Is there anything you can’t do with the proper application of lasers? I didn’t think so!
Mitsubishi is putting them in TVs – big-screen, rear-projection, HDTVs. Mitsubishi is planning on showing of the sets at CES 2008 in January, and bringing them to market next year. DLP and LCoS rear-projection TVs have traditionally used white-light mercury lamps for their illumination, passing it through color wheels or filters to generate the different colors for the screen. But lamps can’t produce the full spectrum of colors, consume a lot of power, generate a lot of heat, and need to be replaced periodically. Plus, they’re mercury lamps, which creates a disposal issue and a risk if the lamp is broken in the home. (Not that they have much mercury in them.)
The next phase in the evolution of the sets has been LEDs. Using red, green, and blue LEDs, the newer sets can more accurately reproduce a broader spectrum of colors, while consuming less power, producing less heat, and lasting nigh-indefinitely. LED-based sets really started taking off this year, with Samsung and others introducing a number of LED models and the price coming down.
The next step is lasers. Lasers produce a much ‘purer’ light than LEDs, allowing for redder reds and bluer blues, producing even more colors. They also consume very little power, and produce little heat, and they last the life of the set just like LEDs. Companies are turning toward laser to give DLP sets a new lease on life. As LCD and plasma sizes increase, and costs decline, the sales of those sets have been eating into the sales of DLP.
DLP still holds the advantage at the high end – very large plasma and LCD sets are extremely expensive, and hard to produce, and it is likely that DLP will reign for quite a while at the high-end of screen sizes. Moving to LED, and laser, will give DLP an advantage over LCD and plasma on color reproduction, allowing it to compete on quality beyond the levels the old color wheels allowed. (Though the latest color wheel systems, as in newer Samsung sets, are very good – and far better than early models with their ‘rainbow’ issues.)
I’ve already registered for CES 2008 and made my hotel reservations, so I look forward to getting a first-hand look at the new laser sets – six months from now.
The New York Times has a good article on this.