The Technology War: LCD vs. DLP

Evan Powell, July 28, 2009

Weaknesses and limitations of DLP

Color wheels can produce rainbow artifacts. The problem people point to most frequently as a weakness in DLP is its tendency to produce "rainbow artifacts." Rainbow artifacts (sometimes referred to as color separation artifacts) are momentary flashes of banded color that look like rainbows. They occur at random, and they only last for an instant. But for people who are sensitive to them, they can be quite distracting. If you are engrossed in a film or video, they can take you entirely out of the video experience.

Rainbow artifacts are a problem only on single-chip DLP products, and for the most part, only those using slower speed color wheels. They can also occur on LED-based models due to the sequential strobing of red, green, and blue LEDs. Typically the problem manifests itself when the viewer is watching movies or video. When viewing static images such as presentation charts or photographs, people generally do not experience the problem.

The rainbows occur because of the sequential color updating from the wheel or LED. As the color wheel spins or the LEDs change, the image on the screen is either red, green, or blue at any given instant in time. The technology relies upon your eyes not being able to detect the changes from one to the other. However, when your eye moves rapidly in response to some movement in the picture, you can get a red, green, and blue update on three different points on your retina, thus producing the impression of a rainbow. Not everyone perceives rainbows the same way. Many people have less sensitive eyes and cannot detect rainbow artifacts at all. Others see them quite readily. There is no way to know whether you are among those who can or cannot see them except by watching a DLP projector yourself.

Since LCD projectors and 3-chip DLP projectors always deliver a constant red, green, and blue image simultaneously, they do not create rainbow artifacts.

On DLP projectors with color wheels, rainbow artifacts are reduced by increasing the speed of the wheel. The first generation DLP projectors incorporated a color wheel that rotated sixty times per second, or 3600 RPM. With one red, green, and blue filter in the color wheel, updates on each color happened 60 times per second. This rotation speed in the first generation products was known as a "1x" rotation speed. In second-generation DLP products, the color wheel rotation speed was doubled to 2x, or 7200 RPM. The doubling of the color refresh rate reduced the time between color updates, and so reduced the visibility of rainbow artifacts for most people. But a 2x rotation speed was still not fast enough for products to be used in home theater and video applications.

Today, some DLP projectors being built for the home theater market use a color wheel containing two sets of red, green, and blue filters. This wheel still spins at 7200 RPM, but because red, green, and blue are refreshed twice in every rotation rather than once, the industry refers to this as a 4x rotation speed. And by increasing the physical rotation speed beyond 7200 RPM, some projectors now have 5x or 6x speed wheels. For the large majority of users, the 5x and 6x speed wheels in most current home theater models have reduced rainbow artifacts in video display to the point where they are of little or no concern.

However, most DLP projectors built for commercial/presentation use still use 2x speed wheels because they are less expensive. This is perfectly fine if the presentation matter is static charts, graphics, photography, or anything that does not stimulate rapid eye movement. We do not recommend DLP projectors with 2x speed wheels to buyers for whom video display or part time home theater are important intended uses.

Color saturation/color brightness. Some DLP projectors have excellent color saturation, and some are exceptionally poor. This is related more to the vendor's implementation than anything inherent in the technology itself. Advocates of 3LCD technology have been quite vocal about the lack of color brightness on single-chip DLP products, particularly those that have white segments in the color wheel. This phenomenon is worth commenting on.

When a color wheel has a white (clear) segment, the lumen output of the projector is increased dramatically, and the ANSI lumen rating skyrockets. Most business class DLP products have white segments in the wheel to boost the all-important lumen rating. Conversely, most DLP projectors built for home theater have no white segments because they can compromise color saturation and the overall balance of the video image. Moreover, the lumen rating is not a big driving factor in the sale of home theater projectors.

When you use a light meter to measure the brightness of red, green, and blue on an LCD projector, the sum of the values usually adds up to the brightness reading you get for white. This makes sense because on an LCD projector, white is created by turning the red, green, and blue channels all fully on. But on a DLP projector, this is often not the case. Due to the presence of a white segment in the wheel, the white reading can be as much as double the sum of the brightness readings for red, green, and blue. In other words, if an LCD projector measures 2000 lumens of white light, you will also get 2000 lumens of color light out of it. If a DLP projector measures 2000 lumens of white, you might get only 1000 lumens of actual color light from it, the rest being white light.

Because of this, proponents of 3LCD technology have been lobbying for color brightness specs to be included along with ANSI lumen specs on the industry's specification sheets, and support for this has been building in the industry. In the spec wars, quite clearly this would be one metric on which LCD has a commanding advantage over DLP. Not surprisingly, Epson and Sony have already begun to publish color brightness specs on their LCD projectors to drive home the point. The color spec is always the same as the ANSI lumen rating, and the specs will read, as an example, "2600 lumens color light output, 2600 lumens white light output."

As a rule, DLP projectors with a white segment in the wheel do not look very appealing when measured for color brightness. The color reading always fall short of the white reading, and sometimes it falls short by 50% or more. This is especially true when the color wheel contains the basic red, green, blue, and white filters only. Many DLP projectors have complementary color filters such as cyan, magenta, and yellow. In this situation the color brightness measurements become more problematic. Thus we can understand why Texas Instruments and the DLP projector vendors have little interest in publishing color brightness specifications.

