By Matthew Henry in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Pioneer this morning virtually declared victory for plasma in the contrast ratio war, claiming it had developed a prototype panel with zero idling pixel emissions at its CES press conference.

Pioneer said during its pre-CES press conference that their forthcoming Kuro Project plasma panel will “end discussion” about which technology or brand has the best contrast ratio on the market.

Contrast ratio, which measures the difference between the whitest white and blackest black on a panel, is difficult to define and has become the source of much controversy in the flat panel TV industry.

“At this moment you can stop measuring contrast ratio; it is officially irrelevant,” said Pioneer vice president marketing and product planning, Ross Johnston.

“[The new panel’s] contrast ratio is beyond measurement… we have been able to completely eliminate idling luminance,” he said.

Even when producing black, plasma pixels typically still emit a low level of light called idling luminance.

Recounting a dark room engineering demonstration at Pioneer’s Japan offices, Johnston told the media that in a pitch black environment the prototype Kuro panel is not visible when idling, whereas the current generation panel can still be seen emitting a light glow.

“These Kuro displays are now so black that in a pitch black room with the display turned on, you simply don’t know it is there,” he said.

According to Pioneer, deep black is one of the most important aspects of a good picture because it provides the starting point for the quality of all other colours and adds depth and realism to the picture.

Pioneer will demonstrate a working prototype of the panel at its stand at CES, Las Vegas, when the show officially opens tomorrow.

Pioneer said the technology will be introduced in future Kuro models, but would not hit the market before the end of this year, when it launches its ninth-generation plasma panels.