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.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

panels will be supplied by Panasonic

In an effort to control costs Pioneer is outsourcing its plasma panel production. The third generation Kuro, which would have been Pioneer's tenth generation (10G) panel, will have plasma panels that are supplied by Panasonic (Matsushita). The panel consists of the glass and the plasma module. As part of the deal, Pioneer will share some panel construction technology with Panasonic that will likely be used in future Panasonic plasmas. It is interesting that Pioneer says that "performance isn't solely built around the glass or the module." The video processing circuitry and color filter will still be built by Pioneer which is how the Kuro will distinguish itself from the Panasonic plasma HDTVs.

The 2008 Pioneer 9G Kuro's are available in 50" and 60" sizes. The 2008 Panasonic 80U, 85U, 800U, and 850U plasmas are available in 42", 46", 50", 58", and 65" sizes. Since Panasonic will be building the panels for Pioneer it is likely that this generation of Kuro will be available in new sizes: 50", 58", and 65". Pioneer has a deal with Sharp to build Kuro LCD displays so the existence of a 46" Kuro plasma is very unlikely.

For more details read the Sound & Vision interview with Pioneer VP Russ Johnston.