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Remember the old days—three months ago—when a 1.5-inch thick
LCD TV seemed skinny? My, how times have changed.

Today in Las Vegas,
Pioneer announced a prototype 50-inch plasma screen with no bezel (frame)
around it and just 9 millimeters of thickness. (The iPhone is 12mm fat.) This
blows away anything in the LCD realm and comes awfully close to Sony’s OLED TV
(which is 3mm thick but also limited to a 10-inch diagonal screen size for the
foreseeable future.)

How did Pioneer do it? They aren’t saying yet, but for years
the company has been re-working plasma panels—rejiggering the cells,
eliminating sheets of glass or plastic filters—to get them skinner. Although
the intention there had been to make screen images look better, not to affect
how the screen itself looks.

Black is Black

Speaking of screen images, Pioneer also announced a
prototype that does what had seemed impossible: When it shows video with dark
scenes, black is actually black – not muddy gray like on every other TV (or
projector) in human history.

Pioneer’s Kuro plasmas won a Pop Sci Best of What’s New
Grand Award recently for cutting so-called idle luminance (the residual
brightness even in black scenes) by 80% over early models. With today’s
announcement, Pioneer seems to be saying it has eliminated the remaining 20%.
If so, they’ve done what had always been considered impossible.

I want my thin, black TV!

So when can you get this goodness? Definitely not in 2008,
says Pioneer. But they do plan to make sets (in 2009?) that combine both the
super-slim and absolute black technologies. Whew! Glad I didn’t shell out a ton
of dough for that LCD TV I was thinking about getting.—Sean Captain

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Want more? Check out our entire CES 2008 coverage here.

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