Pioneer PRO-151FD KURO Plasma Aurora IL
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Pioneer PRO-151FD KURO Plasma
September 9, 2008 By Geoffrey Morrison
How do you follow up on a winner? Last year's, first generation KURO plasmas were, quite simply, the best looking flat-panels available. Their black level and contrast ratio simply couldn't be approached by anything else on the market.
Here we are, a year later, and the second generation of KURO has hit the streets. So the question you have to ask yourself is, if you were Pioneer, and you were leading the industry in picture quality, even a year after your initial release, what would you do?
Aesthetically, the PRO-151FD differs from the PRO-150FD we reviewed in no way that is readily apparent. There is now a tiny Pioneer logo at the bottom left, but that's about it. It is still a stylishly minimalist black cabinet.
The menus now have a decidedly KURO theme to them. The remote, too, has had a bit of a makeover, and now looks more like something that should come with a $7,500 product. It's backlit and has direct input access, for those that don't have a universal remote or Crestron type product. Setup is easy, and there are plenty of menu adjustments to keep you or your ISF Calibrator happy.
As with previous Pioneer products, the PRO-151FD is a processing champ. It sails through all the standard de-interlacing tests with nary a hiccup, with both 480i and 1080i content.
Scaling is also quite good, though not perfect. Lets say a 98 out of 100. With DVD sources, a lot of detail is pulled out, but as is the case with any large screen, DVD just doesn't have the pop that it does on smaller screen sizes (which is why we have HD).
The PRO-151FD is able to reproduce a single pixel pattern, so all the information in that shiny not-really-blue Blu-ray will be up there on screen.
My standard operating procedure when reviewing a TV is to turn off all of the picture enhancement features, check how the TV looks, and then see what each "feature" actually does. Most of the time these features do things that most enthusiasts don't want, such as floating the black level, or changing the picture settings depending on content (ok, maybe you want that one. I'm not a big fan).
The PRO-151FD has a few features that actually help out quite a bit. DRE Picture tweaks the gamma a bit, so that the brighter areas of the image are a little brighter. This works well, adding a little extra punch to the image without adding any undue artifacts. Also, 3DNR is one of the better noise reduction processes from a major manufacturer. It is able to remove a lot of the noise in an image, without unduly softening it (the usual side effect). There is still some noise in the image, but it's not objectionable, and at a normal viewing distance, not visible.
I found that putting this TV in the Pure mode, with these two features enabled, offered the best picture quality.
In the Pure mode, the color points are pretty much spot on accurate. In the othe...