Pioneer Elite PRO-FHD1 50" Plasma Display

World’s First

As we watched the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD, the detail test was slightly less sharp than other displays I’ve recently reviewed, but certainly not bad. The low-angle diagonals were quite good, as was the waving flag. Digital noise reduction and MPEG NR were both very effective without degrading the picture. The processor picked up 3:2 pulldown quickly and reliably; the Advanced Pure Cinema mode looked a bit smoother than Standard, which also worked quite well.

Looking at some 1080i test patterns on HD DVD, 3:2 pulldown was dead on, though 2:2 and 3:3 were not quite as good. The set handled bad 3:2 edits quite well.

Turning to DVDs, the color and detail were uniformly excellent.

On Pirates of the Caribbean, there was no contouring as the ship emerges from the fog at the beginning, and flesh tones were rendered beautifully. Dark detail was quite good on this disc as well as Master and Commander’s opening belowdeck walk.

Advanced Pure Cinema made the opening pan across the village rooftops in Star Trek: Insurrection look much smoother than Standard mode, and certainly far better than most displays can manage. Again, colors were exceptional, and dark detail in the duck-blind observation post was excellent. Despite the measured inaccuracy of the green primary, the foliage did not look overblown. I was a bit disappointed in the black of space, however.

The story was much the same on HD DVD. Apollo 13 exhibited great color and exquisite detail, from the dust in Lovell’s imagined moon walk to the facial stubble of several days without shaving. The black of space was not quite as inky as I’d like.

U-571 yielded similar results in terms of detail and color, with good dark detail as the American sailors board the German sub at night in the rain. I saw a bit of contouring in the opening sunrise of Training Day, but the detail in the L.A. skyline and the diner interior was superb.

Conclusion

This is one of the best plasma displays I’ve ever seen—and it ought to be for $8000. Detail is exceptional, and shadow detail is better than most flat panels. Despite the inaccuracy of the green primary, color somehow manages to look quite good, and video processing is excellent for the most part. I especially like Advanced Pure Cinema mode, which eliminates all 3:2 headaches from filmbased sources. The only disappointment is the black level—less deep than I would expect from a display at this price. Still, if you’ve got the scratch, it would be hard to find a better picture from a flat panel. TPV

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