Pioneer started its press conference with a number of announcements that were mainly of interest to the US market. However, there was a trio of entertainment products that certainly did attract my attention. The first was the announcement that in the springtime Pioneer will launch its Blu-ray player - the BDP-HD1, into the US market. When questioned Pioneer claimed that it had done everything it could to avoid a format war, but the proposed unification talks with the HD-DVD camp came to nothing. It was understandably bullish about the success of Blu-ray, emphasising that it had overwhelming support from consumer electronic, IT and content companies.
The drive will be a player only, however. You will be able to burn Blu-ray discs onto the BDR-101A â€“ a PC based drive. This is aimed at mastering houses that want to easily tests discs as they come to grips with the new format. It will burn DVDs, though not CDs, though this is hardly an issue when you can pick up a writer for next to nothing.
Pioneer was understandably very proud of the Blu-ray's ability to display 1080p content but thatâ€™s not much use if you donâ€™t have something to show it on. Lucky then that Pioneer unveiled a 50in 1080p PureVision plasma display.
Its previous 50in was 720p and to get 1080p on the same size the pixels on this display have been made 35 per cent smaller. The TV upconverts all lower res formats to make the best use of the panel. This little beast will set you back a cool $10,000. So thatâ€™s one for each room then.
The third piece of its entertainment puzzle is a range of reference quality speakers. Pioneer isnâ€™t currently known for its speakers but the company actually started in the 1930s building speakers and wishes to return to its roots, especially as it wishes to show off the audio capabilities of Blu-ray in the best possible light. The EX series consists of the S-2EX, S-7EX and S-W1EX and will be available in March 2006 at the suggested prices of $4500, $3000, $3800 and $1700, respectively.