Pioneer concept plasmas promise 'absolute' blacks

Pioneer announces new technology to increase contrast ratio on its plasmas, while also making the screen thinner, but it won't be available in 2008.

Pioneer's concept plasma (right) next to the current model, with no image but both panels turned on. A long exposure time exaggerates the leftmost panel's brightness and makes its color look bluer, but you get the idea. Kevin Law Photography

Pioneer also showed a model that was only 9mm thick Pioneer

Pioneer

Pioneer consistently makes some of the best plasmas on the market, such as our current Editors' Choice PDP-5080HD plasma, and today it demonstrated two new "Project Kuro" technology concepts that are among the most exciting displays shown by anyone at CES. Unfortunately, neither will make it to market in 2008.

The first, designated the "Extreme Contrast Concept" plasma, is said to be capable of producing an "absolute black with no measurable light emitting from the television." The ability to produce a dark shade of black is one of the most important ingredients in picture quality. We attended the demo, which featured the new panel side-by-side with the current PDP-5010HD, and the blacks indeed looked as absolute as we've ever seen on any type of display. Flowers appearing against a black background looked almost too bright against the darkness, and the screen itself seemed to blend completely into the black curtains behind the panels. Of course we take any controlled demo with a healthy grain of salt, but this one bodes well for the performance of the eventual finished product.

The other new advancement from "Project Kuro" on display at CES was a super-thin plasma panel that measured just 9mm-thick. To put this in perspective, the PDP-5080HD measures about 114mm thick, so this panel would be less than a tenth of the size. The weight of the new panel is also substantially less at 41 pounds, which is almost half the weight of the PDP-5080HD.

Editors' Note 01-08-2008: This post has been modified since its initial publication to include details about a demo and other updates.

 

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