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KURO: The Next Generation

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2007 was a huge year for Pioneer with the release of its KURO plasma TVs pretty much taking the market by storm. So good were the KURO screens that the 50in version walked away with the Best Product of 2007 award here at TrustedReviews! But Pioneer clearly isn't resting on its laurels when it comes to plasma TV technology, and there were a couple of mouth watering announcements during its CES Press conference.

"Contrast ratio is officially irrelevant" - that was the staggeringly bold statement made by Pioneer! Considering that contrast ratio is the where LCD TV manufacturers have been doing everything possible to make improvements, and the fact that the 16000:1 contrast ratio offered by the current KURO screens is one of the key reasons for their success, this statement seemed perplexing at first.

Pioneer's explanation as to why contrast ratio is irrelevant is quite simple - the company claims to have perfected a zero luminance idle state. This means that when a pixel isn't being utilised, it will be completely and utterly black, even though the TV is powered on and other parts of the screen may even be lit. This represents a massively important step forward in TV technology, and potentially opens the door for the most lifelike pictures ever seen in a home environment.

One thing that I can't help wondering about though, is response time. Because if an idle pixel is completely black, it means that the gas inside the plasma chamber has to be re-excited before it can emit light once more, which could introduce some major response time issues. Pioneer is demonstrating this new technology on its stand, and I'll be first in line to see it myself, at which point I will ask whether the zero luminance idle state will result in higher screen response times.

The second major announcement was that Pioneer has created a 50in plasma screen that's only 9mm thick. Again this is an amazing feat, and comes as a real blow to anyone who felt that OLED was definitely the way forward for truly thin, flat screen TVs.

Not only is this 50in screen remarkably thin, it's also incredibly light at just over 20kg. This means you'll be able to hang a 50in TV on almost any wall in your home, without fear of it crashing to the ground because you couldn't use long enough mounting bolts. Again, this prototype will be on show at Pioneer's show floor booth, so check back for a first hand account of both. Unfortunately though, neither technology will make it into retail products anytime this year.

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