Pioneer elite 50 plasma

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Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-1FD review: Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-1FD

Pioneer's no-nonsense, all-black look gives the PRO-111FD an ultraserious air, backed up by the unadorned, glossy-black frame with a simple gold "Elite" tattooed on the bottom. The sharp-cornered frame is characteristically chunky for a 50-inch plasma, and unlike most HDTVs, Pioneer mounts the speakers to both sides, making for an expansive wingspan. We appreciated that the speakers can be detached, as can the glossy black, nonswiveling stand.

Including stand and speakers, the PRO-111FD measures approximately 56.9 inches wide by 31 inches high by 13.8 inches deep and weighs 88 pounds. By itself, the panel measures 48.8 by 28.5 by 3.7 inches and weighs 74.5 pounds.

Pioneer's remote was redesigned after last year, and we really don't like it. Gone are the different shapes for secondary functions; instead, almost all of the keys on the new remote share the same square shape, tiny size, and are arranged in a staid grid. While that may make the clicker look cooler in some designer's opinions, it sure doesn't help navigate the scads of buttons. Sure, we liked the direct access to each of the inputs and the red-backlit keys, but we can't forgive the unforgiving grid.

Pioneer PRO-111FD
Pioneer's redesigned menu system has easy-to-read graphics and a smaller inset window instead of the standard overlay.

The menu system underwent an even more thorough overhaul. Instead of overlaying the menu atop the picture, as nearly every other HDTV does, the Pioneer shrinks the live TV image into a small window in the middle-left sector, and fills the remainder of the screen with menu text, onscreen explanations, and guide icons on a black background. We liked the new menus, which are exceedingly easy to read, and appreciated the fact that during picture adjustments the standard overlay arrangement returns, so you can see the effects of your adjustments. We also appreciated the Tools menu, which provided easy access to many of the most used functions.

Pioneer PRO-111FD
A Tools menu provides quick access to many oft-used functions, including aspect ratio and picture mode.

The main difference on the spec sheet between Pioneer's non-Elite models and the Elite lineup comes in the form of picture adjustments. Your extra cash buys you a level of control over the image that's equal to that of models from Samsung and LG, for example, although the PRO-111FD lacks the 10-point IRE color-temperature calibration we liked so much on select LG sets. We mention those two manufacturers partly because they provide a high level of picture control throughout their lineups, from the least to the most expensive models, and don't make you pay significantly more for those controls.

Pioneer's picture adjustments start with seven total picture modes, five of which can be tweaked and apply to every input. Another, labeled Standard, is independent per input. We found Pure mode to be the most-accurate overall, to the point where we really didn't have to use all of those controls to get it to look its best (see Performance for details).

Pioneer PRO-111FD
The readout along the bottom of the screen lets you follow along with the changes Optimum makes to the picture.

As on the non-Elite models, the PRO-111FD has an Optimum picture mode, which automatically adjusts the picture according to room lighting and content. One item not included with non-Elite TVs is a special room-lighting sensor, which senses the intensity and color of room lighting to better adjust the picture on the fly, according to the company.

Pioneer PRO-111FD
An included color sensor reads ambient light conditions and adjusts the picture accordingly.

Those Elite-only picture controls include five color-temperature presets in addition to a Manual color-temperature mode that allows adjustment of red, green, and blue gain and cut. A full color-management system is also onboard, with tint controls for both primary and secondary colors that worked very well. You can choose between a wide color space (denoted as "1" and set as the default on most picture modes) and one that conforms closely to the HD standard (option "2," the default in Pure mode).

Pioneer PRO-111FD
Manual controls for color temperature...
Pioneer PRO-111FD
...and color management highlight the step-up Elite feature pack.

Additional advanced controls abound. There's a gamma control, adjustable black level, a detail enhancer, automatic contrast adjustment, and an automatic color and brightness adjustment called Intelligent Mode--the latter two dynamically change the picture according to content, although not as dramatically as Optimum. Noise reduction is as comprehensive as we've seen on any TV, with four different NR options, two with four settings and two with On/Off settings. Video processing adjustments include a Smooth mode that introduces some dejudder processing and an Advanced mode, designed to work with 1080p/24 sources, that switches the TV to a 72Hz refresh rate.

An excellent selection of six aspect ratio modes is available for high-def sources and five for standard def, along with an Auto feature that attempts to set the correct aspect ratio for you. As we'd expect, there's also a dot-by-dot mode that scales 1080i and 1080p sources perfectly without any overscan. If you're interested in using this mode, which we highly recommend, be sure to disable the "Auto Size" option in the Setup>Option menu, or else the TV will default to Auto (which doesn't seem to like dot-by-dot much) every time you turn it on.

Pioneer added its Home Media Gallery to the TV this year, which allows it to interface with a USB thumb drive or your home network via an Ethernet port to play back photos, music, and video files on the TV. We didn't test this feature on the PRO-111FD, but it's the same as the version we tested on the PDP-5020FD.

