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Pro-610HD Review

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Tip from Dan Shearer:  "I've had my Pioneer PRO-610HD for almost a week now. Here are my first impressions.

This set replaced my old Mitsubishi 5075, a 50" RPTV. I have cable and a Sony DVP S3000 DVD player (s-video) as sources. I used the Video Essentials DVD for calibration and tests. My AVIA DVD is still wrapped, under the christmas tree.

I paid $5850 plus tax, with free delivery, from a local home entertainment store. The delivery was worth about that much, they didn't even adjust the convergence. At least they turned it on before they left! I performed a convergence first thing. It's easy to do, though it takes a while. Then I pulled the set out to change a connection, and the convergence was way off again. The one-point convergence was sufficient to regain a usable picture. I had to re-converge the set the next day and a few days after that, but it seems to be stabilizing now. There is a gap in the back of the cabinet large enough to see inside. I hope the dust and spiders don't find the opening! The delivery guys suggested to leave the protective screen off (less work I'm sure), so I have not seen it on. 

I started with the STD settings, turned contrast and sharpness down, turned off SVM and flesh tone. Since DKennedy posted that his FILM color temp measured 8000K, I set the color temp to B&W. I have no way of knowing how close that comes to 6500K, but I'm sure it wouldn't be below the correct 5500K for true black and white, at least. 

I loved the black level behavior. The pluge was stable, regardless of the what the rest of the picture was displaying. Much better than the old Mits. 

When adjusting the sharpness, I could see ghosting on vertical lines throughout the range of control. I left it at its minimum (-30), but I think it should have gone down farther. Maybe ISF can adjust it some more. I also saw ghosting on the top of horizontal lines. That is much more noticeable, and is visible while watching normal programs. I had been able to adjust the Mits sharpness for no artifacts. The 610 results were rather poor. Hopefully, component video and HD sources won't suffer from this. I adjusted the 3D Y/C and NR levels using the VE sharpness pattern. Y/C of 2 and NR of 5 resulted in fewer visible artifacts. That's the only time I could really see any effects from these controls. The SVM effects were also noticeable. SVM off seemed to be the best, leaving the lines with their normal widths.

I had a hard time setting the color, though the Mits wasn't much easier. Through the VE blue filter, the top and bottom of the color bars always looked different. I tried to adjust for equal brightness, with my glasses removed to hide the obvious differences. I ended up with color 10 and tint -11. I've been toning the color down a little since then, maybe 6 or 8. AVIA might be a little easier, I hope. I simply copied the settings for DVD to the other inputs. They were pretty wild for TV. I've been slowly reducing the color saturation to something that looks reasonable. At times the picture (DVD and TV) is very nice, but TV in particular seems to be very source sensitive. At times it is very oversaturated and pushing the red and at other times it seems a little under saturated. It varies by TV program or commercial. Faces on the Wild Wild West DVD were a mixed bag, some white to near green, and some very reddish and almost blotchy. The bad guy looked like he had too much rouge makeup. For now, I'll hope it was recorded that way. I haven't had the set to myself long enough to try some familiar DVD's. I had the standard red push with the Mits, but this is variability is annoying. Hey, maybe I'll turn flesh tone back on!

I notice the picture tearing occasionally. I even had it happen during convergence adjustment, so it's in the display section somewhere, not the inputs. It's not too annoying, I can live with it, but it would be nice if Pioneer could fix it. 

I forgot to check for a reflection during the test patterns. Nothing jumped out at me during the adjustments. I was very pleased not to see any reflections (and have a stable black) during white-on-black scrolling credits. The Mits had plenty of reflections.

I kind of like the Surround2 audio mode. It fakes surround, probably by boosting out-of phase audio, and kind of works. It does muddy the audio at times, making it harder to understand voices. OK for watching TV. 

I tried the Snell & Wilcox pattern from VE. It was still full of moires, though it seemed to become better for a time and then get worse. I was kind of hoping they would disappear with the line doubler. I can still see moires watching normal TV as well.

I bought the 610 for the 16:9 screen, line doubler, and HD compatibility. I don't have an HD tuner yet (and Pioneer's looks awfully expensive), so I can't comment on that, other than the connection possibilities are there. I love the aspect ratio for DVD, but I'm still getting used to it for TV. The 4:3 mode is strange, with the gray bars. The picture in Natural Wide setting is a little too big for my 12' or so seating distance. My wife says stick with Natural Wide, however. At times TV looks good, at times it looks sort of cartoonish with obvious flaws. Actually, it looks great with cartoons. Maybe Pokemon is a film transfer? I am kind of disappointed with TV performance. The old Mits seemed better, other than the obvious scan lines and interlace artifacts. The kids noticed I now have enough room on top of the set for all my remotes!

DVD movies are much better, however. I can now watch a larger anamorphic widescreen picture, which is spectacular. I never see movies break into scan lines. I prepared to check this by finding a diagonal bar on a tricycle seat at the beginning of Terminator 2. As the camera pans, the bar breaks into a staircase on the old Mits. On the Pioneer, it stays solid (though in 24 fps 3:2 pull-down motion). It's really beautiful to lose the scan lines, and certainly film-like. The line doubler really works for movies, and seems reasonable for video.

Overall, I'll keep it. I might have it ISF'd, to see if the TV performance can be improved. It's a fine set, with a fine line doubler, but not quite up to the initial raves, in my opinion. Let's see if we can improve it a bit.

Initial settings with VE, based on STD. I didn't look at anyone else's settings, but they are very close to jefsing's, so maybe they are somewhat consistent set to set.

  • Contrast -15 (picture will distort at higher settings, not much bloom)
  • Black level 0 (with only a semi dark room)
  • Color 10 (I've turned it down a little since)
  • Tint -11 (kids are saying the Simpsons are still green!)
  • Sharp -30 (I might turn this up until the first additional artifacts appear)
  • 3D Y/C level 2 (less exaggeration of black lines than 1, 3-5 I could see little difference)
  • 3D NR level 5 (fewer sharpness artifacts)
  • Color temp B&W (guess)
  • Flesh tone Off
  • Pure Cinema HQ (I couldn't see any differences, yet)
  • SVM Off"