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Battle of the 50-inch plasma TVs

Panasonic introduces new high-resolution model

Call it the battle of the big screens. Earlier this year, 50-inch plasma TVs crossed into a new realm of clarity when Pioneer introduced its Pro-FHD1 with 1080p native resolution. That model garnered good reviews from industry mags--and CNET is expecting to review one soon as well, whenever they decide to finally send it our way--but unfortunately, it brandished a price point reminiscent of plasma TVs circa 2001: $10,000 list.

Now primary plasma purveyor Panasonic has answered the challenge with the first 50-inch model of its own in that resolution, the TH-50PF9UK, for November release at $5,995. It falls in the company's professional line, meaning that it lacks speakers, a stand, a tuner, and all of that other fluff that HD diehards consider unnecessary. As with the lower-resolution TH-50PH9UK, which performed very well in our recent review, the new 1080p model will make you purchase any of those "extras" separately. Check out the TH-50PH9UK review for details, or just watch the video of last year's models.

In case you're wallpapering your palace or outfitting a TV studio to provide NFL pregame coverage, you may also be interested in the company's other sizes of 1080p professional plasma: the 65-inch TH-65PF9UK ($10,995 list) and the 103-inch TH-103PF9UK ($69,999). Cough. All three of these new sets include a DVI input and a component-video input, both of which can handle 1080p sources, and of course you can purchase additional inputs, such as HDMI, at your leisure. Panasonic's press release also mentions that you can "control up to 128 plasmas simultaneously from a single location." We'll be sure to test that capability that when they send us the $8,959,872 worth of review samples.