Plasma and LCD represent the two main technologies of choice
for today’s high definition televisions, but by this time next year a third
technology called laser TV will emerge in hopes of bringing the best picture
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Novalux Inc. is one of the main
developers of the upcoming laser TV technology, and promises that its products
will deliver appreciable benefits over plasma, LCD and CRT televisions. When
compared to plasma and LCD, laser TV technology boasts half the production
cost, double the color range, and three-quarters less power consumption.
Laser TV technology is suited for projection (either
front or rear), and is likely to become the replacement for the UHP lamp
currently used in today’s projection displays. Novalux unveiled its technology
last fall by demonstrating a Mitsubishi 50-inch rear-projection with lasers
side-by-side with another Mitsubishi plasma television, with the special-made
laser TV producing a richer image.
While Mitsubishi products were used as a part of the
demonstration, the Japanese electronics company played no part in Novalux’s event.
Rather, the use of a standard consumer Mitsubishi television was to prove that
lasers could be fitted into existing rear projection cabinets.
“We took the off-the-shelf Mitsubishi projection TV and
removed the lamp and color wheel, stuck our lasers inside the box, and then we
had our TV,” explained Greg Niven, vice president of marketing at Novalux, also
adding that the retrofitted projection TV was for demonstration purposes, and
that upgrading existing sets would be cost prohibitive.
Mitsubishi has since then been planning a laser TV product,
though Niven was unable to comment on the whether or not the Japanese
electronics giant is using Novalux technology. Sony, however, has publically
displayed Novalux-powered laser TV technology at its booth at this year’s
Consumer Electronics Show, though the company has yet to formally announce a
“At CES we had a laser TV beside a plasma TV, an LCD TV and
a traditional UHP lamp TV,” said Niven, speaking about Novalux’s showroom in at
this year’s CES. “So that’s four TVs lined up running our own produced high
definition content, and I mean, it was a no brainer. The laser TV had a way,
way better picture than any of the other conventional technologies.”
One area where laser TV may give up to the flat panel
technologies plasma and LCD is in profile. The thin profile of flat panels
allows users to hang their televisions on a wall, like a picture or painting. Rear
projection televisions, by nature, are thicker than flat panels, but thanks to
recent developments in the DLP market and the weight savings of laser
technology, clever manufacturers may be able to put laser TVs on the wall too.
“The one that Sony had on the show floor was one that they
built themselves using our lasers, and it was a thin cabinet TV—maybe 8 to 10-inches—thin
enough to mount on the wall,” Niven added.
Novalux is currently in discussions with various OEMs for
bringing TVs to market using its lasers and remains confident that its technology
will hit consumers within a year’s time. “We now have over four design wins in laser
TVs for four different brands that are scheduled for launch in 2008,” said