1080p Plasma HDTV

1080p is the higher resolution for HDTV (with 720p being the other choice), and is my pick for future-proofing your HDTV purchase. Most content is already in 1080i format already, which should show better on 1080p displays than 720p if the data is handled properly. Most HDTV plasma panels are only 720p resolution (or worse, such as the 1024 by 768 “XGA” format with a widescreen aspect ratio, that can’t even reproduce 720p completely).

But 1080p plasma displays are slowly coming to market. Pioneer showed the first 50″ 1080p plasma at CES 2006 in January. The PureVision PRO-FHD1 is scheduled to ship in June, at an MSRP of $10,000. And that does not include a stand.

This is an impressive product, to be sure. But the price seems a bit over the top for what you’re getting. Yes, direct-view LCD TVs also give 1080p resolution, and go for prices in the same range as this new Pioneer plasma. But look at the rear-projection alternatives for a moment. This week’s Professor Poor’s Weekly Price Intelligence Report lists a Samsung DLP rear-projection display for $2,300. You could buy four of them for the price of the one Pioneer plasma. The Sony 50″ LCoS rear-projection model was listed in the prior edition of the report at $3,500. If you went for what may be the top-of-the-line LCoS rear-projection 1080p HDTV, you could get the Brillian 65″ model for about $5,500, just slightly more than half of the list price for the new Pioneer 50″ plasma.

So if you want 1080p, and a really big screen, and a great image, you do have choices. And some cost more than others.