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CEDIA 2006: Hitachi's Ultra-ALiS 1080 plasma

CEDIA 2006: Hitachi's Ultra-ALiS 1080 plasma

"1080? Where's the 'p'?" you may be asking. Well, that takes some explaining, so I'll start at the beginning. Hitachi's booth included a pair of plasmas with the capability to resolve all 1,920 by 1080 pixels of a 1080i or 1080p source, one that's 42 inches diagonally and the other is 60 inches. Both are the first I've seen of their respective plasma sizes with 1080 resolution. Before you get too excited, you should know that both models were preproduction only, and the company didn't announce pricing or get more specific than "2007" regarding availability (Update: Hitachi has since told me that they'll be out in the "second half of 2007."). If Pioneer's 50-inch 1080p PRO-FHD1 is any indication, they won't be cheap.

The 42-inch model isn't technically "p" because Hitachi's ALiS technology doesn't actually have all 1920 physical pixels of horizontal resolution. Instead, it has 960 pixels, each electronically divided in half on the screen. This is a step up from the 1,024 horizontal resolution offered on current ALiS 42-inch panels, such as the 42HDS69 we reviewed recently. The company also claims that ALiS allows a brighter image and better depth of field than a true 1920 panel would. Speaking of true 1920 by 1080, the 60-inch panel does not use ALiS but instead goes with a more conventional, discrete pixel arrangement. When I asked the rep why Hitachi didn't employ ALiS on the larger panel, he said it would make the pixel structure too visible, which made sense to me.

In person, both looked impressive enough. Although I didn't walk up and count pixels, it seemed the sharpness was there, within the limits of the demo loop. The rep even pulled out a magnifying glass so I could see there actually were divisions between the horizontal pixels, a tactic I've seen before, and yes they were there, just like actual pixels. It remains to be seen how ultra-ALiS performs in the lab though, and it looks like it will be a while before we can test it.