From a practical perspective, we have mixed feelings about all of this. Clearly, the 3LCD camp is correct that the traditional ANSI lumen spec does not tell the whole story. But neither does the color brightness spec. To be sure, the color on some DLP projectors looks dull and anemic next to some LCD models of the same lumen rating. Ironically, this can be particularly true when the "BrilliantColor" feature is enabled. Though BrilliantColor boosts the brightness of the image, it can substantially reduce color saturation in the process. It is peculiar that in order to get the richest and most saturated color from many DLP projectors, one needs to turn BrilliantColor off. (This is not universally true of all DLP projectors with BrilliantColor, since the BrilliantColor system can behave quite differently based on how it is implemented by the vendor.)

Oddly enough, on some DLP models with white segments in the wheel, even those on which color brightness falls far short of white, we see a rich, vibrant color that can easily match an LCD projector in the same price and lumen class. One reason is that the color filter configuration of the wheel has a lot to do with the end results. Another reason is that, though the DLP's color brightness may fall short of white, the effect of the DLP's inherent contrast advantage helps to compensate for it. That compensating effect cannot be quantified in a spec. Even when color brightness falls very far short, the picture sometimes does not end up looking much dimmer at all when put side by side with an LCD projector of the same white light output.

When a DLP projector's color vibrancy looks poor next to a comparably priced and spec'd LCD projector, it is due to a variety of design and product cost decisions made by the vendor, and not anything inherent to DLP technology per se. DLP can look truly spectacular or downright dismal depending on what is done with it. With so many variables in play, the specs can't tell the whole story, even if a color brightness spec were added to the mix. The publication of color brightness specs would be interesting, and would certainly draw attention to a noteworthy technical difference between LCD and DLP. But it is not conclusive information that would help an astute buyer sort out which model to buy.

Dithering artifacts. At any moment in time, each mirror position on a DLP chip is either fully on to render maximum brightness, or fully off to render black. There is no way a DLP mirror can be "partially on" to represent gray, like an LCD liquid crystal can. Therefore, the way the DLP chip renders gray is to flip the mirrors on and off very rapidly, such that they are on just enough of the time for the eye to average the "on's and off's" to a desired level of perceived brightness. This approach to rendering grays is called dithering. It works well enough for rendering gray values, but it can produce some visible instability in solid fields, mostly dark areas, referred to as dithering artifacts. It looks like digital noise, but it is a separate type of artifact caused by DLP technology itself, and not by the signal.

Dithering artifacts do not occur on LCD products because there is no dithering used to achieve varying levels of gray. The liquid crystals can be either fully open, or closed, or partially opened at intermediate positions to achieve the desired level of light transmission--again, similar in concept to shutters on a window.

Restricted compatibility with zoom lenses and lens shift. Due to the nature of DLP light engine mechanics, it is difficult for vendors to incorporate long zoom lenses or extended range lens shift features into a DLP projector. These limitations are not relevant in mobile presentation projectors since the primary design objective is small physical size, so none of them have big zooms or lens shift anyway. But in the home theater market in particular, LCD vendors have captured significant market share in part due to their ability to incorporate long 2.0x zoom lenses and extensive lens shift capability into LCD projectors. This makes it much easier for the consumer to install the projector anywhere they want, which is quite frequently on a rear shelf in the room. Due to lens restrictions on DLP projectors it is rare to be able to install a DLP model on a rear shelf.

Contents: Introduction DLP Advantages DLP Limitations LCD Advantages and Limitations
 

Reader Comments(62 comments)

Posted Mar 9, 2017 4:06 AM

By James

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Hello Everyone. I was wondering if you would get the same panel degrade on a DLP Laser projector as you would on a standard discharge lamp source DLP projector. Does the change in light source have any effect on the panel lifespan?. Thanks

Posted Jan 23, 2017 5:08 PM

By Vince

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Thanks for refreshing my mind about LCD vs DLP projectors in your article. I did similar research back in 2007 and purchased a Sanyo PLV-Z5. This LCD projector has 3892 hours on it as of this comment and came with a spare lamp. I have never replaced the lamp. The image has one defective pixel near the bottom left corner of the screen and is only noticeable occasionally. I have been extremely please with this projector. It has great place-ability with shift lenses in the horizontal and vertical planes. Give what I read in the comments, I think I would stick with LCD again on my next unit. I am only looking because it would be nice to take advantage of 4K technology. But I think there is still a lot of life left in this 10 year old projector.

Posted Sep 25, 2016 6:42 PM

By Fran

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I have purchased a viewsonic PJD6211 DLP proyector. The fist at 700 hours fail, appears a lot of white dots. But dont worry, I have guarantee. The second unit seems good, but at 350 hours failed tood, appearing a lot of white dots. The people need to know that this is a current fail from DLP chips inside DLP projector. These chips cost about $150-$200 and could fail again. I used now Epson LCD, and I know tha color may deteriorate in time, but prefer this than a dead one unit and 400$ lost. Viewsonic NEVER gave me a answer. But if you investigate you will know DMD chips fails often!

Posted Mar 8, 2016 12:01 PM

By Eric

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Agreed, I just had a BenQ DLP start with a couple of white dots and now it's half the screen. In the $1000 and less market, I would rather have a LCD project that loses some color over the years than a DLP that is not usable what so ever after a few years. For a price, BenQ can replace the chipset but for the price you might as well buy another projector.

