Thursday, May 13, 2010

Long live the Kuro

"It has been a sad 15 months since Pioneer canceled the Kuro 10G ..."

from Kuro beats Panasonic G20/25

The Kuro is dead, long live the Kuro!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pioneer to end TV production

The Japanese newspaper Nikkei is reporting that Pioneer is going to exit the HDTV and DVD business. If this is true then it will leave Pioneer mainly as a Car Audio and Pro DJ company. This is sad news for all Kuro fans as this looks like there won't be a Pioneer Kuro 10G.

CES 2009 was a precursor of bad things ahead. Pioneer's presence at this years CES was weak compared to last years when it showed off the amazing Extreme Contrast Concept. Some thought that Pioneer was just being tight lipped about the ECC so that it wouldn't hurt 9G sales.

Several production plants will be shut down or idled. A couple thousand employees are expected to lose their jobs. What will happen to inventories, warranties, technological breakthroughs, and patents is unknown. More information will be revealed on February 12th when Pioneer releases it's earnings report.

news clip:
Pioneer To End TV Production, Spin Off DVD Development
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Pioneer Corp. (6773) will pull the plug on its loss-ridden television business and shift its DVD player operations to a new venture with Sharp Corp. (6753) in a sweeping overhaul, The Nikkei learned Friday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

code name: Fuga

Fuga is the code name of Pioneer’s next generation PureDrive 3HD picture processing silicon that is expected to be in the 10G Kuro's. PureDrive does all of the analog and digital video processing in a Kuro display. A prototype circuit board attached to a 9G Kuro was used to demonstrate the new Fuga technology.

Fuga features:
  • Enhanced Gradients
  • Improved Color Saturation
  • Smoother PureCinema algorithm
  • Depth of Field

Enhanced Gradients
Enhance the contrast gradients of low quality and non-HD signals. Smooth the image with the goal of improving detail. It is unknown if this improvement involves the current pixel dithering done with the plasma panel since it was said that high quality signals pass through this new feature untouched.

Improved Color Saturation
Extract more detail and create a 3D color depth by intelligently improving color saturation. The color space and the range of black levels are not changed. Sort of like the Optimum AV mode but only for color and tint.

Smoother PureCinema algorithm
The PureCinema algorithm controls de-interlacing, 3:2 pulldown, interpolation smoothing, and 24p film mode. This new feature improves the Smooth PureCinema algorithm that interpolates the in-between images. Motion judder is improved, even with 1080p24 signals. The PureCinema smooth option is currently not available on 9G Kuro's with 1080p signal sources. These increased DSP calculations are possible because the Fuga processor has more vector analysis capability.

Depth of Field
Real-time ability to change a video image's depth of field. Focus or defocus the background and foreground elements. Very powerful. How or why this will be used is unknown.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Panasonic NeoPDP plasmas 2009

At CES 2009 Panasonic announced details for its NeoPDP plasma displays. The new product lines are the X, S, G, V, and Z series. THX and VieraCast Internet connections are back on some of the higher end models. Black levels and power consumption are improved. The panel half life has been increased to 100,000 hours. Many new screen sizes will be available. The 24fps flicker problem is also said to be fixed.

The new NeoPDP will have what Panasonic is calling Infinite Black technology which basically turns the display off when displaying a completely black screen, current Pioneer Kuro have this feature. Contrast ratios have also been slightly improved but not to Kuro 9G levels.

The NeoPDP's are greener and producing the sme light output they will consume half as much power as last year's models.

A new selection of screen sizes are available in the 2009 Panasonic line; 42", 46", 50", 54", 58", and 65". A native resolution of 720p is back for the smaller screen sizes. The 58" and 65" models will be available in August while the smaller sizes will be released in the March to June time frame.

