Pioneer Kuro

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Kuro was the brand name that Pioneer Corporation used for its line of high-definition plasma televisions. "Kuro" means black in Japanese.

At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, Pioneer unveiled its "Ultimate Black" Kuro. The Kuro's plasma technology reduces light emissions from black areas of the screen to such a degree that at its maximum brightness, the contrast ratio was considered “almost infinite”. Hard-core home theater enthusiasts and home cinema aficionados stated that the Kuro was the only HDTV to achieve the "true black". Reviewers said that the Kuro represented the best-in-class technology, as its images were the most vibrant and colorful of any HDTV at the time, whether LCD, LED-LCD, or plasma.[1][2] Sony had unveiled the XEL-1 OLED display which has even better contrast than the Kuro including darker blacks; however at that stage OLED technology was still plagued by reliability and lifespan issues.[3]

Despite being critically acclaimed, the Kuro was commercially unsuccessful. Plasma TVs had peaked in popularity from 2004 to 2006 and had been steadily losing ground to LCD TVs ever since. Pioneer was particularly hurt by this shift as the Kuro was positioned as a premium HDTV,[4] being generally more expensive than the mass market Panasonic Viera plasma, while other plasma display manufacturers like Samsung and LG had demoted their plasmas to the low end. There were no Kuros to compete at the mainstream or low-end segments, which were dominated by LCDs.[2]

Pioneer announced in February 2009 that they would exit the TV business by March 2010 to concentrate on car and audio/visual systems. Pioneer has since sold many of the Kuro's patents to Panasonic, the only other significant television manufacturer that concentrated on plasmas, and many of the latest Panasonic Viera plasma panels utilize the Kuro's technologies.[5][6]

In October 2013, Panasonic announced that it would stop producing plasma display TVs, closing the plasma panel production factory in December 2013 and ending sales in March 2014. Plasma displays has been losing market share every year to LCDs, and Panasonic has been posting losses and cutting jobs in the last few years.[7]

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