Sharp Electronics has announced it has licensed the Pioneer Elite brand and plans to launch a new line of high-end LCD HDTVs under the name in the U.S. and Canadian markets later this year. The move marks a resurrection for Pioneer televisions: Pioneer announced it was stopping production of its well-regarded Pioneer Elite Kuro plasma TVs back in 2008, and finally shut down all production last year to focus on home audio and in-vehicle electronics, DJ equipment, and set-top boxes. Some of Pioneer’s home audio and Blu-ray products use the Elite brand; Sharp aims to supplement that with high-end LCD televisions to offer a complete home theater line.
“Adding a line of high-end flat panel TVs fills a market need in the industry and will help reinforce the strength of a complete Elite home theater offering,” said Pioneer executive VP Russ Johnston, in a statement. “With its cutting edge LCD technology and unmatched production capabilities, Sharp is an important strategic collaborator that will deliver a whole new dimension to the large-screen home theater experience.”
Both Sharp and Pioneer will market the new Pioneer Elite branded televisions. No specific models, capabilities, price points, or ship dates have been announced.
The Pioneer Elite line continues to be well regarded amongst audiophiles, and Pioneer’s Elite Kuro televisions were regarded as some of the highest-quality (and highest-priced) televisions available. However, despite glowing reviews, Pioneer wasn’t able to sell enough of the units to justify the massive costs of manufacturing them.
Pioneer’s partnership with Sharp isn’t brand new: Pioneer had been sourcing LCD and plasma panels from Sharp back when it was in the television business, and the companies have previously worked together on Blu-ray and in-vehicle technologies.