TESTED: Pioneer Kuro Elite PRO-101FD plasma monitor

End of An Era: Pioneer's Last Plasma Is Also Its Best

  • Color: 0
  • Tint: 0
  • Sharpness: -15
  • Picture Mode: Pure
  • HD size (pixel-to-pixel): Dot by Dot
  • Color Temperature: Low
  • Color Space: 2
  • Gamma: 1

 

PERFORMANCE
 
Blu-ray Evaluation: The Bank Job
 
Detail
Lionsgate’s opener features transmission-like gears, some of which are burnished with fine brush marks that are easily evident, as you would expect from a 1080p display.
 
Color
This movie’s color is all over the map. Many indoor scenes feature a yellowish, sepia-like tone, while outdoor scenes feature a more natural color palette. The Pioneer’s excellent colorimetry reveals the cinema photographer’s intent to produce a ’70’s “feel.”
 
Blacks
A jet-black vintage Jaguar saloon (sports sedan) with corresponding black interior looks stunning – here is where an excellent plasma punches the lights out of most LCD displays.
 
Shadow Detail
Dimly lit tunnel scenes as the crooks work their way underneath to the bank vault are clear, with easily visible details – another strength that plasma has over LCD (but the gap is narrowing somewhat lately).
 
Artifacts/Noise
None noted.
 
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
 
Detail
Featuring first-rate production values, this on-the-edge satirical talk show is captured in crisp 1080i, with easily discernable set details that show some of the background cabinetry could use a paint touch-up.
 
Color
Live direct-to-HD video of real people in a studio setting is a top choice for evaluating skin tones, and here this latest Kuro Elite plasma is as good as its predecessors at outputting natural, realistic flesh colors, free of overt embellishment.
 
Blacks
Two of the three season-opener guests are wearing dark black outfits, and here the Pioneer shows off plasma’s superiority over LCD at delivering sumptuous deep blacks.
 
Shadow Detail
The studio setting isn’t awash with light all over the place, a credit to the lighting designer. Guest commentators are in front of set elements that are in the shadows, but are otherwise easily discernable.
 
Artifacts/Noise
None noted.
 
BOTTOM LINE:
This latest (and sadly, last) Kuro Elite plasma monitor builds on the strengths of its predecessors, with a host of custom installation-friendly features, and a simply gorgeous picture (when in Pure mode) that meets, to the highest degree I’ve ever seen, the exact colorimetry and gray scale characteristics laid out in the HDTV technical standard. With so many other sets, achieving this lofty goal isn’t always possible, even after a thorough professional calibration.
 
This is an absolutely superb performer in all critical respects, and can be recommended without hesitation for those looking for the best possible flat panel HD picture quality.
 
SPECS & PRICING
Pioneer Kuro Elite PDP-101FD
Screen size: 50” diagonal
Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Video inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 DVI, 1 component, 1 composite, 1 RGB PC
Other connections: 1 RJ-45 LAN, 1 RS-232C serial port (for service), 1 IR output
Dimensions (W x H x D): 48.5” x 28.5” x 2.5” (w/o optional stand)
Weight: 69.2 lb.
Warranty: 2 years parts & labor
Price: $4,500
 
