Pioneer put on an evening pre-CES demo for Engadget, showing off two concepts focusing on advanced design (the 9mm-thick Kuro) and extreme contrast. Bringing everyone into a darkened room, Pioneer VP of Marketing and Product Planning Paul Meyhoefer reiterated Pioneer's target audience of the high-end home theater enthusiast, and what better place could there be to demo a home theater display than in a darkened room? Once the lights went down, we were treated to a short film on contrast, and the challenges of producing a wide range of values. As anyone who has watched a display in a dark room knows, you can see the edges of the display from the faint glow of the backlight that always seems to be present, even in the darkest of scenes.

That's when another image appeared literally out of the blackness, with a second plasma display turned on and showing a pitch-black background for the duration of the demo. Pioneer demoed their concept set directly next to the current 8th-generation PDP-5010FD 1080p plasma Kuro plasma, and utterly destroyed even its vaunted performance. The Kuro line dropped idle luminance by over 80% compared to the 7th gen plasmas, and this demo was intended to show just how far the technology can continue to go under Pioneer's guidance. Color us very impressed, and saddened by the realization that this concept could go a generation or more before it becomes fully integrated into the Pioneer plasma lineup.

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Hands-on with Pioneer's extreme contrast concept plasma

Hands-on with the pricey VUDU XL