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Pioneer 2007 plasma TV line-up: Better blacks and 1080p

Pioneer has announced its 2007 plasma TV line-up, with both 720p and 1080p models, support for movie-friendly 24p mode and improved image processing

Crave has always had a soft spot for Pioneer's plasma televisions -- they're a little more expensive than the competition, but the quality has always been some of the best about. With their 2007 range, Pioneer is concentrating on two areas: better blacks and 1080p.

The new TVs all have support for 24p, which means they can show movies at the exact rate they were recorded at. This means more natural sound, at the right pitch. For those of use used to the 4 per cent PAL speedup, this is great news. They also have DVB-T receivers, which means you'll get Freeview services with no need for extra hardware.

The range has both 720p and 1080p models. Pioneer is keen to emphasise that the maximum resolution isn't the most important factor in the quality of a television, instead claiming that good black levels and good image processing are far more important. To this end, it has spent quite a bit of time and money developing improvements for plasma display technology.

Connectivity is also decent: there are three HDMI sockets across the whole range, with one at the side of the screen for hooking up your PlayStation 3. There are plenty of Scart and composite inputs for all your older gear.

Some of the models have Pioneer's new 'optimum mode' which adjusts the screen to best suit the viewing environment and the source material. This means it will reduce the brightness in dark rooms and increase it in brightly lit ones. There's also noise-reduction processing that will help to reduce MPEG artefacts and other kinds of image noise.

The TVs all come in 42- and 50-inch sizes, with a 60-inch high-end model as well. At the top end, the screens promise a staggering contrast ratio of 20,000:1 and 1080p resolutions. These screens will be on sale from September. There are also a number of 720p screens with contrast ratios of 16,000:1, which will be available from June. No prices just yet, but don't expect your bank manager to be happy.

Pioneer showed a demo model of its new screens against their previous model, and the difference in black level was striking. If you are about to splash a boat-load of cash on a new screen, you'll definitely want to have a look at these beauties. -Ian Morris