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CES 2013: LG to demo laser-powered front projector

CES 2013: LG to demo laser-powered front projector

Looking for a new big-screen front projection system that would be right at home in Dr. Evil’s living room? LG is heading to CES promising the first demos of its new “Hecto” Laser TV projection system, which includes a new 1080p front projector lit by lasers, paired with a special 100-inch screen.

The timing of the announcement is somewhat ironic, given that Mitsubishi just pulled the plug on its rear-projection TV business, which included a line of laser-based projection TVs it market under the LaserVue brand.

Apart from the laser-based illumination system, another unique feature of the projector is its ultra short throw, which lets the projector be placed as close as 22 inches to the screen. The projector’s short throw—plus its ability to be placed close to the floor or mounted high on a ceiling—greatly increases the projector’s placement flexibility, LG says. And unlike most projectors we’ve seen, this model has a built-in ATSC TV tuner, as well as LG’s smart TV Internet platform with access to lots of online content.

While most home-theater front projectors use conventional mercury-based lamps—a few models use LEDs—as the light source, the laser-based illumination system in the Hecto uses specialized lamps embedded in the projector itself. Unlike conventional lamps, which have to be replaced after 2,500 to 3,000 hours, LG claims the laser-based system will last for up to 25,000 hours without replacement. (For reference, that’s about 17 years of use if you watch it four hours every day.) Another benefits of the laser-based system is very high dynamic contrast ratio:1,000,000:1, according to LG, although we don’t put much credence in any contrast-ratio claims.

LG’s Laser TV combines a laser light source with DLP technology to produce 1080p images. The projector has to be used with a special 100-inch fixed screen that has a black, rather than the usual white or off-white, screen surface. As a result, when mounted, the screen looks a lot like one of LG’s ultra-thin Cinema Screen LCD TVs. In addition to the built-in digital TV tuner, the projector has two 10-watt built-in speakers, 3 HDMI inputs, an optical digital audio output, and an RS-232 jack for home integration.

The system also shares LG’s smart TV platform, with built-in Wi-Fi, access to a lot of online content—including streaming services for movies and TV shows—and an apps market. It also has LG’s customizable dashboard that organizes content into card-based folders, plus WiDi and Wi-Fi direct (Miracast) for accessing content from portable devices. The projector comes with LG’s updated Magic Remote control, which lets you control onscreen actions using voice commands, gestures, by pointing, and via an embedded scroll wheel.

We’ll be checking out the Laser TV demos during CES to see what the images look like, especially in brighter rooms. Hopefully we’ll also find out if it’s a real product you’ll be able to buy this year, or just a future-tech demo. If it’s the former, we’ll aim to get pricing and availability. Make sure you check back with our blog for all the news coming out of CES during the first week of January.

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