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Entry-level Panasonic plasmas get Infinite Black

The X1 series of Panasonic plasma TVs, the company's sole 720p lineup for 2009, still gets "Infinite Black" technology.

Despite their entry-level status, the X1 plasmas look a lot like their more-expensive cousins. Panasonic

Of the 42 individual models of plasma and LCD TVs that Panasonic announced at the 2009 CES, the X1 series lives on the bottom rung of the totem pole. That didn't stop the company from endowing the plasmas with so-called Infinite Black technology, however.

The Panasonic rep we talked to explained that Infinite Black caused the TVs, when displaying a completely black screen, to basically fade down to nothing, as if the TV was turned off. The new entry-level panels also improve upon the contrast-ratio spec for the entry-level PX80U series from last year, doubling it from 15,000:1 to 30,000:1. The result should be excellent black-level performance for a relatively low-buck display.

There will be two screen sizes in the series, the 42-inch TC-P42X1 ($899 street) and the 50-inch TC-P50X1 ($1099). Both will be available in February.

Notably, the X1 series lacks the improved efficiency of the company's higher-end panels, which are dubbed NEO PDP and supposedly consume half as much power as last year's models to produce the same light output. Since the X1's are merely 720p resolution (technically 1,024x768 for the 42 and 1,366x768 for the 50), however, they'll probably still be more-efficient than a non-NEO 1080p model.