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Pioneer Unveils Three Home Blu-ray Decks

Pioneer is emphasizing BD-Live functionality at International CES as it introduces three Blu-ray players and an up-converting DVD player for the 2009 line.

Pioneer said all three new Blu-ray players will be fully BD-Live capable, and will refresh previous Bonus View-only (Profile 1.1) models from the 2007 assortment.

The new units include two Pioneer-branded players and one Elite model, all of which will incorporate HDMI 1.3a outputs and Ethernet connectivity to deliver a range of playback and interactive capabilities, including BD-Live.

All three models will support full decoding and bit-stream output of advanced high-resolution audio formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio (via a future firmware upgrade).

All three models ship with either onboard memory or an add-on flash drive to comply with the requirements of the BD-Live spec out of the box, the company said.

Pioneer said the new designs have simplified and accelerated playback operation through the use of new “proprietary software and hardware solutions.”

The models start off with the entry Pioneer BDP-120, which is due to ship in April at a $249 suggested retail, featuring BD-Live capability (with the use of add-on USB flash memory including HDDs); a slim-profile design; HDMI 1.3a output; Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstream output; 1080p True 24 fps video output; limited picture-control suite; internal audio decoders; Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master support; and an Ethernet port for BD-Live connections and firmware updates.

The step-up Pioneer BDP-320, which will ship in April at a $399 suggested retail, will include 16-bit Deep Color support, to improve subtle gradations between colors smooth out the ranges of hues; a picture control suite with 13 video adjustments to fine-tune image detail; three noise reduction circuits to improve image performance; Kuro-Link (HDMI-CEC) and Kuro component interoperability with one remote.

Other features include a bit length expansion circuit, which is said to reproduce color purity to match a movie’s original studio master. The system uses a chip to restore a Blu-ray movies’ 8-bit color back to the 16-bit deep color gamut for a picture and performance that replicates the cinematic intentions of a films’ creators, Pioneer.

The player also includes 7.1-channel analog outputs with built-in decoding. It also adds a Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) for jitter-free audio transmission on CD playback. Pioneer explained the feature synchronizes music data coming from the Blu-ray Disc player to a connected Pioneer A/V receiver to exceed the fidelity of traditional methods.

The player supports BD-Live with 1GB to 2GB of internal memory and a USB slot for expandable memory.

Pioneer said the new Elite Blu-ray player BDP-23FD, which ships in April at a $600 suggested retail, was “designed exclusively for the custom-install market.”

Step-up features include the aforementioned Kuro Link with a new synergy feature that goes beyond synergized product performance to include an advanced picture setting between the TV and Blu-ray Disc player that will only work with other Kuro Link Pioneer products.

The player also adds the PQLS multi-channel system for jitter-free audio transmission of multi-channel soundtracks, a jitter reduction circuit to reduce the potential for out-of-sync HD audio and video content, an aluminum front panel and RS-232C control support.

Pioneer will also add a step-up up-converting 1080p DVD player in 2009. The DV-420, which will ship in June at a $90 suggested retail, incorporates a slim-profile design, 108Mhz/12-bit video DAC; and upconversion of DVD content to 1080p resolution on compatible HDTV sets.

The player will also include a new feature — CD-to-USB MP3 encoding. This will allow users to rip audio CDs to the MP3 file format and store the file on a connected USB flash drive, hard drive without the use of a PC. The front USB port will also support audio, video and photo file playback, including WMV/WMA/AAC/MP3 audio files, DivX for Internet content and JPEG photos. Outputs include HDMI and component video.