We almost choked on our cornflakes the morning Pioneer announced it was branching into the world of LCD TVs with the KRL-37V.
You might be familiar with Pioneer's award-winning plasma TVs, but LCD is an area where the company has little experience. So little, that Sharp answered Pioneer's call to help provide the panels for its first generation of screens.
As with the company's hugely successful Kuro plasma TVs, the Kuro LCD screens have been positioned at the premium end of the market, which is evident in the price tag (around £1200 for this model) and the technology that it uses.
For example, the 37inch KRL-37V features the same ultra-black, anti-reflective front filter found on Pioneer's ninth-generation plasma TVs.
The set is a hefty design by LCD standards: the moody black bezel and accompanying pedestal stand give the TV a purposeful appearance.
It also comes with a chunky, aluminium-clad remote control that's as handy for warding off nighttime intruders as it is for changing channel.
All the inputs you’ll need
Take a peek at the TV's back panel and you'll find all the sockets you’ll need. There's a trio of HDMI inputs, a set of component video inputs and twin RGB Scart sockets.
Specs-wise, the LRL-37V boasts Full HD resolution and 100Hz picture processing. It's also clever enough to automatically alter backlight brightness depending on the lighting in your room.
Setting up the Freeview tuner is done via auto-installation – no surprises there. One thing you will notice is that the Pioneer's EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) is quite busy and you can get lost in the sea of channels and programmes.
You can, though, search by genre using the TV's clever little icons, which is a nice touch.
Feed it Freeview
Following in the footsteps of Pioneer's Kuro plasma TVs, this Kuro LCD has a lot to live up to and it doesn't disappoint. The set does a superb job with its internal Freeview tuner.
Sure, the picture isn't completely noise-free, but the KRL-37V makes a great fist of it. Motion is handled smoothly and detail levels should be admired.
Move on to DVD playback and it's more of the same. The Pioneer can't make the script of Mike Myers' The Love Guru any better, but it does bring the picture to life with excellent edge definition and a broad array of rich colours.
Blistering with Blu-ray
Make the jump to Blu-ray and the KRL-37V ups its game yet again, producing an extremely enjoyable, cinematic image.
The TV picks up a decent amount of detail in dark scenes but blacks aren't quite as rich as we'd like and matters aren't helped by a slightly uneven backlight – not something we'd expect from such an expensive set.
In the sound department, the two 10W speakers don't sound too thin or tinny. Keep things to neighbour-friendly levels and you can't go wrong.
Serious flatscreen performance
In pure performance terms, the Pioneer is extremely impressive and capable of giving the fabulous Sony KDL-40W4500 a serious run for its money.
But the Pioneer's main stumbling block is its price tag, especially when you consider the calibre of TV that you can buy for half the price. Just think of the Blu-ray goodies that you could buy with the difference.