Other features include picture-in-picture with a side-by-side option, and a variety of options to combat potential burn-in, including a pixel orbiter, a scrolling white bar to wipe out retained images, and a mode that "simultaneously optimizes the related settings to alleviate image retention."

While we appreciated the addition of a pair of power-saver modes, which somewhat limit peak light output and therefore energy consumption, a more-important feature is the same kind of store/home choice found on Panasonic and Samsung panels. When we first plugged in the TV, it asked us whether we were in the store or at home, and when we chose "home" the TV was automatically set in the Standard picture mode, which is designed to meet the new Energy Star guidelines coming later this year. According to our tests (see the Juice Box below), Standard did a great job saving power without sacrificing too much light output--a big criticism we had about Panasonic's Standard mode.

Pioneer PRO-111FD
The Pioneer's back panel includes three HDMI jacks and an Ethernet port for the home network feature.

Connectivity on the PRO-111FD is as comprehensive as we expect from such an expensive HDTV. There is a total of four HDMI inputs, with three on the rear and one on the side. The back panel includes one component-video input, one AV input with S-Video and composite video, one AV input with only composite video, a PC input (1,280x1,024 maximum resolution), an RF input for cable and antenna, an analog audio output, and an optical digital audio output, along with a LAN port. The side panel adds another AV input, a headphone jack and a USB port that works with the Home Media Gallery.

Pioneer PDP-5020FD
An HDMI input and a USB port highlight the easy-access side-panel connections.

Simply put, the Pioneer Elite PRO-111FD produced the best picture of any flat-panel HDTV we've tested to date. It delivered the deepest blacks we've seen from any large-screen display, as well as the most-accurate color. Video processing was superb, its glare-reducing screen is the best we've seen on any plasma TV, and we could find almost nothing to complain about in other areas. Given its superb performance, the PRO-111FD scores the first "10" we've ever awarded in overall picture quality. To us, that score doesn't represent perfection--hey, nothing's perfect--but instead a picture that's solidly superior to anything else we've seen in the flat-panel HDTV category.

Our standard calibration turned out to be a simple affair, despite the PRO-111FD's sizable complement of picture controls. The key was the Pure picture mode, which automatically engages Color Space 2, which in turn adheres very closely to the Rec. 709 HD color standard. We tweaked the color temperature a bit, removing a slight reddish cast, and touched up Magenta and Green by three total pips in the color-management system, but that was about it. The default Gamma 2 setting measured a nearly perfect 2.181 gamma; light output and black level were almost dead-on, and our main change was to bump up saturation (Color).

The initial accuracy of Pure, in fact, makes us doubly annoyed that Pioneer didn't include the same picture mode in the non-Elite version of this TV. All of those picture controls are largely unnecessary, in our opinion, if the out-of-the-box picture (in Pure mode) is so accurate. For what it's worth, you can check out our full picture settings at this blog post.

We also tried out the Optimum picture mode, just for kicks, and as we saw on the no-Elite PDP-5020FD, it lost some detail in blacks and oversaturated color in our dark room, although unlike the 5020, the Elite's light output in Optimum was much closer to what we'd consider ideal. When we turned up room lighting, the extra saturation and somewhat crushed blacks remained, although the picture did brighten somewhat to compensate for brighter room lighting. Of course we'd recommend Pure for image-quality enthusiasts, but folks who like auto-adjusting pictures could do worse than Optimum.

Image quality tests for the PRO-111FD were conducted, as always, as part of a side-by-side comparison. We were lucky enough to have two of the highest-scoring HDTVs this year available for the lineup, Panasonic's TH-50PZ800U plasma and Samsung's LN46A950 LCD, and we also threw in the LG 60PG60, the Samsung LN52A650 and the Samsung PN50A650 for good measure. We checked out Iron Man on Blu-ray, courtesy of our trusty Playstation3.

Black level: Since last year's PDP-5080HD, Pioneer's Kuro plasmas have evinced the deepest overall black levels of any HDTV, and the PRO-111FD continues the trend. We didn't have this year' non-Elite PDP-5020FD to compare directly, but we'd wager its black level performance is identical, and the PRO-111FD out-blacked the other displays in our comparison handily, including the Panasonic and the Samsung 950 LCD. The latter, when we watched from dead-center, gave the PRO-111FD the closest run for its money, blooming notwithstanding. In scenes that were almost completely dark, such as the 35:08 mark, when the only light is provided by green outlines and blue text on a laptop, the Samsung's local-dimming LEDs would turn off and make its screen look a bit darker than the Pioneer.

In the vast majority of scenes, however, including very dim ones--such as the rest of the cave scenes in Chapter 4--the inkiness of the Pioneer's black levels was the deepest. The letterbox bars--dark areas like Tony Stark's black sweater, black shadows around the soldiers, and, in the next chapter, the shadows inside the cargo plane--all looked inkier and more realistic than on any of the other displays, although in the case of the Panasonic and the Samsung, the difference was more or less subtle, depending on the overall brightness of the scene. In near-dark scenes, however, it wasn't subtle at all. We also appreciated the Pioneer's superb shadow detail, which, with the help of those deep blacks, outclassed anything in the room. As always, those deep blacks lend punch and impact to just about every scene.

