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Pioneer KRL-37V review

Top-end 1080p LCD TV that falls just short of high expectations

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Our Verdict

One of the better 37in LCD performers, but there are many equally good sets around for a lot less money

For

  • Strong colours
  • Great black levels
  • Impressive picture quality

Against

  • Motion judder
  • Unrealistic price

The main areas of interest on the Pioneer KRL-37V are the full HD panel spec, Pioneer's much-envied PureCinema electronics and 100Hz processing that promises smooth and precise pictures.

You'll also find three HDMI inputs, which is about one fewer than you might have expected for the money and a clever sensor that, if active, modifies the display output to suit ambient lighting conditions.

The looks, meanwhile, are angular and conservative and the build quality feels surprisingly flimsy.

Confusing menus

The remote control is better suited to an AV receiver rather than a mid-sized television. It's positively covered in buttons, most of which are fairly small and fairly sparsely labelled. It's nicely weighty, though
and sits fairly well in the hand. There's no backlight on this one, so make sure you're familiar with the placing of all the most important keys before lowering the lighting.

The menu system is surprisingly unfriendly; we'd assumed that the company's bowing to the commercial irresistibility of LCD might have signalled a slightly more populist user system. But the use of words such as 'execute' where 'okay' or 'yes' might have done and an economically sparse user interface makes the KRL-37V feel more like a hardcore videophile machine.

Still, you shouldn't experience too many problems getting set up, and the menus are incredibly extensive, enabling you to tweak both sound and vision.

First Pioneer LCD

Waiting to see what the first Pioneer LCD can do really adds novelty value. Despite the company's near-religious past devotion to plasma, it seems reasonable to expect that Pioneer wouldn't put its illustrious badge on any old rubbish and the KRL-37V just about repays one's faith.

The liquid crystal set is part of the Kuro stable and, as per its gas-powered cousins, the black levels are one of the more impressive aspects of the picture.

While not quite up to the inky profundity of plasma, the shades produced are substantially better than most of this set's LCD rivals, although the gradation between depths aren't anything like as good as those you'd expect from a comparably well-appointed plasma.

Dodgy motion handling

Colours are also pretty good, with a balanced and nuanced palette producing one of the most natural performances you'll see from a set of this type.

Detail, as you might infer from the full HD panel resolution, is pretty mind-boggling and the overall effect is cinematic and involving, whatever you throw at it (with the usual qualifications applying to the grubbier ends of Freeview).

It's a shame, then, that motion handling is so poor. It's no worse than many LCD sets of this size, but any kind of slow, deliberate camera pan (see Johnny Blaze scanning his dad's cancer diagnosis letter in Ghost Rider, for example) causes all manner of wobbles and stutters, and slightly damages the set's high-end credentials.

Underwhelming audio

The audio is surprisingly weak for a Pioneer. Usually the company's rich audio heritage is evident in speakers a definite cut above the usual rubbish found either side or underneath a flat screen. The Pioneer KRL-37V's sonic credentials, though, despite a decent set of tweaks and the obligatory pseudo-surround mode, are limited.

General fidelity is pretty good, but the maximum volume is fairly weedy and there is very little bass to be had, resulting in a thin and uninvolving soundfield. We should confess, once again, to our judgment having being knocked slightly askew by the remarkable wOOx system on Philips' current top-end sets, but the Pioneer name usually guarantees better than this.

Pricey LCD

Anyone not already blindly loyal to Pioneer is likely to balk at the price of the Pioneer KRL-37V. It is, after all, several hundred pounds more expensive than any other 37in we've ever seen and we're not sure that it is sufficiently superior to justify that kind of a premium.

It's also difficult to see why even the hardcore Pioneer devotees with cash to burn, at whom this set is presumably aimed, would go for it rather than the PDP-428XD plasma, which is bigger, better and only marginally more money.

If you want a big-ish TV, but can't house a super-size screen, we'd advise a less narcissistically priced set. Spend the difference on a Blu-ray deck, a quality HDMI lead or some movies to watch on it.