Pioneer PRO-150FD Washington DC
February 15, 2008 By David Birch-Jones
Pioneer Elite plasma TVs have long been favorites of critical viewers and specialist home theater retailers. Their latest offerings, under a new Elite Kuro moniker and available in 50” and 60” sizes feature full 1080p resolution and a slew of upscale features, including home A/V networking connectivity and the promise of better visual quality by way of better deep black picture performance.
The 60” review model features refreshingly restrained cosmetics, with a smooth black fascia devoid of the usual string of technology logos, and adorned only with the Pioneer Elite monikers in subtle gold script that is all but invisible. Setup is straightforward and uneventful, as the matching gloss black stand is easily and securely bolted to the chassis. Side-mounted stereo speakers are supplied and their slim profile adds little to the overall width, nor do they impede access to the side-mounted controls and auxiliary A/V inputs. Given the size and rather hefty weight of the set, installation is definitely a two-person job, whether the owner chooses tabletop mounting or opts for wall-mounting instead.
Around back, the jack panel is peppered with a full complement of analog and digital connections, including four HDMI inputs with the latest 1.3 specification. A CableCard slot is included, and the on-screen channel information display mimics exactly that of a typical cable box. The supplied remote control includes both learning capability as well as backlighting, the backlight color chosen here is red (amber would be the best choice, but at least Pioneer opted for something other than blue, which is by far the worst color for remote control backlighting).
Picture quality with the out-of-the-box factory settings is typically overly vivid, bordering on the garish. However, the set is equipped with a tremendous range of picture adjustment setting options, and I spend an hour or so plowing through the menu to find the optimum settings for each, as well as adjusting the basic picture controls. Within the menu, I find two color palette options, with the default providing quite excessive color that can’t be adjusted correctly. The second option is by far the more pleasing, toned down significantly from the default setting, and from this point I can begin the analysis and then perform a subsequent calibration.
A call to Pioneer reveals that of all the picture modes offered, the Pure setting is the one that most closely mimics the characteristics of a top-grade professional studio HD monitor, and indeed, along with careful adjustment of the main picture controls that mode produces an absolutely top notch picture. While I always have a good selection of test and demo DVDs and high definition discs on hand, I only need to spend a few minutes perusing demo scenes on Pioneer’s own dealer demo Blu-ray disc to evaluate the Kuro’s picture quality. My favorite scene on the disc involves a model being photographed in a studio wi...