Color accuracy: Our biggest complaint with the non-Elite PDP-5020FD was its inaccurate color, which was exacerbated by lack of adjustment. The Elite solves both of those problems, although as we mentioned above, just selecting Pure mode is enough of an adjustment for most people. Thanks to a nearly-perfect grayscale, skin tones, like the face of Pepper Potts and the torso of Stark during the "Operation" scene, looked even more natural and true than on the Panasonic, and indeed, the Pioneer measured significantly closer than the Panasonic to the D65 standard after calibration. Primary colors, such as the red and blue in the American flag, and secondaries, like the cyan contributing to the sky in the next chapter, were equally impressive and again came closer to the HD standard, according to our measurements, than any of the other displays. The PRO-111FD also maintained the most-neutral black and dark-gray areas of any of the other displays.

Video processing: The PRO-111FD's Film Mode menu provides a few options not found on most other plasma HDTVs. The most important to film buffs is called "Advance," which is designed to work with 24-frame-per-second sources--namely Blu-ray movies played at 1080p/24--to preserve the look of film during movement. Unlike Panasonic, which tried the same thing with its 48Hz mode (double the native rate of film), Pioneer uses a 72Hz rate with Advance, which avoids the flicker we saw on the Panasonic.

We checked out a pan over Tony Stark's workbench (27:43 into the movie) to compare between Advance and the Panasonic's standard 60Hz mode along with the two other 60Hz plasmas, with our PS3 set to 1080p/24 output, and the difference was obvious. In Advance, the entire image scrolled smoothly across the screen in a relatively smooth sweep, while on the 60Hz displays there was a sort of hitch or chugging effect evident when we looked at the whole picture. We preferred the look of the Pioneer, but it's worth noting that it introduced more-obvious breakup in individual objects in the pan, especially bright ones, like the top of a coffee cup or a piece of note paper. Of course, the main thing is that Pioneer provides the option, so if you don't like Advance you can choose Off to get the chugging seen on the standard plasmas.

Pioneer also puts in a dejudder processing mode, which is common to LCDs but found on no other plasma, called Smooth. Generally we're not fans of dejudder in any form when watching film-based movies, because often the result is a more videolike appearance than we'd like to see. On the PRO-111FD, however, engaging Smooth had no effect on the film-based material we watched. Checking out a few scenes in Smooth from Iron Man and couldn't find evidence of the telltale smoothing effect anywhere. Scratching our heads, we turned to the scenes in I Am Legend, where we noticed artifacts along with smoothing in Smooth mode on the 5020FD. Again, the film didn't look Smoothed at all; it evinced the same level of judder we noticed in Standard mode, and was similarly artifact-free. The only time we noticed Smooth mode performing as we expected was when watching a special demo clip Pioneer provided.

(Update October 28, 2008) We contacted Pioneer's representatives to get an explanation, and they couldn't provide one. They told us that the Smooth modes in both the Elite and the non-Elite should perform the same. We'll have to leave it at that, with the lame explanation that according to our observations, "your mileage may vary" in Smooth mode.

(Further update November 5, 2008) Additional observations confirmed that Smooth mode does operate more sporadically than expected. We checked out the pan over the workbench from Iron Man for example, and sometimes Smooth would engage to remove judder and sometimes it would not. The same went for other films, and it was difficult to pin down exactly what was causing dejudder to engage or not (we didn't change any settings). We haven't observed this kind of sporadic dejudder with any other displays, although to be fair day we feel it's a minor issue on an HDTV like this, which is targeted at video purists who will probably want to turn dejudder off anyway.

As we'd expect from any 1080p HDTV, the PRO-111FD resolved every detail of 1080i and 1080p sources. It also properly deinterlaced both film- and video-based sources, a feat not many HDTVs can claim. Motion resolution tested between 900 and 1000 lines, which is among the best we've seen on any display. As usual, we found it difficult to discern the benefits of these advantages in actual program material, as opposed to test patterns.

Bright lighting: We don't mean to pile it on, but we've always considered Pioneer's antireflective screen the best available on any plasma, and the PRO-111FD is no exception. With the room lights up and window shades open, it attenuated reflections very well, making them dimmer than any display in our comparison. It also maintained a deep black level in bright rooms almost as well as the shiny-screened Samsung LCDs.

Standard-definition: Unlike other aspects of its picture quality, the Elite's ability to handle standard-def sources was underwhelming according to our tests with the HQV DVD. Details were fine, both in the color-bars resolution pattern and in the stone bridge. But the set didn't eliminate as many jaggies from moving diagonal lines like a waving American flag as the Samsungs did, but it was still quite good and better than the Panasonic in this department. We really liked having those four noise reduction controls, and they worked extremely well to clean up moving motes in skies and sunsets. Surprisingly, the Elite failed our test for 2:3 pulldown, allowing moiré to creep into the grandstands after eliminating it briefly, regardless of the Film Mode or I-P mode we chose. As always, standard-def performance is irrelevant if you're connecting to a source that scales 480i to a higher resolution before connecting to the TV.

