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Unformatted text preview: 38 IEEE Spectrum | April 2004 | NA Tomorrow s + CONSUMER A DARK-HORSE TECHNOLOGY THE GRATING LIGHT VALVEMAY JOIN THE COMPETITION TO DETHRONE THE CRT BY TEKLA S. PERRY A DARK-HORSE TECHNOLOGY THE GRATING LIGHT VALVE MAY JOIN THE COMPETITION TO DETHRONE THE CRT BY TEKLA S. PERRY Authorized licensed use limited to: SUNY Buffalo. Downloaded on November 24, 2009 at 15:47 from IEEE Xplore. Restrictions apply. April 2004 | IEEE Spectrum | NA 39 THE CATHODE-RAY-TUBE TV SET has ruled the con- sumer electronics world for decades: since its introduction, more than a billion of them have been sold. In some countries, house- holds are much more likely to have a TV than a refrigerator. From a baroque box with a bulbous little black-and-white screen, TVs became big, bright, and ubiquitous. Today they not only dom- inate entertainment rooms, they also perch on dressers, hang under kitchen cabinets, fit into pockets and purses, and pop down from the ceilings of automobiles. They got their start snatching signals out of the air, but TVs are now apt to be fed from cables, satellite dishes, VCRs, and DVDs, and, increasingly, computers. But what kind of TV will be our portal into the digital, thousand- channel, high-definition world weve all been waiting for? Nobody can say at the moment. But a dazzling dark-horse candidate, the Grating Light Valve display, exploits several extraordinarily prom- ising recent advancesmicroelectromechanical systems and advanced semiconductor lasersto offer some of the most bril- liant, sharpest pictures ever to grace a glowing screen. Ironically, amid this blossoming of the TV market, one thing has become clear: the CRT is destined for a slow but sure decline. The CRT is losing market share because for TVs, more and more, size does matter. For their entertainment rooms, consumers want big screens, and CRTs cant satisfy: the bigger a CRT screen is, the deeper the glass tube must be. The set becomes impossibly heavy and unwieldy when the diagonal measurement of the screen goes beyond about 36 inches. That problem, and a few others, have opened the way for a host of contenders to replace the CRT as the centerpiece in the home of the future and to reap untold billions in sales. Like candidates in a presidential primary, a field of these possible successors appeared in January at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nev., creating a pulsating cacophony of big, bigger, and gargantuan images. Liquid-crystal displays, plasma displays, non-CRT projection displays using digital-light-processing chips or liquid-crystal-on-silicon technologyeach had its moment in the spotlight. All featured impressive technical developments and big pictures. And all are vying for a place in your living room....
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