When it introduced its Kuro plasmas last year (see here for news of the 2008 sets), Pioneer claimed they would 'change the way you watch television'.
This year its Blu-ray players get the bold-claim treatment, with its first new model – the BDP-LX71, pictured right – said to "outperform current desktop players in the market and completely redefine the world of digital entertainment".
The 'LX71 – or the Pioneer BDP-LX71 BonusView, to give it its full title – isn't even the flagship model: there's a 'luxury' BDP-LX91 to come, plus BDP-LX08 'lifestyle' model and LX-01BD and LX-03BD integrated Blu-ray systems.
The BDP-LX71 – due in August, priced around £600 – is a Blu-ray Profile 1.1 player. However, it has an Ethernet port to allow for easy firmware updates, which Pioneer promises imminently.
Full HD Audio bitstream outputThe 'LX71 offers full HD Audio bitstream output, plus decoding for Dolby's HD formats; support for DTS HD decoding will arrive in that early Firmware update.
More after the break
Vision-wise, the BDP-LX71 supports 24fps and HDMI 1.3a, complete with 12-bit Deep Colour. Pioneer also says the machine will offer enhanced DVD playback, with its 1080p upscaling featuring the company's advanced PureCinema Deinterlacer.
Pioneer even claims the BDP-LX71 will be able to carry a tune – if given the right receiver partner. "Connected to a new Pioneer SC-LX71 or SC-LX81 AV receiver via HDMI, the BDP-LX71 perfects CD playback with the proprietary Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS). This advanced feature synchronises music data coming from the Blu-ray Disc player to the receiver, providing music lovers with high-resolution listening experience."
That's another claim we'll be putting to the test when we get the player and its sibling receivers (of which more soon) in our test rooms.
Perhaps due to criticism from some quarters of the build-quality of its earlier Blu-ray players, Pioneer is also making much of the BDP-LX71's design. The player features an aluminium front panel, gold-plated connection ports, dedicated audio and video boards, capacitance touch key buttons, and a loading tray claimed to reduce vibration.
Kuro Link gives full controlThere's even a new remote handset, which can also – thanks to Kuro Link – control your Pioneer TV, should you have one.
We've only seen glimpses of the rest of Pioneer's Blu-ray line-up, and are working on getting pictures to share with you. In the meantime, here are the specs we know.
With a similar Profile 1.1 spec – though with a lifestyle look – is the BDP-LX08. Also firmware upgradeable, and sharing many of the high-end features of its BDP-LX71 sibling, the 'LX08 looks an interesting offering if you're after a sleeker-looking HD solution. It's due by September and prices have yet to be set.
The flagship model of the range – the BDP-LX91 – also lands later this year, sporting a mighty size, spec and price-tag (estimated at £1500).
This beast (think LX71 on steroids) is a full Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player that's loaded with high-end features, including a 12-bit video DAC, triple-layered chassis, and RS-232C support to suit custom install.
A pair of Blu-ray systemsPioneer's Blu-ray range is rounded out by a pair of Blu-ray systems. The LX-01BD is based on the BDP-LX08 player and, unsurprisingly, looks almost identical to Pioneer's existing LX-01 system.
The LX-03BD, meanwhile, is an all-new design with the ultra-sleek, 'low and long' looks reminiscent of a vintage Bang & Olufsen system – and similarly smart motion-sensitive controls. Further details, pricing and availability of the systems have yet to be revealed.
We hope to bring you reviews of Pioneer's new Blu-ray range as soon as possible – watch this space!