It's been a big year for Pioneer. First it announced that it would be ceasing production on its own plasma panels and then we found out it would be producing an LCD TV, which on the face of it sounds like heresy.
But they are coming nontheless, and today we've been at Pioneer's UK head office to take a look at what we're dubbing the 'Kuro LCD' (Pioneer hasn't confirmed what the official name will be yet).
First off, Pioneer was hugely keen to stress that plasma is still its main focus. The company says it's still working hard on the technology, but for people that need smaller TVs, plasmas like the 60-inch Kuro just won't work.
All the new LCDs are 100hz, 1080p models. The screens are from Sharp, but they aren't the same ones used in the current Aquos TVs. Pioneer makes the electronics that drives the screens and has developed a filtering technology designed to increase blacks. It hopes to turn these screens into the blackest LCDs around.
Technical details on how the TVs work are thin on the ground at the moment, but we'll be able to reveal more closer to the release date later this year. But having had the opportunity to watch material from a number of different sources, including broadcast Sky HD and Blu-ray test material, we're impressed. The sharpness of the picture on these pre-production models was clearly evident, and the black levels were impressive too, something we were thrilled to see.
But enough talk -- allow us to show you a few snaps of the 32 and 37-inch models in action. -Ian Morris
What better way to illustrate the black level on an LCD than by using nature's very own test pattern: the zebra.
Even here, we could tell there is loads of detail in the picture.
Here you can see the glorious detail in the bottom-mounted speaker. But from a distance, you'd be hard pushed to tell it's there at all.
The early, non-functioning mock up of the Kuro LCD we saw back in May didn't have any inputs, so we were geekily excited to see them this time around.
The Kuro LCD has a backlight that adjusts dynamically to the lighting conditions in the room. Here you can see the little graphic that pops up to let you know it's altering the backlight level.
Here's a shot of one of Sky One's many quiz shows. This one is about singing along, apparently. What struck us most here was how sharp everything looked, with the computer generated graphics looking especially lovely.
We checked all of the HD channels on Sky. Everything looked super, and we really, really can't wait to get our hands on the final LCDs when they are ready.