Pioneer Elite, one of the most highly regarded flat panel TVs by those who value picture quality, are about to resurface after a (too) long absence from the marketplace. Ironically, Elite, who made their reputation with fantastic images, courtesy of highly engineered plasma panels, will be marketed by Sharp, a pioneer in high performance LCD TVs.
Yes, the new Pioneer Elite TVs will be, as blasphemous as it sounds, LCD based. While they will no doubt have excellent images, it is somewhat analogous to the latest GT Ferrari sporting 5.0 liter engines from the 2011 Ford Mustang. Sure, the 412hp unit is a tremendous V-8, but the prancing horse GTs have always featured V-12 power plants conceived in Italy, not cylinder deficient engines from Dearborn.
How will Elite plasma loyalists react to the brand’s introduction of new LCD sets, no matter the performance level? Probably by grabbing a new Panasonic, I would suspect. You know, once you go Kuro, you never go back. Sharp and Pioneer are in this together, and will market the new sets through existing Pioneer Elite dealers.
If the picture quality is good enough, the fact that they will be sold by a sales staff that has the expertise to properly demonstrate the advantages of the sets over the garden variety LCD may carry some weight. However, at a time when even the mid-level TVs from most of the quality brands such as Sony, Samsung, LG, and yes, Sharp, have picture qualities that would have been unheard of about 5 years ago, one wonders if the considerable cachet of the Elite brand, combined with any picture quality improvements the boys at Sharp have managed to eke out, can be enough to allow the new Elite branded LCDs to be successful this time around.
It all depends on the added cost incurred by any re-engineering and re-branding. If those added costs can be covered by the additional revenue created by Elite TV sales, we’ll have a new / old TV to pick from when next we need a home theater display. If not, history is destined to repeat itself. What do you think??