Posted Sep 8, 2015 9:20 AM

By Jeff

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Is there a planned update to this article? Curious that the dip dmd chip/white dot problems are not considered a limitation of the technology. Does the three chip dip implementation offer any remediation to the single chipset problem of a mirror in the on/off position? Is the problem an artifact of a low quality chip implementation or the technology? BTW, I have an Optoma ep721 and love the picture, but the dots just come back no matter what I do.

Posted Nov 21, 2014 10:20 AM

By reiNbow

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Hmm, to expect a product lifetime of 100 000 hours is over the top I think. It would be equivalent of watching movies for 8 hours per day, every day for 35 years.

Posted Mar 18, 2014 6:00 AM

By WMAKA STEVE

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
hi......... i have installed and worked on LCD projectors since 2008.but i would recommend buying dlp since its the in -new thing . lcd suffers the chicken like effect of door light

Posted Nov 30, 2013 8:36 PM

By B Rivers

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Having designed, installed and serviced projection systems in corporate, museum and other environments for 20 years, it is my experience that LCD panel degradation is a serious concern that should be considered in any application where projectors run for more than a couple hours at a time. The high heat and intense UV output of projection lamps causes LCD panels to breakdown, especially in high brightness models, and the effects of this can be quite severe, typically burning up the blue panel first. I think it is an understatement to represent this merely as "a color shift", as the result is seen as a large black hole in a blue image, or a large yellow area in the center of a white screen. I've discussed this with engineers at many projector manufacturers who make both LCD and DLP products, who've confirmed that all LCD projectors, even those with inorganic elements, are subject to this degradation, and therefore are not recommended for applications where the projectors will be used for long periods of time. Inorganic versions do last a bit longer but still suffer from the same problem. The cost of servicing a projector with a burnt up LCD panel can be quite high, I've seen repair costs of $1500 or more for replacing the panel in a 3500 lumen conference room projector, not including the cost of shipping the unit back to the manufacturer/service center. Anyway, my advice and general rule of thumb is LCD is fine for applications that will see sporadic use for short periods of time, but for critical environments and applications where projectors need to run for extended periods of time, I strongly recommend DLP. There are of course exceptions to every rule, and for those who are amongst the small percentage of viewers able to perceive the rainbow effect of single chip DLP, find it problematic and understand the potential accelerated need to replace/service LCD projectors and can afford to do so, they may choose to go with LCD, but make sure you understand the considerations.

One final note: The potential color saturation advantages noted for LCD models only apply in comparison to single chip DLP models. Professional three-chip DLP projectors provide the most accurate color reproduction, which is why digital cinemas and high end staging companies use them almost exclusively. (One exception: Christie Digital has recently shown a prototype 4K laser projector for very large digital cinemas, not to be confused with small, low cost LED/laser hybrid projectors) These are truly professional grade models, and are not available in low cost versions, three-chip DLP projectors start at $20K+, ranging up into the stratosphere for extremely high brightness (flamethrower) models that can drive enormous screens, but for critical applications and large venues are the tools that can really get the job done.

Posted Dec 23, 2012 10:39 AM

By Jackey Wordstooln

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I didn't know LCD means liquid crystal display until I've read this post. Thanks so much for educating me. My Last Post: <a href="http://marketbold.com/KeywordMapPro/">Google Wonderwheel</a>

Posted Sep 7, 2012 7:16 AM

By Anthony

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I own a Sony 3LCD VPL-AW15 and it has been used sparingly over the course of almost 4 years for about 900 hours on its original bulb. I really like the natural tone of the colors and the contrast compared to other projectors, although it could use a little more brightness. Relatively recently though, I purchased from ebay a Sony VPL-VW50 SRXD projector in mint condition with a replaced compatible bulb with barely 180 hours on it. Obviously, the picture looks much sharper on the VW50 because it is a full HD projector but I think the colors look a little bit better on the lower end Sony. Obviously, it could be just a matter of calibration. One thing I really enjoy about the VW50 is the motor assisted lens shift and focus, it just much cooler than dialing it in with the nobs on my other projectors. I received yesterday a new LG PA70G from fry's and I'm experiencing the focus uniformity issue prevalent with this new model but I'm going to have to live with it. I love how small and light the LG is and that at least now I can dispense with the bulb life anxiety. I don't have a lot of experience with DLP projectors except a really crappy 800x600 res projector we use at work for presentations. I wouldn't mind trying a quality DLP projector first hand to see the difference in person. So far, I'm pretty satisfied with my LCD projectors, especially for the price I've paid for them ($1000 for the new one with an 80" screen included, $600 for the used Sony and $460 for the LG)

Posted Aug 13, 2012 2:56 AM

By stolennomenclature

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
The comment in the article re LCD projectors lasting 4000-10000 hours before the onset of lcd panel degradation is disconcerting. Not just because the figures seem to me to be so very low, but also because the author seems to be quite happy with these very low figures. 4000 hours is about the same lifespan as the average bulb, and 10000 hours only just slightly more then the lifespan of two bulbs. In the 4000 hour projector you would never even get to change the bulb, having to change the projector at the same time. In this case the manufacturer might just as well solder the bulb in. The longer lived projector would only get part way through its third bulb before you would want to chuck it. To me this situation is quite absurd. I would expect to get much more life out of a product costing this kind of money. To me the absolute minimum would be 60,000 hours for a cheap one, and say 100,000 or more for a top of the range one.

