Pioneer has resurrected the Elite TV brand (they've continued to support the AVR and Blu-ray segments) by partnering with Sharp to produce a new line of Elite-branded flat panels, but this time they're LCD based, with LED local dimming backlighting.
In the race to make LED backlit sets slimmer than ever, the major flat panel TV makers have abandoned LED local dimming in favor of edgelighting. True LED local dimming backlighting is still the way to go though, and the new Pioneer Elite sets (60" at $5,999 and 70" at $8,499) feature full array LED local dimming backlighting, along with active shutter 3D glasses technology and they're also THX 2D and 3D certified. The 60" set features 600 local dimming zones, while the 70" set features 300 local dimming zones.
One notable feature of the new sets is their newly developed (and exclusive to the Elite sets) Intelligent Variable Contrast image processing. Just about every display these days has some sort of contrast enhancement function, but the function typically works in "sledgehammer" mode, shifting darker blacks darker and punching brighter scenes up across the whole screen. I've never found a contrast enhancement function that I liked until now, as the Pioneer IVC enhancement function takes advantage of the hundreds of local dimming backlighting zones and makes the peak white elements in the picture substantially brighter without affecting any other portion of the screen image (the function is disabled however in the THX picture mode). An HD clip of a carnival ride at night has the ride's many individual light bulbs noticeably brighter than the rest of the image, which isn't affected at all.
Over at the THX booth, they had the new Pioneer Elite THX certified set on display, paired with a THX certified soundbar and companion subwoofer from European speaker maker Teufel. The Teufel is the first THX certified sound bar, a new product category for THX certification. They also had a new 55” LG passive 3D edgelit LED flat panel HDTV on demo, this one being the first passive FPR polarized 3D set to receive THX certification. It’s available now at a suggested list of $3,800.
While Panasonic's consumer division had a booth on the show floor, what was on display and demo in their professional business solutions booth caught my eye. They had previously announced their new PT-AE7000U 3D 3LCD front projector at an event in August at their Panasonic Hollywood Labs, located in North Hollywood adjacent to Universal Studios. The PT-AE7000U ($3,499) features active shutter glasses technology and the projector's 3D glasses are exactly the same type that work with Panasonic's 3D flat panel TVs. Unlike some other 3D projectors which require an external infrared 3D emitter, the Panasonic features built-in IR emitters on the projector's front panel (behind a front panel door), which have a round trip range of eighteen feet (projector to screen and screen to viewer). For installations where the projector is situated more toward the back of the room, an optional higher output IR emitter is available.
Panasonic also had on display their pro plasma models, which are designed for the studio professional. Consumer plasma displays are typically overloaded with useless picture processing gimmicks that have no place on a professional HD studio/post-production display and the Panasonic pro VX plasma range instead features functions such as a waveform monitor, fully adjustable color space for any type of video signal and other pro-type features. The range features Slot 2.0 card inputs, with optional cards available for DVI-D, HD/SD SDI and other digital video formats.
Adding to their currently available 85" and 103" models, they debuted the TH-65VX300 ($6,250) 65" version, a 3D/2D model. On display in the booth they also had the top of their pro plasma range, a massive 152" set (world's largest plasma display) with 4K resolution. That one carries a list price in the "if you have to ask category"—a cool half million dollars.
High end Italian front projector maker Sim2 took the wraps off no less than 15 new models spread over five different projector ranges, including the Nero series of single chip 3D DLP models, which start at $19,990. The new Lumis-range 3D projectors are powered by new higher output LEDs with 30% more light than earlier iterations.