The Technology War: LCD vs. DLP

Evan Powell, July 28, 2009
Contents

The Advantages of 3LCD

Many of the advantages and limitations of 3LCD have already been touched on above within the context of the DLP discussion. However, there are several advantages of LCD not yet discussed, and some of the issues already noted warrant a recap and/or further expansion. The following are the key benefits of LCD technology:

Better price/performance in HT products. The primary key to the success of LCD products in the home theater market is their tremendous price advantage. In the 1080p niche in particular, LCD products deliver outstanding image quality performance for the money. Moreover, they are generally loaded with extra features that don't appear on DLP models in the same price range, if they are offered on any DLP model at all.

The price advantage of LCD over DLP is most obvious in consumer/home theater products. There is no similar disparity in pricing on commercial products built for mobile presentation and conference room use. One reason is that DLP makers can use the cheaper 2x speed wheels on most business products, whereas it is mandatory to have high speed color wheels and the faster electronics associated with them on products designed for home theater.

Higher contrast in HT products. Many LCD projectors built for home theater have achieved better overall contrast performance and deeper black levels than DLP models. This is specifically the case on LCD models using inorganic LCD panels and auto iris technology. Inorganic panels are more expensive to produce, so they are not used in cheaper, commercial grade business projectors. They achieve higher contrast due in part to the fact that the resting position of the liquid crystal is closed (i.e., black), and voltage is required to open it. This is the opposite of traditional organic LCDs wherein the resting position is open (maximum light transmission), and voltage is required to close it. The inherent contrast advantage of inorganic panels has made LCD substantially more competitive in the home theater marketplace. ANSI contrast in particular has seen significant improvement. In our measurements, LCD projectors with organic panels typically run in the range of 250:1 ANSI contrast, whereas the models with inorganic panels have been reaching performance levels of 400:1 to 450:1.

3LCD vendors have been aggressive in developing effective auto iris systems which contribute an incremental perceived contrast advantage on screen. There is no technical restriction that we know of that would prohibit DLP vendors from doing the same thing. But it would add further cost to DLP projectors that are already at an apparent cost disadvantage relative to LCD in the home theater market. There is also a perception among vendors that DLP contrast, while not leading edge, is sufficient, so enhancement via auto iris is not vital. Thus, most DLP vendors have been slow to incorporate auto iris systems on DLP projectors being marketed for home theater.

Fewer artifacts/greater image stability. As noted previously, dithering artifacts and rainbow artifacts are unique to single-chip DLP projectors. Since these artifacts do not exist on LCD products, it is not unusual to perceive a more stable video image on an LCD projector when viewed side by side with a DLP counterpart in a similar price and performance class. The LCD's video image can look cleaner and more free of noise.

Sharper image with data display. Since LCD pixel structure is more sharply defined that DLP pixel structure, it tends to render a sharper image. This is most noticeable in lower resolution business products (SVGA and XGA), and specifically with data display. It is in these resolutions that LCD's screendoor effect is somewhat more visible in a video image, but the advantage is that the sharper pixel definition can produce a sharper display of data. By comparison, a DLP projector in SVGA and XGA resolution can look a bit soft when displaying data images.

On higher resolution products the difference in apparent sharpness is minimal, and it is a non-issue with video display on 1080p products. Both technologies can produce very sharp images in 1080p, and any perceived differences in sharpness typically have to do with factors unrelated to the display technology, such as lens quality and video processing.

Greater installation flexibility in HT products. LCD projectors built for home theater often feature 2.0x zoom lenses and extensive vertical and horizontal lens shift. This makes them easy to install just about anywhere. By comparison, DLP projectors usually have short zooms with little or no lens shift. Fixed throw angles limit the projection geometry, and often dictate where a DLP projector must be placed in order to accommodate a given screen size and location.

For the DIY home theater enthusiast on a budget, the lens flexibility of LCD models has great appeal. For the fact is, most DLP projectors need to be ceiling mounted, and most LCD projectors don't. Thus they save the extra cost of a ceiling mount and long run video cables. They also eliminate the prospect of having to run cables through walls and ceiling, or living with an unsightly track of cables across the ceiling.

Better light efficiency, less power usage. LCD technology is inherently more light efficient. For the most part LCD projectors use lower wattage lamps to produce the same image brightness that you'd get from DLP. This is most noticeable when comparing LCD projectors to DLP projectors that have no white segment in the color wheel. As an example, compare two currently popular 1080p home theater projectors--the Panasonic AE3000 LCD projector uses a 165-watt lamp to produce 1600 ANSI lumens. Meanwhile, the Sharp Z15000 DLP projector needs a 250-watt lamp to get the same 1600 lumens. That can make a noticeable difference in power consumption. It can also make a difference in the amount of heat being generated by the projector's exhaust in the viewing room.

Weaknesses and Limitations of LCD

Unknown lifespan of LCD panels. Given enough prolonged exposure to high intensity UV light and extreme heat, the organic compounds used in most LCD panels are expected to degrade over long periods of time. This degradation can lead to a discoloration of the image and a reduction in contrast. The only way to fix it is to replace the damaged LCD panel, which is typically a cost-prohibitive proposition. You are normally better off buying a new projector.