Posted May 10, 2012 11:17 AM

By Chris

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I had the same problem. This product has a 3 year warranty. They fixed it for me. 8 Month later I had the same problem again and I was out of warranty. If you are still in the 3 year window call them and get it fixed.

- Chris -

Posted Dec 6, 2011 3:48 PM

By Jorge

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Bought a Viewsonic PJ551D (DLP) for 600 Euros and after 2000 lamp hours (2 1/2 years) black and white pixels started appearing on the screen. At the beginning only a few, after a few weeks half of the screen was covered with damaged pixels. Such a product should last more than this. Should have gone to the movies...

Posted Nov 28, 2011 10:42 AM

By VAN

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
The one real disadvantage LCD not mentioned is the picture breakup(pixelation/motion lag)if there is motion in the picture. Its still quite noticeable on top of the line 240 hz refresh TVs. And I would assume on projectors too. To me at least it gives me a weak knee feeling almost like standing in a small boat. I get a light headed almost sea sick feeling while standing if I look at a display for more than a few moments. I haven't tried watching sitting down as I only have watched them in stores while standing. Note: I do own a DLP projector and the picture quality is vastly superior to LCD TVs with a lot of motion in the picture.

Posted Jul 25, 2011 8:25 AM

By abhinav

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
The article helped me a lot, i want a good HD projector under 700$ any suggestion ..

Posted Mar 3, 2011 10:26 AM

By lynn

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I would like a projector for under $500 to watch dvd's in my back yard. Any suggestions. thanks!

Posted Feb 21, 2011 10:17 PM

By heidi

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Is there less than a kilo projector? Which technology is cheaper over time?

Posted Dec 28, 2010 5:20 AM

By David Holloway

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Have had a DLP Optoma HD65(720)projector for approx. two years and have been very impressed with it. Initially, I was a little apprehensive that such a small unit could give out such an amazing image and with such quality (I grew up with film both in cine and slide with all its problems of dust, hairs in the gates, camera & projector, and most importantly light output; the one advantage it seems to me was the quality of lenses and focal lengths). This article has provided me with a greater knowledge of both systems and as I now wish to upgrade, a help in making a decision between DLP & LCD. I say 'help' but not a firm decision as although in favour of DLP I find the lack of optic flexibilty a drawback in projector placement; in fact there seems to be a distinct lack of info in respect of the optical specification in all models, unlike film projectors. The comment by Thomas on this aspect I concur with and ask the same question.

Posted Oct 16, 2010 3:50 AM

By David Berry

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Isn't it time to update this article to reflect the availability of LED illuminators for DLP projectors? The advantages of LED illuminators are that they are long life (>30,000h) and since they can be pulsed at very high speed, their use in place of the colour wheel addresses the historical issue of the colour break-up, or 'rainbow' artefacts. Certainly the way to go!

Posted Sep 17, 2010 12:52 PM

By leslie r

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
i think if you really read it and take the time to understand it all it really does make sense!

Posted Sep 15, 2010 1:16 PM

By Anyely

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I think this articles were pretty cool because they talked about LCD and DLP and it explain what they are and how they work :0

Posted Sep 15, 2010 1:11 PM

By leslie r

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
i think this artical is about LCD's and how the they work and contribute easier access to what the LCDis showing. And then lower down the artical there are some people who wrote what they thought on this artical. The LCD projector shows what you want to show without a blure.

Posted Sep 15, 2010 9:32 AM

By mikyla

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
THIS IS ALOT TO READ!

Posted Jun 6, 2010 6:19 AM

By SDavies

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
The statement that DLP chips do not degrade is no longer true. There is a now well-known propensity for the miniature mirrors on these chips to break down, sometimes after less than two years, causing a rash of white and black dots on the viewing screen. This ruins the quality of the viewing experience and is an expensive repair. It is happening to my Mitsubishi 65" flat-screen now (after the warranty period, of course).

Posted Jun 3, 2010 5:50 PM

By Mark Laposky

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Just exactly what I was looking for! Thought that I would never find it. Good article & unbiased. But, after reading, I've decided to go DLP and am now concious of the importance filters and seals. Thanks.

Posted May 28, 2010 7:44 AM

By ron

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
guys what is better 3LCD or DLP projectors? What should i buy for a shop window? To get good image in day light also

Posted Mar 11, 2010 5:35 PM

By Medenyx

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Agree with you David!

Posted Feb 2, 2010 8:44 PM

By David

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
With 3d-ready projectors hitting the market, it might be time to update this article with a discussion of the effects of each technology on 3d content (i.e., image persistence).

Posted Jan 23, 2010 12:14 AM

By Steve Linke

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Nice article. Could anybody direct me to where I could get a copy of the Texas Instruments DLP vs. LCD testing, which was apparently published back in 2003? Thanks.

