Viewing Review: Pioneer Kuro Elite 9G PDP, Model# PRO-111FD: 50 Inches of KURO PQ NIRVANA - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
Pioneer Kuro Elite 9G PDP, Model# PRO-111FD: 50 Inches of KURO PQ NIRVANA Edit
by Vlad Theimpaler Combined Rating: 4.3
When I joined AVS Forums in 2006, I had just purchased a Panasonic TH-42PX60U through a friend who works there. While it was a nice set, I read all the AVS discussions regarding the Pioneer Kuro...
Pros Cons
  • Best-in-class black level; lots of advanced picture settings and adjustments (including calibration port); decent speaker quality
  • Pre-dates 3D, Wi-fi, Internet access/streaming, and smart functions; has a dated thick bezel; is a power guzzler
When I joined AVS Forums in 2006, I had just purchased a Panasonic TH-42PX60U through a friend who works there. While it was a nice set, I read all the AVS discussions regarding the Pioneer Kuro PDPs, and I was dejected that Pioneer's superior product was out of my financial reach.

Several years later, in 2009, came Pioneer's decision to exit the plasma TV business, followed by a steep discount (up to 50% off) for unsold units at various retailers. I immediately decided to purchase one of their last 50" plasma units, the Kuro Elite, Model PRO-111FD. Believe me, I have never parted with $2500 so easily in my life smile.gif

And since I brought it home, I have been in Kuro heaven ever since. Here are the main points for this review of the Pioneer 50" Kuro Elite PDP (PRO-111FD):

1) Features:
— Does the TV have online-streaming capabilities? No.
— 3D? No.
— Which features are useful and which are not? The BEST feature of the Kuro is its outstanding picture quality, and the high amount of picture controls and adjustments are very useful for tweaking your way to PQ perfection. The least useful feature (for me) is the Kuro's limited media access capability via either its USB port or its 10/100 LAN port. I chose instead to access content (including Internet) via a HTPC/DVR I built, which I connected to one of the Kuro's HDMI inputs.

2) Setup:
— How easy was the setup process? It was quite easy, although raising the unit onto the stand requires two people. The Kuro has an ATSC tuner, so I connected my roof antenna to the tuner's RF input port and was able to do a channel scan for all the local TV stations. All local stations were detected and have come in perfectly ever since.
— Does the TV provide a setup wizard? No setup wizard, but all configurable features are accessible with the remote. There are a number of settings available, and you will need to consult with the user manual to decide which items to configure and which to leave at default.
— How did you set the user controls (picture mode, contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness)? In my case, I opted for a special picture setting called OPTIMUM, which utilizes a "room light sensor" which provides feedback to the Kuro about the viewing environment, and the Kuro will automatically adjust the picture to optimize for the current room lighting conditions as read by the sensor.

3) User Interface:
— Are the remote and menu system well designed? Are they easy or difficult to use? The remote is not very well-designed, as it has tiny buttons and a non-intuitive layout (to me at least). The on-screen menu system is reasonable, but the available options are as numerous as they are advanced, so it is necessary (in my opinion) to keep the user manual available should any adjustments need to be made.

4) Performance:
— How sharp is the picture? How natural are the colors? How deep are the blacks? How much shadow detail can you see? Cite examples from content you've watched. It's hard to quantify these items. Colors seem quite natural, and the black level is excellent. Some examples of content I've seen which look amazing on the Kuro include "Planet Earth" (Blu-ray), "Sin City" (Blu-ray), "Marvel's The Avengers" (Blu-ray), and pretty much every Disney/Pixar movie released on Blu-ray. To really get an idea of how excellent the Pioneer 9G Kuro PDPs perform, check out the following "pictures" thread in the Plasma Panel subforum here on AVS:

I hope everyone finds this review informative.
You do not have permissions to add comments.
gbreda 09-05-2013, 01:06 PM

I really cant speak for the WOW factor in direct relation to calibrating as I went from DVD to Blu-ray at almost the same time. The WOW was there, but it was a combination of the calibration and Blu-ray. I will say that Gregg Loewen of Lion AV did the calibration and subsequent touch up at a little over 1 year and found that the display stayed close enough to have me wait 2 years before doing it again.

I tend to not buy much, but when I do, I want the best I can possibly afford (and sometimes a little bit more than I can afford). That being said, I want the display to look its best. As we both have pointed out, other than its stellar picture, it does not have the current bells and whistles that today's smart TV's do. I dont miss those, as the picture is where its at for me.

I would think you have 2 ways to look at it
1-the picture is good enough for you, so leave it and save the money
2- it has a few years wear into it and it might give an even better WOW factor than if it was done when new.

Either way, you have a great display that is still the benchmark of today's comparisons.

Vlad Theimpaler 09-05-2013, 10:51 AM

Thanks for commenting. And great job negotiating your price down to knock off an extra $500!

Just wanted to ask, is professional calibration worth doing? The picture on my Kuro looked great (to me) right out of the box, and I've not noticed any diminishing quality over the last several years (i.e. it still looks great). When I first researched the issue of professional calibration here back in 2009, AVS consensus seemed to be (in the nutshell) "If you're happy already, then calibration probably isn't worth it."

So I was wondering, was there a "wow-factor" with regard to pre-calibration image versus post-calibration image that made the financial cost worthwhile to you?

Thanks again for commenting here. I hope our Kuros last for a long while

gbreda 09-05-2013, 03:52 AM

Couldn't agree more. I too bought one in the same time period when prices dropped. I had brought home a Panasonic plasma and decided not to keep the model. The store had dropped pricing on the FD-11 to 2900.00. I offered them 2400.00, and they took the offer for a brand new, unopened unit.

Have had it calibrated and followup touch up 2 years later, The picture is its best feature, although I find its speakers to be very good for set speakers. They are good enough to not have to turn on the surround system for normal tv. The remote: I dont use it as I use a Harmony.

Overall, the picture us where this unit has it all and thats fine for me !

Color Accuracy:
Black Levels:
Video Quality:
Ease of Setup:
The Film / Movie:
Audio Quality:
Special Features:
Ease of Use: