Pioneer KURO PDP-6020FD Plasma HDTV Page 2

Potential buyers should know that the new Pioneer Elite sets and the new Signature Series monitors will offer extensive adjustments. Thankfully, they will both include full calibration controls for color temperature.

À la Mode
None of the picture modes I tried produced a fully accurate gray scale, but the Movie mode came closest at around 6100K. The color temperature in both Standard and Performance mode ran significantly higher—above 8500K for the most part.

In my tests, the Standard mode showed the best picture overall, despite its overly high color temperature. The Movie mode’s color temperature was close to accurate, but it produced a relatively pale, flat-looking image. The Performance mode looked similar to Standard, but it offered an added punchiness that bordered on glare, particularly on brightly lit faces.

Much to my chagrin as a card-carrying, “manual setup is best” videophile, Optimum mode produced an image that will please most users. In fact, the KURO PDP-6020FD’s subjective color in the Optimum mode came very close to the properly calibrated 60-inch Elite PRO-150FD (reviewed in HT’s May issue) which I parked beside it during my tests. I did think some of the Optimum mode’s colors were excessive, though. Sunlit green grass and foliage looked iridescent, reds were a little too rich, and fleshtones appeared a bit sunburned.

Despite the reasonably pleasing (even for me) Optimum mode, I gradually gravitated to Standard mode. For me, it offered the best picture. Its main color deviation was whiter whites rather than an obvious blue tint. Still, colors in the Standard mode looked well saturated, not overdone, and generally believable. I just wish they were more accurate.

The set also turned in generally good video-processing results. A few artifacts turned up on both video-based and mixed video-film material, and I saw some very subtle jaggies on the waving-flag test. However, I never saw these problems on real programming. The Pioneer’s HD upconversion was excellent. It properly deinterlaced film-based material and recognized the 3:2 sequence.

The Pioneer never lacked detail, either. Yes, test patterns did show a subtle degree of edge enhancement that I couldn’t dial out even with the Sharpness control set at minimum. But I never noticed this on real program material.

When I initially compared this set with the Elite PRO-150FD, the latter looked noticeably softer. Then I increased the Sharpness setting on the earlier design to –8. This added some visible edge enhancement, and the detail from both looked about the same. (In its minimum Sharpness setting of –15, the Elite PRO-150FD produces pristine one-pixel lines with no edge enhancement.)

Shadowed areas on the KURO PDP-6020FD looked a little darker and slightly less detailed than on the Elite PRO-150FD (the latter with its Gamma control set to 1). However, the KURO PDP-6020FD’s black level became the star of the show. When the image went completely black in a darkened room, I sometimes couldn’t distinguish the screen’s black border from the black image. As my eyes adjusted, I could make it out after a few seconds. Overall, it looked darker than the Elite PRO-150FD, which is the best eighth-generation set I’ve reviewed.

The differences between the two generations of sets appeared less pronounced when part of the screen carried brighter details on a black background. In this case, I could just barely see some unevenness in the darkness of a full black-screen image. And the blacks were occasionally slow to drop to their minimum level (see more on this in the HT Labs Measures text.)

The Pioneer KURO PDP-6020FD excels in far more than just blacks. But I can’t overstate the importance of rich blacks, particularly if you are a movie fan. I never once wished for deeper blacks or better shadow detail.

Yet, I do wish that the set’s color temperature were more accurate. And I don’t like to see any manufacturer eliminate the ability to correct color-temperature deviations. I particularly don’t like to see Pioneer do it, since its sets are arguably the best on the market. For that reason, my recommendation here is less enthusiastic than it might have been otherwise.

But unless another manufacturer springs an unexpected surprise, Pioneer’s ninth-generation plasmas will be the sets to beat this year.

State-of-the-art black level, shadow detail, and contrast ratio
Color temperatures are inaccurate and cannot be calibrated
Some video processing artifacts

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.
(800) 421-1404