You expect a very crisp high-def picture from a 1080p TV, and the Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1 definitely delivered. Watching another scene from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, in which Harry discovers a corpse in his hotel bathroom, the fine crosshatch of the tiled wall looked completely solid and detailed, even in wide shots. And in almost every scene where Downey appears, it was easy to make out the coarse stubble and fine creases on the actor's weathered face.
Genre-hopping from neo-noir to neo-western, I tuned in Deadwood on HBO HD. As a regular viewer, I'm used to watching the show unfold in dim, grungy brothels and saloons. On the Pioneer, however, the same dark environments showed a much broader range of background details. Not only that, but the picture appeared subjectively brighter, while still retaining punchy contrast. On Deadwood, as well as other cable programs I watched on the TV - both standard and high-def - I was impressed at how smooth the picture looked and how well the video noise reduction features worked to clean things up. Even with NR pushed up high, the Pioneer's image still looked very crisp and detailed.
BOTTOM LINE From the standpoint of pure video performance, the Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1 50-inch 1080p plasma monitor prowls at the top of the flat-panel TV food chain. It's the perfect companion for new HDTV sources like HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. My only (minor) complaint is that its screen wasn't 15 inches larger, so I could soak in all that high-def detail from my usual couch-potato position!
Seriously, though: If you're going to drop 10 grand on Pioneer's PRO-FHD1, make sure you sit close enough to appreciate its gloriously detailed picture. Even if you don't, you'll still have the satisfaction of knowing that you've got the best plasma TV around.
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