What was missing on Black Friday? I didn’t see any rear projection models with solid state lasers as a light source. This design is supposed to be the answer to why rear projection sets don’t sell. Lasers will eliminate the costly projection lamp and never need to be replaced. Lasers also require simpler optics, so the case can be thinner and the expensive optics can be streamlined. The result is a lower cost, thinner design that may compete effectively against plasma and LCD flat panels. Manufacturers are calling these “Laser TVs” to distinguish them from the traditional microdisplay rear display HDTVs. And they have been promised to ship before the end of the year, from major brands including Mitsubishi and Samsung.
Only we haven’t seen any yet, and there’s not much 2007 left. The Sydney Morning Herald published a story yesterday announcing that at least one Laser TV design won’t make it out of the starting gate in time this year. Arastor (imager chip) and Novalux (lasers) announced in October 2006 that a laser HDTV would be available before the end of this year, but apparently that is still in a holding pattern.
Interest is strong in Laser TV, and we can expect to hear some revised projections and maybe see some new prototypes next month at CES in Las Vegas. As intriguing as the concept may be, however, it’s still an uphill climb to get the average American consumer to consider anything other than an LCD or plasma these days.
Plasma, LCD, rear projection, or something else? Find the right choice with Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV, now available in paperback from Amazon or other fine booksellers.