Runco Introduces "Ultimate" Plasma Display

Plama displays may eventually displace projectors and cathode ray tubes as the video display of choice among home theater fans. Major manufacturers are ramping up production of the screens, improving their performance, and lowering prices. Eventually plasma screens will compete on a dollar-per-dollar basis with other video technologies.

But the best still come at a steep price. Case in point: Runco International's latest, the 50" diagonal "Plasma Wall PL-50," retailing at $25,997 with its companion VHD Controller/Processor. Capable of reproducing any current HDTV format (including 720P, 1080I, and 10808P, the PL-50 can display amazingly accurate images up to UXGA level of 1600 x 1200 pixels. Its high contrast ratio yields deep saturated blacks and dazzling whites, and its color accuracy is said to be unexcelled. High brightness makes it ideal for use in less-than-fully-darkened rooms, and a wide viewing angle enables any number of movie fans to enjoy it at one time.

The VHD ("Virtual High Definition") Controller enhances NTSC video from any input (S-video, component, composite), upconverting such signals to progressive scan for near-HD levels. Broadcast television, DVD playback, cable and satellite feeds all come through looking superb via the VHD Controller. The slim rack-mount device offers uncontaminated pass-through for high-definition video signals.

Goodbye battleship gray: In a wise move, Hayward, Ca.-based Runco is pitching its new offspring to the upscale home theater market by making the PL-50's decorative frame available in a wide variety of custom colors. "We give the custom installer additional flexibility by allowing them to choose the most appropriate color frame that matches their theater environment," says company marketing director Liz Premble. The color options "prevent home theater enthusiasts from having to sacrifice décor for the sake of technology," she says. The PL-50 is shipping now to dealers everywhere.