For years, Pioneer made the best plasma TVs you could buy, but in recent years it’s been harder and harder for such a comparatively small company to compete with the legion hordes of affordable flat panels emerging from the likes of LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.
Hence Project Kuro. It might sound like a Manga movie title, but it’s actually Pioneer’s codename for nothing short of a plasma TV revolution. Kuro has been conceived to give Pioneer sets the clear-cut performance advantage they need to compete in the modern market, and the PDP-428XD is one such panel.
None more black
Kuro means black in Japanese, and it’s fundamental to the company’s new range of plasmas. Each set, from 42in to 60in, has been designed to deliver dramatically better black levels than any other flat TV on the market: Pioneer claims an 80 percent improvement in black level reproduction compared to its outgoing range, which itself was no slouch in performance terms.
And why is black level so significant? Simply, because accurate black determines an accurate greyscale, which in turn defines contrast, colour accuracy and pretty much everything to do with picture quality.
Except, perhaps, resolution, and it’s here that Full HD fanboys might feel a little let down. The PDP-428XD has ‘only’ got 1024x768 resolution, making it HD-Ready, but theoretically inferior to many same-sized rivals.
Numbers don’t a great TV make
Fire the Pioneer up, though, and any slight sense of disappointment is immediately dispelled. This TV’s picture is nothing short of awesome. It blends the best aspects of old-school CRT sets with the sharpness and dynamism of the latest flatscreens: you can see into the picture, feel part of it, and become totally immersed in it.
You’ll see textures and details you’ve never noticed before on rival sets, even products with far more pixels per inch. The murk of movies like Blood Diamond or Lord Of The Rings suddenly becomes clear, the details contained in background shots revealed in all their glory. And as for skintones – well, let’s just say you’ll only truly appreciate quite how orange David Dickinson really is when you see him on a Kuro.
Besides, the PDP-428XD readily copes with 24fps content and it looks stunning showing 1080p Blu-ray discs. Put it next to any rival flatscreen, even a Full HD model, play the same content through both sets, and the Pioneer wins. Simple as that.