Posted Jan 22, 2010 3:45 PM

By Glenn

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I would like to say that the article was well written and thought out covering the pros and cons of both technologies. From my experiences, (Pany PTAX200U 3LCD home theater projector), I would have to conclude that the technology you choose is dependent on your application. After 1800hrs my pany developed a yellow blob that started spreading. It is currently in the shop for repair. Polorizer replacement. I bought my pany because I had the idea that I would use it sparingly to watch movies, occasional sports and HDTV events perhaps 1-4 hours per day. Also what sold me was my ability to place it where i wanted and to take it out on the deck for outdoor movie night. Well the big screen, 120' silver cinema, and projector combination was so enjoyable and crisp that it was hard to resist not using it for everyday watching. That upped my hours to 6 hours a week night and 10 to 12 hours during the weekends. There is a small disclaimer in the manual that says if watched for more than 6 hours at a time it is possible that repairs may be needed within the first year. Well I'm experiencing that. At first I was mad and upset that this product was so wretched. After I got over my inital shock that my projector was down I have made decision to prolong the life of my projector. A pop up flat panel for daily viewing and of course the big screen for event and family times. Again I cant stree enough that purchasing the right technology for the right application will ease your headaches. If you want to replace your TV with a projector then DLP is a great way to go unless you have placement issues or issue with rainbows. If you use your projector for a Dedicated home theater the picture quality, contrast, lumens, and price point can make both technologies very attractive.

Posted Oct 7, 2009 11:09 AM

By Scott

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I have found that in budget projectors, we have better luck with LCD models over DLP. They have better color overall. Our DLP projectors had the wheel start to loose it's color, loosing the intensity of the colors except for while. But in High End projectors, In DLP they tend to add more colors to the wheel and have a better Image. Lower end=LCD generally better, Higher end=DLP generally better. Both have improved a lot from where they've come from

Posted Sep 29, 2009 3:01 AM

By Sunny Mathew

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
We are a christian organization using the projectors for presentation of Gospel. we are having 325 LCD projectors, and recently purchase 100 DLP projectors. In the beginning we were using a single chip LCD projector and the brightness of the projector remained for the same after 1000 hrs of use. but when we start using the Panasonic 3LCD projectors, the performance was very good in the beginning and the brightness came down after 500 hrs of use and after 2000 hrs, even after changing the lamp with a brand new lamp the brightness is very very poor. My question - will this happen to our DLP projectors, we are using for the outdoor programs? can any one answer?

Posted Sep 22, 2009 7:50 PM

By Hernan H

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I´m From south america. It`s important? YES, because we see a lot a movies in english with subtitles...and when you look up and down reading the subtitles...or you finishing reading a subtitle..your eyes go to down-right the screen..and then...you move your vision up.. this contiuous eye exercise makes the Rainbow effect more noticiable...I know DLP has more contrast...the LCD degrades (yellow spots in less than 2000 hours) but...I cannot live with the Rainbow eff. everytime I move my eyes from the movie to the subtitle...and so on.... Just my subjetive opinion...( sorry for my english!!)

Posted Sep 22, 2009 2:42 PM

By steve

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Quote:Posted Sep 3, 2009 12:42:44 AM By Dallas Alert Moderator

Thankyou for a well balanced opinion on the subject. I'm amazed at the amount of false propaganda there is on the web about DLP projectors, the LCD lobby needs to get over itself. I've been using a Sharp Z90 DLP HT projector for about four years (~3000 hrs on lamp). It's an early 800x600 model with a 1200:1 contrast ratio (low by todays standards), with lens shift and it has given me faultless brilliant pictures from the day I installed it. Weather it's dvd, digital tv and even my old vcr I've always been happy with it's performance. And I'd like to point out, contrary to the so called dlp review on the AIM web site on no occasion have I or my friends ever had a problem with the "rainbow effect", or Migraine headaches, or epilepsy. In fact the only way I've been able to see the dreaded RB effect is to dart my eyes around or move my head quickly back and forth, funny I've never needed to do that while watching a movie, at home or at the theatre. I'll stop my rant now except to correct one comment, the D-ILA light engine isn't like the DLP, in the D-ILA the light source still passes through the LCD to get to the mirror. When I upgrade to 1080p I'll be going DLP, but each to his\her own I suppose.

Great article Evan.

Dallas: I wish to correct your earlier post "that in the D-ILA the light source still passes through the LCD to get to the mirror". This is wrong.

JVC D-ILA is LCOS technology, as is Sony's SXRD. Light is reflected off the chip face, rather than passing through it as it would a LCD panel. It is reflective not transmissive of the light source, just as in DLP.

Posted Sep 15, 2009 8:20 AM

By Nazeneen Strickland

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Wow i didnt think of it like that.I didnt know how much computers are worth and their value to others.I didnt realize howdiffernt and expense computers just because of their charistics.

Posted Sep 15, 2009 6:55 AM

By Marc

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Like Richard, I have owned many projectors (12) in the past 10 years due to entertainment conferences I run multiple times a year. We use the projectors with computers and Blu-ray. DLP just blows LCD out of the water for quality of picture. It just doesn't make sense to me that someone would still purchase LCD.

Posted Sep 11, 2009 7:00 AM

By b. scott

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Brilliant article! Just a comment about "rainbow effects", as a visual artist having experienced this with DLP projectors, it's not like the other plus/minus comparisons between the technologies, the nausea induced by the rainbow effect, which lots of people experience to varying degrees, in my case is so intense, it's the visual equivalent of being shot in the face, or jumping out of a plane without a parachute. if you don't experience it, it's easy to dismiss as a minor consideration, but those who do experience it intensely won't, in fact cannot, watch DLP under any circumstances. so for home theatre, which only has to work for the household and friends, DLP might be fine. but if you are projecting to a wider audience, it's just about the most important thing to consider, far more important than any differences a projector might have in lumens, contrast, color saturation, etc.

