Although the popularity of plasma screens has been growing steadily, the picture is still far from perfect. Various degrees of digital noise, fuzzy edges, and image jitter, which occurs when a static background appears to shake as the camera pans, still plague the technology. Pioneer is closing the gap in visual quality between plasma and more mature types of displays with its Elite PureVision televisions, a line that represents a significant leap beyond previous generations of plasma displays.
PureDrive, Pioneer’s new method of video processing, resolves the timing discrepancy between television and film, making it possible for material recorded on film and played back from DVD, videotape, broadcast, or cable, to appear nearly as smooth and as natural as images projected from film. PureDrive also rids the screen of halo effects, smeary movement, and sporadic visual noise—artifacts unique to plasma. Pioneer currently offers two Elite PureVision models: a 50-inch ($14,500) and a 43-inch model ($10,500).
In visual media, the number of frames displayed per second determines how lifelike and sharp images appear. Film is shot at 24 frames per second, while TVs display at 30 frames per second. Televisions have to interpolate the missing frames, so they have always been the weak link in image reproduction. Plasmas with PureDrive bridge the gap between the two media. “PureDrive uses a completely different conversion rate—3:3 instead of 3:2 pulldown—to keep film-based content as close to the director’s original vision as possible,” explains Russ Johnston, senior vice president of marketing for home entertainment at Pioneer Electronics (USA).
The advances in processing are responsible for many of the improvements evident in the Elite PureVision plasmas, but PureDrive would not be possible without a new type of intercomponent connection called High-Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI is a single cable that enables a signal to remain digital from its source to the display. “Pioneer’s PureDrive technology does all of the processing in the digital domain instead of converting back and forth between analog and digital,” says Johnston. The signal (including multichannel music) can be processed quickly and efficiently to produce visual clarity never before possible from plasma.