CES NEWS: Pioneer's big news is no big news - at least not just yet

Those of you expecting - or dreading - a whole new range of Kuro TVs from Pioneer can breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, the company has new products on the way, but won't be announcing them until May, for a 'late summer' release. Instead, Pioneer used its CES press event to do a bit of self-congratulation about the success of the initial Kuro line-up.

The belief seems to be that Pioneer range is so far ahead of the market there's no need to rush out a new range, Ken Shioda, General Manager of Display Products, saying that “Kuro has made us the unchallenged leader in premium home entertainment, but this is just the beginning."

Instead, Pioneer showed some concept models hinting at the way future Kuro products may go, and announced the creating of a new division: Technical Audio Devices (TAD) Labs will bring Pioneer's pro-audio experience to high-end home entertainment, so we can expect a whole range of new products.

The concept models shown by Pioneer demonstrate that, in the words of Russ Johnston, Executive VP of Pioneer USA's home entertainment division, “Our engineers have done the impossible again."

There's an Extreme Contrast Concept Model, said to be “the flatscreen that will end the discussion about contrast ratios”. In fact, the company claims the ratio is so high it's impossible to measure!

And further reinforcing the company's belief that plasma technology is the way forward, the Concept Model for Advanced Design is a 50in plasma a mere 9mm (yes, nine millimetres) thick, and weighing just over 16kg (see picture, left).

Neither will go into production this year, but they do show the way the company is thinking.

Another thing it's thinking is that the Warner announcement regarding Blu-ray should make it easier for the consumer to make the decision to move from standard definition to HD disc playback - but then Pioneer is a committed Blu-ray supporter.

But it's also working hard in its other best-known area of expertise - in-care entertainment. Its new AVIC-LINK system has voice recoginition, and will work wirelessly with your iPod via Bluetooth, while the company is also working on ways to put more life back into compressed music files.

Finally, it has new in-car speakers with driver cones made from a stiff yet light fabric made from basalt - as the company puts it, this is "the only time rock beats paper".

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.