Posted Sep 10, 2009 4:50 PM

By Doug

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
With LED light sources coming on line in he next few years, this could give the DLPs larger market share. LEDs are a good fit with DLPs because elimination of the color wheel costs and also thereby eliminating the need to throw away 2/3rds of the light. Assuming the the Vivitek review performance is the shape of things to come, LED/DLP photons will be hard to beat. Full On/Off contrast 100,000:1 ANSI contrast 844:1 Large color Gamut

Posted Sep 6, 2009 11:52 AM

By Vasastan

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Great article! Regarding the LCD lifespan issue, my Panasonic PT-AE700E has just developed a blue "stain" across the right third of the image. It was bought in 2005, and we have used it pretty heavily since then - about 3500 hours (!) on the first lamp, close to 1000 and running on the second. We have used the low lamp, low fan mode throughout. The filter is cleaned occasionally, although not as often as recommended. I feel a bit cheated by Panasonic (and other LCD projector manufacturers) for not warning about this before. Coming from an engineering background, I find it hard to believe that they would release a consumer product without extensive life and stress testing of the components, so they have most probably known about this issue for a long time.

Posted Sep 3, 2009 12:42 AM

By Dallas

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Thankyou for a well balanced opinion on the subject. I'm amazed at the amount of false propaganda there is on the web about DLP projectors, the LCD lobby needs to get over itself. I've been using a Sharp Z90 DLP HT projector for about four years (~3000 hrs on lamp). It's an early 800x600 model with a 1200:1 contrast ratio (low by todays standards), with lens shift and it has given me faultless brilliant pictures from the day I installed it. Weather it's dvd, digital tv and even my old vcr I've always been happy with it's performance. And I'd like to point out, contrary to the so called dlp review on the AIM web site on no occasion have I or my friends ever had a problem with the "rainbow effect", or Migraine headaches, or epilepsy. In fact the only way I've been able to see the dreaded RB effect is to dart my eyes around or move my head quickly back and forth, funny I've never needed to do that while watching a movie, at home or at the theatre. I'll stop my rant now except to correct one comment, the D-ILA light engine isn't like the DLP, in the D-ILA the light source still passes through the LCD to get to the mirror. When I upgrade to 1080p I'll be going DLP, but each to his\her own I suppose.

Great article Evan.

Posted Sep 1, 2009 11:29 AM

By Stunko

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Confusion still rulz, plus everyone has his/her favorite technology, anyhow.

Of all the different types of PJ display panel (chip) technology, only the monopolistic Texas Instruments is still peddling primitive single-chip models. Personally, I would not buy a single-chip technology projector for any money, whether it is DLP, LCD, LCoS, D-ILA, SXRD, or whatever. But then again, only TI still peddles single-chip DLP PJs anymore, so it is a rather easy choice for me as what NOT to get.

I would also not get any projector with no lens-shift and with only a fixed focal lens or a retarded 1.15x to 1.3x focal range zoom lens. So, that bars the single-chip DLP units once again.

Three-panel DLP PJs are better, but again due to the TI monopoly pricing, they cost at least 300% as much as they should really be going for. And they have many of the disadvantages of their single-panel color-wheel models.

I found that for the money, you cannot beat the JVC D-ILA PJs, as their projected image is just as good as that attainable with 3-chip DLP PJs for a fraction of the price. And it is a reflective technology, like DLP is. Colors are very much analog looking, so to me D-ILA will give you the color spacing closest to Fuji and Eastman positive (projection) film stock.

With respect to the light sources, hopefully by the Christmas 2010 shopping season, we shall have a good selection of LED-lamp source HT PJs in both DLP and LCD designs.

Posted Aug 29, 2009 5:35 AM

By Tony Glover

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I have to admit this has proven a very interesting article along with all the varioius comments. I myself was all set to purchase LCD and until I saw a DLP at the last minute. Both offered a very good picture in movie mode with the LCD possibly just better because of the blacks. I'm no expert, just a an average Joe but HD TV on DLP did seem more natural than the LCD. The other factor was a massive price reduction and a free replacement bulb sealed the deal.

It will be interesting to see if any of the problems with DLP occur over the next few years, but should projectors head the way of flat panel screens over the last couple of years, both LCD/DLP projectors will end up being a throw away item anyway and all this 'Mine is better than yours' discussions won't mean a thing...lol

Posted Aug 26, 2009 10:26 AM

By Nagappa

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
A very enlightening article and echos my findings with low-cost projectors.

I have an Infocus X1 DLP with SVGA resolution and a Sanyo PLC-XW60 3LCD with XGA resolution. When using a video setup DVD to calibrate the projectors, I found the Sanyo (3LCD) did better with the video benchmarks than the Infocus (DLP). When projecting from a computer at SVGA (800 x 600) resolution, the LCD image was sharper than the DLP. The screen door effect is not so prominent on the 3LCD due to the smaller inter-pixel gap.

However, when watching home movies after calibration, I found the DLP to do a better job with colors and black levels in dark scenes. The LCD's colors were over-saturated in the darker scenes with an over emphasis on the reds and pinks. I had to re-calibrate the LCD projector to avoid this effect. The DLP projector seemed to have a more natural color contrast and balance at lower light levels, giving the impression of being more "film-like".

Therefore, my rule of thumb for low-cost projectors is LCD is better for PowerPoint while DLP is the better for home theater (if you are not able to notice the "rainbow effect").

