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Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 plasma HD TV

Premium price equals premium quality

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The LX5090 may not be as advanced as that, but it still shows substantial improvement over last year’s already strikingly good model. Pioneer knows its stuff – this is the ninth generation of plasma from the company - the native resolution's a full 1920 x 1080 - and a leap forward in picture quality.

But let’s reality-check here – the Kuro prototype looks stunning in the pitch dark, but how many rooms really are that dark, unless they have usherettes at the door? Plasma is great in low-light conditions, but less exciting in bright situations. Is the Kuro worth its asking price for the average household viewing conditions?

Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090

93mm front to back

Let’s start with it switched off. The gloss-black frame is pretty simple, unadorned by the colours and curvy shapes of some rivals. The bezel isn't as slim as, say, Toshiba’s Picture Frame models, but no more intrusive. The optional screen-width speaker bar sits underneath, and the plinth is a gloss rectangle. The brand name is picked out in clear but not overpowering white lettering.

Unlike some Kuro models, the PDP-S63 speaker bar is the only add-on that’s compulsory. Screens without integrated tuners are also available, and they are less deep from front to back, but this integrated analogue and Freeview model is less faff.

The remote control is cool. It's aluminium-fronted instead of plastic so it has a decent weight to it and is painted black to give it discreet good looks.

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