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Pioneer Focuses on Plasma, Custom Installation

May 19, 2008 12:00 PM

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Continuing its targeting of the “discerning entertainment junkie,” Pioneer showed off its line of 2008 Kuro TV models earlier this month in New York. And for the first time since the high-profile launch of the flagship Kuro brand, Pioneer has thrown a technology other than plasma into the mix.

Pioneer’s first front projector is D-ILA-based, with technology sourced by JVC. According to Russ Johnston, Pioneer executive vice president of marketing and product planning, Pioneer will gradually add its own technology to the D-ILA product line going forward. The $9,000 1080p projector begins shipping in June to Elite dealers. The projector includes wide lens-shift capacity and dual HDMI 1.3 support.

The rest of the Pioneer 2008 line is plasma-based. Johnston said the company had no current plans for adding LCD TVs to its lineup. Last fall, Sharp announced it had taken a 14.3 percent share of Pioneer, with plans for the companies to jointly develop products across a wide swath of CE categories.

For the time being, Pioneer is focusing its displays on what it considers the superior plasma technology. At the launch event, the company put on an informal shootout of competing LCD and plasma TVs. A previous-generation Kuro plasma was tossed into the mix to show advancements in the latest round of Kuro displays. The comparison was impressive with the newest Kuro models showing demonstrable improvements in black-level performance.

The new displays include the PDP-5020FD 50in. 1080p plasma ($4,000, due in June) and the PDP-6020FD 60in. 1080p model ($5,500, June). The new Kuros boast a thickness of 3.7in. and pack Media Gallery capability via a home-network connection. The TVs are DLNA-compatible and Windows PlaysForSure-compatible.

Pioneer is also boosting its efforts in the custom-installation market with a line of non-Kuro monitors packing features designed for installation. The monitors are designed to be adaptable and flexible in the ability to be controlled, calibrated, and configured to meet the individual tastes of particular consumer tastes and environments. Pioneer says the new line includes components hand-assembled to ensure compliance with a stricter examination process than standard Pioneer TVs. Called the Signature Series, the TV are boxed with a certificate confirming compliance with Signature Series performance and aesthetics requirements.

Two TVs, with integrated tuners, are also part of the custom series. The Kuro TVs pack calibration features and enable users to switch between six audio and video preset modes. The sets include Home Media Gallery functionality.

The 1080p custom lineup includes the Elite Kuro Pro-111FD 50in. TV ($5,000, June), the Elite Kuro Pro-151FD 60in. TV ($6,500, June), the Elite Signature Series 50in. Pro 101FD (October) monitor, and 60in. Pro 141FD 60-inch monitor (August). Prices for the monitors haven’t been set. The custom series of TVs and monitors come with a 2-year warranty, versus Pioneer’s standard one-year plan.

Pioneer also introduced four new AV receivers, a supporting cast to its flagship Susana receiver currently in the market.

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