Rear-projection down but not out?

January 22, 2008 // 9:19 a.m.

Tags: #dlp #hdtv #lcd #plasma #projection #texas-instruments #ti #tv

Despite reports to the contrary, it would appear that rear-projection technology isn't quite out for the count just yet. Although, as previously reported, sales of HDTVs based on rear-projection technology have slowed to the point where they are almost completely eclipsed by rival LCD, at least one company thinks they can inject some life into the sets.

Texas Instruments, the developer of the original digital light processor system used in most modern projection systems – both rear and front – has plans to reinvigorate the technology.

The company used its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show last week to showcase teeny-tiny new DLP chips that could help rear-projection sets compete with the elfin depths of LCD TVs, along with a hush-hush demo of projectors small enough to be built in to a mobile phone.

The main hook Texas Instruments is using to draw manufacturers back to rear-projection is contrast ratio: as consumers begin to feel disappointed with the often lacklustre blacks offered by the backlit LCD sets currently on the market, the company is hoping that a 500,000-to-1 contrast ratio will be enough to turn heads. The sets planned for production in the second half of this year will also ditch the traditional bulb-based lighting for a system of LEDs and lasers to double the brightness of the picture and eliminate the hot-spot effect that some DLP sets can suffer from.

The new DLP chips will be adopted by the last few manufactures still supporting rear-projection technology: Toshiba, Samsung, and Mitsubishi. Previous rear-projection stalwarts Seiko Epson, Sony, and Hitachi all ditched the format last year in favour of LCD.

Has a 500,000-to-1 contrast got you thinking twice about discounting rear-projection as a current technology, or do you think LCD still has the upper hand? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.
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