The Pioneer Elite line was one of those wonderful things you really wanted but knew you'd never be able to afford. Then Pioneer stopped making them. And now they're back — just as stellar-looking and crazily priced as ever.
The new active 3D 1080p Elite sets — available at 70 inches for $US8500 or 60 for a modest $US6000, are heralded by the two companies as literally the best-looking LCD sets ever created. But it's an odd setup. In truth, they're really Sharp TVs — not Pioneer displays. The guts are out of Sharp's factories, and even pack the same Quattron image as other sets (though they've given it a new, more expensive-sounding name). You'll also find full array LED backlighting, local dimming, a claimed 720 (!) Hz refresh, and the standard suite of wireless-enabled apps (Netflix, YouTube, et al). So what's Pioneer lending? They say the new Elites are a collaborative effort, with Pioneer adding their video processing experience to essentially help Sharp make a TV considered worthy of the Elite tag. It's sorta marketing BS! But the TVs also look fantastic.
The old Pioneer Elites were renowned for their super duper deep blacks and great contrast, and the new Elites — despite being made by another company — are equally impressive. While I'm not sure the image annihilates competition (Samsung's high end offerings are still god damn incredible looking), there's no doubt the tag-teamed Elites look great too. Do they look $US8500 great? Probably not. That's an astounding amount to spend on a panel, and the gains over sets priced thousands are probably not worth it. But they're there. This is the new money is no object TV. Both the 60-inch and its giant brother will be out this month.