LAS VEGAS - There are lots of ways to generate a wide and subtle range of colors in an ultra-high-definition (UHD) TV, and Philips has developed one of the most unusual ones I've seen. The Philips Smart Laser Backlight UHD TV employs a red laser to display a 4K image with a novel color mechanism, resulting in bright, deep reds and respectable showings across the rest of the spectrum.
I went eyes-on with the Laser Backlight UHD TV at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015, and the picture quality appeared to be on a par with TVs from heavy hitters like Samsung and LG. Like SUHD technology from the former competitor and OLED screens from the latter, the red laser backlight implements a unique technology in pursuit of the widest, most accurate color range.
The Laser Backlight UHD TV employs a red laser in addition to a cyan LED and a white LED to create a color spectrum much richer than a conventional white LED alone. In practical terms, it means that the reds on the Philips TV are unsurpassed, while the blues and greens look much better than those on a standard 4K TV.
It's hard to tell how the Laser Backlight UHD TV stacks up to technologies like SUHD or OLED, since Philips did not feature a direct comparison of the three in Las Vegas. Generally speaking, though, OLED still has stronger blacks, while the SUHD seems to have better blues and whites. Top-notch reds are nothing to sneeze at, however.
The Laser Backlight UHD TV also bucks trends by emphasizing excellent speakers over slimness. The device is a bit bulkier than the average UHD TV due to two detachable, high-fidelity speakers. The TV can also access 4K content right out of the box via Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, as well as 1080p content through other providers and the Philips smart TV interface.
Whether the Laser Backlight UHD TV measures up to its competition, it seems like a strong contender in its own right. The device will ship in May, and cost $3,000 for a 58-inch model or $3,500 for a 60-inch one.