Mitsubishi has finally shown a laser TV at the 2008 CES Expo. The private event held at a local hotel was attended by selected media and industry executives. SmartHouse was the only Australian media company at the event. Arasor, the company that claimed that they were set to be the first with laser TV, was nowhere in sight.
According to Mitsubishi, the TV delivers twice as much color as new generation plasma and LCD TVs to be released this year, because laser TV, they claim, provides the most extensive range colors, the most clarity, and the best depth of field.
The Mitsubishi Laser TV comes embedded with a Real-D 3D processor and not the Arasor chipset which was shown for the first time in Australia last year. An advantage of Laser TV is that consumers will be able to see some top of the line 3D programming at home.
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The display, called Laser TV, uses laser as the light source, unlike liquid-crystal displays, which use a white backlight, and plasma displays, which use cells of charged gas to illuminate the screen. When asked about Arasor and the launch in Australia last year of a claimed Mitsubishi laser TV, Mitsubishi executives refused to discuss the issue.
At the launch Mitsubishi demonstrated three 65-inch laser displays, which are currently being manufactured. In addition, the company demonstrated how its laser TV could be used as a 3-D home theater. The company played clips from Beowulf, a football game, and U2’s 3-D concert on its laser display. Viewers wore shutter glasses from RealD, a supplier of 3-D technology. Shutters on the lenses switched on and off–imperceptibly–60 times a second, synchronizing to a signal emitted from the display.
The basic premise behind laser TV is not entirely new. It’s essentially a variant of digital light projection (DLP) technology developed at Texas Instruments. DLP chips are in most of the projectors used in business presentations, and they’re found in home projection displays. A laser display is built a little differently, however. Instead of projecting light onto a screen from the front, lasers and the DLP chip are in the rear of the display, which allows it to be manufactured thinner than traditional front-projection systems.
The main difference with a laser display, however, is that it uses lasers as the light source. Usually, projection displays shine white light through a color wheel, and then it’s projected onto the screen. This approach is inefficient, filtering out much of the original brightness. Laser displays use red, blue, and green lasers to directly deliver the color to the screen. Lasers not only have a brightness and color advantage over filtered white light, but they also have an advantage over light-emitting diode (LED) technology, another up-and-coming display backlight. The color produced by a laser is much more pure than that produced by an LED because the former allows for more-precise color combinations. The net result is an extremely crisp, lifelike image in which white is many times brighter than standard high-definition displays, and black is many times darker.
The laser displays at the Palms looked impressive to me, although Mitsubishi didn’t show a side-by-side comparison with other displays. One of the more exciting aspects of these new displays, however, is that they use much less energy than other flat panels do, and they should quickly become less expensive than plasmas since the lasers can be mass-produced in semiconductor facilities.
The Lasers will be release in September 2008 and will retail over the price of current LCDs.