Pioneer KURO PDP-508XDA

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Pioneer KURO PDP-508XDA
  • Expert Rating

    5.00 / 5

Pros

  • Flawless image quality across all modes, excellent speakers, integrated HDTV tuner, attractive design.

Cons

  • High price tag

Bottom Line

The Pioneer KURO PDP-508XDA is easily the best plasma television we have reviewed thus far. Even though it is a little more expensive than other 50in plasmas on the market, it is money well spent.

Would you buy this?

The Pioneer KURO PDP-508XDA is the best plasma television we have ever reviewed. In every test we performed on the panel, it delivered flawless results. It has a native resolution of 1366x768 but can also display 1080p content via scaling. In standard definition the image quality continued to impress and it was even perfect in PC mode.

Pioneer has done something very different than what you would expect. Rather than simply build upon their 7th generation plasma they chose to start from scratch and reassess both the strengths and weaknesses of their panels. KURO is the name given to their new line of televisions which was chosen as it is the Japanese word for black. The PDP-508XDA has black levels far superior to any other plasma panel on the market and due to a number of new technologies designed to reduce screen reflection and isolate each plasma cell to increase brightness and make blacks and colours as pure as possible.

We ran intensive tests on the panel in an attempt to find imaging faults but found none. We were surprised to find that no matter what source we connected, the panel consistently delivered results which were superior to any plasma we have previously reviewed. Even the PC mode, which is a function most plasma televisions tend to struggle with, we didn't find any image quality problems.

First up we tested the 1080p capabilities by watching Blu-ray films and playing games at 1080p over a HDMI connection. The black levels and lack of screen reflection are the first things we noticed. With pure blacks comes excellent colour. The colours were vibrant with no over-saturated or overt colours. The contrast between light and dark areas was also noteworthy as there was no stepping, and the blend between different shades of colour was sublime. There was also no pixelation or over-sharpening, which is particularly impressive when you consider that the panel needs to downscale 1080p content to fit on its native 720p panel.

At 720p, we ran the same gaming and movie tests but also added 720p video files and high-definition calibration demonstrations to the mix. Again, there were no problems at all. We were expecting the panel to perform better in 720p than it did scaling 1080p content but they looked the same. While it isn't a true 1080p television, it certainly has the potential to be used for that purpose if you can't afford the rather expensive 1080p version. We would even go so far as to say that this panel outperforms many 1080p televisions on the market at the moment.

Our DVD collection looked amazing while testing standard definition. Granted, there was some detail loss due to the lower resolution but on a whole it looked far better than we have seen a DVD look with excellent colour and blacks with no pixelation or contrast stepping.

In PC mode we were able to obtain a resolution of 1360x768 which is fairly close to the native resolution of the panel. The desktop image was flawless with no over-sharpening or pixelation on the desktop items and our tests via DisplayMate Video edition were all passed with flying colours.

The speakers on the panel are exceptional and deliver loud volume with clarity and are distortion free, even at high volume. This is the first five-star television review we have done and the reason for it isn't just the quality of the panel. While quality is the over-riding factor, others also contributed to the score. Firstly, the fact that Pioneer re-engineered their whole line-up shows a great commitment to their given technology and a level of self awareness that many plasma manufacturers fail to embrace. Second, their customer support structure is unparalleled. In addition to a five-year warranty, they also include free delivery, installation and calibration of the television. They have faith in their television and, after our testing, we can see why.

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