Editor’s Note: The original version of this article contained misleading information that drew parallels between consumer LEDs and stadium LEDs. This information has been removed. (4/9/07)
Light-emitting diodes (LED), working in conjunction with DLP for rear-projection TVs, eliminate the need for bulbs and color wheels to produce the images you see on-screen. Or to be a bit more technical, red, green and blue LEDs sequentially fire to produce the color and provide the illumination needed for lighting the display.
As a TV technology, LED is worth investigating. Colors are intense and saturated, and, compared to DLP-based color systems using bulbs and color wheels, LED images have greater levels of detail and richness (LEDs can display up to 140 percent of the NTSC color gamut). LED has a faster refresh rate and start-up time is noticeably quicker: six to seven seconds on average compared to the 20-25 second start-ups needed by rear-projection televisions). Plus, the lack of a bulb and color wheel eliminates potential trouble with parts that can fail, and there’s no “rainbow effect.” LEDs also consume less power, so their environmental impact isn’t as severe as other display technologies.
The only real negatives are ones that can be overcome with future improvements in LED technology. The brightness in first-generation LEDs didn’t suit larger displays (60 inches or more) and the price of LED televisions is higher than similarly-sized DLP models. However, Samsung is releasing a 61-inch LED TV this year and the price gap between LEDs and DLPs has narrowed in recent months.
LED TVs Arrive
LED televisions are already being manufactured. NuVision’s 52-inch 52LEDLP uses LED technology and Samsung’s HL-S5679W 56-inch 1080p model was released in 2006. Samsung has additional 50-, 56- and 61-inch LED models on the way, and these new units are slimmer than the HL-S5679W.
Dan Schinasi, Sr. Marketing Manager, Digital Projection TV for Samsung Electronics America, notes that an LED light source presents a number of benefits that directly affect the consumer’s viewing experience. Besides those points noted above, there is “a noticeably superior life-span—the LED light source lasts for the life of TV, as opposed to 6,000 total hours.” Consumers receive an additional economic lift because they won’t have to replace a lamp after two or three years of LED use, Schinasi says.
Manufacturers also benefit from LED, notes Anmin Zheng, president and CEO of Foreal Spectrum, Inc. Zheng says LED shortens the design cycle and simplifies manufacturing costs. “Plus, the excellent image quality is accompanied by a high level of reliability,” says Zheng.
Whether these type of displays will become more in vogue or remain a small “genre” for HDTV use isn’t something that can be answered here. But where this technology is going would seem to be evident: future innovations will continue to improve the quality, intensity and longevity of LED televisions.
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