Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pioneer Elite PRO-150FD 60" Plasma TV

When I went to CEDIA last September one of my favorite demonstrations was the Pioneer Elite Kuro plasma TV. Today we take a look at this TV and help you decide if you want to convince Santa to load this monster in his sleigh. The first thing you notice about the TV is how large and black it is. It measures 57-15/16 x 34-23/32 x 4-13/16 inches (WxHxD) without the stand and it weighs in 122 pounds without speakers. The speakers are optional and can be added onto the sides of the panel. It looks beautiful and the fit and finish are very nice. Its so black when its off. Actually, loosely translated Kuro, means deep blacks in Japanese and the TV delivers on its name. More about that later.

Main Features (from Pioneer website):

  • High-Definition 1080p Resolution (1920 x 1080p)
  • 60รข€ Diagonal / 16:9 Wide-Screen Aspect Ratio
  • Deep, Intense Blacks for Unmatched Contrast
  • Ability to accept 480i/480p/720p/1080i and TRUE 1080p 24fps signals
  • Four Independent HDMI 1.3 Inputs
  • and a ton more

This is one of the best Plasmas we have seen! The color saturation and accuracy were excellent, blacks were inky, and the picture was sharp. Everyone who watched the TV noticed amazing detail in anything they watched, especially programming on Discovery Home Theater. For calibration settings we went to the official settings thread on AVS Forums and found a great starting point for our DirecTV and HD DVD inputs. This is a good place to start if you are new to dialing in your TV. We then tweaked the TV in from there. Remember that settings will differ from room to room depending on your environment. What's nice about this TV is that you can tweak the inputs individually so you find optimal settings for your various video sources.

We watched movies, sports, and SD from OTA, DirecTV, and HD DVD. We found that 1080i sports did not look as good as 720p sports over satellite. Over the air was better but we used to see a much bigger difference in quality. Perhaps its because CBS is televising more games in HD so the have less HD cameras per game. Regardless, we found FOX football looked better. Movies in 1080i looked great whether it was from HBO, Showtime or HD Net movies. Even SD that was upconverted by the satellite box looked watchable.

The TV did a good job with the compressed HD signal from satellite so we expected some impressive pictures with the HD DVD player. The newly purchased HD-A3 was pressed into action with the four HD DVD movies that we had on hand. We were happy to see that the picture was even better with HD DVDs. Ara's favorite movie is now Transformers and the scorpion scene is now his new HD reference scene. The only regret we had during the test was that we could not watch a HD DVD movie at 24 frames a second since out HD-A3 does not support it. The TV does, so if you have a next gen player with 24 frames a second support you will be able to watch movies at the same rate as in the cinema which will give you smoother playback.

Odds and Ends:
The optional speakers sound quite good. They provided a rich stereo sound. While no substitute for a home theater receiver, we felt the speakers did a better job than most TVs than we have heard in the past. The only negative about them is that they add about six inches to each side of the TV. The only other thing we didn't like about the TV was the menu structure. It is a bit deep and hard to navigate to what you are looking for.

The Pioneer Elite Kuro is a fantastic TV with some of the best picture we have seen. At $7000 it does come at a steep price but it will give you an HDTV picture that is second to none.


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