On April 4th, Insight Media attended an event conducted by Mitsubishi to introduce their new line of HDTV products. The presentation was well done, reminiscent of a corporate exposition at a World’s Fair. All attendees’ signed a NDA agreeing not to disclose certain, mostly technical information related to some of the products until such time as these products are about to become available. This article will, therefore, be restricted to providing top-level comments on some of the more interesting new products and features.
Insight Media Consultant
Let’s start with the centerpiece of the show, the laser-based DLP HDTV. This product line now has a name: LaserVue. The bottom line here is the assurance that LaserVue is "absolutely, positively going to happen." The word is: "in stores and for sale during the 3rd quarter."
At the show, several preproduction (not prototype) models were on display. The non-engineering comment is that the images looked just great, but any further discussion of the technology needs to be differed for a little bit. That’s too bad as Mitsubishi is making a big bet on this technology and we were itching to learn more.
In a separate area, the Mitsubishi Laser HDTV was on display between a Sharp LCD and a Pioneer Plasma display. All were of similar size and showing synchronized video. The overwhelming initial impression of the images was that the red content on the laser HDTV was so intensely red that it made the reds in the LCD and plasma look distinctly orange. Beyond that, the rapidly changing video made it difficult to form impressions and compare other aspects of the imagery. When a black image flashed across the screens, the laser HDTV appeared blacker than the LCD and comparable to the plasma. This is due in part to the DLP technology, but also to the emissive nature of the laser sources. When a white field of view lashed across the screen, it seemed that the laser HDTV was less uniform. These few comments leave out a vast amount of possible commentary on the brightness, green and blue colors, contrast, speed of response, angle of view and so on. Under the given conditions, it was simply not possible to form clear opinions.
Mitsubishi executives stated that the laser HDTV consumes less than half the power of an equivalent plasma or LCD HDTV. It also features a very thin (less than 1-inch thick) bezel.
Another interesting feature in the new line up is a called "Gallery." This feature allows images to be displayed while the HDTV is not otherwise in use. Images in the Gallery might include, for example, favorite works of art or personal photographs. A second and more interesting use for the gallery feature might be in the large screen TV showroom. This is where HDTV purchase decisions are made. At this time and place, the set up of the HDTV is of critical importance and, sometimes, not all that well done. The HDTV can now be optimally demonstrated utilizing images included in the Gallery.
Also presented at the show was a demonstration of the 3D capability of the DLP based HDTVs. Display in 3D requires that viewers wear active glasses. Although this feature still represents the state of the art, there was nothing new to the demonstration.
Mitsubishi makes beautiful HDTVs and the laser based TV product represents a significant technological step out in front of the pack. However, beyond early adopters, consumers will likely not care all that much that the TV is based on lasers. The marketplace will have to determine if the image quality and other features of the Mitsubishi laser (and other) HDTVs justify the premium prices.