Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma television

This 'entry-level' Pioneer plasma TV offers near-perfect image quality

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Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A
  • Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A
  • Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A
  • Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A

Pros

  • Very similar picture quality to the flagship Pioneer KURO PDP-LX609A plasma TV but a much lower price, great in-built tuner

Cons

  • No networking or multimedia features, still expensive

Bottom Line

The KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV lets you enjoy Pioneer’s class-leading picture quality and black levels at less than half the price of the class-topping Pioneer PDP-LX609A. That makes it fantastic value, despite the television’s lack of multimedia features.

Would you buy this?

The Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A is a 50in television that utilises the ninth and final generation of Pioneer’s KURO plasma panel technology. Despite having a price half that of the company's flagship KURO PDP-LX609A, it delivers almost-peerless picture quality and image handling (though it omits some of the multimedia connectivity of the PDP-LX609A).

The Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV uses a different finish to the outlandishly expensive (and outlandishly glossy) Pioneer KURO PDP-LX609A, with the designers opting for a matte black bezel. We actually found this bezel to be better in a room with multiple light sources; the coating doesn’t reflect and distract you like the KURO PDP-LX609A’s. It does look slightly cheaper and less exotic.

A notable exclusion is the side-mounted speakers, with the 50in display integrating them into the chassis. If you’re really hanging out (excuse the pun) for external speakers then it’s important to note than even the luxury 50in model — the Pioneer KURO PDP-LX509A — doesn’t have them.

The biggest difference between the KURO PDP-LX609A and the KURO PDP-LX509A is the exclusion of USB and Ethernet multimedia connectivity. This means you can't connect the Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A to your home network and stream music or videos to it. The USB port remains, but it is only used for servicing and firmware updates rather than for multimedia storage. As big fans of Windows-based media centres we’re not fussed about this; there are always alternatives for watching digital media on your television, especially given Internet-enabled devices like the Panasonic DMR-BW850. Still, it remains a sticking point that televisions costing significantly less than the KURO PDP-C509A have a bevy of multimedia features.

One point we loved about the Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A was its exceptionally good tuner. It has its 1080p plasma panel to thank for the best picture quality we’ve ever seen on standard- and high-definition television — scaling is all but flawless even from DVD-quality sources — and we were also impressed by the ease and speed with which the KURO PDP-C509A changed channels.

The panel shows detail even in incredibly dark areas of the screen. If you buy this television, we think it should be mandatory to own a Blu-ray copy of Batman Begins, just so you can show your friends. Detail is similarly well shown in light areas of the screen, and the panel was also able to perform well in a brightly lit room (an area in which plasmas are often criticised). Motion is well handled, with the plasma panel displaying seamless pans and fast motion sequences.

Pioneer’s KURO PDP-C509A is cheaper than the luxury model for similar picture quality, doesn’t lose out too much in features and actually performs better with scaling low-resolution content. We’d say it was a no-brainer purchase, but we don’t have $5499 to throw around. If you do, though...

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