Monday, April 23, 2007

Laser TV, No Plasma or LCD Killer.

At CES 2007, there was an introduction into the much talked about "Laser TV" technology. The marketing theme that has been implanted into the media claimed that it would be a "Plasma Killer." There has been a lot of confusion over the technology which prompted me to write this post. So here is an update on the scoop to clear everything up.

Australian company Arasor International is partnering with California based Novalux Inc to develop the technology. Arasor produces the optoelectronic chip, while Novalux develop the laser projection device. The technology itself is planned for use in future iterations of both front and rear projection hdtv's. This means that the technology can be used in DLP, front projectors and other versions of rear projection tv's. Instead of using a lamp and color wheel like DLP, it uses lasers to produce the picture. Companies that have shown interest in Laser TV include Mitsubishi and Sony who both already have prototype models up and running.

Some of the claims are, that it will have 3 times as many colors as plasma and that it will cost less to produce than both LCD and plasma. Well the first thing I have to address is that they didn't account for HDMI 1.3. and increased color depth in upcoming 2007 model hdtv's. Secondly, the developers of Laser TV have to make up for all the research and development costs of this new technology, so don't buy into that too much. The budget prices may eventually become possible if the technology first sees a few successful years in the retail stores.

When have you ever seen a plasma look as shown above right? This demo attempts to show how Laser TV has 3 times more colors than a plasma. The plasma has clearly been setup to display a poor representation of its capabilites, while the Laser TV has been optimised and calibrated to its maximum potential. All marketing and demo material i've seen from Arasor has taken a similar approach. It's not promising when the competition has to be toned down to appear not as good.

Based on the Sony Laser TV I saw at CES 2007, I see Laser TV as a "possible" alternative to current rear projection technologies such as DLP or Sony's own SXRD. But Plasma beater? With all the changes and improving standards coming out in 2007/2008 LCD and Plasmas, I don't think so. Rear projection technologies as a whole are a great way to get a reasonably priced hdtv. But when measured up against LCD or Plasma, you gain low cost and large size, but lose quality. Still, it will be interesting to watch Laser TV develop and see how the manufacturers will channel their future marketing claims. As it stands right now, the Australian developer are making too big of a claim for their boots and are already stooping fairly low with their marketing presentations.