In spite of the embarassing acronym, the Pioneer Kuro KRP-500A is a very high-end TV, aimed squarely at the home cinema enthusiast, and particularly those who want a professional install. Pioneer is aiming this at wall-mount installations too, because the tiny depth of the TV makes it ideal for such placement. It's so thin because all the inputs and media gubbins are in a separate box.
The KRP-500 is only available at select Pioneer retailers, but to be fair,
there are quite a few of these, and the TV is available online through
a number of reputable stores. A little hunt around led us to prices
around the £2,300 mark, around £300 or so more than the same retailers
sell the LX-5090 for.
The most unusual thing about this TV is that it consists of two boxes. The TV itself looks virtually identical to the magnificent Kuro LX-5090. The only way you would know this wasn't a 5090 is if you looked at the back of the TV, where you would find virtually no inputs.
All that you'll see on the rear of the set is a power connection, a small proprietary socket for the TV's colour sensor and a set of speaker connections. You'll also notice a display port-style connector, which is designed to connect the TV to the media receiver.
The media receiver is a very stylish-looking box. Aside from a small status LED that glows red when it's in standby and blue when it's active -- mirroring the TV's LED -- the front is totally bare. Finished in a mix of gloss black on the front, with hints of brushed metal on the top, this is a smart-looking piece of kit.
Although the front is devoid of any controls, behind this featureless façade is a wealth of buttons, inputs and other sockets. Firstly, there are volume and channel controls as well as buttons to select one of the various inputs. You will also notice composite, HDMI and S-Video connectors, along with a headphone output along here. The idea is that games consoles and camcorders can be connected without messing around behind the unit.
At the back of the media receiver you'll find even more connectivity, including three more HDMI sockets. You'll also find a surprisingly generous trio of Scart sockets as well as component video in. The customised video output to connect the screen to the receiver is here too. Based on Display Port, it's a chunky but well-made connector that fits into its socket with a click. Good news for people who have been frustrated by HDMI cables popping out of their AV equipment. Audio outputs include both analogue and digital (optical) sockets, but there's no analogue 5.1 facility.
Also provided is an Ethernet socket, which you can use to connect the TV to a DLNA-capable device.
The KRP-500A has a number of nifty extras. Firstly, the colour sensor deserves a mention. This little magnetic 'eye' is supposed to monitor the ambient light conditions -- not brightness, that's handled by a separate light sensor -- for any changes. The idea is if you switch from, say, halogen lights to softer up-lighters, the TV will compensate for the resulting colour temperature change.
We also like the idea of having a built-in satellite tuner in the media receiver. Sadly, in the UK, Sky refuses to allow the production of a conditional access module to make receiving its services on non-Sky branded boxes possible. If the company allowed such a thing, you could discard the Sky box and just use this to watch both SD and HD programmes.
The satellite tuner is also not freesat-certified. That means, although you will be able to tune in the channels, you won't have access to the interactive features, or the electronic programme guide. That's not a massive problem in all honesty, and if you have a satellite dish you aren't using, you'll be able to pick up BBC HD and enjoy the wonderful picture it offers.
The media receiver is also DLNA-compliant, which means if you have a certified DLNA PC or storage array you'll be able to stream media directly to your TV. This is a handy feature, and certainly one that some people will enjoy. Ripping your own DVD collection, storing it on a PC and streaming to the Pioneer is every home-cinema geek's dream.
As you'd expect, there are the usual picture-by-picture and picture-in-picture options on this TV. Those can be handy for keeping an eye on the news while you watch a football match, or you can watch X-Factor while running over prostitutes in GTA IV, a marvellous counterpoint to the sickly sweetness of singing children.