A Sad Day for Plasma TVs – “Seeing and Hearing like you never will” -Pioneer Kuro R.I.P.

"Seeing and Hearing like you never will!". It’s official. Pioneer has killed their plasma division. I got confirmation from my PR connection at Pioneer. Here’s the official lowdown The company that makes the best consumer flat screens, the reference by which all others can be compared –with the sharpest picture, blackest blacks and richest colors—has decided to get out of flat panel TV manufacturing.

I will be sporting a black armband to show my grief.

In my blog archives you will find my blog on the Kuro project. A TV so magnificent it made the hairs stand up on the back of our necks when we it first previewed. The TV picture was so realistic, the blacks so black, objects floated in mid air. It was enough to make a room full of cynical techhies gasp. But we’ll never see that in production now.

When I participated in Home Theater’s HDTV Face Off, we compared 4 flat screen HDTVs. While the brands had been covered up, none of the judges had any doubt which was the Pioneer. The Pioneer was superb and then in a distant second there were all others.

Don’t get me wrong. There are excellent TVs out there that perform well. The $7,000 Sony Bravia XBR (an LCD) has phenomenal blacks–you could tell how dark it was even when it was turned off. But Sony maximizes movies. I like a more vivid color pallet. Samsung has phenomenal contrast (again, I am referring to the LCDs) which results in a wide range of colors.

Increasingly, in the past ten years, TVs have become more expensive to produce and the profit margins have been reduced to the point of hardly being worth being in the TV manufacturing business. Most companies make up the slim TV profits with better profit lines like audio and accessories, so they can continue in the TV business. I wish Pioneer could have made that same decision.

Now what TV will I buy? I challenge the other manufacturers to step up their picture quality and blow me away. My next plasma choice is Panasonic, I recommended it for a friend recently. Hey, Sony! What will technological innovations will you bring next? Can you fix the off-access fade of your LCDs?

I feel much as I did when Ayrton Senna died at the peak of his career in a Formula One race in 1994 (my late husband turned me into a international car racing fan). Yes, there were other great drivers, but it would be years before Formula One would be the same again.

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