Japanese newspaper Asahi has reported that Pioneer will stop the production of 42-inch and smaller plasma panels as early as March next year, and instead buy those panels from Matsushita or Hitachi. Pioneer's plasma TV sales targets for this year, ending 31st March, are a mere 10 per cent of Matsushita's (who use the Panasonic brand), at just 480,000 units compared to five million. Pioneer will continue to manufacture its own plasma panels sized over 50 inches, while the company looks to sell the Kagoshima plant back to NEC. Pioneer already buys the panels for its LCD TVs from Sharp.
It's been building up to a crescendo, with Toshiba's announcement expected sometime this week that they are indeed pulling their support of the HD DVD format. At least the conclusion to this bloody battle will result in all of you finally being able to splurge your retirement money on a hi-def player, or upgrade your tired multi-format to one of these Blu-ray players. So, in no particular order, here's the top five best Blu-ray players, as voted by Tech Digest and HDTV-UK. 1.) Panasonic DMP-BD30 - this baby offers full 1080p playback, Final Standard Profile functionality, picture-in-picture, audio mixing, Panasonic's P4HD technology, 1080/24 playback, HDMI 1.3B, Deep Colour compatibility, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio decoding, SD memory card slot, AVCHD codec, and EZ-Sync. £349, or $499.95, out now...
Pioneer has taken the wrappers off its new KURO plasma TV range, with a promise that the tellies will display 80% deeper black levels than their rivals (and so provide richer colours and sharper details). The first two KURO TVs are 50 and 60 inches respectively, and will both be HD-ready 1080p models. What's that? You want a suitably artsy quote? How about this: "In the art world, a plain white canvas represents a blank slate waiting for an artist to create," says Pioneer's Heidi Johnson-Cash. "In the world of television, a black screen is a similarly blank canvas ready for content to be displayed."
The biggest news this week, though the HD DVD Promotions Group deny it, is that Blockbuster has chosen Blu-ray over HD DVD. Not surprisingly, Sony is very happy about that, and a Panasonic executive thinks it's game over for HD DVD. However, the fly in the ointment could be rotting Blu-ray discs. Not good. SIM2 has rolled out its HT3000E 1080p projector, while Sharp reveal their latest RD2E 100Hz TVs, and Pioneer release their new plasma TV range with 80% deeper blacks.