD TV to date. This was one facet of the Pioneer high contrast filter that I really hadn’t expected to be so impressed by, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.
The 37V’s HD pictures also look slightly sharper and more detailed than those of many other LCD TVs. This is particularly true during dark scenes, where the high contrast filter’s impact on the key combination of brightness and contrast in the picture helps the set produce enhanced greyscale and shadow detail subtleties that work wonders during dark sequences such as those aboard the star cruiser at the start of Sky’s HD broadcast of ”Star Wars: Episode III”.
With startlingly bright peak white reproduction also helping the 37V produce a really dynamic picture range, the combined benefits of the high contrast filter comfortably exceed my expectations, and make the 37V what it needs to be: not only one of the finest LCD picture performers around, but one which uncannily delivers the sort of subtle strengths revered by the AV cognoscenti rather than the more vulgar charms seen on cheaper models.