Prysm: Laser displays are the future

Prysm: Laser displays are the future

While Prysm's innovative LPD screens will initial be used in advertising displays, the company hopes to release TVs and monitors in due course.

If you're still looking for the next big thing in displays - and are increasingly convinced that OLED isn't it - perhaps you'd like some laser with your monitor?

As reported over on Gizmodo - quoting an Xconomy article - a California-based startup called Prysm has developed a new display technology called Laser Phosphor Display, or LPD, which it hopes will replace traditional liquid crystal displays.

The advantages to the LPD technology are pretty impressive, if the company's claims are true: the display scales to any size or shape, including tileable displays for big screens or ribbon-shaped displays for advertising purposes, and draws significantly less power than a traditional backlit LCD - up to 75 percent less, in fact. Prysm also claims quality advantages: the lack of an LCD-style backlight means contrast levels are much closer to those achieved with older CRT-based displays, the viewing angle is significantly increased over LCD displays, and the images don't suffer from the motion blur that even the best liquid crystal screens can exhibit.

The display technology works in a similar manner to traditional cathode ray tube displays, with a laser taking the place of the tube to sweep across phosphor stripes and create a the image. Gone, however, are the bulky magnets that CRTs required - replaced instead with rotating mirrors that direct the beam where required.

Initially Prysm will be concentrating on large screens for corporations, where it hopes that the initially high purchase cost will be offset by the energy savings over time. However, the company believes that once the production has scaled up the price should drop low enough for the display to be adopted for consumer use - including computer monitors, TVs, and even mobile handsets. Quite what the timescale is on such releases isn't revealed, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on in the future.

Does the thought of a phosphor-based display - with all the lovely contrast and incredibly low black levels that suggests - fill you with joy, or would you need to see one in action before you start saving for your next TV purchase? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Omnituens 15th January 2010, 13:53 Quote
Everything is better with LAZORS.
l3v1ck 15th January 2010, 14:17 Quote
Sounds good, but just how thin could laser displays go? If they're as thin as the latest LED backlit LCD's, I'll be very impressed.
If I can't mount it on my wall I'm not really interested.
proxess 15th January 2010, 14:17 Quote
Originally Posted by Omnituens
Everything is better with LAZORS.


Except that, moving objects, in this case, a mirror, I don't find it a good idea...

Any idea on refresh rates on these?
Scootiep 15th January 2010, 14:31 Quote
i have to agree with proxess, moving parts always increase the chance for failure. Unless it can be shown that these screens have a much longer viewing life and an incredibly low failure rate, as well as being as thin as current LCD's (preferably the newer LED TV's), they simply aren't as versatile or useful as what we already have.
Xtreme_Machine 15th January 2010, 14:34 Quote
Although it's sounds realy AWSOME (doesn't everything that involves laz0rs?)...

I for one DON'T want to go back to the bulky screens we all know a little to well. Damn my arms still hurt when I think of it :P

What are the sizes we can expect? Is it back to CRT-style screens? Then I'll pass...
bahgger 15th January 2010, 14:42 Quote
Originally Posted by proxess
Originally Posted by Omnituens
Everything is better with LAZORS.


Except that, moving objects, in this case, a mirror, I don't find it a good idea...

Any idea on refresh rates on these?

Oh thank goodness you don't find it a good idea! I was worried that these guys just decided to use mirrors for the fun of it and for epic lulz. Thank goodness you've brought up a good point that you don't like mirrors and therefore the technology is not useful! Phew..
MSHunter 15th January 2010, 14:43 Quote
I remember that there was some research that looked promissing where light could be "bent" by passing current through "special" optics, there by lossing the need for moving optics. It was in correlation to new optical drives. They made the clame like reading entire blue-rays in under a second. Imagine that in these displays......
mi1ez 15th January 2010, 14:47 Quote
I miss my CRT. :(
Er-El 15th January 2010, 14:52 Quote
I wonder if this can produce 16 bit per colour channel pictures, because Dolby don't seem to be doing anything about Brightside. If so, then HDR displays can come to the market soon and hopefully be the next buzzword instead of damn '3D' with that silly glass wearing business that goes with it.
Hustler 15th January 2010, 14:56 Quote
Originally Posted by mi1ez
I miss my CRT. :(

Me too....i still havent used a single LCD that has come close to the picture quality in terms of contrast, true blacks, that my old Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 19' did, 5yrs ago.

