STUFF REPORT Pioneer cracks plasma blacks

We’ve just returned from Pioneer’s conference in Rome, where we were promised an announcement so grand it would make the Colosseum look li

We’ve just returned from Pioneer’s conference in Rome, where we were promised an announcement so grand it would make the Colosseum look like the Bull Ring. While the unveiling of three new plasmas didn’t quite overshadow the Romans’ handywork, we were blown away by the new flatscreens’ picture quality. The new 42-, 50- and 60-inchers aren’t just updates of its current line – Pioneer says it has redeveloped all of its flatscreen tech from scratch, which means the new TVs can apparently now produce blacks that are 80 per cent deeper than previous efforts. Sure, we’ve heard that before, but Pioneer backed it up with some impressive demos.The on-screen blacks weren’t quite as dark as the lovely glossy  bezels, but they did bring out some incredibly vibrant and noise-free high-def footage. All three models will be released with XGA resolutions in June, followed by some full 1080p versions in the autumn, and both ranges are pretty stunning.They won’t come cheap though. Pioneer said the new tech was a part of a re-branding  move that will see it become more of a premium name, moving it nearer to Bang & Olufsen than bargain names like Samsung. This shouldn’t mean five-figure tags, but you can probably expect to pay  more than the six grand required to get its current top 50-incher, the PDP-5000EX. Still, if our first look is anything to go by, your thousands could bag you the best plasma on the market. Essentials Pioneer PDP-4280, 5080, 6080 Price: £TBA On sale: June (XGA), September  (Full HD) Contact: PioneerRelated stories: Sony readies summer Bravias