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Elite TV Brand Resurfaces in LED LCD TV Line

August 4, 2011 By Nancy Klosek
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Sharp will begin shipping next week the first of two models – a 60-inch LED LCD TV –  in an ultra-high-end line that will bear the Elite brand name it has licensed from Pioneer, with the sets being sold through an exclusive network of Elite authorized dealers.

The 3D Elite PRO-60X5FD ($5,999.99) and the 3D 70-inch Elite PRO-70X5FD ($8,499.99), which follows it into market in late August, carry certain proprietary picture-quality-enhancing technologies and are the fruits of a collaboration between Sharp and Pioneer, which had sold Elite-branded TVs until exiting the market several years ago.  The brand’s departure left specialty retailers and custom integrators scrambling for a replacement higher-margin line that carried the same cachet and build quality as Elite.

Russ Johnston, Pioneer executive vice president, Home Entertainment, pointed out during the line announcement in New York City Aug. 4 that this first-of-its-kind partnership could trace its genesis four years ago to when Sharp became Pioneer’s largest shareholder. “For the past two years we’ve worked toward designing a TV to carry the picture-quality DNA worthy of the Elite nameplate,” he said in heralding the introduction.

John Herrington, president of Sharp Electronics Marketing Co. of America, commented that the sets had been designed to satisfy the emotional connection consumers and dealers alike had forged over 25 years with the Elite brand and all it connotes, along with meeting their performance and styling expectations. “At the core of this passion is a heritage of best-in-class picture quality and performance. We’ve studied these benchmarks carefully, and we resolved to create a new benchmark,” he said.

A major differentiating feature of the sets, which will each ship with two pairs of active-shutter 3D glasses, is a next-generation video processing circuit named Intelligent Variable Contrast – the sets’ “brain,” and an exclusive feature to Elite TVs – which works in tandem with other of the sets’ technologies automatically to manage color, brightness and contrast parameters. 

The sets take advantage of tenth-generation local-dimming full-array LED LCD panels developed by Sharp’s Sakai, Japan factory. They also use Sharp’s proprietary UV2A technology, yielding better light transmissivity, higher peak brightness and lower power consumption, said the company.

A tweaked version of Sharp’s Quattron RGB+Y technology, which adds a yellow sub-pixel, is also part of the technology basket, as is Precision Color Plus, which employs four instead of three dots per pixel for smoother color transitions and better diagonal-line appearance, said Sharp. FluidMotion, an image smoothing technology, is said by Sharp to combine an advanced frame creation system with Elite’s scanning backlight technology for a “greater than 240Hz” effect. The TVs also carry THX and ISF (Imaging Science foundation) certification.

The sets are finished with brushed aluminum and offer a less-than-two-inch cabinet depth. They also provide connectivity to various services including Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow and YouTube, and are Skype-ready, with a camera kit available separately.

Tom Evans, Sharp’s associate vice president for the Elite brand, said the sets would be available at first in “just under 600 dealers representing around 1,200 storefronts.” That network includes Magnolia locations and any other Pioneer-authorized Elite dealers.  He also said that advertising and promotion for the line would launch this month both online and in all major trade media.  

Their market debut will also be supported on the end-user side by the Elite Advantage Live program, whereby buyers can connect to Elite’s Service Center for real-time remote assistance in basic calibration, setup and picture adjustment via a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.
 

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