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TVs With Friggin' Laser Beams

On Monday night (yes, I'm late), I went to a rave and a product introduction broke out. Mitsubishi's intro of LaserTV was all glitz and glam, complete with white chocolate martinis and dancing girls and swirling lights. And TVs. Mits indeed made one of the loudest, bravest and most fascinating product intros of CES in unveiling its LaserTV category. What's brave is that this is a large RPTV technology, with lasers as a light source, in a world that's not only going flat, but flatter and flatter by the minute.

Sony and many other manufacturers have left the RPTV business entirely. Many plasma and LCD manufacturers here showed flat panels that measured 1.5-inches or less in front to back depth. Mitsubishi's LaserTV RPTVs looked thinner front to back than the RPTV behemoths of yesteryear, and are probably lighter, but still, an RPTV is an RPTV. And it's not space age flat.

Lasers are a very pure light source and Mits is promising high performance and very pure colors. It also unfortunately promised a color gamut twice as wide as current standards, which always sounds nice but really means inaccurate colors. And indeed, what little I could discern about LaserTV's performance in this pulsating nightclub environment did show overwrought colors. Hopefully Mits will offer adjustments to dial back to the current NTSC/ATSC standards so we can see the colors the director intended.

With this form factor, and with ascending performance from generation to generation in LCD and plasma, Mits' LaserTV needs to deliver big on performance. While the lights and girls were spectacular enough in their own ways, we'll have to figure out just what LaserTV can do in a darkened theater environment.

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