Part of Pioneer's swanky LX series of home cinema gear (and the central source for its LX03BD system), the BDP-LX08 is an unsurprisingly stylish affair.

Its naked fascia and black-as-night finish makes it elegant and esoteric enough to satisfy home cinema purists and interior designers alike.

The rear panel features 7.1-channel audio outputs with Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding. The bad news is that the spec sheet is outdated next to the current flock of super speedy web-enabled decks.

It's Profile 1.1, so you can't access BD Live or other internet content, and with disc loading times clocking in at over a minute and a half, it's not the fastest – bad news considering the price. Don't let the flashy exterior fool you: this is an enthusiast's deck through and through.

Its picture tweaks put the other three decks to shame, with Pioneer's familiar Video Adjust menu allowing you to alter every aspect of the image.

The Pioneer's picture performance is phenomenal. Its colour palette is rich and inviting, blacks are seldom deeper and every pixel of every frame is rendered with blistering sharpness. It steadfastly refuses to let noise spoil the show, whether playing a movie or handling even the most challenging test pattern.

So if you only care about stunning Blu-ray pictures then the Pioneer is the videophile's choice, but those who want BD Live and quick disc loading need not apply.

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