August 04, 2011
| by Grant Clauser
Today Sharp pulled the sheet off the new Elite LCD TVs, a collaboration between Sharp and Pioneer’s Elite brand which mixes the best technology of both brands into the new premium TVs.
There were bowed heads across the videophile world when Pioneer left the TV business a few years ago taking with it the Kuro plasma TVs that many viewers believed were the best flat panels on the market. Ears started twitching earlier this year when Sharp and Pioneer announced that they were going to be working together to launch a new line of Elite TVs. Well, here we are, and the mating looks pretty sweet.
The TVs, available in 60- and 70-inch models, are both LED-based LCD TVs loaded with picture-quality enhancing tech, some of which sounds familiar. First, the TVs incorporate full-array backlighting, rather than edge lighting, creating more uniform screen lighting and localized dimming (by LED groups). All Elite TVs include a yellow sub pixel along with the standard red/blue/green formulation, which, when added together, creates more than 8 million dots on the screen. This sound a lot like the Quattron system Sharp introduced in 2010.
The models are claiming a refresh rate of “greater than 240Hz” due to a proprietary scanning backlight technology.
Videophiles will be pleased to learn that the Elite TVs are THX certified, which in my experience is pretty much a rubber stamp for a great-looking picture. It also includes ISF certification with Day and Night modes for calibration.
But the feature that the company is most hyping is something called Intelligent Variable Contrast. Found only on the new Elite TVs, it automatically controls both the brightness and backlight to enhance color depth, brilliance and detail in dark areas—sounds like the Kuro effect to me.
Finally, as expected from any TV sold in 2011, these models will include a suite of online features included Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow and YouTube.
Another online feature borrowed from the Sharp book is Elite Advantage Live (called Aquos Advantage on Sharp TVs) which allows online tech support directly through the TV. A remote tech can adjust settings in the TV, so you can just hand it over to the experts without letting them in your home.
Wait, there’s more. Yes, the Elite TVs are 3D and ship with two active shutter glasses.
The Elite TVs, remaining true to the original Elite line, will only be available at select specialty dealers and custom installation companies. The 60-inch model carries an MSRP of $5,999.99, and the 70-inch model carries an MSRP of $8,499.99.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.