The debate between LCD, DLP, LED, LCoS and Laser is a never-ending affair and different people have different opinions based on your choices. Unlike the TV which has a limited amount of projection, projectors come in a variety of forms. People often get confused about projection technologies whenever they go out to buy one. Every projection technology has its own perks and cons, and each of them has different utilization.
Most importantly, projection technology plays an important role when you decide to buy a projector, and it is essential that you should know about them before making a final choice. Even though all of them are destined to offer you a big-screen viewing experience, there is a difference in their output quality. So here is a complete guide about all the projection technology along with its pros and cons.
Before moving on to the central part, let’s get a brief overview of all the projection technology;
From 35mm film projection to slide show to LCD and Laser, digital projection has come a long way, especially for the projector. Currently, LCD, DLP, LCoS, LED, DLP, and Laser is the leading projection technologies that are available to consumers. LCD and DLP are the most popular choices when it comes to getting an all-around projection technology. LCD stands for liquid crystal display, and it utilizes a large set of panels for image production.
On the other hand, DLP stands for digital light process and comprises chips with various moving parts. LED is a mixed projection technology that either uses DLP or LCD technology with an LED light source to produce images. LCoS is a high-end projection technology that acts as a hybrid of DLP and LCD and uses liquid crystal chips with mirror backing. The laser is the latest entry in the market that uses solid-state lasers to produce light sources and great images.
Now, let’s begin with the differences;
What is DLP Projection and How It Can Suit You?
DLP, or as we already know, Digital Light Projection technology, is an advanced reflection technology that is developed by Texas Instruments. It is based on a Digital Micromirror Device chip that comprises millions of microscopic mirrors, and they move to reflect the incoming light from the light source. The preliminary image that comes out through the reflection of the mirror is a black & white form.
So it also comes with a physical color wheel that spins a wheel filled with color filters, and it ultimately helps the projector to create accurate color reproduction during projection. Generally, they come with three color filters, but some modern DLP projections come with some additional filters to enhance accuracy. The primary perk that draws many users towards DLP is the high color accuracy.
How Can It Suit You?
Single-chip DLP projection is probably the most common DLP form in the market and is mostly utilized in budget segment projectors. However, the major problem with this system is the noise they create during the movement. So it has an alternative version, which is a 3-Chip DLP projection that utilizes three primary colors, but it is quite expensive and mostly found in high-end full HD or 4K projectors.
The visual quality of the DLP projection technology is pretty impressive, and most home theater projectors are based on this technology. The light traveling through the mirrors doesn’t travel much, and as a result, it gives rise to sharper image quality with an excellent refresh rate.
The brightness generated through the DLP projection system tends to be on a higher side, thus making it suitable for large spaces like classrooms and business meetings with ambient light. The contrast offered by the DLP projector is simply excellent, and this is the reason it has a substantial black depth that leads to a great cinematic visual output.
Unlike others, it has an outstanding native contrast that not only ensures deeper blacks but also brighter whites. Another advantage of using DLP projection is that it doesn’t require any filter and prevents dust from going inside the central unit.
Importantly, it has a better motion blur reduction than many projection technologies, and if you look at the 3LCD VS DLP comparison, you will understand. Although it is not valid for all projectors, many DLP models come with short-throw capability, which gives the DLP an edge over others. No projection technology is perfect, and DLP projection also comes with many problems that deter many buyers from choosing it.
The rainbow artifact is probably the most prominent and common issue faced by DLP projector users. The Rainbow effect causes the bright part of the video to produce light trails and a flash of different color shadows. However, the best part is that 3-chip DLP projection technology doesn’t face this issue, and modern single-chip are offering better results with minimal rainbow effect.
Noise is another issue that has plagued many users with the DLP projector, and it is due to the moving parts of the color wheel. The whining noise is quite audible, and it might ruin the moment while you’re watching a movie or providing a presentation. Another limitation it faces is the limited number of pixels due to the mirrored, but this issue is mostly associated with single-chip DLP units.
What Is LCD Projection and How Does It Serve As A Better Option?
Liquid crystal display or, in short form, we can say LCD is probably the most common projection technology along with DLP. It is a widely used transmission projection technology that is found in projectors in all price ranges, whether it is budget or projector costing above $1000. They are pretty inexpensive in comparison to their competitors, and the main reason lies in the usage of static parts.
Unlike the DLP projector which has many moving parts, LCD projection technology incorporates three LCD panels, and each of them represents a primary color, which is blue, red, and green. It follows a simple projection process where all the panels are simultaneously utilized for projection, and in this manner, they produce an image with the proper color.
How does It serve As A Better Option?
Even though it may not have a high color accuracy like DLP or LCoS but the simultaneous passage of light assists the projector to generate great shades. Moreover, it can cover a wide color gamut that results in natural output in the color quality. The images are more relaxed and sharp rather than robust.
It is one of those projection technologies that is preferred by almost every projector manufacturer in the world, ranging from Epson and Panasonic to many small manufacturers. A few years ago, the 3LCD projector used to suffer from low contrast ratio and oversaturated black levels.
