Telescopic display could kick LCD's little arse

LCD screens have their plusses — they're cheap; don't consume as much power as, say, plasma displays; and look totally sleek and hot — but their weaknesses are just as plentiful: They have difficulty displaying true blacks. Their pixel refresh rates aren't so good, so fast action sometimes produces motion blurs. And as energy-friendly as they are, they're still inefficient; around 90% of the light they produce is wasted. If only there were a display technology that boasted all the advantages of LCD and none of its downsides.

Luckily, some clever people in Microsoft's Research division have come up with such a (theoretically) kick-ass display. Their telescopic-pixel design works like this: each pixel has a tiny doughnut-shaped mirror and an even tinier disc-shaped one (seen in the array in the pic). The mirrors move when they need to let light through, as opposed to the liquid crystals that twist and untwist to in an LCD. Since the light passes through fewer materials, the telescopic display wouldn't need a backlight as bright as an LCD's, saving energy. The mirrors are more nimble than crystals, too, improving reaction time. Finally, the design is simpler, meaning, should it ever enter mass production, telescopic TVs might end up being cheaper than LCD sets.

We're not in a hurry to have Microsoft corner the market on another technology, but this telescopic display sure sounds a heck of a lot more promising the much-hyped SED tech, which turned out to be vaporware. Will telescopic displays be the HDTVs of the future? We'll see.

Microsoft Research, via Technology Review