The big question of course is how long the panels will last. There is no good data on this subject that has been compiled by an independent lab and published for general consumption. LCD vendors do not typically acknowledge LCD degradation can occur, so they don't make any representations about expected life. In general, most LCD vendors maintain that to the degree LCD panels might be subject to eventual degradation, it will be beyond the practical life of the product.

One trusted and very experienced industry source who develops products using both LCD and DLP technology believes that LCD panels have a lifespan in the range of 4,000 to 10,000 hours, with the lifespan depending on how bright the projector is--the brightest LCD light cannons will produce the most stress on the panels resulting in quicker degradation. Low brightness models such as those made for home theater will produce the least stress, and are expected to last longer.

Texas Instruments has performed several tests on LCD lifespan over the past seven years. Based on these tests, they believe that LCD panels will degrade faster than the LCD vendors are willing to admit, and certainly more quickly than the 4000 hours just quoted. The 3LCD camp's response is that TI's tests have been performed by running LCD projectors continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for several months straight. According to 3LCD and Epson, since the projectors used in TI's lab tests were never designed for a continuous operation high-stress duty cycle, the results are not indicative of what the typical user would experience.

The introduction of inorganic LCD panels is an important new development that is germane to this issue. Inorganic LCD panels, in theory, should not be subject to the same degradation patterns as organic LCDs, simply because the organic compounds that fail under intense heat and UV light are not present in inorganic LCDs. However, the LCD camp will not confirm or deny any anticipated differences in panel life because as a matter of policy they do not discuss the issue at all. Texas Instruments has not commented on the expected lifespan of inorganic LCDs either.

Lower contrast ratings in business products. Most commercial and education LCD projectors are made with the relatively inexpensive organic LCDs and no auto-iris. Contrast ratings on these models typically run in the 400:1 to 700:1 range. Meanwhile, DLP projectors in the same resolution, lumen, and price class can often be rated at 2000:1 or higher.

In reality, this constitutes more of a marketing disadvantage than a technical one. In most business/commercial and classroom settings, projection display is done with room lights on. With moderate ambient light--enough for children in a classroom to take notes for example--a projector's contrast rating is largely irrelevant. Actual contrast on screen with moderate ambient light is typically in the range of 50:1 regardless of the theoretical contrast potential of the projector. But for buyers who are not aware of the huge impact of ambient light on contrast ratios, the apparent advantage of DLP over LCD in contrast ratings can appear to be more significant than it really is.

Susceptible to dust spots. Since LCD light engines are not sealed, it is possible for dust particles to alight on the LCD panels, thereby creating a dull, indistinct spot on the projected image. This usually causes little distraction when displaying static images such as data or photographs. But in full motion video, seeing a stationary element in a moving picture can be extremely distracting.

When dust lands on an LCD in the red or blue channel it is rarely visible enough to create a distraction. But when it occurs in the green channel it can become quite visible. Some vendors have provided methods by which the user can remove the dust without having to send the unit in for cleaning. Sanyo's home theater models come with a hand pump that will blow a jet of air across the panels, but since we've never seen a dust spot on a Sanyo projector, we've never been able to test the device. Other than this sort of solution, packing the projector up and sending it to a maintenance depot for cleaning is the method of last resort for getting the projector back into serviceable shape.

LCD makers claim that today's air filter systems are superior than those of the past, and that dust contamination is highly unusual if the filters are cleaned and replaced as per normal maintenance instructions. Most LCD vendors cover dust removal under warranty, which is a good reason to buy LCD projectors with extended warranties.

When we review projectors, we have no way to assess the actual risk to the user of dust contamination on any particular model. We can say that it is rare for us to notice dust spots on LCD projectors that we get in for review, or on units that we keep in operation for ongoing reference purposes. However, it is easy for users to forget to clean filters since under normal usage vendors recommend this be done every two months or so. When filters are left unattended, the user increases the risk that dust will eventually find its way into the projector.

Conclusion

The fight for market share between 3LCD and DLP continues at a fevered pitch. It is a fascinating thing to watch as vendors of both technologies continue to innovate to stay a step ahead of the competition. Picture quality in digital projectors has improved dramatically over the past decade with significant increases in contrast, resolution, and color performance. Prices have dropped like a rock, and high quality projection systems that once were within financial reach of wealthy consumers or businesses who really needed them, are now within the budgets of mass consumers. Thus the consumer is the ultimate beneficiary of the intense competitive struggle between the DLP and 3LCD technologies.

As we've tried to make clear in this article, both DLP and 3LCD have key advantages over the other. They also both have limitations that the buyer should be aware of. But in the end, we see better image quality performance today from both LCD and DLP than we've ever seen in the past. And it just keeps getting better.



Contents: Introduction DLP Advantages DLP Limitations LCD Advantages and Limitations
 

Reader Comments(62 comments)

Posted Mar 9, 2017 4:06 AM

By James

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Is there less than a kilo projector? Which technology is cheaper over time?

Posted Dec 28, 2010 5:20 AM

By David Holloway

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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THIS IS ALOT TO READ!

Posted Jun 6, 2010 6:19 AM

By SDavies

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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

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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

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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

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Agree with you David!

Posted Feb 2, 2010 8:44 PM

By David

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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oh!! I forgot the Lamptime on the LED´s....was it 20000 hours expected...

Posted Aug 1, 2009 4:05 AM

By Magnus L

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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A good read indeed! Thanks so much for giving the information you did.

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