The advancement of modern technologies has made an enormous improvement in the LCD projection and allows it to deliver black depth at par with most DLP and LCoS projectors. Like DLP, 3LCD projection is used in different segments, whether it is home entertainment, classroom projection, or office presentation.
There is a reason that is widely used in outdoor projectors, and it is mainly due to the higher lumens they have on offer. Most of the 3LCD projectors tend to offer better brightness than others, and it is not only due to high lumens, but they utilize the light source in a better manner. You may want to read our post, “How Many Lumens for Outdoor Projector?”
From mere XGA native resolution to Full HD, LCD projection is used for producing excellent image quality whether you want to use it for entertainment or presentation. The clarity it has on offer is simply fantastic, and it keeps the visuals and data images clear even in ambient light. With excellent clarity, it also provides a terrific visual experience by minimizing rainbow artifacts, which is a predominant problem in DLP units.
However, the issue that will bother you a lot is motion blur, especially when you are watching faced-paced action scenes. Not only does it lose clarity, but some budget LCD projector often ruins the whole visual quality. Another major issue that often comes up in this type is the ghost effect, where the LCD tends to retain the old image over a newly projected image.
It generally happens when the bulbs reach their end of lifespan and sometimes due to poor analog transmission. Wire effect is another drawback that you will have to face if you go for LCD projectors. Maintenance is a common problem faced by many users, and if you don’t clean the filters frequently, then the dust will appear in the form of dots on the output. The accumulation of dust often leads to a burning or burning effect and causes the lamp to lower its lifespan.
What is A LED Projection Technology and Why It is Preferred By Many?
LED projection technology is currently one of the most popular choices when it comes to getting a projector for ordinary users. LED is basically a light-emitting diode that serves as a part of the lighting technology. LED projectors are basically made up of DLP or LCD projection technology, but they utilize highly efficient LED light sources instead of traditional UHP lamps.
Previously many users had to suffer from low lamp life, and they had to replace the old one almost every year. To counter this issue, LED projectors came into the scene and significantly enhanced the lamp life by a large margin.
It also helped the manufacturer to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly projectors as these light sources are devoid of mercury. Moreover, they aren’t made up of toxic materials which also added to the environmental friendliness and made them totally safe for usage.
Why Is It Preferred By Many?
Traditional lamps used to come with an average lamp life span between 2000-5000hrs, but a typical LED projector lamp will treat you with lamp longevity of 20000hours. High lamp lifespan is the most significant advantage you get from owning a LED unit, and some top models often last up to 50,000-60000hr of lamp life.
Depending upon your usage, high-quality LED models can last more than 20years with ease and that too without dimming the visual output. LED projection falls in the modern era of technology, and most of the projector associated with it carries some modern features. If you compare LED vs DLP projectors, mostly traditional models, you will find a lot of better features.
LED projectors are highly energy-efficient and consume low amounts of energy; thus, it lowers the cost of ownership by a large margin. Read our post on how much power a projector uses. If you are someone who doesn’t have time to take care of the projector, then LED projectors are just for you. They come with a filter-less design and hardly require any kind of maintenance except occasional cleaning.
However, it is recommended to clean the lens if you find any spots on the projection as it indicates the sign of dust accumulation. The color accuracy and overall picture output depend upon the projection technology it adopts. According to available reports, most of the LED models, especially in the mid-budget range, offer excellent visual quality, and none of them would disappoint you in quality.
Despite being one of the most efficient projection technologies, most high-quality LED projectors come with an expensive price tag. Although you are going to find a good amount of LED projectors in the budget range, they are nowhere close to high-quality units when it comes to performance.
Many users have stated that the LED projector fails to offer good brightness, and it is relatively less in comparison to traditional DLP or 3LCD projectors. However, it delivers enough brightness level to counter ambient light, but overall vividness is slightly less than traditional lamps.
What is A LCoS Projection, and Why Should You Get It?
Liquid crystal on silicon or LCoS is a high-end projection technology that is found in only a handful of projectors in the market. LCoS is a hybrid between DLP and LCD projection technology, and it gets the best of both worlds while negating the disadvantages. An LCoS projector comprises liquid crystal chips that are equipped with reflective backing, which you will find in DLP modules. But LCoS passes light through LCD panels by employing transmission techniques used by LCD projectors.
Why Should You Get It?
The combination of both the technology oozes out super high-resolution output like 4K UHD, and none of the units come with SVGA native resolution. In terms of visual performance, it is often regarded as the best projector technology by many experts and developers.
Sony and JVC are the two most reputed organizations that use LCoS projection technology to create some of the finest projectors in the market with incredible image quality. However, these organizations use proprietary LCoS technology, which JVC has named D-ILA, and SXRD is offered by Sony.
