In the competitive world of digital projectors, two types reign supreme –
the LCD (sometimes also called the 3LCD) and the DLP. But which is better?
And what are the pros and cons of both types?
DLP – the market leader
Judging by the number of models available, DLP is the market leader. But
many of the best selling projectors are LCD models, partially because they
do tend to be a little cheaper than DLP models.
DLP (Digital Light Processing) works in a very different way to LCD. The
DLP chip is a reflective surface made up of thousands of tiny mirrors, with
each mirror representing a single pixel. Light from the projector’s lamp is
directed onto the surface of the DLP chip. The mirrors tilt, directing the
light either into the lens path to turn the pixel on, or away from it to
turn the pixel off.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is the older of the two technologies, and has
developed extensively over the past few years. Each LCD projector contains
three separate LCD glass panels, one each for the red, green and blue
components of the video signal. Each panel contains thousands of liquid
crystals that can be aligned in open, closed or partially open positions to
allow light to pass through.
DLP has the advantage in that it has a sealed imaging chip. This eliminates
the possibility of dust particles landing on the imaging plane, which would
be magnified and cause a distortion on the projected image. LCDs do not
have sealed panels, so can suffer from ‘dust motes’ being projected onto
the final image. However, in DLP projectors, the imaging chip is the only
sealed unit, which can mean that the projector can suffer from a build up
of dust on other components. In particular, dust can build up on the colour
wheel, which may affect colour and image quality. Whether you decide to go
for an LCD or DLP projector, choosing a model with dust filters fitted may
prolong the life of your projector and cut down on maintenance and
LCD – tried and tested?
LCD has been around for longer than DLP, and as such has a provenance and
reputation for reliability. They also tend to be cheaper than DLP
projectors, which can be a deciding factor for smaller companies. Anti-LCD
camps have claimed that LCD suffers from ‘burn-in’. This refers to
permanent damage that can be suffered by CRT or plasma phosphor-based
displays. Once a static image has been etched onto a phosphor display
through long-term exposure, it cannot be removed. Contrary to popular
belief, LCD projectors do not suffer from burn-in – when image persistence occurs, it is usually
temporary and can normally be erased by displaying a white screen for a
The other issue is the degradation of the image over time. This is often
where the biggest debate rages between the two camps. DLP tends to suffer
less than LCDs from the pixelation of images over time, but LCD
manufacturers have countered this by developing smaller interpixel gaps,
making any so-called ‘screendoor’ effect less noticeable. LCD has had
longer to develop its technology, so the shortcomings that it may have had
in the beginning as compared to DLP have been eradicated through research
and development of the LCD technology.
It really boils down to price and function. How much you want to pay for
your projector and what you want to use it for should dictate your
decision. Both LCD and DLP technologies are rapidly advancing, and to be
honest there is very little to choose between the two as they currently
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