Some mornings are sent to try us. First we have to come into work on a freezing Tube train with people who don't understand basic rules of personal space and hygiene. Then we get smacked around the chops with the news that Pioneer is pulling out of TV production next year.
We don't make much secret of the fact that Pioneer makes our three favourite televisions in the whole world. They're also the only TVs to get a score of 9.5 in our reviews section. We think it's entirely fair to say the Kuro is the best television you can buy.
When you spend all day, every day looking at TVs you quickly learn where they succeed and fail. When we first saw this year's Pioneers, we were blown away. The all-1080p range was a decent improvement on the previous year's sets, and the PDP-LX5090 is now our reference TV, the screen against which all others are compared. It earned this position by having stunning blacks, beautiful detail and generally blowing away the competition.
Of course, there are plenty of other good TVs on the market. Panasonic is a very strong contender, and its 2009 range of TVs may very well up the ante again. Samsung also makes plasma TVs, and we're very fond of them too. But sadly, there's nothing we've seen yet that comes anywhere close to the Kuro.
You might wonder how Pioneer manages to get such acclaim -- it's won dozens of awards for its plasma TVs and plaudits from celebrities such as Jonathan Ross. The answer is all down to the picture processing. Pioneer managed to strike an almost perfect balance with its processing technology, something that's surprisingly hard to do.
So what went wrong? Clearly it's hard for a company that charges £2,000 for a TV to compete with companies selling the same size screen for half the price. As technology reviewers, we naturally gravitate towards quality. What we have to remember is most people don't have bottomless pockets for TV purchases -- especially at the moment -- and it's this that has ultimately been Pioneer's downfall.
We understand its reasoning, and we certainly can't blame it for making an exit and concentrating on more profitable areas. Even so, it's like an actor winning every 'best actor' award on the planet, and then deciding they aren't going to appear in any more films. It's a terrible waste of amazing talent, and devastating to those of us who care about quality.
To those of you that already have a Kuro TV in your lounge, go and give it a hug. For those of you who don't, there's still time to go out and get one.