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Home arrow Video Savant arrow What's New (is Old): Mitsubishi Unveils Laser (DLP) TV
What's New (is Old): Mitsubishi Unveils Laser (DLP) TV Print
Written by Video Savant   
Tuesday, 08 April 2008

Over at the Robb Report web site, Geoffrey Morrison has an excellent write-up on Mitsubishi's introduction of its much ballyhooed Laser TV technology. What surprised me (and definitely diluted the "cool factor") is that Laser TV is just a rear-projection DLP with a seemingly more futuristic light source:

A regular DLP based rear-projection TV has a lamp (think light bulb) that creates the light. This light is focused down and shown through a rotating color filter wheel. Single chip DLP systems, like what is found in RPTVs, create sequential color. That is to say, at any given moment, only one color is on the screen. Because these colors change rapidly, your eye and brain blur them together so you see a full color image...

Using lasers as the light source simplifies this process. Three lasers, red, green, and blue, are expanded to fill the DMD chip. The color is still sequential, but the lasers can turn on and off faster than any color wheel, so the "rainbow" effect should be unnoticeable. Removing many of the lenses in the light path makes the light engine less expensive to produce, as well as more efficient. A less powerful light source can be used to create the same amount of brightness.

It's interesting to see the significant commitment Mitsubishi is making to Laser TV, especially when the tide seems to be definitively moving away from rear-projection form factors to flat panels. Still, as Morrison notes, there is a definite bang-for-buck consumer benefit for rear-projection HDTVs, and perhaps with Sony, Hitachi and others exiting this market segment this will turn out to be good, near-term business for Mitsubishi.

But with Laser TV sales roughly 6 months off into the future, it's likely that the anti-rear-projection mindset will spread to more HDTV buyers. In the end, it may be that Laser TV may have to settle for a niche in the front projection market.

But the best part of Morrison's article is his concise and convincing explanation of how Mitsubishi's "Twice the Color" marketing blather is not just hype, but hype that actually torpedoes picture quality:

Most modern displays are capable of reproducing all the colors available in the HDTV signal. Many are designed to reproduce more than that, creating "oversaturated" colors. In a store, these displays seem to have lots of color, and often get purchased over displays with more accurate colors. What happens is green grass is really green. Red apples are almost candy red. Again, perhaps not a big deal for the average consumer, but for those looking for a display that just shows what is in the original material ("as the director intended") this oversaturation of color is an artifact.

The problem, in effect, is in the signal. As good as HDTV is, it doesn't have the ability to encode all the colors that the human eye can see. New technologies, such as xvYCC aim to expand this limited color palette, but these are a long way away (if ever). This is because every step in the chain, from the transfer, to the encoding, to the decoding, to the transmission, to the display, all need to be xvYCC in order for it to work. Right now the only steps that are xvYCC are the display and the Blu-ray player (if you're lucky). So it's a useless feature at the moment.

Bravo, Mr. Morrison.

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