Pioneer Electronics
(800) 421-1404
www.pioneerelectronics.com

Comments

Gary Land (not verified) -- Mon, 05/25/2009 - 13:28

I own the Pioneer Elite Pro930 HD. I paid top dollar for the best plasma on the market and had it professionally (ISF) calibrated. After 2 years and 7 months of flawless operation, my set suddenly stopped outputting video. I immediately contacted Pioneer Support and was told that I would need to contact and pay for, an "Authorized Pioneeer" repair technician to come out and diagnose the problem. The technician found that the main circuit board was defective and would need to be replaced at $425.00 for the part, and $250.00 for the labor. Additionally, the ISF calibration would be lost, so add another $350.00 for recalibration. My calls and letters to " Pioneer Support " were met by the following corporate slogan: "Pioneer warrants it's electronic products for a period of two years and has no obligation to the consumer beyond the warranty period." I argued that having spent over $5k for their Plasma set, and being assured by the salesman that these sets would last, "at least 10 years" that this was an implied warranty indicating suitability for use. After all, who would purchase one of these expensive sets, if the life expectancy was no more than 2 years? Pioneer Support refused to budge stating: "These are electronic devices that can and do break...we do not owe the consumer any support beyond the 2 year warranty as stated in the Warranty document." Not satisfied that I was now on the hook for $1150.00 in repairs, I asked if  Pioneer would either split the costs and/or simply send the part and I would pay for labor and recalibration. I received the same response as before..."Pioneer warrants it's products for a period of two years and has no obligations to the consumer beyond the warranty period." Deeply disgusted by this response and begging the question of what it was that Pioneer Support actually did, I contacted the Supervisor. In a detailed e-mail I listed my belief that Pioneer owed more to it's customers than 2 years of product support. What I received in reply was a further "clarification" that the 2 year warranty "only applied to manufacturing defects."  In other words, even the so called 2 years warranty was questionable since the consumer would have to demonstrate that any electronic failure was due to a defect in manufacturing. The only way Pioneer would accept this claim is if an "Authorized Pioneer" technician vouched for the product and certified that the problem(s) were the result of manufacturing "defects."  Obviously, this is a Catch 22. If the "Authorized Pioneer" repair facility wants to remain "Authorized" it is not in thier best interests to find manufacturing defects that Pioneer would be obligated to repair, inside or outside of the warranty. When I asked for the corporate president's address, I was told that: "It doesn't matter if you write to the CEO because all compliants come back to me" the (customer service manager). So it is not surpising that Pioneer is getting out of the TV market. My experience should be a cautionary tale that if you spend your hard earned money on Pioneer products, expect no "Customer Support" nor any attitude that Pioneer even cares about it's customers. Loyalty to the product brand means nothing at Pioneer. So if it says Pioneer I say stay clear.

Anonymous_90651 (not verified) -- Sun, 05/31/2009 - 15:02

You had the warranty card and it came with the TV. You knew up front that the TV was warranted for 2 years and nothing more. Pioneer is no different than many other higher-end manufacturers regardless of them exiting or still existing in the market. This is where the extended warranty comes into play. Just because it's Made in the USA, it's going to provide it's consumers better treatment than Made in Japan or Made in China. It's more than obvious that if you were willing to pay "an arm and a leg" as some people would put it for the TV, that spending 5-10% of the total cost for an extended warranty, which effectively comes out to the same cost as shipping and sales tax would be considered chump change. Perhaps, you may be someone who saved his/her life savings to buy it and you don't have that 5-10%. It doesn't hurt to wait another 2-3 months to make up that difference. Given this, we wouldn't be hearing your cries for help or complaints against a well-respected manufacturer.
Now, if you could prove that the main circuit board was "rigged" to "expire" after the 2 year limit was reached, perhaps a power surge that reached the board got burned, or some other circuitry in the TV caused an overload the main circuit board, then you may have yourself a very valid complaint. 
Suck it up man ... $1150 is chump change compared to how much you spend on the new version of the TV as a whole. Just like people who love something so dearly, they'll spend what appears to the outsider as a waste of money, but to you, it'll be well worth it. A good example of that was the first 40" rear projection Pioneer TV, the one with the wood siding on it. I spent $5000 for it. 4 years later, one of the lenses had been damaged and it turned out 2 of the 3 lenses were damaged. I could've spent ~  $1100 to fix it. But, guess what I did? I shelled out the extra $700 for a 3-year extended warranty. Then 2 years later, one of the main circuit boards also broke. So, I spent $800 for it. If I did what you did, which was NOT to buy the warranty for whatever reason, I'd be hear complaining and crying about it here.
Lesson Learned For You --- Consider the Extended Warranty, it could save you frustration and gripe later!  
 
 

Kenneth n (not verified) -- Mon, 06/29/2009 - 01:12

I also own a 930 Elite 1080i about 4 years now with Comcast HD. Never had an ISF calibration and the picture still lloks fabulous.  Recently, a pink/purplish screen appears sometimes when changing channels and then it disappears.
I am ready for an upgrade to PRO101FD or Panasonic Z1 or Samsung.  Any suggestion?  I have not seen Panasonic or Samsung for a comparison.  Please your thoughts and why.
Thanks,

U-fan (not verified) -- Sat, 10/03/2009 - 09:54

You sound like an "extended warranty homer" who works in electronic sales.  Those extended warranties have their trap doors as well, making them a big ripoff in most cases.  The truth is, nobody wants to take responsibility for the quality of their product long-term.  I too invested north of $5000 on a Pioneer set, and I have all crossable appendages are engaged, hoping it will have a long life.
I do have a question for you Pioneer plasma owners:  Is the calibration useful on their sets?  I've heard it both ways and haven't done it yet after almost two years of use.  I don't believe that my picture is quite as crisp as it was out of the box, and I'm wondering if the calibration would help to restore the detail. 

