Double Secret Plasma Technology From Pioneer

In case you're wondering why I snapped a photo of Pioneer's electronic door sign, it's because they wouldn't let me take a picture of the new plasma technology I'm about to tell you about.

Pioneer started off CES 2007 with an impressive demonstration of new plasma technology that is said to represent a radical re-thinking of the technology, as opposed to the incremental improvements that have been wrought over the last several generations. In particular a new filter on the outside of the glass seems to cut down on room glare in bright light dramatically, and the blacks looked very dark, albeit a bit crushed to over-emphasize that.

Pioneer showed this this new technology in 50" and 42" sizes side by side with several name brand competitors' sets whose names will be withheld here to protect the innocent. Pioneer claimed all the sets were matched in light output and set to "standard mode." While Pioneer's set looked excellent in Standard (just like the Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1 I reviewed) most displays' Standard mode is just short of the hideousness of the torch modes used to make them pop on the brightly lit showroom floor.

Nevertheless, it was easy to look at the Pioneers by themselves and see the deep blacks and rich, realistic colors.

While the 1080i HD images looked great on the 50" models, it was the 480i on the 42" models that was staggering. Pioneer's latest video processing ASIC completely eliminated deinterlacing artifacts, and even produced a perfect result on one of the most torturous of the video torture tests from Silicon Optix' HQV Benchmark DVD.

All in all it was an impressive demo. Wish I could show you a picture! Pioneer did say that firm release dates for these next-gen plasma panels won't be announced until later this year, so don't expect to see them in stores until late this year or perhaps even 2008.