DLP vs. LCD, which is better?
There is not a simple answer as each technology offers advantages and disadvantages.
DLP Technology: Was designed by Texas Instruments and the DLP chip is a reflective surface made up of thousands of tiny mirrors. Each mirror represents 1 pixel. To produce an image, the light from the lamp hits the DLP chip. The mirrors wobble back and forth directing light either into the lens path to turn the pixel on or away from the lens path to turn the pixel off.
In order to define color, there is a color wheel that consists of red, green, blue, and sometimes white (clear) filters. This wheel spins between the lamp and the DLP chip and alternates the color of the light hitting the chip from red to green to blue. The mirrors tilt away from or into the lens path based upon how much of each color is required for each pixel at any given moment in time. This activity modulates the light and produces the image that is projected onto the screen.
- Smaller size. Since DLP projectors only have 1 chip as opposed to LCD which has 3 chips, the size of DLP projectors is much smaller.
- Higher Contrast Ratio and deeper black levels. DLP chips have a higher tilt angle in the mirrors and a black substrate under the mirror.
- Reduced Pixilation. DLP projectors have a muted pixel structure whereas LCD projectors have a more visible grid when viewing video. Not a difference when viewing a presentation.
- Possible rainbow effect. Since DLP projectors use a spinning color wheel, there is the potential to leave visible artifacts on the screen but in today’s projectors manufacturer’s have doubled the refresh rate reducing the possibility of the rainbow effect to be seen by most people.
LCD Technology: Liquid Crystal Display chips typically contain three separate LCD glass panels, one each for red, green and blue components of the image signal being fed into the projector. As light passes through the LCD panels, individual pixels can be opened to allow light to pass or closed to block the light. This activity modulates the light and produces the image that is projected onto the screen.
- Color saturation. This is due to the fact that most DLP chips use a white panel in the color wheel. Although this white panel boosts brightness it tends to reduce saturation somewhat.
- Sharper image. This is more evident in a slide show presentation than a video. DLP isn’t necessarily fuzzy but if put side by side the LCD image will look a bit sharper.
- More efficient. LCD produces higher ANSI lumens than DLP using the same wattage lamp.
- Visible pixilation. Although not relevant to presentations it is noticeable in video.
- Lower contrast ratio and black levels. LCD are not up to par with DLP contrast and black levels. This is not a problem for presentations as it is with video where the difference is noticeable.
So which is the right projector for me would depend on the application. LCD is best suited for presentations while DLP is the better choice for video applications. Although the technology continues to advance closing the gap on the differences.
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