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Pioneer picks Panasonic as plasma telly partner

Firms to combine R&D efforts

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Pioneer and Panasonic are to align their plasma TV operations and integrate their research and development efforts, the new partners said today.

The announcement comes a month after Pioneer said it was to end in-house plasma panel production. At the time, it said it made the decision because of the difficulty it foresees in maintaining the cost-competitiveness of plasma technology in the face of ever-cheaper LCD TVs.

That's why Fujitsu, the first company to introduce plasma screens, ditched the TV technology back in December 2007.

But hence Pioneer's deal with Panasonic. The two will combine their technology development efforts to reduce the cost of coming up with bigger and better screens. Panasonic parent Matsushita will manufacture the displays, which will then be sold by Panasonic and Pioneer under their respective plasma TV brands, Viera and Kuro.

Both lines will ultimately take advantage of Pioneer's ultra-thin, high-black Kuro techology and Panasonic's Neo PDP energy efficiency drive.

Pioneer's first next-gen Matsushita-made plasma TVs will debut on the market in autumn 2009, it said.

The partners didn't give much else away today, but promised to provide more details next month when the alliance is set to be formally cemented.

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