People with good taste generally appreciate certain things. The Godfather Parts I and II. Gray’s Papaya hot dogs. Basically all of Prince’s albums from 1980 to 1992. Add to this list Pioneer’s flat-screen plasma TVs. Over the last nine months, they’ve received awards from virtually every tech-geek magazine in America. The legendary Wall Street Journal writer Walt Mossberg owns one. J.D. Power and Associates ranks Pioneer at the top of consumer satisfaction surveys. This month, Apple installed Pioneers throughout its stores to help show off the Apple TV console.
Pioneer’s best TV—said by many of these same folks to be the best TV ever released—is the Pro-150fd Elite Kuro, a 60-inch plasma that retails for about $7,000. Its main selling point is the picture—which is like staring through glass—but the design is also sleeker than anything out there. The panel is surrounded by a simple black frame, with two removable side speakers. Ditch them for surround sound and you’ll free up almost a foot of wall space. Of course, one might argue that no TV is worth $7,000. But that goes against Pioneer’s entire corporate philosophy, which might be described as tech-geek Hermès, with an attitude to match.
“We’re very comfortable with who we are and what we do,” said Tracy Christall-Murphy, Pioneer’s senior manager for display marketing and product planning. “We’re not going to chase price. We don’t make ‘me-too products.’ We don’t mass produce our televisions to sacrifice picture quality.”
(For customers who can’t afford the 150FD, Pioneer also produces the $2,200 PDP-5080hd, a 50-inch plasma with a removable speaker on the bottom that won CNET’s most recent Editor’s Choice award.) Get one while you can, because Murphy’s posturing may have been the world’s most ill-timed case of self-confidence. Six hours after she got off the phone with WWDScoop, it was revealed Pioneer was going to begin outsourcing its displays from other manufacturers in an attempt to reduce costs. Which is a good sign for the company’s bottom line, though perhaps not for the future quality of its TVs.
Like many TV manufacturers, Pioneer is suffering from increased competition and a shift to LCD that has been driven largely by consumer panic over “burn in.” It’s true this happened in the early days of plasma, but today, many consider it a scare tactic being used by LCD makers to swift boat plasma out of existence. One of the main things that influences the picture quality of a television is black level. The deeper the black, the better the contrast on-screen. LCD televisions are terrific at showing off bright colors (which makes them great for video games and movies that look like video games) but they tend to wash out films with dark colors. And Pioneer’s Kuro (Japanese for black) line boasts the darkest blacks of any TV maker. In January, Pioneer unveiled a television that disappears in a darkened room when the picture goes black.
“It all starts with black levels,” Murphy says. “It’s the same as an artist with a white canvas. If you start with a true rich black, you get vivid colors and deeper contrast. The whole picture comes alive.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
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“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
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25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye