Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mitsubishi LaserVue L65-A90

The Mitsubishi LaserVue L65-A90 is a 65" DLP rear projection television (RPTV) that uses a laser for illumination instead of the traditional incandescent bulb or LED. The L65-A90 has a 1920x1080p native resolution, 4 HDMI 1.3a jacks, a 120 Hz smooth display mode, 24fps source, ATSC/QAM tuner, 3D capability with special shutter glasses, and all the other standard features that you'd expect in a high end HDTV. The L65-A90 is 10" deep, weighs 136 pounds, and has a $7000 MSRP. An optional wall mount that adds 2" of depth is available for $200. I can't imagine hanging something this big that protrudes a whole foot from a wall. A 73" version is planned for 2009.

Instead of a projection lamp and a spinning color wheel, the L65-A90 uses red, green, and blue (RGB) laser that can quickly be pulsed on and off. The red, green, and blue lasers have a very narrow spectrum which is a common trait for lasers. So spectral analysis of the RGB color mixing will have 3 very sharp lines. This is very different than the colors produced by sunlight and a prism. It is also very different than the light produced by an LCD's CCFL and the phosphors in CRT and plasma displays. Additive mixing of strong green and red spectral lines will produce the color yellow but the basic components will still be red and green. This color mixing works because our eyes have red, green, and blue cones but a tetrachromat may disagree.

The L65-A90 uses the Texas Instruments .65” Dark Chip 4 DLP imager. Like other DLP chips is utilizes a pixel shifting technique create a 1920 x 1080 image. The quick on/off pulsed nature of the RGB lasers replace the spinning color wheel. This reduces the rainbow color wheel effect that is common with DLP's. The L65-A90 has a fresnel lens screen like traditional DLP displays so off-axis brightness shift should still be an issue.

Black Level
This display has a very good black level, some say it even rivals the Kuro's. Black level performance is partly due to the ability of the individual lasers to turn off during parts of the refresh when they are not in uses. The low beam divergence nature of the laser also reduces the pixel spot size and mirror scatter which helps the black level.

The L65-A90 has a "natural" color mode which matches the HDTV standard Rec. 709 closely. The "brilliant" color modes has a color space that exceeds Rec. 709 and it extremely wide. The "brilliant" color mode produces a visible wow effect with all of the RGB primary colors and especially red. The value of this extended color space is questionable since it doesn't match what calibrated studio camera and monitors use.

Torch Mode
The L65-A90 is an incredibly bright display with a max 111 foot-lamberts (fL) measurement. Calibration took this down to 66 fL for the brilliant mode and 50 fL for the natural mode. This extreme level of brightness should prove beneficial in stores where torch mode tends to sell more HDTVs.

The HDguru measured an overscan of 2.5% and a motion resolution of 320 lines in 60 Hz mode and 610 lines in 120 Hz mode. Power consumption usage is about 95W which is extremely low for a display of this size. The HDguru said that brilliant mode "provided a more satisfying viewing experience than the Rec.709 constricted color of the natural mode setting" and gave the L65-A90 his highest 4-heart rating.

Amazing picture. The extended brilliant color space, good black level, and extreme torch mode brightness should prove very successful on the showroom floor. The higher brightness of LCD displays is a main reason for their popularity over plasmas.

The high MSRP of $7000 will definitely limit the popularity of the L65-A90. Current traditional bulb Mitsubishi DLP's of the 65" size list for $2500. Except for the light drive mechanism and the 3X price increase, the two Mitsubishi DLP's are basically the same. Mitsubishi is definitely targeting the high-end with the L65-A90 and maybe they can be successful there but if they can build a 73" model and lower the price to the levels of the previous DLP generation then they will have a definite winner. The chances of such a dramatic price drop are low though so this may signal the end of the RPTV era.

The laser DLP technology of the L65-A90 would also be very interesting in a front projection model. The high brightness and low beam divergent nature of laser light would make it very well suited to long throws such as at a movie theater.


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