Pioneer has bravely entered the high-definition format war by nailing its colours to the Blu-ray mast with a new high-end player, the BDP-LX70.
With a premium price tag of around £980, though, it will have to work very hard indeed to overcome our inevitable scepticism about buying into either HD disc format right now.
Let's get straight down to business, shall we? Basically, the LX70's pictures are absolutely outstanding. In fact, they're the best we've seen from a Blu-ray player to date.
They're particularly magnificent if you set the player to output the/24fps format (used to master the vast majority of films to HD disc) and play the pictures into one of Pioneer's own new , which convert them via a relatively simple mathematical process to 72Hz for amazingly smooth, clean and sharp playback.
But even feeding 1080p/24fps from the Pioneer into a lesser TV shows off the LX70's remarkable talent for reproducing every pixel of detail from immaculately mastered discs such as Casino Royale.
The deck also produces blisteringly vibrant -- but always natural -- colours with Blu-ray discs, and does a superb job too of upscaling your old DVDs to 720p, 1080i or 1080p. Seriously, it's rare indeed for any upscaler, even a really high-end one, to add resolution to your discs as effectively and with as few unwanted side effects as the LX70 does.
As you'd hope, given Pioneer's audio heritage, the LX70 also delivers a true hi-fi performance with Blu-ray soundtracks and CDs alike.