updated 10:00 am EDT, Wed May 7, 2008
Pioneer KURO 2008
Pioneer this morning overhauled its KURO and Signature Series lines of plasma HDTVs as well as introducing a new 1080p projector. While not going into specifics, the Elite line now has better contrast ratios to produce deeper black levels as well as improved colors; the new models are also much more customizable and also pack an Optimum mode that automatically checks both the environment and the content itself to adjust both the image and audio quality on the fly, saving viewers from having to make manual adjustments at different times of the day or as they switch channels or movies.
The company divides its high-end launch into four models. The standard Elite KURO models ship in 50-inch (PRO-111FD) and 60-inch (PRO-151FD) sets both capable of 1080p; they also both ship in June and will sell for $5,000 and $6,500 respectively. Pioneer also ships same-sized 50- (PRO-101FD) and 60-inch (PRO-141FD) Elite Signature Series models built for custom home theater installations that are similarly capable and will be available in October and August respectively, though prices aren't expected to appear until closer to the launches themselves.
Two standard KURO plasmas will also join the lineup, the company says: the 50-inch PDP-5020FD and the 60-inch PDP-6020FD reportedly have black levels five times stronger than for 2007 sets while also slimming down by 20 percent. Software has been equally upgraded with a new, simpler interface and support for both DLNA media sharing on a network as well as playing back HD video and music directly from either a network or a USB drive -- including protected PlaysForSure content, the company adds. The Optimum mode further carries over to the new KUROs. Both plasmas ship in June for $4,000 and $5,500 each.
The company has rounded out its display updates with the company's first-ever KURO projector. Based on a liquid-crystal-on-silicon system, the Elite KURO Projector is geared towards high-end home theaters and outputs at 1080p while supporting the adjustments and input that are sometimes lacking in same-resolution units, including a "wide" lens shift to produce the right picture and dual HDMI 1.3 inputs with support for deep color. Users can either choose simple presets such as dynamic or movie modes while optionally custom-calibrating the unit. Pioneer plans to ship the projector in June for $9,000.
Standard KURO plasma