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The Winners

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Another trip to Las Vegas has gone by and we've seen a glimpse into the near and distant future of the consumer electronics industry. Clearly slim was in this year, with several manufacturers showing off concepts of super slim plasmas and LCD TVs. All very nice I think you'll agree, but what impressed us most at the show and what companies will be wishing CES had never happened?

The Winners

Pioneer: Having already walked away with our Product of the Year Award for its 50in Kuro Plasma TV, it was hard to imagine Pioneer moving any higher in our estimations. However, its showing at CES this year proved this wrong. Why? Though Pioneer was one of many to show off a super slim concept TV the real talking point was its apparent mastering of zero luminance idle state technology.

In a nutshell this means that when a pixel is not in use it is completely off and as a consequence completely black, thus rendering contrast ratio irrelevant. This sounded impressive enough on paper but when seen in the flesh, well… suffice to say to it's as good as you could possibly imagine. Setup in a dark room next to a standard Kuro the prototype set performed something akin to a magic trick, disappearing like a black hole when a blank screen was displayed. When Pioneer gets this technology to consumers, it's likely to prove a giant step in home cinema image quality.
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Sony, Blu-ray & PS3 Owners: Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past week or two, one piece of news to come out of/around about CES was Warner Brothers' announcement that it would be ditching HD DVD and going Blu-ray exclusive. Given the power of the studio this effectively puts an end to the so called "format war", with Toshiba's HD DVD format now supported by only two major studios, Universal and Paramount.

Obviously this is a boon for Sony and those manufacturers that have supported the Blu-ray format, but PS3 owners (such as Hugo) will be rejoicing just as heartily. Though the console has struggled for market share purely as a games console it has always been recognised as a surprisingly good Blu-ray player, which could be easily updated as new standards appeared. Now that Blu-ray has (potentially-ed.) triumphed, it looks as though this feature is about to become all the more valuable.

Consumers & Retailers: Naturally enough an end to the format war is also good for both consumers and retailers. A schism of formats wasn't doing anyone any favours and creating a good deal of confusion for both parties, with consumers unable to understand the difference and retailers unable to communicate them. Thus, though things aren't quite finished yet, consumers can at least go with Blu-ray and feel a certain level of security. In addition, the HDMI Licensing LLC's (Limited Liability Corporation) decision to create a unified logo and marketing identity for the Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) feature of HDMI 1.3 should create a lot more clarity in place of the confusion created by identikit technologies manufacturers have been marketing.

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