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Pioneer's new 42-inch and 50-inch Kuro TVs have already won CNET hearts. So it's fair to say we're practically having palpitations about the arrival of the brand's PDP-LX608D.
For as well as being a truly gargantuan 60 inches across, this £4,900 TV also happens to be the first Kuro model with a 1080p 'Full HD' resolution. Boo and, indeed, yah.
Any concerns we may have had about Pioneer's remarkable Kuro picture quality not being able to stretch up to 60 inches are quickly and emphatically quashed.
Kuro, in case you didn't know, is Japanese for 'black' -- a word Pioneer wants to stress because a host of proprietary innovations have allowed its latest plasma TVs to produce black levels of unprecedented depth and subtlety. And the impact of these revolutionary black levels is abundantly obvious in practically every frame you watch on the LX608D. During Superman's night-time tour of Metropolis with Lois Lane tucked under his arm in Superman Returns, for instance, the profound darkness of the night sky is shown without a trace of the greying over that so spoils this scene with practically every other flat TV.
As a result you get a more genuine sense of scale to the cityscape than we've experienced before on a TV, plus you can make out much more subtlety in the background, which helps bring the city to life. For us, this sort of black-level prowess is what puts the cinema in home cinema.
While black level is the single most outstanding weapon in the LX608D's arsenal, we're certainly not implying that its 1080p 'Full HD' resolution doesn't also count for something. In fact, the screen's 60-inch size provides a perfect forum for confirming that1080p really can deliver extra clarity and detail while watching HD sources, not to mention more subtlety in colour blends and a resulting improvement in the picture's feeling of solidity.
The LX608D also beats every other big-screen flat TV into a cocked hat with its colours, which enjoy a range and naturalism not possible before the emergence of Kuro.
Add to these sensational pictures an outstanding connection count that includes three v1.3 HDMIs and a USB port; the fact that you can have the screen professionally calibrated by an Imaging Science Foundation engineer; and the provision of a special 72Hz playback mode for pristine playback of the pure 1080p/24fps format output by some HD disc players, and it's easy to see why we're intending to change our locks so that Pioneer can never get the LX608D back...
Watched in a low-lit room, as any serious home cinema TV really ought to be, there's nothing bad to say about the LX608D's picture quality. But if you do happen to have the set sat in a very light area, we should say that the picture isn't especially bright. Certainly Pioneer's smaller Kuro sets look noticeably brighter.
The only other 'problem' with the LX608D is simply its cost -- £4,900 is clearly beyond the reach of most of us.
If you're filthy rich or have just had a handy win on the lottery, we can honestly think of no better way to blow £4,900 than on this stunning TV. It's really, really big and really, really clever. And how often do you find both of those abilities in the same place?
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire