The Great Technology War: LCD vs. DLP

Evan Powell, July 11, 2005

The Current State of the Art

The largest developers and manufacturers of LCD technology are Sony and Epson. These companies have no interest in standing by and letting Texas Instruments sweep the digital projector market with its competing DLP technology. So competition has driven both the LCD makers and Texas Instruments to improve their respective products in the ongoing battle for market share.

DLP continues to be exceptionally strong in video and home theater. TI's introduction of the 854x480 resolution DLP chip created a host of inexpensive but amazingly high performance entry level home theater projectors, now selling well below $1500. Practically speaking, LCD has no answer to this, and DLP is dominating this particular market niche.

DLP is also dominant in the higher price, higher resolution home theater niche as well. Projectors featuring the 1280x720 resolution DLP chips have dropped significantly in price, and consumer demand for these units is high. In this category however, LCD does have an answer--impressive widescreen 1280x720 LCD models are selling at prices that are half to two-thirds the prices of DLP models of the same resolution. While they don't have quite the contrast and black level of their DLP counterparts, color is excellent and price/performance is outstanding. Given LCD's significant improvements in visible pixelation and contrast, which were the two big deficiencies in LCD that caused many people to prefer DLP for video use, LCD remains competitive in this market segment.

When it comes to commercial applications, we noted previously that LCD has a latent competitive advantage where high lumen output is required. Most of the 6000 lumen light cannons retailing for under $20,000 are LCD products. And Epson's array of extremely bright sub-4-lb portables establish a significant presence for LCD in a mobile presentation niche where DLP otherwise holds a commanding lead.

Nevertheless, DLP has emerged as a favored technology in the large volume commercial presentation market, offering a wide variety of models in any given price and performance range. For example, at this writing there are 20 XGA-resolution projectors on the market that are at least 2000 lumens, retailing for under $2,000. Of those, 14 are DLP and only six are LCD.

Across all price and performance categories, we currently have 349 DLP projectors listed as in production, as compared to 330 LCD models. This is highly significant--for the first time in the history of the projector industry, DLP has just surpassed LCD in the total number of products on the market.

Both LCD and DLP are evolving rapidly to the benefit of the consumer, and they will continue to do so. ProjectorCentral continues to recommend both LCD and DLP projectors for a variety of applications. When it comes to home theater, DLP has continued to make competitive advances in color, contrast, and image stability that have served to make it a technology preferred by many for home theater use. But both technologies are capable of delivering much higher quality video for home theater than ever before.

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Contents: Technical Differences Performance Advantages Potential Problems State of the Industry