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Difference Between DLP and LCD Projectors

lcd_projector-pdDLP vs LCD Projectors

DLP and LCD are the two major display technologies used primarily in today’s colored digital projectors. In fact, almost all projectors sold on the market are using one of these two types. Both technologies are extensively employed in making displays such as TV, monitors, and in particular, projectors.

Having said all of that, DLP and LCD are chiefly tackled when one is trying to shop for digital projectors, and if you are not familiar with both, you are often left confused, not knowing which of the two is better. People are often left wondering which type of projector to purchase.

Each has its own pros and cons, and it pays to know what DLP and LCD each offer. It is through that knowledge that you will effectively know which one is suited for your needs.

DLP is short for Digital Light Processing. The trademark is owned by TI (Texas Instruments), a company recognized as a developer/manufacturer of semiconductor and computer equipment.

DLP is a technology used in rear-projection television. It replaced the once popular CRT rear projectors, and it now competes against flat panel displays, such as plasma and LCD in the HDTV industry. It is also broadly used in projecting moving images in digital cinema.

This technology is based on the reflective property of mirrors. DLP-based projectors have chips made up of countless mirrors, and these mirrors represent pixels. The projected light from the lamp is aimed onto the mirrored surface of the chip. The mirrors then reflect the light away or towards the lens path, turning pixels on or off.

Liquid Crystal Display, or more simply called LCD, is another type of digital projection technology. The way it works is actually simple. This kind of projector typically has three glass panels (blue, green and red). The three colors are video signal components, and are fed to the projector. Picture elements, called pixels, either let light pass through or not. In effect, the process modulates light, and makes the appropriate display of images.

The differences in performance are narrow between the two technologies, and these differences are naturally brought about by their respective methods of modulating light and images.

LCD’s major flaw is the ‘screen door’ effect. Pixels have gaps between other pixels. Thus, the effect of watching LCD projected displays is like looking through a screen door. However, these gaps are significantly negligible on higher resolution equipment.

With DLP, on the other hand, edge definition is softer, because of its reflective way of showing pictures. The contrast is also considerably better compared to LCD. This is one of the reasons why DLP is favored more by home theater enthusiasts. The major downside to DLP is the potential ‘rainbow effect’ that it may generate. The spinning color wheel in them produces rapid changes of light. Some people detect these rapid changes, and they may cause headaches and eyestrains.

Conversely, LCD delivers constant red, blue and green images, simultaneously. Therefore, a person’s eyes won’t really be strained from sudden changes of light.

At the current time, LCD and DLP are neck and neck, and it all comes down to personal preference and opinion. Only time will tell which of the two will be left in the dust, or go on to become the foremost technology used in digital projection.


1. LCD and DLP differ in the way they modulate light. LCD uses glass panels, while DLP uses a surface full of mirrors.
2. DLP generates a softer edge definition, while LCD is usually sharper, but may cause a ‘screen door’ effect in the images due to overly defined pixels.
3. DLP has better contrast than LCD, which makes it more suitable for home theater set ups.
4. DLP is likely to cause more headaches and eyestrains than LCD.

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