Monday, 31 January 2011 17:33

Pioneer Kuro goes Elite, but not Down Under

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Pioneer's Kuro plasma TV brand, which exited the global market in 2009 as was known as 'Elite' in the US, is coming back as a Sharp-manufactured LCD screen, not plasma, but won't be sold in Australia.

Once seen as the best plasma TV panel in the world, Pioneer's decision to cease production of its highest-end Kuro model in 2009 was a shame, although it was up against massively cheaper and lower quality TV screens from a host of competitors.

The Kuro was known as the Elite in the US, a sensible name likely given the need to make things easily and instantly understandable for American consumers, and although it died in 2009, Sharp Corporation is bringing the Elite name back, under license, to US and Canadian consumers.

Sharp Electronics in the US put out a press release with the President of the 'Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America', John Herrington stating that: 'As a leader in large screen LCD TV, we are excited to collaborate with Pioneer to bring a high-end LCD TV to the Elite consumer. The Elite brand is highly respected in the high end market and Sharp can deliver the quality and innovation that Elite customers demand.'

Russ Johnston, the Executive VP of Pioneer Electronics USA's Home Electronics Department said: 'Adding a line of high-end flat panel TVs fills a market need in the industry and will help reinforce the strength of a complete Elite home theater offering. With its cutting edge LCD technology and unmatched production capabilities, Sharp is an important strategic collaborator that will deliver a whole new dimension to the large-screen home theater experience.'

However, a local Pioneer representative has stated that the Pioneer Elite will not be making its way to Australia, focussing on Pioneer's substantial Australian audio business instead.

The Pioneer/Sharp Elite will no doubt be put under the microscope by TV aficionados keen to see whether the LCD-based Elite/Kuro can match up to the previous Kuro plasma standard.

Indeed, the Apple Store in Sydney's CBD had at least one Pioneer-branded TV installed (and probably still does), which is in itself a subtle compliment to the quality of Pioneer's televisions, although now that they've left the Australian market only ultra-fanatical fans would go to the trouble of importing one from the US (and dealing with potential power voltage issues).

So, if you live in Australia, and want Pioneer's Elite, even if made by Sharp with Sharp's otherwise excellent LCD panels, you'll have to go to great lengths to get one, with readily available televisions from companies like Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, LG and brands like Soniq, Kogan, Tevion and others to be the TVs of local choice, instead.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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