With the TV heavyweights unleashing a torrent of 3D LCD and plasma TVs upon us this year it would be easy to assume that those are the only technologies capable of providing 3D viewing in the home. A small Los Gatos, California-based startup called HDI is out blow such assumptions out of the water with what it says is a superior 3D alternative. By all reports the company’s laser-driven 100-inch 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection Television delivers a stunning 3D picture, thanks in part to its boasting the highest refresh rate of any mass-produced television or projector.

Laser TVs aren’t new, and although they've attracted praise for their impressive picture quality and energy efficiency, they haven’t really set the world on fire in the sales department. HDI is hoping to change that with its laser-driven 3D offering. HDI says its display delivers a 2D image with a 50 percent greater resolution than today’s digital cinemas and derives its high definition stereoscopic 1920 x 1080p “3D” image quality from two RGB laser-illuminated Liquid Crystal on Silcon (LCOS) micro display imagers.

At full 1080p HD, the HDI Ltd. screen refreshes at 360 fields per-second on each eye. According to the company this high refresh rate eliminates the adverse effects, such as migraines, dizziness, and nausea, long associated with substandard 3D display technology. For conversion of 2D content to 3D HDI TVs will utilize real time converter technology from HDlogix.

The Technology

The projection technology that can be found in HDI’s TV’s, as well as it’s projection systems, relies on three low wattage lasers that transmit laser light, (red, green and blue), to a controller via fiber optic cables. This controller combines the different colors to sends a full-color image through prisms that separate the laser lights into two channels – one for each eye. Two LCoS imagers then capture the high definition 3D images and they’re ready for projection.

The two overlapping images are projected at a rate of 360 frames per second for each color for a grand total of 1080 images per second – far greater even than the 480Hz LED 3DTV unveiled by LG last month. In another point of difference to the current crop of 3D TVs being released the HDI offering can be viewed using passive polarized glasses instead of the more expensive active shutter glasses. And an added bonus of using lasers is that energy consumption can be kept down to less than 200 watts for a 100-inch set.

Initially HDI had hoped to license its 3D technology to existing TV manufacturers but no one was interested so HDI decided to start a TV company and produce the sets itself. It will be aiming its 100-inch TV at high-end, custom install users as well as corporate boardrooms, studios and sports bars.

High Praise

HDI’s 3D solution has already been attracting high praise from those who have been lucky enough to witness it in person. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, calls HDI Ltd., “Without a doubt, the best demonstration of 3D technology I have ever seen,” Technology journalist Richard Hart states, “The smoothest yet, and smoothness means no headaches,” and Sean Portnoy of ZDNet.com, wrote, “We could be looking at a Holy Grail of sorts for the next generation of television.”

If you’re one of the fortunate ones to be attending NAB 2010 in Las Vegas later this month then you can decide whether the accolades are well founded as HDI will be debuting its laser-driven 100-inch 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection Television there. Everyone else will have to wait until the HDI 3D sets start appearing in high-end AV retailers. There’s no word of when that is expected to happen or how much the new TVs will be when they do.