Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD Review: Near-Perfect Plasma

Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD
An HDTV that produces deeper, darker blacks offers better contrast and a more colorful picture than those that cannot—and the 60-inch Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD delivers black levels like no other set I’ve seen. In addition, the PRO-150FD’s new video processor is the best I’ve come across for all HD sources. If you’re looking for the most pleasing plasma you can buy, this pricey set fills the bill.

aAn antireflective screen provides native 1080p resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels progressively scanned) and accepts 1080p video input only through its HDMI ports. Widescreen VGA resolution support topped out at 1,360 by 768 pixels. Fortunately, image over scan with 1080i/p video signals could be disabled, revealing every pixel, but 720p video sources were cropped 3 percent, sacrificing a slight amount of detail and clarity. The Elite’s 1080p video support includes 24-Hz and 60-Hz formats, and the TV’s Advanced PureCinema feature enables a 72-Hz refresh rate that eliminates a shaking artifact known as “judder” when displaying video sourced from 24-frame-per-second material (most films and digital cinema).

As I said before, this set’s contrast and ability to deliver luscious hues of black is unsurpassed. Using the PRO-150FD’s pure-picture preset, I measured its average black level at 0.03 cd/m2, which yielded a high contrast ratio (CR) of 2,612:1. No other HDTV I’ve seen even comes close to this level of performance. That black-level measurement also approaches the limit of my Konica Minolta CS-200 meter’s rated sensitivity, and in the pitch-black test lab, only the slightest screen glow could be seen after my eyes were fully accustomed to the dark.

Color measurements revealed that the PRO-150FD’s movie picture preset produced a color gamut that exceeded the HD spec—that is, oversaturated colors, albeit uniformly so. Switching to the PRO-150FD’s “pure” picture preset resulted in the best out-of-box HD color gamut response I’ve ever drawn from a TV.

The set’s new video processor aced all of my HD video-processing tests, including the HD HQV benchmark test. That’s the first time I’ve seen a perfect score on this test. On more subjective viewing tests, the PRO-150FD’s performance was equally impressive: It exhibited superb video noise management and detail preservation. Standard-definition video tests also showed the PRO-150FD to be an above-average performer.

The Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD delivered the most outstanding image contrast, color quality, HD video processing, and viewing angles I’ve seen from any HDTV display technology that is currently available to consumers. Of course, the PRO-150FD isn’t the least expensive 1080p plasma in its size range, but it delivers a level of picture performance that is simply unmatched.


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