Never stopped regretting the fact i sold it........yes it was bulky, but i have come to loathe all this 'non native' resolution crap with LCD screens.
thEcat 15th January 2010, 14:57 Quote
I'd certainly take contrast / image quality over a size zero figure, but I share the concern over 'rotating mirrors' and will add 'laser lifetime' to the list. Anyway, OLED tvs and monitors will be ready Thursday (1)

(1) This is an old joke.

Originally Posted by mi1ez
I miss my CRT. :(

tehe, I still have my old 21" Dell CRT. Every so often I clear the space and heave all 65lbs onto my desk to remind myself just how good things were in the days before we were compromised into fashion victims.
Digi 15th January 2010, 15:00 Quote
It's way to early to tell anything at this point guys. We just have to wait and see. If they were going to go up against current LED based screens then I am sure they would consider all the pros and cons before trying to compete. It's not like they are going to release something just for the sake of it with wild claims of improved everything and then go and drop a 50kg monster on you, that would be stupid.

And for the one that mentioned laser lifetimes. What about laser printers that run for years and years without issue? Surely that much of the technology is proven to work.
Flibblebot 15th January 2010, 15:18 Quote
Laser-based displays already exist - Mitsubishi launched a laser display using DLP micromirror devices about a year ago - I think it's more of a rear-projection screen using discrete red, green and blue lasers though, rather than using lasers to excite a phosphor screen - but the technology is nothing new, and is already available, albeit in a different format to that proposed in the article.

As for the lifespan of a laser, lasers used in printers are only ever used for a few seconds at a time, not for hours on end, as they would be used in a TV or monitor. They are solid state devices, though, so I'd imagine they'd have lifespans comparable to those of LEDs.
Xir 15th January 2010, 15:25 Quote
LaserLED's actually exist :D
While my CRT was great when it came to colours, the sheer crispness of an LCD is great with text and work.
The CRT was better for gaming though.

Still have the 30+ Kg brick standing around, but some electronic bug bit it :(
Everything is better with LAZORS.
I thought they were only cool when attached to sharks
TWeaK 15th January 2010, 16:48 Quote
Since the film Paycheck was on TV the other day, I misread the story as 'Laser displays the future'.

Ahh if only. As long as the future had less Ben Affleck in it, that is.
eddtox 15th January 2010, 16:52 Quote
I miss my old Dell 19"! It was awesome! Got it for £25 second-hand when this LCD craze started and I've got half a mind to bring it out of retirement. Samsung SyncMaster 193v just pales into insignificance in comparison. Only problem is that I'll need a bigger flat to house it :-P
dicobalt 15th January 2010, 17:06 Quote
This sounds interesting but I tend to think that SED/FED will be the next standard.
Cupboard 15th January 2010, 17:09 Quote
I am not liking the sound of fast rotating mirrors in a phone.
Everything else sounds good though.
thehippoz 15th January 2010, 17:26 Quote
thank you prysm.. someone had to do it XD
Evildead666 15th January 2010, 17:33 Quote
The only reason I upgraded from my 19" iiyama CRT was that the max res was 1280x960.
I DID look for a good, large, widescreen CRT, and found only one.
I can't remember who made it, I just remember the res was amazing (2560xsomethinglikethat) and the price was waaaaaaaaaaay out of budget for a home PC user. Pro only.....

If I could get a cheapish 24" 1920x1080/1200 or 2560x1600 CRT, I would buy it no probs...
Nexxo 15th January 2010, 18:03 Quote
No good for home monitors/TVs; I think that OLEDs will win the day when it comes to those. but great for home cinema (and commercial cinema) projectors and very large displays. Cloud deck as projection screen, anyone? W00t!
Farfalho 15th January 2010, 18:07 Quote
IMA FIRIN' MAH LAHZOR - Should be the sound when you turn the damn thing on! That would so much funny

Still though, I would wait and see if the tech is all that juicy or just a big buzz. If it's that epic, certainly I'll be looking forward to get one
LucusLoC 15th January 2010, 18:42 Quote
while we are doing the oneupmanship, i have a 24 inch crt. so far it has collapsed 2 cheep ikea brand desks (the usually only last a few months under that kind of weight) and it now sits on a third with a pillar of textbook taking the brunt of the weight. it is awesome for gaming and video, but i find lcd better for text. it is dual screened with a 22 inch wide screen format lcd for reading on.

