Friday, May 30, 2008

Pioneer Elite PRO-950HD Plasma Calibration

Pioneer Elite PRO-950HD Plasma Calibration
I have calibrated several Pioneer Elite plasmas of late but I wanted to write about this one because it’s the first 720p model I’ve worked with. Besides resolution, the spec sheet reads identical to the 1080p models, the PRO-110 and 150. It employs the same screen filter and coating which contribute to its outstanding black-level performance. It also includes the same menu structure and high-quality video processing of its higher-resolution brethren. At 42 inches, this TV is perfect for smaller rooms. It has plenty of light output so it can be enjoyed in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

The calibration procedure was identical to the PRO-150FD (click here for my article) so I won’t reiterate it here. My main purpose with this article is to talk about the superb performance numbers I achieved. While other calibrators have stated they couldn’t measure black levels on these panels, I had not encountered this phenomenon. I could always measure at least .001 fl. This panel however would not register a black level reading. Even after raising brightness from the default (Pluge patterns did not show below-black until this was done), I could not measure the black level on any pattern. I check these numbers with a full-field 0 IRE and an ANSI contrast checkerboard. No part of the screen registered a reading. My instruments therefore returned an infinite on/off and ANSI contrast ratio! Gamma was still a solid 2.2. I viewed the Pluge patterns in low to mid-level room light. Patterns were generated by an Accupel HDG-3000.

Performance in other areas was identical to the 1080p models. Color primaries were slightly oversaturated and decoding was error-free. Edge enhancement was easily defeated by reducing the sharpness control. I did encounter one interesting thing that I had not dealt with before. My client occasionally connects a computer to one of the TVs HDMI inputs to view photos. When connecting this way, there is no control over pixel clock or phase. The result is the TV displays a different portion of the computer’s desktop. To view the slideshow, my client has to drag the pictures off the top of the computer’s screen so they are visible on the TV. I can only speculate that this is a product of HDCP. The only workaround is to use the VGA port on the TV. This allows adjustment so you can sync the computer and the TV. It depends on what outputs are available on your computer.

In summary, I was most impressed with this TV. At a 42-inch screen size, 720p was a more than sufficient resolution for high-quality imaging. DVDs and high-def cable looked excellent as did the photos from a computer. At an MSRP of $2700, I consider this an excellent value in plasma TVs. Given that the cheapest 1080p model (the 50-inch PRO-110FD) has an MSRP of $6000, you’re only giving up a little screen size for a huge savings.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the view!

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