A small group of people was invited by Pioneer a day in April to get an exclusive first-look at the new KURO 9G plasma TVs. Flatpanels attended and I must say that Iím very impressed.
Pioneer chose to present the ninth generation of their plasma TVs behind closed doors at the museum of modern art called Arken. The surroundings and atmosphere was well suited and the large presentation room was dark in order to perceive the new very impressive blacks on KURO 9G.
Stimulation of senses
We skipped the main course and went directly to the dessert. We were brought into a completely dark room. In this room Pioneer had arranged a setup of 5 TVs with one being hidden behind a curtain. The TVs were Panasonic TH-50PZ70, Pioneer PDP-LX608 (8G), Pioneer PDP-LX6090 (9G), Samsung LE-52F96BD and Sony KDL-52X3500.
The first three are plasma TVs and the last two are LCD-TVs. All TVs range from 50 to 60 inches and nothing was changed in the settings menu. All of them represent the top-of-the class from the four manufacturers.
Pioneer KURO 9G, with side speakers
Before the curtain was drawn aside Pioneerís spokesman wanted to talk a little about blacks and picture quality from a visual perspective. The demonstration consisted primarily of dark scenes with intense colours such as fireworks, flowers and fruit.
The purpose of the demonstration was not to find a winner but to see the differences in perceived blacks and how the two different panel technologies displayed different pictures. The blacks and Pioneer 8G were never perfect and I was one of the people who tried to point this out back last year. The blacks on the Panasonic were not as deep as on the Pioneer 8G. The LED LCD-TV from Samsung was far behind and the same applies to the X series from Sony. Pioneer 9G was still hidden.
The Samsung had a visible halo around bright objects on a black screen because of the local dimming system Ė not very nice to be honest. It was very visible when white text was shown on the black screen.
I have no doubt that the 8G from Pioneer is a phenomenal TV but when 9G was finally revealed we saw a stunning new world. The results were simply fantastic. The blacks on Pioneer 9G were much deeper and this added an extra dimension to the picture. No one doubted this fact because it was so easy to see in this heads-up setup.
Pioneer KURO 9G
Our friendly Pioneer spokesman let us have a moment before he went on to talk about picture reproduction. I had a hard time listening because actually I was more interested in just looking. One scene showed a dark picture with a yellow rose in the middle. It was as if the rose simply floated in the air on 9G. Blacks were that deep and the room and TV became one. The illusion was clearly destroyed on the other TVs Ė even on Pioneer 8G - which is, without doubt a very good TV.
Moving objects was part of the clip, too, and the 9G model seemed to have a slightly smoother picture than the 8G.The colours were better, too. Deep blacks also contribute to better colours and 9G showed us how.
The picture below is Pioneer 8G (left), Pioneer 9G (middle) and then youíll notice part of the Samsung F9 to the right. Itís hard to catch a good picture under these conditions but I have tried my best. In the real room the difference was much easier to spot.
Pioneer 9G has not eliminated the dithering but it was better than on the 8G. It seemed to be smaller and less noisy. The colours were clearer. Part of it must be because of slightly different settings but the deep blacks had a role to play, too.
I have also captured a picture of the Pioneer 9G and Samsung F9. The picture is not 100 % correct but it is taken to illustrate how the colours on the Sammy was less intense and too bright because of the dynamic contrast LED system. The halo was also very visible and in overall I donít like the LED system on the Samsung.
Pioneer 9G (left), Samsung F96 (right)
I could write a novel about this but letís just say that 9G is a very exciting TV that I expect a lot from. Even though 8G is a fantastic TV and actually our reference TV here at Flatpanels, 9G is just better.
We moved on to see some real content on the Pioneer KURO 9G in a room looking like a typical living room when itís dark outside. Some cosy lamps were on and a nice sofa etc. Pioneer turned on the screen and their kick-ass surround sound system. Wild Hogs was on the Blu-Ray player.
Thereís really nothing new to report. The picture was stunning and very impressive. The sound, too. After some scenes from Wild Hogs we saw the Shakira Concert which I know has picture noise in a lot of the scenes. This one looked very nice, however, and Pioneer did a good job reproducing the picture in a convincing manner.
Pioneer KURO 9G, med bottom speaker
As you might have guessed we used a lot of time on the actual visual experience and less time on the technical stuff which is fine. A TV is meant to entertain not please your desire for gadgets. And Pioneer really took the sound and picture experience to a new level. Very nice Ė thank you Pioneer!
Letís check out the products and the features.
Pioneer has something new in the portfolio this year. Besides the KURO plasma 9G, Pioneer is ready to announce 3 LCD-TVs and a projector built on the D-ILA technology.
Pioneer KURO 9G
4 new plasma TVs are expected. They are called PDP-LX5090, PDP-LX5090H, PDP-LX6090 and PDP-LX6090H; two 50Ē and two 60Ē. No 42 inch plasma model this year.
The one with an H at the end of the product name have more to offer. Iíll tell you more in a sec.
PDP-LX5090 and PDP-LX6090 are Full HD TVs and a digital DVB-T tuner is integrated in the design allowing you to receive digital terrestrial TV channels.
Pioneer KURO 9G
The H models have the same panels as the non-H models. In other words, the picture is similar. The H models have a digital DVB-S tuner, however. This one is used to receive satellite TV. Mpeg4 is supported, too, allowing you to receive those nice HD channels.
The H models also have a kind of Media Center that receives movies, music and pictures on the DNLA protocol Ė like the PlayStation 3. This allows you to stream movies, music and photos to your TV from another PC or laptop in the house Ė wirelessly.
This system is called Home Media Gallery.
All 4 models have a feature called Optimum mode. Itís used to control the brightness and picture parameters according to the light in the surroundings.
The 4 new KURO 9G models are ready for you in July 2008. We are excited to know more here at Flatpanels.
We werenít given much information on the new Pioneer LCD-TVs but hereís what we know.
Pioneer has 3 new LCD-TVs ready called KRL-32V, KRL-37V and KRL-46V in 32, 37 and 46 inches, respectively.
The design is from the KURO models. The new LCD-TVs will feature an aluminium look.
Full HD is standard and Pioneer has developed their own 100 Hz system that is said to meet the high standards of the electronic giant.
Summer 2008 is the magic word. No information on prices.
Yes, you heard me. Pioneer has a new projector in their labs and itís soon ready for mass production. Very little is known at this point but according to Pioneer it will use the 3-chip D-ILA techonology Ė the same as JVC use.
Itís called KRF-9000FD and Pioneer says that it has very deep blacks and LCOS 1080p technology. And then it has two HDMI 1.3 inputs.
Itís a high-end model and it will be possibly to reproduce a 60 to 200 inch picture.
Even though Pioneer copies the popular JVC technology, Pioneer has made an effort to improve their projector by for example reducing the blacks. Or so we are told?
KRF-9000FD is launched soon. The price will be slightly higher the JVC 3-chip D-ILA.
Blacker than black
Thatís all folks. Weíre really excited about the new Pioneer KURO 9G plasma TVs and you should be, too. Also the new projector and LCD-TVs are interesting to see later this year.
All these new products use the slogan ďBlacker than blackĒ and compared to the 8G plasma this is certainly true.