Pioneer picks Panasonic to make plasmas

After announcing it would no longer make its own panels, the company known for the best quality plasmas picks the largest producer of plasmas to fill in.

Panasonic has been tapped to pinch-hit for Pioneer.

The two television makers said Wednesday they had come to an agreement in which Panasonic will produce the panels for Pioneer's plasma televisions.

Pioneer 70-inch plasma

The news comes a month after reports surfaced that Pioneer was pulling out of the plasma business. When Pioneer confirmed it would be finding someone who could make the panels more inexpensively than it could, there was a sense of dismay and disappointment among fans of its Kuro technology. Pioneer plasma TVs are generally regarded by experts--including CNET Reviews' David Katzmaier--as having the blackest black levels of any TV on the market.

In a joint statement, the two companies said they will build a new type of panel that integrates Pioneer's Kuro technology and Panasonic's NeoPDP, which it currently uses in its Viera TVs. Panasonic will have the panels sporting the new, combined technology ready for Pioneer by the second half of 2009.

Panasonic is the largest producer of plasma TVs, so the panels should be more affordable for Pioneer, which is trying to cut costs. Neither has said how much the panels will cost.

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