Posted Aug 17, 2009 9:58 AM

By Mike

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Great article! It's nice to read a up-to-date comprehensive comparison of the two technologies: LCD and DLP. I remember researching vividly a few years ago with my first projector, trying to read through all of the various articles to get a real-world assessment of which technology was better.

I cannot wait to read a follow-up article to this, LCOS (SXRD) versus LCD & DLP. Please get that article posted.

Posted Aug 14, 2009 9:02 AM

By Aamir A.Farooqi

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
In terms of image balance my experience is that LCD's are much better then any DLP's. I couldn't see any normal range US$ 1200 to 2000 DLP Projector that gives true yellow color. Ofcourse color saturation is indeed an important element. Most normal range DLP's are cheaper then LCD's but if I get a balnced image in LCD @ 2500 or 3000 Lumens say 500:1 then there is no fun to choose a 2000:1 + and get unbalanced image. Isn't it???

Posted Aug 2, 2009 11:43 PM

By Jason

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Does anyone know if LCOS panels are organic or inorganic? I have a canon SX60 that is coming to the end of it's 3 year warranty and have noticed some color artifacts in the corners(green and pink half round shadows) could this be dust or is it the panels burning out? I wait for the LCoS article with great anticipation.

Posted Aug 2, 2009 2:03 AM

By kevinp

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I Suspect that LCD Projectors will be fast enough to do 3D by the time you are able to buy Blu Ray Discs / 3D Player with a "proper" 3D Standard. In the longer term I suspect Laser Technology may be the best.

Posted Aug 1, 2009 4:40 PM

By brett

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
LCD is a very tough sell to me at this point after experiencing the debacle that was the Sanyo PLV-Z3. The blue polarizer only lasted 14 months in an air-conditioned room with HEPA filtration, 800 hours of use, and filters cleaned every month. Sanyo of course insisted neglect of the filters like they were doing to everyone at that time and refused warranty service. As a result I replaced that unit with a Mitsu HD1000U DLP which still performs like the day it was mounted(now about three years ago) and the company I work for no longer uses Sanyo products.

Posted Aug 1, 2009 4:07 AM

By Magnus L

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
oh!! I forgot the Lamptime on the LED´s....was it 20000 hours expected...

Posted Aug 1, 2009 4:05 AM

By Magnus L

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
this is just my 2 cents off future fortelling: I belive that single DLP Technology is gonna be the future technology when its combined with LED lighting technology...

it removes the color wheel and thereby RBE issue that has been a trouble for some (I am abit sensetive too) when it comes to DLP..and I Would not be surprised if Dithering artifacts will dissapear aswell since the LED can be adjust for brightness on every mirror.

this Adjusting the LED´s will make the DLP/LED projectors superior in contrast (already demoed prototypes with over 100000:1 ratio without an Iris). and since they have been superior in sharpness (atleast i think so) and much less motionblur (wich is a big issue for me) the DLP Technology will rule the future (unless LCD or LCOS do somthing about their lag!!!)

Comments welcomeon this....

Posted Jul 31, 2009 10:24 PM

By Darin

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
mikeb: "If an LCD panel can produce for example 2000 Lumens at white (all 3 panels on full), then how can it produce 2000 Color Lumens?"

The Color Lumens rating would be red by itself, plus green by itself, plus blue by itself. So you are right that red wouldn't be 2000 lumens, but if the 2000 Color Lumens is with color balance equal to D65 then the amount of red would be the amount that is called for by a standard when white is 2000 lumens, or in other words, red would be the correct percentage of white, not a lower percentage of white than called for (as happens with a white segment going where each color by itself is dimmer than is standard for that much white).

Posted Jul 31, 2009 8:58 PM

By Mischa Lockton

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
As someone that both rents out projectors and easily gets DLP rainbows + headaches, I refuse to look at DLP ever again- it hurt my head besides ruining the content.

I also would not want to subject any of the audience to possible artifacts that I may not even see myself- even 1% of the paying audience is unacceptable. Therefore, while newer DLP based projectors may reduce or eliminate the problem for a larger % of people, I can't take that risk!

I can verify the 3-chip models are totally different with no artifacts, but those are too much money.

Sorry TI, I loved my speak-and-spell, but DLP with spinning color wheels is never going to be an option for me!

Posted Jul 31, 2009 9:49 AM

By Tim

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I find 3LCD to be a flat technology. It's gone about as far as it can go in terms of applications. Can 3LCD project a 3D image from a single projector like the new DLP units can? With all the new movies coming out in 3D from Hollywood, I want to make sure I'm going to get a HT projection system that can show movies the way they were intended to be seen.

For me DLP is the only way to go. You don't have to worry about color decay and cleaning filters. When I change the lamp on my DLP projector, the image looks just like the image when I bought it 3 years ago.

Posted Jul 31, 2009 8:56 AM

By Isaac Kuo

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
I've never understood the problem with the "screen door" effect. If you want to eliminate the screen door effect, you just slightly defocus the lens. This eliminates the edges with a smooth gaussian blur.

Posted Jul 30, 2009 12:03 PM

By Norman T

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Strangely enough my experiences with LCD life issues agree with both eumigfan and Rick above.

When the Panasonic PT-AE700U 3LCD projector was the hot new player on the price/performance curve I installed two of them. One was in a friend’s dedicated home theater and the second was in my family’s home theater/living room.

The AE700U in the dedicated home theater still looks great after almost 5 years of service.