chaddywack (not verified) -- Wed, 11/04/2009 - 03:24

 no man, do not get ur tv calibrated.... i have the new pioneer elite kuro 60 inch monitor. paying that much i decided to pay to have it calibrated...... it was in my opinion the closest thing to highway robbery i have ever seen.... he tinkered with the picture settings... granted he hooked up a laptap to my tv to look professional... however when it came time to put in work, i watched him like a hawk, he (in 1 min actual time) took my remote and tinkered with the settings just like i had done a million times. and it was amazing how close his were to two saved settings i had previously invented.... here is the kicker... when he accidently reset his minute of hard labor, instead of re hooking up his lap top, i swear on every thing holy this fellow grabbed the controller and guestimated the recalibration, and was off on three settings that i remembered from the initial settings... i snickered and when he said what is it, i laughed and said, (realizing my 200 bucks was history reguardless) i just cant believe how amazing it looks now... the look he gave me after that comment was worth my 200$ it was that look of oh CRAP he knows now this is rip off!!!! i should have hooked my laptop back off....... YEA that would have kept the wool completely over my eyes..... NOT.. google ur make and model and its best calibration settings and become ur own professional calibration station..... it really is that simple

chaddywack (not verified) -- Wed, 11/04/2009 - 03:24

 no man, do not get ur tv calibrated.... i have the new pioneer elite kuro 60 inch monitor. paying that much i decided to pay to have it calibrated...... it was in my opinion the closest thing to highway robbery i have ever seen.... he tinkered with the picture settings... granted he hooked up a laptap to my tv to look professional... however when it came time to put in work, i watched him like a hawk, he (in 1 min actual time) took my remote and tinkered with the settings just like i had done a million times. and it was amazing how close his were to two saved settings i had previously invented.... here is the kicker... when he accidently reset his minute of hard labor, instead of re hooking up his lap top, i swear on every thing holy this fellow grabbed the controller and guestimated the recalibration, and was off on three settings that i remembered from the initial settings... i snickered and when he said what is it, i laughed and said, (realizing my 200 bucks was history reguardless) i just cant believe how amazing it looks now... the look he gave me after that comment was worth my 200$ it was that look of oh CRAP he knows now this is rip off!!!! i should have hooked my laptop back off....... YEA that would have kept the wool completely over my eyes..... NOT.. google ur make and model and its best calibration settings and become ur own professional calibration station..... it really is that simple

MistaFlava (not verified) -- Fri, 11/20/2009 - 20:28

Hey chaddywack, thanks for the advice on the calibration. I will be getting a hand-me-down PRO-101FD from my brother. I did some research trying to find calibration setting online but to no avail. Do you happen to have the URL to such said website? Thanks in advance.

mikewinburn -- Sat, 12/11/2010 - 09:03

wow...this is an old thread, but someone might come upon it having purchased a quality Pioneer that review sites are still trying to compare modern displays to... I've not yet heard of the vaunted, "Kuro Killer", yet.

So, anyway just a note to chaddywack: you didn't mention which 60" Kuro you purchased. If the 60 PDP-6020FD, then sadly, your experience may have been the result of just a tad bit of lack of research with a heaping of unscrupulousness. It was common knowledge, and a source of outrage by us videophiles that the model practically could NOT be calibrated by any ISF Technician or otherwise. It was manufactured that way. In fact, even major review sites noted that other than gray-scale, the rest of the settings were things you could do without a service technician. If memory serves well, even the gray scale tracking was limited in range. I suppose Pioneer opted for that to get videophiles to move up to the Elite line or Signature monitors that had top tier calibration options.

Again, if the PDP-6020FD was your model, then that speaks volumes in relation to the specific Technician's personal integrity instead of the value of a Calibration. Maybe he should have noted he can only do so much, and in light of that, he should charge less than the rate for a 60" Pro141 Signature Series Monitor which has serious calibration options.

Now, of course if you purchased a 141, then it sounds to me like you just caught by an unscrupulous technician.

so this reply is simply to respond to chddywach's...."no..don't do it...". My advice: Get a quality Tech and the difference between calibrated and uncalibrated will be night and day in most cases. Just don't let the geek squad or magnolia team handle it. If you're in the NYC area, the best ISF Tech is Mr, Kevin Miller. I've used his services since the 90's (remember EdTv?). Have seen him go above and beyond as I watched him through the cycles of my HDTVs. The latest Calibration was about 1year ago. It was for a bedroom LCD; I didn't even bother to watch.

