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The kind of laser beam you're <i>supposed</i> to stare at

Laser TVs will offer better picture and require less power.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Lasers have not lived up to their full potential in consumer electronics. At least that's what one of the companies behind laser TVs says.

Mitsubishi laser TV prototype

Novalux makes infrared lasers that will in the future be used in microdisplay TVs, home theater front projectors, and eventually digital projectors in movie theaters and business projectors.

But wait, a high-powered laser in your TV? Don't shield your eyes just yet. Lasers are a light source that so far has only been mass-produced in low-power applications, like in CD or DVD players. "We've never had a high-power consumer electronics laser," said Greg Niven, vice president of marketing for Novalux. "A laser pointer is 1 or 3 milliwatts. A laser TV would be 5 or 6 Watts."

Laser TVs would produce a better picture because lasers are capable of displaying almost all of the colors the human eye can see, and would consume less power than the rear-projection technologies currently on the market, Niven told the crowd gathered at iSuppli's Flat Information Displays Conference 2006 here.

A laser TV is also an improvement on a laser pointer in another way--Novalux uses Class 2 laser devices, so looking at a blown-up laser image is much safer than staring at a focused laser from a laser pointer, Niven said.

At least you could walk into a store and buy a laser pointer today. Novalux-powered laser TVs won't be available until late 2007.