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Pioneer To Ship Four Next-Gen. Plasma Displays

Pioneer has introduced four new HD plasma displays featuring newly minted sixth-generation glass and enhanced video processing circuitry that provide improved contrast ratios and “the best black levels ever seen in a Pioneer plasma television,” the company said.

The units, offered in 43W-inch and 50W-inch sizes within both the Pioneer and Pioneer Elite platforms, will ship in September.

The Pioneer PDP-4360HD (1,024 by 768p resolution) will carry a suggested retail of $4,500, while its larger stable mate, the 1,280 by 768p PDP-5060HD, is priced to hit a $6,000 price point. The Elite models, the PRO-930HD (1,024 by 768p) and the larger PRO-1130HD (1,280 by 768p), will carry suggested retails of $5,000 and $6,500, respectively.

Russ Johnston, marketing senior VP of Pioneer’s home entertainment division, noted that while the company’s superior products command higher prices than competitors’ displays, Pioneer has cut pricing on its plasma TVs by 25 percent since October 2004.

Each model utilizes the new plasma glass, which sandwiches a crystal emissive layer between the glass and the individual light cells. The extra layer helps conduct energy more efficiently, effectively tripling the speed at which each cell can be charged and discharged, resulting in blacker blacks, sharper detail in dark scenes and reduced energy consumption, Pioneer said.

The displays also incorporate an “advanced continuous emission IV” technology that dynamically adjusts the grayscale to provide five times more detail in dark areas than previous models.

“We’ve pushed color into absolute black and white,” Johnston said at a media reception, here. Besides introducing the new PDPs, Pioneer also used the occasion to announce a new company-commissioned white paper for dealers and consumers that “debunks myths” regarding plasma’s perceived drawbacks compared to LCD and microdisplay technologies. (See p. 20.)

The units also feature slimmer bezels; built-in ATSC and NTSC tuners; Digital-Cable-Ready capability with CableCARD slots, multiple HDMI inputs, detachable full-length speakers and a subwoofer output; and SRS TruSurround circuitry with three surround sound modes.

As with previous generations, the latest displays also incorporate Pioneer’s Advanced PureCinema II video processing with 3:3 pull-down and First Surface Pure Color Filter to reduce ambient light reflections.