It seems that I've been talking a lot about 1080p these days. Well, it's on the mind of manufacturers also. Every meeting that I take with manufacturers it comes up. It can be about displays, connections, Blu-ray Disc, or whatever. The bottom line is that high-definition screen resolutions of 1920x1080 is either arriving now or next year. And, as manufacturers increase the resolutions of their displays, they want to make sure that the connectors are also up to task of receiving 1080p signals from next-generation high-definition DVD players and other video equipment. Audio manufacturers are also thinking about 1080p as well. In discussions with two top audio brands this week, they were concerned about 1080p pass-thru via HDMI. Depending on the new A/V Receiver products coming out for the 2nd half of 2006, most mid-to-high-end models will include between 2 and 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output.
1080p was certainly on the minds of engineers from Pioneer this week. In speaking with the Pioneer engineers about the brilliance of their 1080p plasma, I was told that the impetus for launching 1080p in plasma now instead of next year is SED, which is being jointly developed by Toshiba and Canon. They've seen SED in Japan and CES, and know how good the image quality is. It's their belief that the only way to combat this superior display technology, which is now scheduled for delivery at the end of next year now, is to continually raise the bar for themselves. Their belief right now is that they will be on second-generation 1080p plasma by the time that SED finally comes to market. Of course, they will also be on 2nd generation 1080p plasma by the time the other plasma TV makers introduce 1st generation plasma TVs next summer (2007).
I have to say that I was quite taken with the image quality of Pioneer's PRO-FHD1, which will be shipped in July at $10,000. Pioneer also continues to improve its video processing, which is a concern of virtually all TV manufacturers these days. With its PureDrive II Signal Processing, the panel delivers low noise, high contrast and natural color images. And, High Precision Video Scaler receives and displays 1080p HD native resolution. As well, the panel features high-quality upconversion to 1080p that minimizes interlacing motion artifacts of 1080i and increases the overall resolution of 720p signals.
Pioneer also did several things to further improve image quality overall. It has created a Pure Crystal Emissive Layer. This layer is sandwiched between the plasma glass and the individual light cells, and conducts energy more efficiently so that each cell is charged and discharged at a faster rate, which improves contrast and brightness. Another technology employed this year is their proprietary First Surface Pure Color Filter. By using a new film layer, Pioneer is able to eliminate an extra panel of glass that achieves sharper, crisper, and more vivid images without any reflections. Pioneer has also improved its Deep Encased Cell Structure that makes each cell deeper so that overall phosphor area is increased.
So, 1080p is marching on with several display introductions this year. Once Blu-ray Disc players arrive in September from several companies including Sony, Panasonic, Philips, and Pioneer, there will 1080p video source components that can be tethered for a full 1080p viewing solution. By that time, we will be able to say that 1080p has truly arrived!