Pioneer gets to absolute black with plasma prototype

It's not just black. It's deep, penetrating black in the new Kuro concept TV. That means better contrast.

LAS VEGAS--Pioneer's latest plasma prototype: you could even say it glows.

The high-end audio and video company is showing off two new Kuro concept TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that push the barriers of thin and light, the company says. The Extreme Contrast TV gets to absolute black, says Pioneer. No light leaks out from the back of the TV.

That's because there is no backlight. Chemicals embedded in the panel emit the light to illuminate the images. Thus, when there is no signal, no light gets generated and absolute black, created by a complete absence of light, occurs. ("Kuro" in Japanese, by the way means "deep, penetrating black." I love the idea that there's a name for the concept.)

Sony's OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs work in the same way but the two technologies are different. Pioneer's is based around plasma technology. Sony's OLED TV is already out, but it's expensive. Pioneer's may come out in a few years and will no doubt cost a lot. While Extreme Contrast will improve plasma performance, it's a wait-and-see to as to whether it can help boost the format.

Pioneer's thin Kuro TV measures less than an inch thick. Michael Kanellos

The demonstration was pretty impressive. When the lights go out in the room, any tone difference between the TV panel and the bezel disappear. As a result, images on the TV almost seem 3D. The two giant goldfish in one segment of the demo? It looked like they were floating on air. I thought they were going to rip my throat out.

The company also showed off a Kuro concept with a 9 millimeter-thick panel. The whole TV measures less than an inch thick. It also weighs 41 pounds, although it has a 50-inch diagonal screen.

Pioneer launched the Kuro program last year at CES. The concepts shown off last year actually made it to market later in 2007.

 

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