Thursday, February 5, 2009

Firmware Update 0904-0401

I just received an email from Pioneer about a firmware update that fixes a number of software bugs. The new firmware is downloaded and copied to a USB flash memory stick. The Kuro then automatically detects and performs the update. I thought that the only way a firmware update could be done on a Kuro was by an authorized technician.

Here is a copy of the email:
Dear Valued Customer

Thank you for registering your Pioneer® PDP-6020FD KURO™ high-definition
television. In an effort to provide you with a high quality viewing
experience, we would like to make you aware of a new firmware update to
improve the performance of your television..

Note: The firmware update is intended solely for the following KURO models:
PDP-5020FD, PDP-6020FD, PRO-111FD, and PRO-151FD. The firmware update should
not be used with any other Pioneer or Elite models.

The firmware update addresses the following:

* In some instances, while watching some digital television programs, a
* Pioneer logo may appear on-screen. This firmware update resolves that
* issue.

* Additional support for MPEG audio output on some digital television
* channels not previously supported.

* Elimination of potential audio noise that may occur at the end of a
* wave (.wav) file when using the Home Media Gallery feature for playback
* of certain files.

* Elimination of potential video noise that may appear in the top left
* corner of the television when using the slide show mode in Home Media
* Gallery.

* Correct display of programming information on the Channel Banner when
* using the television's tuner.

Even if you are not currently experiencing any issues with your KURO
flat-panel television, we still recommend that you install the free firmware

Installation of the update should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.


Pioneer is offering the following three options for consumers to obtain the
free firmware update:

1. Download the free update to a computer here and transfer the update to
a USB flash drive (28MB of free space required) for insertion into the
plasma; OR
2. Order on-line a USB flash drive containing the free update by accessing
the following URL:; OR
3. Order by phone a USB flash drive containing the free update by calling
Pioneer Customer Service toll free at 800-421-1404 and then transferring to
the Parts Order Department (select Option 1)


To determine if the new firmware update has already been installed on a
PDP-5020FD, PDP-6020FD, PRO-111FD, or PRO-151FD, please power on the
television and do the following:

1. With the unit on, press the Home Menu button on the remote control
2. Press the Down arrow button five times and select "Setup." Then, press
the Enter button
3. Press the Down arrow button five times and select "System Setup." Then,
press the Enter button
4. Press the Up arrow button once and select "Technical Info." Then, press
the Enter button.
5. The software version information will display on the television screen.
If the current software version displayed on the screen is less than
0904-0401, the firmware update needs to be performed. If it is larger than
0904-0401, the firmware update does not need to be performed.

If you have any questions, please contact Pioneer Customer Service toll free
at 800-421-1404. Pioneer service representatives are available Monday through
Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), except on holidays.


Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc., 2265 East 220th Street, Long Beach, CA 90810

It isn't mentioned but this update should also should fix the daylight savings bug. It is interesting that the firmware size is 28MB which is about half that of the Sony S350 Blu-ray player firmware update. Both devices run Linux but the S350 has Java support.

The link to download the firmware update appears to be broken and it returns a 404 error. Not sure if it is a web server problem or if Pioneer pulled the file.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PDP-6020FD power consumption

The energy consumption of a Pioneer PDP-6020FD was measured using a Kill-A-Watt power meter. The 6020 is a 60" plasma display. The following measurements used the Movie mode, a contrast of 35, and Energy Saver mode 2:

standby: 0W (Energy Star)
picture off: 69W
Hellboy blu-ray menu: 257W
color bars: 326W
video pattern (IR wipe): 454W
program material: 200W - 400W

The actual standby power usage is about 0.2W which is a finer granularity than the Kill-A-Watt can measure. The picture off setting is from the Tools menu and it blanks the screen to black. The color bars were from a Sony Blu-ray disc (code #7669). The video pattern (IR wipe) is an option in the Pioneer Setup menu that is a bright sweeping vertical bar whose purpose is to erase any image retention on the plasma display. Program material is difficult to measure accurately because of the way a plasma display uses electricity based on each pixels brightness. Very dark scenes can use less than 200W while very bright solid white screens rarely use more than 400W. With Movie mode, a contrast of 35, and Energy Saver mode 2 average program material ranges between 250W to 300W. As a reference the startup menu from the blu-ray disc of Hellboy used 257W.

The Pioneer Kuro 9G has an Energy Saver mode that reduces power consumption and Mode 2 also reduces the panel buzzing sound that bothers some people. The color bar test pattern was used with a couple different Energy Saver modes and the Movie and Optimum AV modes with contrast of 35, 40, and auto. The wattage table is below:

Energy Saver Movie (c=35) Movie (c=40) Optimum
Off 405W 434W 388W
Mode 1 335W 338W 310W
Mode 2 326W 330W 302W

The wattage difference between Energy Saver Off and Mode 2 is about 80W. The watt difference between Mode 1 and Mode 2 is only 8W but interestingly enough that also eliminates the buzzing. The PDP-6020FD becomes quite green consuming only 302W in Energy Saver mode 2 with a color bar test pattern, real program material will average closer to 250W.