Pioneer LCD
On Friday we were treated to a first look at Pioneer's LCD sets in the flesh, alongside all the latest Blu-ray and AV receiver products set for release in the next few months

We've just had a first look at Pioneer's first LCD TVs, at an exclusive briefing for selected press at the company's UK headquarters. Take a look at our 'happy snap' style image – the amateur feel was of course deliberate...

There were 32 and 37in TVs on display, each wall-mounted and looking very smart. Pioneer's familiar, sleek, gloss black design is present and correct, while a curved speaker design at the bottom of the screen gives the LCDs an individual twist.

The TVs are expected to retail at around £1300 and £1450 respectively, and while they've been made in conjunction with Sharp, which provided the LCD panels, Pioneer's keen to stress these are still part of the extended Kuro family. Pioneer's expertise with both the glass panel and the black filters aims to set these TVs apart.

Certainly watching HD content from disc and from Sky HD the LCDs looked good, but we'll of course reserve judgement until we get to grips with them in our test rooms.

More after the break

Also on display was the BDP-LX71 Blu-ray player, which we told you about here at the end of May. This features new video and audio engines, upgraded build quality and an all-new, very smart-looking graphical user interface. This GUI will also be used on Pioneer's 10th generation plasma screens next year.

While there's no BD 2.0 specification or support for DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, both features are promised imminently via a downloadable or disc-based firmware upgrade.

Interestingly, the chaps at Pioneer seemed underwhelmed by the perceived importance of BD 2.0, and the BD-Live content that comes with it, reasoning that as it stands there's very little content, if any, to exploit this option.

A little digging revealed Pioneer is most definitely thinking about offering a BD player at around the £300 mark, which, should it come to fruition, could really upset the Blu-ray apple-cart. Watch this space.

The new range of AV receivers was also there, the SC-LX81 and SC-LX71, standing proud alongside the top-of-the-range Susano. Again due out from September, the new receivers boast HD audio decoding, including DTS-HD Master Audio, alongside Ethernet connections, network capability and upgraded components. Read more about these here.

But the LCDs were the most exciting new products to see in the flesh - 32in Pioneer LCD screens, who'd have thought it?

We look forward to reviewing them very soon.