Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beige Grisé and White Kuro available in Europe

For those wishing to harmonize their TV with their interior design, a limited edition run of luxurious Beige Grisé and minimalist White (Shiro) Kuro are available in Europe. The White KRP-500AW and the Beige Grisé KRP-500ABG are 50" Kuro 9G monitors that have their tuner/decoders in an external media receiver. Only 1000 of the beige and 1500 of the white Kuro will be produced.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Picture In Picture (PIP) inputs

The Pioneer Kuro 9G series has one built-in tuner so only one live channel (ATSC/QAM/analog) can be viewed at once. This is unfortunate and it eliminates most of the value of the Picture In Picture (PIP) feature. In fact one of the PIP inputs must the internal tuner. This means that doing PIP with two external inputs is not possible.

The reason why two arbitrary inputs cannot be used in PIP mode is unknown. Speculation is that this limitation is due to the Kuro 9G models only having one HDMI decoder and/or one video ADC chip. This also simplifies the internal high bandwidth data path circuitry which probably further reduces costs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

is a source 720p or 1080i?

With a Kuro 9G how can you tell if a source is broadcasting at 720p or 1080i?

Unlike most other HDTV's the Kuro's "display" button doesn't reveal this resolution information. The display button only shows an HD tag if the source is high definition (720 or 1080). The lack of an HD tag means the resolution is 480.

Fortunately there is a way to determine if the HD resolution is 720 or 1080. Pop-up the Tools menu and look at the available screen size modes. If the "Dot by Dot" option is visible then the source is 1080, if it isn't then the source is 720. Since the the Kuro 9G is a 1920x1080 panel the non-native 480 and 720 resolutions need to be scaled and cannot be displayed "Dot by Dot."

Update Feb 5 2009
The Kuro 0904-0401 firmware update added the display of resolution information for the different video inputs. This resolution information is not displayed for the ATSC/QAM tuned channels so the "Full" and "Dot by Dot" trick is still useful.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Made in the U.S.A.

I was surprised when I looked at the label on the back of a Pioneer Kuro PDP-6020FD and saw:

"Assembled in U.S.A with U.S.A and imported components."

Since Pioneer is a Japanese company I had always assumed that the Kuro's were all made in Japan. I'm guessing that Kuro's for Japanese consumption are made in Japan and the ones for American consumption are made in the USA. Maybe there are tax or tariff benefits to assembling them locally? Or maybe since plasma displays are heavy and fairly fragile that it's less expensive to assemble them locally with some local parts? They probably can significantly reduce return defects, shipping damage, and shipping costs this way.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5020/6020 Color Temperature

List of the color temperatures for the different AV modes of the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD and PDP-6020FD models:

AV modes
  • Optimum 7500K but automatically changes
  • Dynamic 10000K
  • Performance 8600K with S-shaped gamma
  • Movie 6350K with a 2.3 gamma
  • Sports 10000K with S-shaped gamma
  • Game 8000K with a 2.2 gamma
  • Standard 8000K with S-shaped gamma
The Movie mode is the closest to the D65 standard and it has a decent gamma. Movie is the recommended AV mode to use on the Kuro 9G non-Elites.

Monday, October 13, 2008

PDP-6020FD vs. PRO-151FD

How do the Pioneer PDP-6020FD and the Elite PRO-151FD differ? Both are 60" second generation Kuro 1920x1080p plasma HDTVs. They use the same electronics and the same 9G plasma panels so picture quality and major features are basically the same. Most of the differences are minor but one is very major:

  • the PDP-6020 has a bottom speaker while the PRO-151 has side speakers for better stereo separation
  • the PRO-151 has an aluminum plated, learning, backlit illuminated remote control
  • the PRO-151 an external color sensor for use with the optimum mode
  • video processing controls of the PDP-6020 have been removed so
  • the PRO-151 is ISFccc calibration ready with independent RGB gamma controls
  • DRE, black level, ACL, color space, color temperature, 3D Y/C comb filter, and 4 noise reduction controls have been removed on the PDP-6020
  • the PRO-151 has 3 more A/V selection memories
  • panel dimensions are the same without the detachable speakers, with speakers attached the PDP-6020 is 3" taller while the PRO-151 is 8" wider
  • the MSRP of the PRO-151 is $1000 more expensive
The most significant difference is the lack of configurability of the PDP-6020's video processing picture quality controls. Those firmware controls have been removed. So for an extra $1000 the picture quality of the PRO-151 can be calibrated and more finely tuned.

For current street prices check out the Pioneer Kuro 9G store.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


"Pioneer pushes ever closer to their goal of absolute black by further reducing the idle luminance and improving black levels five times over the previous 2007 KURO models." The result is Blackerness. Take a look at Engadget's Blackerness photo comparing the black levels of Panasonic, Samsung, Sony plasma and LCD displays with the 8G & 9G Kuro. From the photo, here is the black level ranking with some measured luminance values in fL (foot-lamberts):
  1. Pioneer Kuro 9G - 0.001 fL
  2. Pioneer Kuro 8G - 0.004 fL
  3. Panasonic plasma - 0.008 fL
  4. Samsung plasma - 0.026 fL
  5. Sony LCD - 0.032 fL
  6. Samsung LED LCD - ? fL
The Kuro's ranked on top and all the plasma's beat out the LCD's when it comes to having the best black levels. The two LCD's were photographed slightly off-axis which accounts for their gray backgrounds. LCD's black levels quickly degrade when viewed off-axis.

It is interesting that the Sony CCFL LCD has a better black level than the Samsung LED LCD which is last years 81F model. Many reviewers said that the Samsung LED backlit LCD had an on-axis black level (fL luminance) that rivaled the Kuro 8G's.

Friday, October 10, 2008

vs. Kuro 8G improvements

The 2008 second generation Kuro plasma HDTV (9G panel) is an amazingly beautiful sight to behold. It is an incremental improvement over the previous Kuro 8G series and here is a list of the changes:

  • 5x deeper blacks for improved contrast ratio
  • black level luminance changed from 0.004 fL to 0.001 fL
  • all models have a native 1920x1080p resolution
  • panel is 1.2" thinner and 10 pounds lighter
  • new redesigned remote control
  • improved Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • clear-QAM tuner
  • HDMI 1.3 now with Deep Color support
  • three more aspect ratio settings (Auto & Wide modes)
  • inputs labels can now have custom names
  • automatic 3:2 pulldown @ 60Hz for PureCinema 72Hz mode
  • non-Elite models have light sensor for optimum video mode
  • non-Elite models have DLNA Home Media Gallery (HMG) via Ethernet and USB
  • energy save modes
  • energy star compliant (less than 1W standby)
  • MSRP is $1000 less

features removed:
  • one of the YCbCr component video inputs has been removed
  • TV Guide On Screen Interactive v9 removed
  • cableCARD slot removed
  • video processing controls removed on the non-Elite models
  • one of the analog NTSC tuners has been removed
  • one the RF antenna inputs has been removed

Many of the new features are very nice and useful. The main disappointment is the removal on the non-Elite's of the video processing controls (gamma, noise reduction, DRE, black level, ACL, ...).