The basic idea is simple: you put three lasers inside the TV (one red, one green and one blue) and then scan the beams across a rear-projection screen using mirrors. By scanning fast enough you eliminate flicker. The lasers are so bright that you get a great image.
The advantages include:
1) Brighter, better saturated picture, even at large sizes.
2) Wider color range and very precise colors
3) Better energy efficiency at large screen sizes - perhaps half the power of an LCD, even better compared to plasma.
4) Long life, since lasers don’t degrade.
5) Large screen sizes at relatively low cost.
6) 3-D capable because of high scan rates.
7) Thin screens compared to other rear-projection technologies
The video predicted that we would see laser TVs in about 18 months. And here they are, shown in a public demo yesterday:
LaserVue L65-A90 has World Premiere at Retailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS6wsJRGqnQ - basics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7XpemxLPT4 - a little more on the tech
I've often bashed on LCD because I believe that display screens should inherently create photons - call that approach "inherently emissive". LCDs on the other hand depend on a backlight to create white light, and then selectively absorb parts of it with filters to make the colors you see on the screen. I call this approach "inherently destructive." You are guaranteed that much of the power you put into the back light will never make it into the viewer's eye, because the screen inherently absorbs part of the light. This leads to less bright, less vivid images; limitations on viewing angle; and all sorts of other nasty crap. LCD's only advantage is that they're light, and less of a power-hog than CRTs (what isn't?). I was hoping that OLED technology would come along and kick the crap out of LCDs, but this laser stuff looks pretty good too.
I'm very skeptical of this "teh lay-sars will last forever!!1!" talk. Given the multi-thousand price point they're talking about, maybe that's true. But if these laser TVs go to mass market, they're going to find a way to reduce the manufacturing cost. And that way will almost certainly result in a reduction of the life of some crucial component. Also very curious how they scan the laser beams. Probably not with a spinning mirror in a tilt assembly - more likely three digital micro-mirror devices like the ones used in DLP TVs.