this new tech should be really neat, and i don't think the mirror issue will be all that much of a problem, since you can do that kind of think using memory materials. however, i share the concern with the depth of the screen, i think there is some limit to how thin projection based technologies can get. they did say it could theoretically fit in a hand-held device, but i would really like to see a diagram on how it actually works before i believe that. anyone have links to white-papers?
Star*Dagger 15th January 2010, 21:13 Quote
We should reject new screen tech and demand holographic displays!!!
Gunsmith 15th January 2010, 21:22 Quote
one word

Flibblebot 15th January 2010, 21:44 Quote
I'll say this again: Mitsubishi already have a laser TV. It's been around for a year now.

And they don't use big moving mirrors, they use tiny micro mirrors on a DLP chip - a chip about the same size as the one in your PC.

And, as far as I'm aware, no sharks are involved either. Sorry to disappoint :(
Sir Digby 15th January 2010, 21:45 Quote
Originally Posted by dicobalt
This sounds interesting but I tend to think that SED/FED will be the next standard.

Yes, this story also reminded me of SED's.
g3n3tiX 16th January 2010, 00:14 Quote
Think the same kind of mirrors you see in night club lasers : tiny piezoelectric devices, moving back and forth creating an image.
The ones on the screen would just be faster...
B3CK 16th January 2010, 01:14 Quote
Rear mounted laser as in crt type, forget it. Now if they did it in a projector, and had the same great qualities of a crt, I will buy one.
livesabitch 16th January 2010, 01:39 Quote
Originally Posted by TWeaK
Since the film Paycheck was on TV the other day, I misread the story as 'Laser displays the future'.

Ahh if only. As long as the future had less Ben Affleck in it, that is.

bloody great film! shame the monitor he made isnt real tho cause it would bwe thre best display ever!
Zayfod 16th January 2010, 02:29 Quote
"...For the audience the answer will be displayed on the Laser-Display-Screen, and for listeners at home it will be read by the Mystery Voice..."
Veles 16th January 2010, 03:25 Quote
Originally Posted by B3CK
Rear mounted laser as in crt type, forget it. Now if they did it in a projector, and had the same great qualities of a crt, I will buy one.

If you read closely it's not going to be anything like the size of a crt, it's just the way it works is similar to a crt. They're potentially going to be used for phones

Same thickness as the really thin OLEDs or LED LCDs I wouldn't have thought they'd be that thin, but they shouldn't be thicker than an LCD.
fodder 16th January 2010, 08:43 Quote
Mmm, excellent idea, not sure how well it would scale for home use. I used to work with imaging devices with spinning mirrors and lasers, excellent until you knocked or moved them, or the compressor/air supply to the air bearing failed. Very messy.
technogiant 16th January 2010, 08:52 Quote
Whatever happened to SED screens.....personaly thought that tech showed a lot of promise
Altron 16th January 2010, 09:36 Quote
A mirror assembly takes some depth (although concerns about reliability IMO are unfounded... it's so small and light and fast, not a big ol'diesel motor spinning a freaking lighthouse mirror)

I'd be concerned about depth. From the sounds of this, it has more in common with a rear projection TV or CRT than with a LCD or plasma. Not sure if they can make it thin.

Also have my doubts about luminous efficacy of it. Lasers are a lot less efficient than LEDs, especially since we're talking about probably an ultraviolet laser.

There's some cool laser stuff in the pipeline (check out quantum cascade lasers).

Now, I'm curious though. Would this be an ultraviolet lighting up phosphor dots, or a tunable dye laser being adjusted? Hopefully the latter.

What about pixel pitch? There's a limit to how collimated you can get a laser, and if a laser hits adjacent pictures, it could cause interference. Will the monochromatic lasers work as well as polychromatic LED backlights?

Sounds interesting, though.
feathers 16th January 2010, 10:41 Quote
This is not a new idea of course. Do I want a display that depends on scanning motors/mirrors? No. If it could bring large screen (i.e. wall sized) screens at low cost then yes, might be nice. Bouncing a "LASER" (notice the correct spelling because I'm not a pre-teen) using motors spinning at high speed will inevitably bring problems of life longevity.

Ask yourself this: What is the most unreliable component in a computer?

Answer = Hard disk.