The color quality it produces is simply incredible, and it reproduces almost all the colors from the content. Another great thing about it is that it delivers the color continuously rather than sequentially like other projection systems that ultimately lead to superior color output. Even though DLP is known for offering the best-in-class color accuracy, some experts suggest LCoS gets the edge when it comes to LCoS vs DLP.
If your main priority is getting a cinematic visual performance and nothing else, LCoS projectors should be on your priority list. LCoS projection has numerous vital advantages that will improve not only your usability but also your visual experience. The high pixel density on the screen gives it magical output, and the chance of any visible pixelation is almost zero in this projection technology.
Most importantly, the pixel edges in LCoS are quite smoother rather than being sharp, and it results in a buttery smooth visual output with minimal stuttering. Plus, it makes visuals much more natural and contrasting than DLP and other projection technology.
Despite having a smooth visual output, it often shows motion blur while you play any fast-paced video. However, the good news is you won’t find any rainbow artifacts while enjoying a movie, web series, or football match. The absence of rainbow artifacts is mainly due to the absence of a color wheel, thus ensuring long visual sessions with minimal eye strain.
The contrast level of LCoS projection is exceptional, and it takes any ordinary full HD or 4K content to a new height. However, it still offers low lumens compared to its competitors, which is a deal-breaker as you will be paying a lot of money to own them.
The expensive price tag is another significant drawback of this system, and almost every LCoS projection system costs more than $1000. Some users have also stated that this projection system often gets affected by ambient light due to the low contrast range and brightness level.
What Is A Laser Projection Technology and Why Is It Beneficial?
Laser technology is quite an old technology that is used in various applications. But when it was introduced to projection, it revolutionized the whole projector market. It has become a future technology for the projector as it is allowing the manufacturers to replace the traditional LED lamp with a Laser light source.
Laser or light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation is a premium technology that is gradually becoming a top choice for projector manufacturers. Even though it is quite similar to LED, where it utilizes either LCoS, LCD, or DLP chip, the laser light source makes the main difference. If you compare a DLP laser projector with a regular DLP unit, you will find some significant performance differences.
Why Is It Beneficial?
Well, as we have already said laser projection systems are the future, and it not only delivers better visual performance but also enhance efficiency than others. Since it also serves as a hybrid system like an LED projection system, it gives you a better light source than a normal lamp that can last for decades without dimming the output.
However, the lamp longevity is not better than LED, and both of them offer almost the same kind of lifespan, but it varies from model to model. A standard laser projector can last up to 20000hours, which amounts to ten years with daily 6-8hours of usage.
Unlike most projectors, including LED projectors, Laser projectors are highly energy-efficient and won’t cost you a high energy bill even after daily usage. They are highly durable and won’t die down quickly before their lifespan. A great advantage you get using a laser projector is that you can instantly switch on or switch off the projector without waiting for the lamp to get ready or cool down.
What makes Laser stand out, especially when it is about DLP vs laser projector, is the extra color and superior color accuracy it achieves. Standard bulb projectors incorporate RGB lighting to reproduce the color from a particular content, but the laser system generates the precise color that is required to project the image accurately.
Whether you want to use it in a dark room or outdoor area, you will always enjoy a superior visual experience, and it is due to a high brightness level. Despite being energy-efficient, it delivers a high lumens number, and it does so without causing any overheating issues.
More importantly, it is totally environmentally friendly and doesn’t carry any kind of mercury or any toxic material. Like LCoS, it also delivers fantastic black levels in all the images and gives you a mesmerizing output even in dark scenes. Many people consider it the best option for 3D image projection and give you a large screen cinematic feel when you play any 3D movies.
However, like every other projection system, it also has some drawbacks, and the major one is the expensive price tag. A good quality laser unit costs around $1000 and more, and you won’t find anything in the budget range. The limited option is also a significant disadvantage as only a few manufacturers make laser projectors, and that too in small quantities.
Learn more about the lifespan of different types of projectors here.
We hope we have been able to give you the proper distinction of LED vs LCoS vs Laser vs DLP vs LCD projectors. We are hoping that our distinction will clear all your confusion and help you to decide which projector you should choose. Although the selection of a projector depends on many other factors, having a good view of different projection technology will make the selection easier for you.
The main important factor is budget, and all the projectors fall in different price categories so that you won’t have a problem with segregation. You should always prioritize your requirement before selection; otherwise, it will become a futile investment.
- “3LCD vs DLP“, Reddit.com Projectors Subreddit, July 15, 2018
- Moe Long, “DLP vs. LCD vs. LED vs. LCoS vs. Laser: Shedding Light on Projector Technology“, ElectroPages.com, June 25, 2019
- “3LCD“, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 16, 2020
- BuyDig Team, “Choosing a Projector: LCD vs LED vs DLP“, BuyDig.com, September 23, 2019
- “Laser Projectors vs Lamp Projectors“, CCS New England, Retrieved November 13, 2020
My name is Henry Larson and I have been associated with research and development of projectors throughout my professional career. I used all my experience and expertise to create this blog so that I can guide people to get the best projector of their choice. For any further assistance, you can get in touch with me through email or comments.