New Pioneer TVs, Components Go High End

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Pioneer Electronics has apparently decided to rebrand itself, eschewing the mass market consumer electronics business and instead aiming at elite entertainment fanatics with money to burn. And to that end, the company is introducing a new Blu-ray player, a new set of AV receivers, and new flat-panel TVs all designed to appeal to customers who are very serious about their home entertainment.

“The DNA of our company stems directly from our engineers’ passion to design and manufacture the highest performing audio video equipment possible,” said Ken Shioda, Pioneer’s general manager for display business, in a release. “We refuse to compromise on quality in order to reach a mass audience. Instead we will allow our best-in-class engineers to develop products that can truly connect with human emotion, and can be fully appreciated.”

First up, the Pioneeer Elite BDP-94HD Blu-ray disc player offers HDMI connectivity, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus audio, and IP networking with a revamped user interface which lets users easily download new digital media. The BDP-94HD supports PlaysForSure, Windows Media Connect, and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standards, and also supports HDMI Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), letting the system integrate with other CEC products for use with a single remote control. The BDP-94HD also sports a home networking feature which lets users tap into slideshows hosted on PCs accessible via a home network. Expect the BDP-94HD to land at retailers this month with a suggested price around $1,000.

Next, Pioneer has introduced four new AV receivers to its Elite line, the VSX-90TXV, VSX-91TXH, VSX-92TXH, and VSX-94TXH. The top three models support HDMI 1.3a and pass 1080p 24Hz video, while the VSX-92TXH and VSX-94TXH bother support Neural-THX Surround decoding. All four feature Advanced MCACC room tuning technology, sport direct inputs for iPods and XM Satellite Radio’s Connect & Play antenna, and are compatible with Sirius satellite radio. At the high end, the VSX-94TXH supports streaming music over a home network or from portable USB devices. The VSX-90TXV and VSX-91TXH should be available in June for about $600 and $1,000, respectively, but for the VSX-92TXH and VSX-94TXH consumers will have to wait until August and fork over $1,300 and $1,600, respectively.

Finally, Pioneer is also introducing eight new flat panel plasma television models ranging from 42 to 60 inches, and integrate what Pioneeer characterizes as “game-changing” performance and quality. Pioneer says it selected plasma because it offers the best black level reproduction, and, since black is the basis for all other colors displayed, that leads to more accurate color reproduction in the rest of the display in combination with Pioneers newly developed cell structure, crystal emissive layer, and filtering technologies. Pioneer also claims to have pumped up the audio quality in these displays, drawing on its years of experience with stereo and home theater systems, making it the first display producer to put a real emphasis on audio quality in its video product line.

“In the art world, a plain white canvas represents a blank slate waiting for an artist to create. In the world of television, a black screen is a similarly blank canvas ready for content to be displayed,” said Russ Johnston, senior vp of marketing and product planning for Pioneer. “Pioneer engineers reached a monumental achievement by creating black levels that are 80 percent deeper than previously possible—defining the ultimate ‘blank canvas’ ready for high definition movies, television and sporting events.”

The displays will go on sale from June through September at prices ranging from about $2,700 for the 42-inch XGA PDP-4280HD model through $7,500 for a 60-inch, 1080p Elite PRO-150FD. Here’s a complete list of Pioneer’s upcoming flat-panel TV offerings:

Brand Model Screen Size (Diagonal) Resolution Availability MSRP
Pioneer PDP-4280HD 42 inch XGA June $2,700
Pioneer PDP-5080HD 50 inch XGA June $3,500
Pioneer PDP-5010FD 50 inch 1080p September $5,000
Pioneer PDP-6010FD 60 inch 1080p September $6,500
Elite PRO-950HD 42 inch XGA July $3,200
Elite PRO-1150HD 50 inch XGA July $4,500
Elite PRO-110FD 50 inch 1080p September $6,000
Elite PRO-150FD 60 inch 1080p September $7,500

For the time being, Pioneer’s announcements are long on promises and relatively light on specifications, although we expect the company will release more detailed information and specifications as the products become available.