Sony's latest LCD TVs — darker than plasma?

As any HDTV aficionado knows, plasma sets have better contrast than LCDs. Sony's most recent crop of Bravia LCD sets is challenging that notion thanks to LED backlighting with local dimming. The new tech means the light behind the crystals actually, well, dims — as opposed to just staying on all the time like in regular LCDs, relying on the crystals to block the light in black areas.

LED backlighting and local dimming aren't new technologies, but Sony's demo of the tech (which it calls… ugh… "Triluminos" backlighting) was the most impressive I've seen: during a line show last night in New York City, one of the new Bravias was put side-by-side with a Pioneer plasma, and the Sony was the clear winner in the contrast contest. Of course, that test was set up and refereed by Sony, but the fact that the Bravia could compete at all — with blacks that looked good and dark regardless of what was stuck beside it — says a lot.

The bad news is the new tech will only appear in the Bravia XBR8 Series, which has just 46- and 55-inch models. Look for them in the fall; no pricing yet.