PC: With a digital connection, the Pioneer performed as well as we expect from any 1080p flat-panel, delivering every line of a 1,920x1,080-pixel PC signal with sharp text. We saw some edge enhancement in the standard settings but selecting Pure or Movie mode, or cranking down Sharpness, eliminated it completely. As usual, the analog connection was a disappointment, only accepting resolutions up to 1,280x1,024-pixels. Naturally the image looked softer and stretched to fill the screen, so we'd recommend PC users go digital.

Before color temp (20/80)6221/6266Good
After color temp6444/6497Good
Before grayscale variation+/- 239Good
After grayscale variation+/- 19Good
Color of red (x/y)0.641/0.332Good
Color of green0.292/0.599Good
Color of blue0.151/0.061Good
Defeatable edge enhancementYGood
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fpsFailPoor
1080i video resolutionPassGood
1080i film resolutionPassGood
Pioneer PRO-111FDPicture settings
DefaultCalibratedPower Save
Picture on (watts)333.54293.06291.73
Picture on (watts/sq. inch)0.310.270.27
Standby (watts)000
Cost per year$103.24$90.71$90.30
Score (considering size)Good
Score (overall)Poor
*Cost per year based on 2007 average U.S. residential electricity cost of 10.6 cents per kw/hr at 8 hours on/16 hours off per day.

How we test TVs



50" Class (49.8'' Diagonal) 1080p Elite® KURO™ Flat Panel HDTV

  • High-Definition 1080p Resolution (1920 x 1080p)
  • 5x Deeper Black for Unmatched Contrast*
  • Ability to accept 480i / 480p / 720p / 1080i / and TRUE 1080p 24fps signals
  • New Thinner Cosmetic Design with Elegant Acrylic Bezel



  • /StaticFiles/PUSA/Images/PRO-111FD_reg.jpg
Discover a flat panel so revolutionary, so pure, so powerful, television will never look the same. Experience seeing and hearing like never before with the new Pioneer Elite® KURO™ PRO-111FD. Experience high-definition in the most complete, detailed form available today, on this stunning 1080p Elite Flat Panel Television.
The next generation in flat-panel televisions has arrived. Built with the highest resolution (1920 x 1080p), the new Elite KURO PRO-111FD offers an entertainment experience of unequaled measure. Delivering even more powerful, industry leading black levels than its predecessor, the new KURO surpasses anything previously thought possible with a five times improvement in black level performance. The new Elite KURO provides added depth and dimension, richer colors and more pristine detail to everything you see, hear and feel.
Engineered for the ultimate experience in sight and sound, this revolutionary new flat panel harnesses technology designed to attain perfection. Our goal, to provide an unmatched HD experience that surpasses the standards of flawlessness – no matter what you watch.  With the brains of an all-new Optimum Mode setting, this incredibly intelligent television can seamlessly monitor content and room light conditions, including color temperature, all the while analyzing and finely adjusting both audio and video settings for an incomparable experience. Suddenly, sports, movies and news appear different, more real, more authentic, just as they were intended and in the most faithful and pristine way, never before seen and right in the comfort your own home.
The Elite KURO is a dream come true. For our most discerning entertainment connoisseurs, the Elite KURO is equipped to go beyond the standard set of audio and video settings. Further flexibility and distinct user settings can be finely tuned and set using the ISFccc™ calibration feature for both daytime and nighttime viewing.
Get ready for a new category of flat panel television with an advanced, redesigned GUI (graphical user interface), an illuminated remote control with learning mode, advanced picture-in-picture settings and game control preferences that will forever change the way you play. Set your sites on a flat panel so technologically advanced, it goes beyond television and opens your home to endless possibilities. With built-in Home Media Gallery, this television can connect to an existing home network to share HD content such as movies, digital photos and music effortlessly, and all at your fingertips. So, sit back, relax and enter the new world of KURO.

Product of the Year

*Improvement over previous generation of KURO Flat Panel HDTV's 

Energy Star

PIONEER, ELITE, KURO, and the Pioneer, Elite and KURO logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Pioneer Corporation.
ISFccc is a trademark of Imaging Science Foundation, Inc.

Plasma Technology
  • 1920 x 1080p

Plasma Features
  • Mode 1 / Mode 2

  • Off / On

  • New Design - Aluminum Plated - Illuminated / Preset / Learning

  • Eng / Fre / Spa

  • Standard / Save 1 / Save 2 / Picture Off

Picture Settings
  • Optimum / Performance / Movie / Sports / PURE / Game / Standard / ISF-Day / ISF-Night / ISF Auto (PC input:only Standard, User & ISF)

  • 9 Positions: Auto* / Full / Dot by Dot / Zoom* / Cinema* / 4:3 / Wide* (Only for SD) Wide 1* (Only for HD) Wide* 2 (Only for HD) *Except PC Signal

  • 4 Positions

  • 3 Positions

  • Off / Mode 1 / Mode 2

  • Off / Natural / Wide-Zoom

  • 2 Modes (Black / Black and Illustrated)

