November 28, 2006
| by Dennis P. Barker
The term “microdisplays” doesn’t refer to tiny televisions but rather to the microscopic digital technology that makes today’s new breed of rear-projection TVs possible. And those TVs are big—with screen sizes from 42 to 100 inches. Still, they’re not as big, deep and heavy as those mammoth rear-projection CRT (cathode ray tube) sets they’re replacing. Many are only 15 inches deep and less, allowing them to fit in cabinets and other places where a big TV just isn’t possible. Best of all, these microdisplays are much more affordable than flat-panel plasma and LCD monitors, with most models under $5,000 and a few below $2,000. Microdisplays also don’t have image “burn-in” problems like plasma TVs or motion lag or blurring like LCD TVs.
- DLP (one-chip Digital Light Processing) from Texas Instruments
- 3LCD (3-chip Liquid Crystal Display)
- LCoS (3-chip Liquid Crystal on Silicon)
- LCoS variants including HD-ILA (3-chip Directdrive Image Light
Amplifier) from JVC, and SXRD (3-chip Silicon X-tal [Crystal]
Reflective Display) from Sony.
The resolution of 720p (p for progressive scanning) is now considered entry level HD, and 1080p translates into a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 or “true HD” as some call it. All models now include HD tuners—some with digital cable-ready CableCARD slots and some without. Models that don’t support CableCARD will likely have a QAM cable HD tuner that allows you to view “in the clear” cable HD signals (the networks and PBS) but not the premium channels like HBO, which, if you don’t have a CableCARD, will still require the dreaded box.
Also look for HDMI (high-bandwidth multimedia interface) connections for hooking up to high-def DVD players like HD DVD and Blu-ray and recording in high definition.
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.