Consumer electronics maker Pioneer used to lead the pack in flat-screen plasma television with its high-end Elite Kuro line, which—to the chagrin of home theater fans—got discontinued back in 2008. Earlier this year, Sharp announced it had reached an agreement to license the Elite brand from Pioneer and launch a series of high-end LCD televisions. Today, the company took the first step in that direction, announcing its first two Elite LED LCD TVs. And they’re monsters, measuring 60 and 70 inches diagonally, and offering a wealth of imaging and connected features that Sharp hopes will put them at the center of home theater aficionados’ design plans.
“Over the past 25 years the Elite brand has developed a loyal and avid fan base of audiophiles and videophiles,” said Sharp associate VP Tom Evans, in a statement. “We are confident that our new line of Elite LCD TVs will appeal to the Elite purists who expect the highest picture quality and experience as well as today’s luxury technology enthusiasts looking for the most innovative products to outfit their digitally connected homes.”
Of course, the Elite TVs offer full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), along with a plethora of inputs: 5 HDMI inputs, front-and-back USB (for photos, video, and other media), along with component input, 2 AV inputs, an analog RGB PC input, and an RS-232C connector for home automation systems. There’s 3.5mm audio in and out along with optical digtal output output, a 75Ω cable/antenna input, and an Ethernet jack for connecting to a home network.
The Elite televisions exclusively feature Intelligent Variable Contrast technology, which is kind of an overlay technology that works with local dimming and other imagine technologies in the units to automatically control brightness and backlighting to enhance picture quality. The Elite TVs also feature RGB+Y imaging, adding a yellow sub-pixel to the standard red, green, and blue to offer a broader range of colors than a typical RGB TV: Sharp says the technology allows for more precise color. The sets are 3D-capable and com with two sets of active shutter 3D glasses. And die-hards will appreciate an Elite Pure Mode that replicated settings of previous Elite TVs.
Once connected to a users’ home broadband connection, the Elite TVs can connect to YouTube, Vudu, CinemaNow, Netflix, and other streaming video services. Customers can buy a separate Skype camera kit for Skype video chat, and there’s even online support where users can connect to a personal advisor who can remotely connect to the TV to handle picture adjustment, setup, and calibration.
The Elite LED LCD TVs will be available from high-end retailers and custom installers late this month. The 60-inch version will start at $5,999.99, while the 70-inch version will have a suggested price of $8,499.99.