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Pioneer Bows New Elite Rear-Projection TVs

Pioneer unveiled three new CRT-based rear-projection HDTV monitors under its premium Elite line, featuring improved picture performance and expanded user flexibility.

The models are offered in the 53W-inch (PRO-530HD, $5,900 suggested retail price), 58W-inch (PRO-630HD, $6,900) and 64W-inch (PRO-730HD, $7,900) screen sizes. All ship to dealers in November.

The new HDTV monitors display images in the 480p and 1,080i native formats. All include five-element lens systems with achromatic blue elements that eliminate blooming and halo effects. Also included is a new scratch-resistant anti-glare screen shield.

The Reference Theater Mode Pro feature gives additional flexibility, allowing users to select individual picture settings to turn on or off, and the new Pure Cinema III circuit was expanded to allow not only up-conversion of NTSC signals to 480p, but up-conversion of 480p signals to 1080i. Additionally, the formats are user-selectable for the first time. Also added are dual DVI inputs with HDCP copy protection.

The company also said it would support Microsoft’s new Window’s Media 9 system, which among other things offers a high compression ratio that will work well with MPEG 4 video files video, among others. Eventually, the system is expected to enable streaming high-definition video over the Internet.

Pioneer showed Windows Media 9 running on a prototype unit at its booth, and may eventually introduce it in its Digital Library products and other devices, although no formal plans have been announced.

One of the beauties of the Windows Media 9 CODEC was said to be the very generous licensing terms that Microsoft requires.