Pioneer KURO PDP-6010FD 1080p 60" Plasma Display Page 2
There's no fooling around with this Pioneer.
Shadow detail is just as important as absolute black level. Without it, you simply get a muddled mess. This Pioneer has the deepest blacks and shadow detail I've tested, apart from two or three of the best CRT front projectors ever made.
One of the best tests I've ever seen for this came to me recently by way of a new Pioneer test disc. I referred to it previously in my review of the Pioneer PDP-5080HD 50" plasma. With the larger screen and higher resolution of the PDP-6010FD it's even more striking. It shows a photographer working in his studio. Everything in the studio is in varying shades of dark gray or black, including the photographer's black leather clothes. The details are incredible, and all the more amazing because of their dark, monotone nature. Competing displays struggle with this image, capturing its details only by lightening the scene too much, rendering everything in mid-gray shades rather than black and dark gray.
Motion lag is virtually nonexistent. And the Pioneer's 72Hz operation (always on with 1080p/24 program material) eliminates 3:2 pulldown where present and further smoothes motion. Yes, it does work, but the result is often subtle. Oddly, however, the "Smooth" setting of the PureCinema control sometimes did a better job smoothing out 480i sources than Advanced.
The Pioneer's off-axis viewing also beats any LCD or rear projection set I've seen. There is simply no drop-off in image quality or apparent brightness as you move off to the side, up to the 90-degree point where you're looking at the back of the set and the picture disappears completely!
White field and brightness uniformity were also excellent. And unlike some LCD displays, black and white images have no uneven color tinting, which will make fans of black and white classic films happy.
The Pioneer's colors popped off the screen without looking garish or overblown. They may not be perfect, but are closer to it than most sets can manage, even out of the box (see "Measurements"). Flesh tones were superb. Greens were just slightly glowing, but far less distracting in this respect than most modern displays. Familiar objects never looked distractingly "wrong."
Some 1080p LCDs can look a little sharper and "quieter." This was true of the Sharp AQUOS LC-52D64U I just reviewed; look at a plasma screen from up close and you can often see the pixels "dithering," which is not characteristic of LCDs. But from a normal viewing distance there simply doesn't seem to be anything missing in the Pioneer's picture. Its response does fall off a bit at the very highest frequencies (see "Measurements"), but I suspect that most HD program material falls off even faster. I've been living with the PDP-6010FD for two weeks, and I still find its overall sense of detail, on the right program material, breathtaking.
An all-new Pioneer designed video processing ASIC is one of the touted features of the Elite-branded KURO sets, and this set passed all my HD deinterlacing tests with flying colors, including recognition of 3:2 pulldown. Its performance with 480i sources, however, was disappointing. It did only fair on the jaggies tests, and was slow to capture and hold onto 3:2 pulldown, and failed the 2:2 (video) cadence test. Its scaling and deinterlacing was slightly worse than the PDP-5080HD's, and that had been marginal at best.
In fairness, however, good 480i program material, as opposed to my torture tests, rarely showed artifacts. And be honest with yourself; how many 480i sources do have that you plan to feed directly into the PDP-6010FD, without first scaling them or at least deinterlacing them externally?
Put this all together and you have a display that, overall, equals or exceeds any other display I have tested, lacking only the sheer impact a separate projector and screen can provide.
And don't think that the Pioneer was effective only on HD. Old favorites on DVD produced an experience that was only lacking in comparison to true HD transfers. And the Pioneer's noise reduction also even cleaned up some DVDs enough to make them more than watchable—and even surprisingly good in some scenes.
Even good SD broadcasts on digital cable were more than acceptable. The only glitch I experienced was with SD cable programming transmitted as a 1.78:1 letterbox within a 4:3 frame. As upconverted to 1080i by my cable box, none of the Pioneer's aspect ratios would expand the image to fill the screen without geometric distortion.
While the most expensive product is not always the best, the best will nearly always cost more. The new Pioneer plasma sets are clearly the most impressive consumer digital display's I've yet seen, lacking only the immersive impact of the best 1080p front projectors.
• Striking blacks, great shadow detail, and the best contrast ratio we've yet measured on a flat panel display
• Vivid yet natural color
• Exceptional off-axis performance