Nah, not a new idea and it won't become mainstream. The very first TV ever was based on scanning mirrors. It didn't survive against the competition: solid state - no mechanical parts.
Flibblebot 16th January 2010, 12:35 Quote
OK. I'll say this for a third time: NO BIG SPINNING MIRRORS. The technology (at least that in Mitsubishi's TV) uses a DLP chip that uses tiny micro mirrors. Nothing big, nothing spinning, no motors. The DLP chip is about the same size as a CPU.

DLP displays (both rear- and front-projection systems) have been around for years, the technology is proven and tested. In a projection system, the most unreliable component is the bulb - using lasers instead of a bulb should increase the lifespan of a projector significantly.

The only thing I'm dubious about is the depth of any Prysm-type display - as the screen size increases, surely the laser/mirror array has to be further away from the phosphor screen? SO the bigger the display, the deeper the display?

I'd also be concerned about the smallest size they're saying they'll get to - surely there's a minimum depth where the lasers and mirrors can work?
MonkeyTurnip 16th January 2010, 14:13 Quote
no matter how great the technology of a screen is, there will still be crap to watch
tron 16th January 2010, 15:15 Quote
I have never seen an LCD (including LED backlit) screen able to display the high contrast levels of a good CRT or a good phosphor based Plasma TV, such as a Pioneer or Panasonic PDP.

Even the new Samsung LED backlit screens don't produce true blacks. They even contain some blue tinge in large black areas of the screen. My Samsung doesn't compete with my older Plasma screens.

It would be very interesting to see how this Laser technology compares in terms of contrast levels and deep true black levels of Plasma.
azrael- 16th January 2010, 15:39 Quote
Originally Posted by technogiant
Whatever happened to SED screens.....personaly thought that tech showed a lot of promise
Got pretty much, if not completely, killed due to a dispute over IP between the alleged IP holder (some company I can't even remember) and the Toshiba Canon joint venture. Something about the IP only having been licensed to Canon. As far as I can recall it ended with Toshiba selling its stake in the JV to Canon. Problem is, Canon has about zero knowhow when it comes to producing displays.
ZERO <ibis> 16th January 2010, 18:14 Quote
I just pray for the day that something other than plasma comes out that has the fast speed and great color and contrast that competes with crt without the burn in. Then finally I can have new computer monitors that are easier to move...
tron 16th January 2010, 18:28 Quote
Originally Posted by ZERO <ibis>
I just pray for the day that something other than plasma comes out that has the fast speed and great color and contrast that competes with crt without the burn in. Then finally I can have new computer monitors that are easier to move...

'Screen burn' shouldn't be any problem on modern plasmas.

I have been doing general PC work and gaming on plasma screens for years and never experienced any permanent burn in of images.
PingCrosby 16th January 2010, 19:22 Quote
Will I be able to point it at over flying aircraft?
HourBeforeDawn 17th January 2010, 09:24 Quote
Laser TV tech has been around for a while so theres nothing new about this. Still the more companies working on it the better for the consumer so this is still good.
Zut 18th January 2010, 13:52 Quote
I used to work for a company that made laser barcode printers that used moving mirrors. They were loud as hell! Imagine the sond of an old dot matrix printer, but more piercing.

I think I'll stick with my nice, quiet solid state display devices thank you.
metarinka 18th January 2010, 20:30 Quote
It's funny how one misinformed comment about mirrors can derrail the whole thread.

The mirrors they are referring to if I'm not mistaken are the same ones that are used in rear projection tv's. The so called mirrors on a chip.
go stand next to a modern rear projection tv and see if you can "hear" the mirrors OR see if they a bad lifespan (they don't) the technology is mature and useable.

The only undesirable is the fact that they need calibration from time to time.
Flibblebot 18th January 2010, 22:40 Quote
Originally Posted by metarinka
The so called mirrors on a chip.
DLP. I've posted about it several times, people just don't read threads like they used to back in the day :p The mirrors are tiny. Trust me, you cannot hear them move over the noise of the cooling fan.

I've never known a DLP need recalibrating before. The only problem I've ever come across with DLPs is the colour wheel that they use - among some people (me included), they cause a "rainbow effect" where you see brief flashes of colour across the screen, especially when you move your head or look at the edges of the screen from the corner of your eyes. It's so annoying to me that I can't use DLP systems for home cinema.

The problem is solved when using 3-chip systems or (in this case) separate laser beams.
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