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Perfect Is as Perfect Does

A reader posed the question whether he should buy a Pioneer Kuro now that they have been greatly discounted. I want the best too, but this raises another question. Do the new Panasonic G10, V10, or Z1 plasma TVs surpass the Pioneers' picture performance, and at what price? The dilemma is this—if one waits too long and the Panasonics disappoint, the Pioneers may be sold out forever.

Jay Frey

When it comes to TV performance, there is a set of standards to which all products aspire. If a TV meets these standards in terms of grayscale tracking (a consistently correct color of gray across the brightness range) and colorimetry (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta all correct), and other performance factors are good (low black level, good shadow detail, good video processing, etc.), it is close to "perfect" and cannot be significantly improved upon.

The Pioneer Elite Kuros satisfy all these criteria very well (the regular-line Pioneer Kuros satisfy them slightly less well), so the new Panasonics cannot be better in any significant way. They might be just as good, but we won't know that for sure until we review them, which won't be until mid-year. They will be thinner—the Z1 (pictured above) is only 1 inch thick, while the V10 is 2 inches thick—and both of these lines use Panasonic's new NeoPDP panel, which is said to consume much less power than previous plasmas. Also, all three lines will be THX certified, though I've learned from experience this doesn't necessarily mean they are perfect in the grayscale and colorimetry departments without a full calibration.

Pricewise, the Z1 will be available only in a 54-inch size and list for $6000, more than any 50-inch Kuro. The V10 replaces the current top-of-the-line PZ580 line; the 50-inch model will list for $2300 and the 54-incher will be $2700, with prices for the 58- and 65-inch models TBA. The G10 replaces the PZ85 line, and list prices range from $1400 for the 42-inch model (shipping now) to $2400 for the 54-incher (scheduled to ship in May).

If you have an audio/video question for me, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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