Looking for a home-theater setup that would satisfy Dr. Evil? LG Electronics hopes so: Next month it will start selling an 1080p projector that uses a lasers as light source, paired with a special 100-inch diagonal screen.
We first heard about the LG Laser TV, priced at $9,000, right before CES in January. In addition to its laser-based illumination system, another unusual feature of the projector is its ultra-short throw, which allows it to be placed very close to the screen. During our CES demo, the projector was positioned on the floor less than 2 feet from a special 100-inch screen, which is included as part of the package. The projector can also be ceiling-mounted at a similar distance if that location works better in your room.
Using a laser light source has several advantages, including long life—up to 25,000 hours, or five times the life of traditional mercury lamps, according to the company—and improved brightness. During my CES demo, the picture looked quite good, even in the exhibit hall's harshly bright environment.
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Unlike most front projectors, the Laser TV includes an ATSC TV tuner built into the projector's housing, as well as a 20-watt speaker system. The projector is loaded with features, including built-in Wi-Fi, LG's smart TV platform with access to several streaming movie and TV show services, and an app store. It also includes WiDi and Wi-Fi Direct (also known as Miracast) for displaying content stored on other compatible devices. LG's gesture-based Magic Remote control is also provided as part of the package.
With prices for 1080p front projectors, even 3D models, falling as low as $1,000 to $1,500, Laser TV isn't for for everyone. But if projector placement or overly bright rooms are issues in your home—but money isn't—you might want to give Laser TV a whirl. After all, not everyone can say they've got laser beams firing in their basement.
—James K. Willcox