Panasonic is claiming to have fixed the 24p flicker problem that last years PZ800U's suffered from with their 48 Hz refresh rate. Pioneer Kuro use a 72 Hz refresh rate with 24p sources and don't have this flicker problem. Panasonic has increased the plasma subfield drive from 480 Hz to 600 Hz which is said to eliminate the 24p flicker. Whether this means Panasonic increased the 48 Hz refresh rate is unknown. Since 600 is equally divisible by 24 and 120 but not 48 or 72 then there may be the answer. The 600 Hz subfield drive is also said to improve motion resolution.

The Kuro 10G will be using this Panasonic glass but Pioneer will be using its own power supply, subfield drive, and processing electronics. The Panasonic glass is a slight improvement over last years but the question remains if it is up to the level of the current Kuro glass and does that even matter? What really makes a Kuro? The glass or the electronics? Good question, we'll have to wait and see.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Release Dates

The latest report is that the 10G Kuro's will be released in November 2009. This will represent an 18 month development cycle from the previous Kuro 9G release. The 8G to 9G product update had a much shorter 6 month development cycle. Speculation for the extra development time is due to the transition to Panasonic glass.

If the arrival of the Kuro 9G is any indication then street prices of the previous generation are not expected to drop much when the 10G arrives. Demo models of the 9G will be heavily discounted of course but new stock will have had its inventory levels reduced in the run up to and anticipation of the new Kuro 10G model. So unless you must have the absolute blacks of the Extreme Contrast Concept then now is a perfect time to buy a Pioneer Kuro 9G plasma HDTV and enjoy it for a whole year before the 10G arrives.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NeoPDP 5 lumen/watt tech

Panasonic will release plasma panels with its NeoPDP tech in Spring 2008. NeoPDP is a 5 lumen/watt technology that improves the luminance efficiency of plasma panels. This doubling of efficiency can be used to double panel brightness, halve power consumption, and/or improve image performance by using blanking and timing tricks that would of been too resource expensive with the prior technology. The final embodiment of 5 lumen/watt tech will probably be a balanced combination of all of those attributes. This technology may also lead to thinner and lighter panels.

Pioneer and Panasonic are sharing numerous plasma patents. Next years Pioneer Kuro 10G plasma displays will be using Panasonic glass and are expected to use this new 5 lumen/watt technology. So will the next generation Panasonics be as black as the next generation Pioneer Kuros? Or does Pioneer still have some tricks up its sleeves?

I've heard that the zero idle luminance of the Extreme Contrast Concept requires the 5 lumen/watt technology. It is unknown whether this new technology is the sole source of the zero idle luminance or if darker filters coupled with increased brightness are to be credited with this significant "extreme" improvement. Zero idle luminance will likely be a combination of these two techniques which will question the accuracy of "absolute zero" and "infinite contrast" claims. Does black enough really require a divide by zero error?

For comparison reference the current Pioneer Kuro 9Gs utilize a 3 - 4 lumen/watt technology and achieve a 0.001 fL idle luminance. This is low level of idle light is beyond the current measurement limit of many calibration tools. In a completely dark room human eyes have no problem discerning it though.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Extreme Contrast Concept

At CES 2008 Pioneer announced it's Extreme Contrast Concept Model which is a technological breakthrough that eliminates all idling luminance. This is absolute black. Pioneer stated that "at this moment you can stop measuring contrast ratio because it's officially irrelevant."

Pioneer then had video demonstration of a 8G Kuro PDP-5010FD vs. a 50" 1080p Extreme Contrast Concept. Both Kuro's used the same glass and a Pioneer rep said the difference is "how you fire the pixel." Pioneer also said that the new Kuro 9G will have 5X better blacks than the Kuro 8G with the same glass (panel).

See these amazing Gizmodo photos of how the black level compares between the Kuro 8G and the Extreme Constrast Concept Model. The differences between the black backgrounds are stunning. How much better than 5X blacker is this? A couple times at least. Too bad they didn't have a 9G Kuro PDP-5020FD prototype on hand to compare to.