LED and laser TV displays on the fast track

Even with the advent of HDTV technology, the colors on most home rear-projection displays are created in a traditional way: with tubes or bulbs giving off white light that is filtered into primary colors and remixed.

Now, the “New York Times” reports that a race is on to replace these bulbs with lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), both of which produce better images than traditional technologies.

Lasers and LEDs don’t beam white light, but rather red, green and blue. Beams are emitted in a narrow band of wavelengths close to those of single, pure colors.

Beam these three primary colors in varying intensities at the same spot on a television screen, and a palette of hues can be created in a wider range than in traditional television displays.

The new devices are coming to market. Last year, Samsung introduced its first LED rear-screen set and will add six more HD models this year. The LEDs, made by Luminus Devices, of Woburn, MA, are expected to last the lifetime of the set. Conventional bulbs need to be replaced every few years at a cost of between $200 and $350.

Laser TVs, unlike LED models, are not yet for sale. However, the “Times” reported that Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America in Irvine, CA, would show a large-screen laser TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next January.

Manufacturers hope, the newspaper reported, that the distinctive range of colors produced by lasers and LED sets will provide a competitive edge for rear-projection TVs, which have steadily lost market share to plasma and liquid crystal display models in recent years.