Pioneer Elite PRO-111FD Plasma TV Setup & Tests
Tom Norton got to this set for Home Theater before I did, so I'll let him tell you about the calibration process:
My calibration of the PRO-111FD went as smoothly as any I can recall. The Mid-Low color-temperature setting proved to be the most accurate, though it was a little on the cool side, and it took very little additional work to move it to an even tighter, near-ideal grayscale.
The Pioneer's color-management feature offers only a tint adjustment for each of the primary and secondary colors—it should also offer saturation and brightness controls for all six colors—making it essentially useless for moving the color points to achieve an accurate color gamut. However, in the Pure AV Mode with Color Space set to 2, such adjustments proved unnecessary—the primary and secondary color points were as close to the HD standard as any set I have yet reviewed. And it is unlikely that this was a lucky sample—we've measured several recent Pioneer Elites with similarly accurate color gamuts in Pure mode with Color Space 2.
Even though Tom did the grayscale and color calibration and measurements, I still did my own black-level and peak-white measurements. Amazingly, the PRO-111FD achieved even an lower black level than the 110FD—in fact, the new model's black level was only 25% of the 8G's, reaching the lower limit of my Minolta LS-100 light meter.
As I was taking these measurements, I noticed one odd thing. When switching from a white field or white window to a black field, the black level dropped to literally 0 after maybe 10 seconds, making the TV look like it was turned off. (In a totally dark room such as we have at Grayscale Studio, a black field on the Pioneer can still be seen, except after this strange phenomenon.) I didn't notice this in real-world content, but I thought it worth mentioning.
Another oddity was that the set clipped some but not all of the information above white—I could barely see the above-white marker in the Reverse Ramps with Steps pattern on Digital Video Essentials, and this did not improve by lowering the contrast control. The PRO-110FD displayed the entire dynamic range, and according to Tom, so did the 9G Pioneer (non-Elite) model he reviewed for Home Theater.
Starting with the HQV Benchmark DVD at 480i, detail was quite good, and jaggies were very mild, even in the waving flag. The 3D and Field Noise Reduction controls were very effective without softening the picture, but the Block and Mosquito NR controls didn't seem to do much at all.
As with the PRO-110FD, all three film modes locked onto 3:2 pulldown very slowly (taking more than a second), then they lost the lock at the very end of the race-car loop. In the assorted-cadences test, 2:2 video had lots of jaggies, but 3:2 looked very good. With Text Optimization off, the horizontal video-text crawl superimposed over 3:2 film looked terrible, but turning TO on made it look much better, though it was very jerky.
The TV's processor took only about half a second to lock onto 3:2 at 1080i from HQV Benchmark on HD DVD. In the Standard film mode, 3:2 judder was apparent, while the Smooth and Advance modes were smoother. However, I saw a second or two of judder before they settled down. The video resolution-loss test was solid as a rock, and jaggies were invisible.
All of the moving resolution tests on the FPD Benchmark Blu-ray test disc looked excellent, with very little loss of detail. These tests illustrate the superior motion resolution of plasma over LCD. Gradation in the 0-100 ramp showed only slight banding, with a bit more in the 0-25 ramp, and differentiation in the mostly black and mostly white shots was superb.
This was confirmed on Pioneer's own Blu-ray demo disc, which includes lots of mostly black shots as well as bright, saturated colors. The blacks were super-rich, and differentiation in the mostly black photo studio was excellent. The colors of flowers, cars, and skin tones were completely natural, detail in leaves and petals was exquisite, and the contrast in shots of fireworks was stunning.