  • Fixed / Auto

  • White Bar

  • Off / On

  • Off / Mode 1 / Mode 2

  • Off / Mode 1 / Mode 2

Video Processing Technology
  • Off / High / Mid / Low

  • Off / On

  • Off / On

  • 1 / 2 / 3

  • 1 / 2 / 3

  • 5 Settings (Off / Mid-High / Mid / Mid-Low / Low)

  • Yes

  • 1 / 2

  • 4 Settings (Off / High / Mid / Low)

  • 4 Settings (Off / High / Mid / Low)

  • Off / On

  • Off / On

  • Off / On (for each channel)

  • 4 Settings (Off / High / Mid / Low)

  • 1 / 2 / 3

Video & Audio Inputs
  • 4 (with Deep Color Support)

  • 1

  • 3

  • 1

Video & Audio Outputs
Audio Technology
  • Off / Low / Mid / High

  • Off / Low / Mid / High

  • Off / Low / Mid / High

  • Off / Low / Mid / High

  • Off / On

  • 18W+18W

  • 52-7/8” x 38-3/8” x 20” (W x H x D)

  • 115 lbs. 1 oz.

  • 48-17/32” x 28-15/32” x 3-21/32” (W x H x D)

  • 56-7/8” x 28-15/32” x 3-21/32” (W x H x D)

  • 74 lbs. 5 oz.

  • 88 lbs.

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Review: Pioneer's 50-inch plasma a top performer

Story Highlights

• Pioneer's 50-inch plasma delivers excellent picture quality
• First plasma to have 1,920x1,080 pixels of native resolution
• Lacks built-in speakers, stand, and tuner; costs $8,000

By David Katzmaier

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(CNET.comexternal link) -- Pioneer's PRO-FHD1 isn't for everyone.

As the first 50-inch plasma display to have a native resolution of 1080p -- in other words, 1,920x1,080 pixels -- it understandably costs a mint ($8,000 list).

As a monitor, as opposed to a "true" TV, it lacks niceties such as built-in speakers, a tuner (ATSC or otherwise), or even an included stand. And as a member of Pioneer's "Elite" subbrand, it includes picture-centric features, such as user-menu color temperature and primary color adjustments, which most users won't know what to do with.

But if you're willing to pay top dollar for the best 50-inch plasma on the market right now, look no further. Compared to the Panasonic TH-50PF9UK, the other current 50-inch 1080p plasma, the Pioneer delivers slightly better picture quality at a more-than-slight price increase.

Although it's a bit too expensive to be considered our Editors' Choice in this category, the Pioneer PRO-FHD1 delivers the best picture quality of any television we've tested in the last year.


Understatement is the order of the day with the Pioneer PRO-FHD1.

The 50-inch pane of glass is set in the middle of a black frame that, unlike other Elite frames, isn't glossy. Instead there's a layer of dark-tinted plastic that extends slightly beyond the edge of the black on all sides, creating a subtle accent.

The only other remarkable item on the plasma's surface is the Elite logo and small, nondimmable LEDs that glow blue when the power is on and red when it's off. The panel measures 50.5 x 29.5 x 3.8 inches (WHD) and weighs 39.8 pounds.

Pioneer's remote is as basic as beans, as we'd expect from a clicker that doesn't have to change channels. We really liked the dedicated buttons for switching inputs, but that's really the only remote item worth mentioning. The set's menu system is organized logically, although the nested selections in the picture menu seem to go on forever.


The biggest item at the top of the Pioneer PRO-FHD1's spec sheet is its pixel count. This is the first plasma to have 1,920x1,080 pixels of native resolution on its screen, which lend the picture more detail with 1080i and 1080p sources than you'll see with lower-resolution panels, which typically have 1,366x768 pixels.

All those pixels also provide more detail with computer sources, which can be set to 1,920x1,080 resolution and deliver every pixel, but they won't improve the look of 720p HDTV or standard-definition television.

As we mentioned at the outset, the Pioneer lacks many of the features you'd expect in any television. You'll have to pay extra if you want to set it on a stand--Pioneer's PDK-TS23 (about $500) is the model the company recommends. Pioneer does not make matching speakers; you'll have to either connect your own to the panel's audio jacks or just use an external home theater sound system, a better move.

And of course you'll also need an external tuner--such as a cable or satellite box--or an over-the-air tuner to watch HDTV or any television broadcast on this monitor.

The PRO-FHD1 has numerous picture adjustments, starting with seven preset picture modes: Standard, Dynamic, Movie, Game, User, Pure, and ISF Night. As you might imagine, the last is sponsored by the Imaging Science Foundation, an organization that (among other activities) certifies professional calibrators who, in this case, make use of special Pioneer software to calibrate the panel and set up the mode.

Each of these modes, except for Dynamic, allows you to adjust the picture controls, such as contrast, color, and so forth, separately for each input.

