Pioneer Demos Improved Plasma TV Tech

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Pioneer announced and demonstrated during International CES a completely re-engineered plasma television line delivering what it expects to be the industry's leading performance levels from any display technology.

Answering the call of its new global president to attain new levels of innovation, the plasma breakthrough employs a new panel, filter and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), that the company said "establishes Pioneer plasma as the unbeatable picture quality leader, surpassing both LCD and SED regardless of lighting conditions."

The technology is said to deliver "deep, rich, vivid images and immeasurable black levels."

Black levels are said to "far exceed previous Pioneer plasmas, making dark scenes darker while maintaining clarity of detail." To achieve the benefit, minimum luminance levels are reduced.

"The test equipment typically used to determine the variance between peak white and peak black does not have great enough range to measure Pioneer's new display, so a contrast ratio specification can not yet be determined," the company said. "Rich colors in dark scenes are a second benefit of the lower luminance levels and deeper blacks."

In addition, performance in bright rooms — typically listed as a plasma weakness in comparison with LCD — is significantly improved with a newly engineered filter that minimizes the effect of ambient light so the display is able to maintain deep black levels regardless of lighting conditions, Pioneer said.

At the show, Pioneer demonstrated the technology in both bright and dark lighting conditions to simulate a retail environment and the typical American living room.

In both cases, black levels remain deep and colors are intense, Pioneer said.

Each models, specifications and pricing will be announced later in the year, according to a company spokesperson.

"Our strategic position in the television market is to ensure that plasma technology is seen as the clear competitive favorite in the flat-screen television market and that Pioneer continues to be regarded as the gold standard within plasma," said Ken Shioda, Pioneer display product planning general manager. "By re-engineering our plasma technology from the ground up, we've accomplished that goal. We are not simply making marginal improvements in certain aspects of the viewing experience — rather we are making a quantum leap in all areas that impact the viewer experience."

Pioneer set out to re-engineer the entire plasma line a year ago, following the directive of newly appointed Pioneer global operations president Tamihiko Sudo. The president asked the engineering team to rethink their approach to product development and to create a new display that would change the viewing experience.

This effort is part of his overall vision for the company to be innovative at its very core. The result of that philosophy is "the most stunning image quality of any television ever," according to Pioneer.

"This new display is going to wake consumers up to high definition all over again and reinvigorate the market for superior technology," said Russ Johnston, Pioneer (USA) home entertainment marketing and product planning senior VP. "Our ability to showcase the new technology to U.S. retailers gives them the opportunity to rethink their display strategy. We believe retailers will give this display a place of its own in their stores because a side-by-side comparison could be detrimental to sales of other products."

The company had originally planned to introduce the first of the new panels in time for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, but "an accelerated timetable was put into place and Pioneer expects to have product in the U.S. market this summer."

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