skip to Main Content

LCD vs. DLP: Does it Matter?

If you’re in the market for a projection system, then you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the techno-speak surrounding the liquid crystal display (LCD) versus digital light processing (DLP) debate. First of all, we’re here to tell you that you can relax, since both systems have made great strides in recent years. Yet, like so many technology investments, your final decision should take into consideration your budget, space requirements, maintenance expectations and, above all, the service and support you’ll receive.

To help you make an informed decision based on the actual technical differences between LCD and DLP projectors, we’ve put together some basic descriptions of how each system works.

How LCD Projectors Work

In LCD projectors, three light panels representing the three primary colors red, green and blue are positioned at 90 degrees to each other and send their respective light beams through a prism. In basic terms, the video input is effectively split into its primary colors and then projected by means of the prism’s output that acts to recombine the colors correctly.

Most LCD projectors make use of metal lamps for projection purposes. These lamps offer good color displaying abilities and produce a large amount of light in small areas. Moreover, their color temperature is also well-suited for projection applications.

How DLP Projectors Work

First developed by Texas Instruments, DLP projectors are a bit more complicated than LCDs. The engine room of any DLP is comprised of its chip — made up of thousands of tiny mirrors — and a spinning color wheel. Unlike an LCD model that shines all of its colors at once, the DLP operates on the fact that our eyes retain a certain amount of color and light that we see for a short period of time. That’s why it flashes the red, green and blue portions of an image in quick succession — somewhere in the range of 1/60th to 1/240th of a second. The result is that we see one continuous image where all the colors evenly blend.

However, some people with quicker vision might see individual bursts of color — or a rainbow effect, as some call it. It should be noted that more recent DLP projectors have successfully addressed this issue by speeding up the rotation of their color wheels.

LCD vs. DLP: Strengths and Differences

Now that you have a basic understanding of how each system works, the important question to answer is, “Which system is right for me?” While both offer a wide range of projection capabilities, here are a few points to keep in mind.

On the plus side, LCD projectors are very portable and lightweight, which makes them popular for many consumers. Also, LCD projectors have no fast-moving parts, which typically makes them less complicated and somewhat less expensive. But in terms of maintenance, their filters need regular cleaning. And when it comes to all-important image quality, LCDs have a lower ability to display sharp color contrasts.

For DLP owners, there’s less regular maintenance required. But with the complexity of DLP projectors’ internal digital micromirrors and color wheels, an extended warranty plan is highly recommended. As far as image quality is concerned, due to how DLPs physically project images, they’re slightly better at showing sharp color contrasts, especially found in fast-paced action — for example, at sporting events.

Illuminated Integration for All Your Projection Needs

For further information regarding video projectors, contact us today. Our team at Illuminated Integration is dedicated to providing you with crystal clear audio, video and lighting solutions.