Selecting Pro Adjust in the picture menu opens up a slew of additional options. The PureCinema control selects between Off (no 2:3 pull-down); Standard (normal 2:3 pull-down); and Advanced (special 72Hz mode; see performance for details). There are five color temperature presets, and we found Low came closest to the NTSC standard.

We also appreciated the option to adjust color temperature, both high and low points, manually.

The CTI mode is said to improve color contours, but we couldn't detect any effect. A color management screen allowed us to adjust primary colors--a great addition. There are adjustments for noise reduction (they worked extremely well); Dynamic Contrast and ACL (we have no idea what the latter stands for; both are said to change the picture on the fly, so we left them off); Black level (best left on); and Gamma (we found setting 1 the best).

An adjustable 3D-YC comb filter and I-P mode cap the extensive picture menu.

The Pioneer offered five aspect ratio choices with high-def sources, including a Dot-by-dot mode that we recommend using when you're watching either 1080i or 1080p material. That mode puts the entire 1,920x1,080 pixels on the screen with no scaling; its only disadvantage is that, with some broadcasts, it may cause interference to become visible at the extreme edges of the screen. If this happens, choose Full instead.

The bottom edge of the back panel includes a solid input selection. There are two HDMI inputs, although, as with all current HDTVs, they're not version 1.3. There is also one DVI input that can handle digital computer signals up to 1,920x1,080 resolution, as well as HDCP-protected A/V signals from an HDMI source (adapter required).

A set of five BNC style inputs can, using the included trio of adapters, accept component-video signals (up to 1080p) or RGBHV signals (up to 1280x1024) from computers or video processors. Pioneer provides minimal support for standard-def signals; just one composite input (BNC-style, so it again requires an adapter for RCA-type jacks) and one S-Video input.

The back panel also has an RS-232 port for custom installation control; a pair of proprietary Pioneer control ports; and the aforementioned speaker outputs. There are no side- or front-panel A/V inputs.


Simply put, the Pioneer PRO-FHD1 is the best-performing HDTV we've reviewed in the last year. Its combination of extremely accurate color, deep black levels, and sharp detail outclass any of the plasma, LCD, or rear-projection sets we've seen recently.

As always, we started our evaluation by setting up the Pioneer's picture as well as possible. The Pure picture mode provided an excellent basis to begin and we didn't have to change much. We decreased light output slightly, tweaked the color temperature and primary colors, and went through the various other settings to arrive at what we considered an excellent picture for our darkened lab.

Our full user-menu settings can be found here, or check out the Tips section at the tab above. Although there's an ISF Night mode that's designed to be used by a professional calibrator in conjunction with special software, our calibration involved only the set's user-menu adjustments and our standard equipment.

Once we had the image to our liking, we sat back to compare the Pioneer against a few other displays we had in-house: the significantly larger Mitsubishi WD-65831 rear-projection set as well as a pair of other 50-inch plasmas, namely the 1080p Panasonic TH-50PF9UK (Read reviewexternal link) and the 1366x768-resolution Panasonic TH-50PH9UK. We slipped the incredible-looking "Aeon Flux" into our resident Blu-ray player, the Sony PlayStation 3, and kicked back to enjoy.

The first thing we appreciated was the Pioneer's accurate color. Aeon's skin was pristine; the green of the greenhouse plants was rich and not nearly as yellow as with the other three sets; the red blood of her hands on the shard of glass was darker and not crimson.

Color balance according to test patterns was nearly perfect, so we were able to increase the color control to really saturate the image without sacrificing any realism. Primary color accuracy was very good before we adjusted the Color Management settings and superb afterward.

We also noticed that the Pioneer exhibited less false contouring than the other sets, especially the TH-50PH9UK. In the scene before Aeon is captured and wakes up in a cell, her hazy silhouette fades into the light, and the difficult transition from light to dark was smoother on the Pioneer.

In the cell, we also noticed a few bands on the transition from the floor to the white light under the bench while watching the Panasonics, which weren't evident on the Pioneer or the Mitsubishi.

Compared to the two Panasonics, the Pioneer did evince a slightly lighter color of black. We noticed during the scene where Aeon stalks Trevon Goodchild in the theater; the shadowy recesses and letterbox bars appeared slightly lighter on the Pioneer; about the same as on the Mitsubishi.

We doubt this difference would be noticeable outside of side-by-side comparisons, but it is worth noting.

You may ask whether 1080p makes a big difference on this panel, and as usual, the answer is no. We compared the PRO-FHD1 directly to the lower-resolution Panasonic TH-50PH9UK, and in scene after scene of this very sharp disc, the differences were extremely difficult to detect.

Only on a couple of scenes did we feel the 1080p Pioneer had any kind of advantage in sharpness. In Chapter 9, for example (52:07 into the film), the horizontal lines hanging behind the projected face looked more distinct on the Pioneer; later in the film, the same line again appeared sharper. From our 7-foot seating distance (Update: This originally said "8-foot," but it is actually 7), it was nearly impossible to see other differences, whether we looked at characters' hair or the texture of the walls or the tiny creases in skin and lips during the film's numerous close-ups. Anyone sitting farther than 7 feet away would likely appreciate no benefit at all from the FHD1's resolution.

Along with other Pioneer plasmas, the PRO-FHD1 is one of the only displays available to support the 72Hz refresh rate. An item labeled PureCinema in the menu system actually controls this function; when set to Standard, the set refreshed at the standard 60Hz rate, while choosing Advanced puts it into 72Hz mode.

The supposed advantage of 72Hz mode is that you get a smoother picture with fewer artifacts when you're watching 24-frame sources, such as the 1080p/24 output of the Pioneer and Sony Blu-ray players. On the flip side, when we watched the 1080i/60 output of the PlayStation 3 in 72Hz mode, we saw some additional artifacts, such as judder and crawl along vertical lines.

In general, we recommend using Advanced only if you have a 1080p/24 source. Unfortunately we weren't able to test this feature properly because we didn't have such a source on hand.

On another note, we did hear a very quiet, high-pitched hum coming from the Pioneer; the Panasonic plasmas, for example, were silent. The Pioneer was quieter than the sound of the fan on our PlayStation 3, but we could still hear it.

Next, we put the Pioneer PRO-FHD1 through a battery of standard-definition processing tests, watching patterns and material from the HQV disc at 480i over component video.

The TV turned in a mostly solid performance, resolving all of the details of the disc and smoothing out jagged diagonal lines, such as those visible on a waving American flag, particularly well. Details on the stone bridge did look a bit soft until we increased sharpness to 0, which did introduce some edge enhancement. Both the Digital NR and the MPEG NR modes, each with four settings (Off, Low, Med, High) did a great job of squelching moving motes of video noise and "snow" in the low-quality shots of sky and sunsets, as well the scenes of the moving roller coaster.

The High mode in particular seemed to choke off almost all noise in many shots, although it did make the image appear softer, especially the MPEG NR's High setting. The Pioneer did a fine job of detecting 2:3 pull-down in both Standard and Advanced PureCinema modes, but the image evinced more judder in Advanced.

One other important note: we recommend avoiding feeding the Pioneer any kind of 480p signal. Via both HDMI and component-video, we observed significant softness in the television's horizontal resolution on grayscale patterns (such as the first color bar pattern from HQV or the staircase from the Sencore VP403 generator), which appeared downright blurry.

This issue does not affect 480i, 720p, or either of the 1080 resolution sources; just 480p. If you're connecting this set to a progressive-scan DVD player, you should set it to interlaced mode, or use a player that upconverts to 1080i or 1080p resolution.

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50" Class (49.85" Diagonal) ELITE® KURO Flat Panel HDTV

  • High-Definition Resolution - 1365 x 768

  • 16:9 Wide-Screen Aspect Ratio

  • 4 Independent HDMI® 1.3 Inputs

  • Deep, Intense Blacks for Unmatched Contrast


  • /pio/pe/images/portal/cit_3442/464224379PRO-1150HD_reg.jpg

Enter a world dedicated to the pursuit of pristine vision and flawless sound. Where everything you see is stunningly clear. Where everything you hear is unbelievably pure. Enter the world of Pioneer Elite®. A world where images so lifelike, motion so fluid and detail so great are just par for the course. A world where streaming HD movies, music and digital photos from a networked PC to your TV are so effortless they become part of your everyday life, thanks to the Home Media Gallery feature. It's a universe of things never before possible. Where the unimaginable becomes commonplace. It's an experience so unbelievably different, so undeniably powerful and so completely extraordinary, it will change the way you look at TV forever.

Open your eyes and prepare your ears for a world that looks and sounds completely different from anything that has come before. Open your eyes to a world where high-definition movies, music, digital photos or online media all perform in ways you've never seen or heard before — on a glorious shrine to sight and sound.

Discover the world of the Elite KURO PRO-1150HD. It's world that will change the way you see and hear TV forever. A world so rich, so intense, so beyond imagination you will quickly find yourself lost in maximum impact and total convenience. It's a universe defined by a tireless commitment to excellence and passion for accuracy. Where sight and sound are not just seen and heard, but felt in entirely new ways. Where every element of design, every technological advance has been carefully planned then executed. The result is a plasma television that transcends any other. It's a quantum leap. A revelation. The next step in high-definition.

Simplay Logo


PIONEER, KURO, Pioneer and the Kuro logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Pioneer Corporation
SIMPLAY HD and the Simplay HD logo are trademarks of Silicon Image, Inc.