Do yourself the favor, get your TV calibrated....just my opinion
ps - but i do agree wholeheartedly with chaddy...quite often you can find settings online that will get your display almost perfect. (In general only though, since every display has its on characteristics.) And those numbers mimicked on your set will find you questioning whether you need yours specifically calibrated.

Larry L. (not verified) -- Fri, 05/14/2010 - 10:06

I have the Elite PRO-110FD and I had it calibrated after 300 hours of break-in. The original settings were almost dead on, but the ISF calibration just dialed it in perfect. I am still astounded with the picture it produces. Yes, I whole heartedly agree with ISF Calibration. You spent a lot of money on a great set, why not get all of what you paid for. You will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

mark wallace (not verified) -- Thu, 05/20/2010 - 08:37

I can understand your frustration but a 2 year warranty is just that,not 2years 7 months or until the Pioneer Display has a problem . You asked for goodwill repairs outside the stated 2 year warranty but you were denied because the factory warrany had expired , that was fair .

Warren (not verified) -- Thu, 06/10/2010 - 23:14

I Agree with Gary! Here is a letter I sent to Sound & Vision

Dear Sound and Vision Q&A,

After reading the Oct 2008 Sound and Vision about Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro 111FD 50 inch plasma HDTV for $5,000, and subsequent Sound & Vision "Best Of", I purchased a Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro 141 FD 60 inch at $7,000 on 8-23-09. It was delivered 8-26-09. A very nice parchment certificate stated: "Unsurpassed technology and craftsmanship." "Your new Pioneer Signature Series ELITE Kuro monitor represents the absolute pinnacle of Pioneer technology and craftsmanship..." "...the precision parts used in this limited series were carefully selected, inspected and exceed our most rigorous standards to assure optimum performance." "Your ELITE Kuro monitor has surpassed our rigorous evaluation standards...". Signed: Yoiche Sato, Senior Executive Officer, Chief Technology Executive, Pioneer Corporation.

We turned on the 141. We couldn't believe how beautiful and wonderful the 1080p 24 frame 12 bit deep color looked! On 8-27-09 I put in the second blu ray disc, again wonderful until halfway through the 141 monitor turned itself off. The blue "power light" was off, and the red "standby light" would blink, blink, pause. We couldn't get the monitor on again. The store picked it up and delivered another 141 to us. On 8-29-09 the second 141 had the same problem as the first 141. Pioneer told us "The red standby light blinking indicates manufacturing defect.. drive board behind plasma screen." We had the store pick up the second 141 and refund our money.

Two questions: 1) What is a drive board?
2) Our Sony 25" XBR lasted 25 years without any problems. We gave it to Goodwill. Don't you think two Pioneer ELITE Kuro 141 60" $7,000 monitors should last longer than 1 1/2 blu ray movies?

Sincerely...

cc: Pioneer Corporation

Pioneer and Sound and Vision never replied to my letter.

chaddywack (not verified) -- Wed, 11/04/2009 - 03:26

 post so nice, had to say it twice..... sorry about that

chaddywack (not verified) -- Wed, 11/04/2009 - 03:26

 post so nice, had to say it twice..... sorry about that

Derek (not verified) -- Fri, 12/25/2009 - 21:25

Gary, You expect them to repair your TV past the 2 years warranty period? Despite all the your rambling, that's what you're upset about and it's ridiculous. Yes, you expect the TV to last longer than 2 years, but in the grand scheme of things, they aren't going to lose money when they have no obligation to do so. They might have loss you as a customer, but to them it's not a big deal as a) this is an isolated incident and b) your purchase doesn't do that much for the bottom line. Harsh reality, but it's true. I am 90% sure that all the other manufacturers would of given you the same response!

drblank -- Tue, 06/05/2012 - 00:01

If a power supply or motherboard blows up, it may be as a result of not having a good quality surge suppressor. These help protect expensive electronics when we have brown outs, black outs or just plain lousy power coming out of the wall. I don't know how well their warranties are because i haven't had to use it, but some of these surge protector companies protect components connected should it fail as a result of a surge and their product fails to do it's job. Tripp Lite, APC, Leibert, MIT Cables, Richard Grey Power company, etc., etc. and other companies out there make very nice products that can help protect your investment and actually provide better performance because of the power being supplied. If a sales person tells you that they will last 10 years, and they'll cover parts/labor should something fail under normal usage, get it in writing. It's like asking a salesperson how long a car will last. Yeah, a properly maintained Mercedes engine can last 400K or more miles before you need to get it rebuilt, but they aren't going to warrant it for anything longer than stated in the mfg's warranty.

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