In my opinion, the most amazing thing about the TV industry is this: in more than two and a half years, no TV has delivered better picture quality than the Pioneer Kuro line of plasma TVs.
Think about that for a second in the context of consumer technology's typically meteoric better/faster/stronger advancement. In the second half of 2008, when the last generation of Kuros appeared in stores, the now-obsolete iPhone 3G was the biggest deal in the world and the first Android phone, the
Although Pioneer reference 2D television, and anticipate doing so until something better comes along.in April 2009, the company's Kuro TVs are still the best today. The in picture quality. None of the myriad sets I reviewed in 2009 or 2010 could compete. I still use the PRO-111FD as my
The question, at least among big spenders looking for the best TV money can buy this year, is whether something better than the Kuro will actually ship in 2011.
My guess,, is still "no."
Why the heck not?
After my on the consensus best bet to outdo, or at least match, the Kuro's picture quality--
Enthusiast site and information (over-) lode avsforum.com, where the Kuro is rightly enshrined in reverence by umpteen posters, has a great primer on zero black-level PDP research created late last year by poster "xrox." For the uninitiated, "black level" refers to the darkest shade of black a display can produce, zero is technically ideal, and PDP stands for plasma display panel.
The short story is that Pioneer's Kuro plasmas achieved their still-unsurpassed black-level performance with the help of two technologies: "MgO crystals on top of or embedded into the phosphor layer" and "spatial discharge to initialize the panel (also to produce low light emission in first subfield)," according to xrox's summary. Neither of these technologies has been implemented in 2010 plasmas, including those of Panasonic.
Based on conversations I've had with representatives of Samsung and Panasonic, I don't expect them to appear in 2011, either. Samsungwould match those of Panasonic's 2010 plasmas, which themselves fell short of Kuro blacks. When Panasonic's product manager was asked point-blank in my presence whether the VT30 employed any of the Kuro tech, namely MgO crystals, he said he didn't know (Panasonic bought the rights to many of Pioneer's patents).
Of course there's no way to know for sure until we can pit a PND8000 or VT30 (or a rumored ZT30) against a Kuro, but if I had to bet right now, my money would be on that old Pioneer.
I do still believe that current and soon-to-be-released high-definition TVs are and will be pretty dang good, will offer more features and extras than ever (), and will almost all cost less than Kuros did. I'm still psyched to review them.
For those reviews I will continue comparing flagship models against the best-performing TV ever, even if that TV seems a little long in the tooth. Maybe I should just move on, but every time I turn on that reference Kuro and see its picture in person, it's too tough to turn it off.