Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1 50-inch 1080p Plasma Monitor Page 2

The Short Form / 800-421-1404 / $8,500 ($10,000 LIST)
The first 50-inch 1080p plasma to hit the streets ain't cheap, but its stunning picture quality sets a new standard.
•Ultra-crisp high-def picture •Vivid, natural color •Punchy contrast and excellent shadow detail •Loads of adjustments for picture tweaking •Sleek, minimalist looks and design
•Expensive •No built-in HDTV tuner
Key Features
•1,920 x 1,080 resolution plasma monitor •Accepts native 1080p signals via digital inputs •Multiscreen function for watching two programs side by side with original aspect ratios •Inputs: 2 HDMI, DVI, component-video/RGB+H/V, and composite-/S-video, all with analog stereo audio •Outputs: Stereo speaker output terminals
Test Bench
The Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1's Low color-temperature preset measured closest to the 6,500°K NTSC grayscale standard, although the resulting picture looked slightly greenish. After adjustments in the set's Manual color-temperature mode, grayscale tracking measured ± 150 degrees K from 30 to 100 IRE - excellent performance. There was no color decoder error on the HDMI or component-video inputs. Overscan - the picture area "hidden" behind the edges of the TV's screen - measured 3% for both the HDMI and component-video inputs in the Full display mode and 0% in the Dot-by-Dot mode. Both 1080i/p- and 720p-format test patterns showed excellent resolution via all high-def inputs, and there was no visible edge enhancement. - A.G. Full Lab Results
SETUP If you want to see all the detail in 1080i and 1080p HDTV signals on a 1080p-rez set like this one, seating distance is crucial. The customary 7-foot span between my couch and TV proved a bit too much; shortening it to 6 feet let me better appreciate high-def programs. If you sit farther from the PRO-FHD1, chances are the picture won't look much more detailed than it would on a native 720p display (see Maxing Out Resolution).

With the PRO-FHD1, Pioneer has continued its tradition of offering a huge number of ways to tweak the picture. Along with a User mode that can be tailored for each video input, you can modify three of the set's five additional picture presets; the TV will store your changes. There are five color-temperature presets, from High (bluish whites) to Low (reddish whites), plus a manual adjustment that lets you alter the overall levels of red, green, and blue in the high and low (bright and dark) sections of the grayscale. Although the Low preset turned out to be close to the 6500°K grayscale standard, I used the manual adjustment to get it right on the money (see Test Bench for details).

Other useful tweaks include a three-step gamma adjustment; a color-management menu that lets you individually modify levels of red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, and magenta; and two types of noise reduction: DNR and MPEG NR, both of which I left on.

PICTURE QUALITY With a brand-new HD DVD player plugged into my system, I could barely wait to see how high-def movies looked on the Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1. Loading up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I jumped to a scene where Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.) chats up his former high school crush (Michelle Monaghan) in a trendy L.A. bar. The first thing that struck me was the Pioneer's vivid color reproduction: Both the red lights lining the walls and a green wedge of lime illuminated by the bar's glowing white surface had remarkable intensity. Less lurid scenes showed that the set's handling of skin tones was completely natural. The Pioneer's shadow detail was also a solid notch above that of pretty much every other plasma I've tested. Even in the bar's thoroughly dim environment, faces had a sculpted, 3-D look, and I could clearly see the patterns and textures in the patrons' dark clothing.