In the world of televisions, it seems like we’re constantly getting new technologies that are meant to improve our TV watching experience and make for better entertainment. One of those technologies that will bring significant improvements to TVs is the laser TV, which aims to offer better quality and improved lifespan. But for a consumer who just wants to watch TV, how does this tech apply? Let’s check it out.
The technology itself was initially made to apply to projectors. The common solution is a UHP or a Xenon lamp, but both of them have a light beam that scatters when it travels. This not only lowers the projector’s brightness but also has an impact on the image quality – not something you want to deal with when you’re aiming for the best quality possible. This also happens even with LED models, though not as much.
LASER, which actually stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, deals with this problem by emitting a coherent light beam. The scattering problem is dealt with, and you can get a sharp image because the light rays retain thickness even over a long distance. The overall result is a significantly better quality on the projector, and it’s also brighter, has better contrast, and everything appears to be smooth and crisp.
How do they achieve all of this? Well, with any projector, you need a light source that produces light, which is then manipulated with a display chip to give you a result on the projector’s screen. The light sources actually emit white light, but projectors only need RGB lights. When you consider that different colors come with different wavelengths, they need to use a splitter or a filter to block certain wavelengths and get the color they need. The result is that most of the light produced by the light source is discarded.
A laser, on the other hand, can be made to only produce the required wavelength, and nothing else. This makes them much more power efficient because they don’t need to produce the non-required wavelengths, and there’s no discarded light so they’re also much brighter.
With a laser TV, you get a laser projector that comes with an extremely short throw ratio and is packed inside a small box. Such a projector can easily enlarge even when placed within a few inches from the wall or projector screen and has no problem performing all features a modern TV should perform.
If you want to better understand how all of this works, let’s check out the different variants. A projector can use a single laser or two, or three, depending on what it’s made for and how it works.
This is the highest-end option, and due to the high price tags, these lasers are usually reserved for the commercial market such as theatres and cinemas. There are three distinctive lasers that produce a specific color - red, green, and blue. The chip then uses the light from all three lasers, and when you consider the three different light sources, the quality is excellent and they can get brighter than anything else on the market.
The most affordable option is a single laser system, and these are ideal for the consumer market such as projectors and laser TVs. The single laser only emits blue light, which is then split into two distinct blue beams. One of them is directed towards a phosphor wheel, which emits yellow light. The reason for this is to get a reaction between the blue beam and the phosphor, resulting in another split, this time using filters, to get red and green beams. Paired with the second blue beam from the original split, you now have RGB that’s directed into the chip to produce the final result.
You probably see where this is going – unlike a single laser that emits blue light and is split, a dual laser has two lasers to further improve quality. Both emit blue light, and the rest of it is similar – one is kept for blue, the other one hits the phosphor wheel, and the split and filters get you green and blue colors. This is a slightly higher quality and higher brightness option than a single laser model, while still retaining most of the value-oriented philosophy.
There are also dual laser models that utilize two different color lasers, one red and one blue. The red laser is used for the red colors, while the blue is headed into a green phosphor wheel, not a yellow one. This produces the green beam when the phosphor reacts, and the rest of the blue laser gets you the blue color. When compared to a single or dual laser projector that only utilises a blue beam, an RB system can produce much better colors and an overall better experience.
The last option is a bit of a mixed bag, because you’ve got a combination of a blue laser that makes the blue beam, and an LED for the red beam. The blue laser is directed into a green phosphor wheel to also obtain the green color. The result is an LED-derived red, and laser-derived blues and greens. Compared to an LED projector, you do get significantly better colors, but they’re also not on the same level as a laser-only solution due to the inclusion of LEDs.
The main benefit of a laser TV is the overall quality. We explained how they work and why they’re better, but what do you stand to gain as a consumer?
Well, first, because there is no light absorption or blocking, a laser projector that has the same wattage rating as a lamp projector will have significantly higher brightness. To add to this, lasers don’t degrade over time so you won’t suffer brightness issues with that kind of device.
The colors are overall much better, for a few reasons. While the actual quality depends on the type of laser that your TV is using, a laser projector will get you a much wider color range. We’re talking up to 90% coverage, and colors that are vivid, lifelike, and incredibly close to what the human eye sees in real life.
And last but not least, another common issue is picture quality. With a LED, even OLED sometimes, the light scatters and reduces quality. Lasers, on the other hand, have coherent light which maintains its thickness without any quality loss, which is impressive.
Aside from the obvious improvements in quality when using a short-throw projector for a laser TV, this solution also comes with a few other notable improvements when compared to a regular projector and some TV models.
The first one is the lower power consumption. Lasers tend to consume a lot less power than other similar technologies, and also generate less heat. While the TV itself doesn’t need a lot of energy, especially the modern models, this is still a nice benefit.
The second, and a more important one for consumers, is the lifespan. Rear-projection TV models still opt for UHP lamps in many cases, and such lamps come with a claimed life expectancy of about 10,000 hours. A laser projector, on the other hand, comes with a life expectancy of about 25,000 hours, which is a staggering difference.
If you’re looking into getting a laser TV for your home, it’s not exactly the best choice you can make at the moment. Yes, the benefits are more than obvious, but there aren’t currently a lot of options, and the ones on the market are incredibly expensive. The only way this is a good choice is if you aren’t limited in terms of budget, and want to adopt the latest technology.
On the other hand, if you aren’t looking to rush into it, technologies like this tend to drop in price after a while (OLED is a great example), and they’ll become much more widely available. This will result in multiple device options at various price ranges, and there will be something for everyone.
If you’re buying a TV today, we would instead suggest that you opt for one of TCL’s QLED models. The QLED panels offer incredible color accuracy and lifelike images at 4K resolution, with added benefits such as HDR, Android TV, great speakers, and in some cases, smart home compatibility and AI. There’s an excellent choice for anyone’s pockets in TCL’s lineup, all you have to do is pick the one that comes with the feature set you like most (don’t skimp on the speakers!) – and don’t rush into things like laser TV and OLED. The future is going to be a much better time for entertainment!