Plasma Technology
  • 1365 x 768

Plasma Features
  • Illuminated / Preset Mode / Learning Mode

Picture Settings
  • 9 options (Optimum / Dynamic / Standard / PURE / Movie / Game / User / ISF-Day / ISF-Night (PC input: only Standard & User

  • 5 positions (Wide / Zoom / Cinema / Full / 4:3)

  • 4 positions

  • (Off / On)

  • (Off / Natural / Wide-Zoom)

  • (Off / On)

  • (Fixed / Auto)

  • (White Bar)

  • (AV Selection only) (Off / On)

  • (Off / On)

Video Processing Technology
  • (Off / High / Mid / Low)

  • (Off / On)

  • (Off / On)

  • (1 / 2 / 3)

  • (1 / 2 / 3)

  • 5 settings (High / Mid-High / Mid / Mid-Low / Low)

  • (Off / On)

  • (1 / 2)

  • 3 settings (High / Mid / Low)

  • (Off / High / Mid / Low)

  • Yes

  • (Off / On)

  • Yes

  • Yes

  • (1 / 2 / 3)

  • Yes

Video & Audio Inputs
  • 4 (With PC Support, 2 w/analog audio)

  • 3

  • 2

  • 1

Video & Audio Outputs
Audio Technology
  • 53 x 35-5/8 x 20 inches (W x H x D)

  • 111.8 lbs.

  • 48-3/16 x 28-7/32 x 4-1/2 inches (W x H x D)

  • 56-5/32 x 28-7/32 x 4-1/2 inches (W x H x D)

  • 76.7 lbs.

  • 88.8 lbs.

Flat Wall Bracket                       
PCM-MS2 - Accessories 


Tilt Wall Bracket

Elite plasma pioneer 50

Pioneer 1080p Plasma: Is It Worth It?

Reviewer:Phil Conner

In August of this year, Pioneer's new ELITE plasma TV model, the Pioneer PRO-FHD1, will make its debut, featuring full 1080p HDTV resolution in a 50" plasma TV screen. While it sounds like a dream come true for home theater buffs, the jury's still out for us at Plasma TV Buying Guide. Remembering some of Pioneer's early plasma models, and their dubious skill in scaling standard 480i viewing material to fit a 1366 x 768 HDTV plasma screen, we have to wonder if the new Pioneer 1080p plasma will be any better.

We're certain the Pioneer ELITE PRO-FHD1, the "FHD" meaning "Full High Definition," will look brilliant with true 1080p sources, but where will you find one? True 1080p over-the-air or satellite broadcasts are still a rare breed on TV, and only the latest (and most expensive) HD-DVD players and Blu-Ray Disc machines with the latest HDMI spec. have any sort of 1080p output. Unless your home theater also is equipped with a time machine, the vast majority of your viewing in the immediate future will still be 480p DVD sources, with a substantial amount of 480i cable or satellite TV thrown in to boot. Can the new 1080p Pioneer handle these signals? We're skeptical, to say the least.

Given the $10,000 MSRP on the new Pioneer ELITE, and all the trials and tribulations of such a vast step in technology—not to mention the relative scarcity of true 1080p video sources, maybe we're better off sticking with the current crop of 50" HDTV plasma screens, which feature lower prices than ever and even better picture improvements. Once Panasonic, Toshiba and the other big players get involved in the 1080p Plasma race, we're betting prices will drop, the bugs will be worked out, and we'll have several top choices to pick from.

Here's what Pioneer Plasma has to say:

Proprietary Technologies and Breakthrough Engineering Add Depth to HD Experience

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. will begin shipping the world's first 50" 1080p plasma display today. The new Pioneer Elite® PureVision™ PRO-FHD1 is a technological milestone with images that burst off the display for a near 3-D effect. Built by and for those who demand the very best high definition experience, the new plasma features double the pixel density of previous plasma displays with a 1920 X 1080 native resolution. It produces fine detail and vibrant color for the entire range of high definition signals including 720p, 1080i and 1080p.

The challenge in creating a 50-inch plasma display with a 1080p signal was to reduce the pixel size by half in order to fit more than 2 million pixels in the screen. Pioneer used its 15 years experience developing plasma technology to manufacture the world's smallest pixels measuring .576 millimeters which results in a stunning on-screen picture. The depth of picture, particularly when viewing original content in 1080p/24Hz, such as a movie on Blu-ray Disc, gives a truly 3-D effect. Viewers can see tiny beads of sweat on an athlete's face as well as the stitches on the football as it flies through the air. Some say it makes it easier to tell when the lead actor takes a break and lets the stunt double take over.

A high precision video scaler is used to up-convert 480i, 720p, 720i and 1080i signals to 1080p, increasing the resolution and virtually eliminating the interlacing motion artifacts seen in some other displays. The display also relies on Pioneer's many proprietary technologies including deep encased cell structure, crystal emissive layer and improved phosphors to create the sharpest, brightest images with excellent color accuracy.

The Pioneer Elite® PureVision PRO-FHD1 is now available at specialty retailers for a suggested price of $10,000.

Pioneer's Home Entertainment and Business Solutions Group is a leading manufacturer of plasma televisions and monitors, Blu-ray Disc® and DVD products, A/V receivers, speakers and other audio and video accessories. Its focus is on the development of new digital technologies including Digital Network Entertainment™. The company markets its products under the Pioneer and Pioneer Elite® brand names. When purchased from an authorized dealer, consumers receive a limited warranty for one year with Pioneer products and two years with Pioneer Elite products.

Source: Pioneer Electronics, USA

See the Current Pioneer Plasma TV Models

Pioneer Elite Pro 1140HD Plasma TV Review

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