LED Technology Could Help HD Rear Projection

The vast array of subtle colors offered by LED (light-emitting diode) and laser technologies could wind up providing near future rear-projection HD units with a sorely needed competitive edge, according to industry research firm iSuppli.

Rear-projection sets, which are growing slimmer by the year but are still relatively bulkier than LCD and plasma flatscreens, have lost market share annually for the past several years. They currently are “projected” to sell barely more than 5 million units in 2007. Plasma is expected to more than double that figure, and LCD sales for the year are forecast to run closer to 75 million units.

A growing number of consumers are becoming increasingly used to seeing extremely thin flatscreen models on TV and on showroom floors, and may find rear-projection units (even with as little as 10 inches depth) too much to handle. Yet, more sophisticated color reproduction in laser and LED rear projection sets may be appealing to some prospective buyers, especially once the laser units are mass-produced.

At least one manufacturer, Mitsubishi, told The New York Times it plans to demo a large-screen laser model at CES2008 in January.

Consumers might also learn to appreciate the longevity of both LED and lasers, compared with the expensive bulbs requiring much sooner replacement in today’s rear-projection units, iSuppli said.