The AE700U in my home developed severe blue discoloration in the lower left side of the image due to the organic LCD panels. One can find many users so afflicted on the forums. Of course this did not come up when the AE700 was the hot new piece because no one had the hours on it necessary to cook the panels.

I believe one of these samples is still looking good and the other is barely watchable because of how they are/were used. In the dedicated home theater my friend’s unit was on for 1-3 hours at a time to watch a movie or two then shut down. In our combined home theater/living room the projector was used for both movies and general TV watching. Its death was hastened when my son hurt his foot and spent the all summer long recovery process watching hours of movies, games, and cable TV. It was after this stint of being on 8-16 hours a day I noticed the beginnings of the blue discoloration.

When the second bulb in our AE700 was used up I could not bring myself to spend $375 to watch 1/3 blue HDTV. As a stopgap I purchased a factory refurbished 1024x768 DLP projector for less than the cost of a new bulb for the AE700. The picture is not bad, I can see it is not as good as the new AE700 was or the 1080P Toshiba flat panel we have in the den, but the family thinks it looks good. My hope is by the time the XGA DLP projector needs a new bulb the market has an affordable 1080P inorganic 3LCD or DLP projector using LED lighting.

Posted Jul 30, 2009 11:55 AM

By Pat

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
This is the first I've heard that dust deposits lead to the lamp becoming dim. I find this a little hard to believe. If it were true then LCD projectors with dust filters would have substantially longer bulb lives than filterless DLP projectors. I don't think this is true.

Also I used to periodically clean inside my first projector an InFocus X-1. The color wheel got grayed out by deposits not the bulb. Wiping off the color wheel greatly improved the image brightness. I believe that this deposit was from plastic volatiles that had settled on the relatively cool color wheel. I don't think it was melted dust. Am I wrong?

Lastly, why are there no single chip LCoS projectors? LCoS is refelective like DLP? It should I would have thought been a good candidate for for a one chip/color wheel design. Maybe its the speed question?

What does a DLP chip cost?

Posted Jul 29, 2009 12:44 PM

By eumigfan

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
What a great article! Very fair and balanced- unlike some news channels! I have had a Panasonic AE700 LCD projector for 5 years now and have had no dust blobs or PQ degradation whatosever. I am still using the original bulb, and the picture is still stunning. I love the 2X zoom lens and wide-range lens shift which lets me mount the projector out of sight on a rear shelf. I just would not take the risk of seeing the DLP artifacts, so my next projector will definately be 3LCD.

Posted Jul 29, 2009 9:52 AM

By Thomas

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Is there any anecdotal evidence that inorganic LCD panels do last longer? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from someone like Richard who appears to really put projectors through their paces.

I have to wonder if the fact that TI has not published the results of a study on inorganic LCD means that the panel life is long enough to be a non-issue. This isn't evidence in itself, but it is one plausible explanation.

I've had a DLP projector in the past and was relatively happy with it. I've been considering LCD, mainly because of the placement flexibility of zoom & lens shift, but things like dust blobs and panel life have made it difficult to pull the trigger on those purchases.

It would have been interesting to hear details on why DLP cannot have the zoom and lens shift flexibility of LCD. I've heard the lens shift is because of the issue of bouncing of the light off the DLP chip through the color wheel and then through the lens so that in order to shift the lens you'd have to move the entire light path. I've not heard any reasoning for the lack of zoom found on DLP.

Wish the LCoS comparison had been included with this article, but will wait patiently for it and hopefully it will compare and contrast against DLP/LCD and not simply be a stand alone tech summary.

Posted Jul 29, 2009 8:47 AM

By mikeb

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
If an LCD panel can produce for example 2000 Lumens at white (all 3 panels on full), then how can it produce 2000 Color Lumens? Like if it's a Red color being displayed, it wouldn' t use all 3 panels on full thus the Lumen output would have to be greatly reduced. It would be primarily the red panel on and the other would be off or greatly reduced.

Posted Jul 29, 2009 7:29 AM

By Richard

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Owner of 14 projectors I have used both LCD and DLP projectors in a 24 hour a day operation with static images on the screen for the most part. I have found DLP projectors out perform LCD in many areas. I have middle of the road $5k DLP projectors and one high end >$12k all of which have lasted years longer than my LCD projectors all of which were >$10k. I actually replaced LCD panels regularly in one manufacturers and the burn out was quick. The other projector was cost prohibitive to replace. I will go with DLP unless the unit is not used much.

Posted Jul 29, 2009 6:59 AM

By Rick

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
Based on my experience with LCD projectors, my rule of thumb for organic LCD panel degradation is to assume that the projector will be unusable by the time you finish the second bulb. So if the bulb is rated at 3000 hours, I would assume a useful life of the projector at no more than 6000 hours. If you use such an organic LCD projector as a TV replacement you will likely have to replace it every few years.

Posted Jul 28, 2009 8:37 PM

By Michael Belsh

Post a Comment Alert Moderator
A good read indeed! Thanks so much for giving the information you did.

Post a comment

Commenting on this article is easy and does not require any registration. Your email address is necessary for you to activate your comment once it has been submitted. It will not be shown to other site viewers. ProjectorCentral reserves the right to remove any comment at any time for any reason. Foul language is not permitted, nor are personal attacks. No HTML allowed. All comments should remain on topic.

Name:

Email Address:(used only to confirm your comment)

Your Comment:

(Enter the numbers as they appear to the left)