When people decide to buy a projector, they often get confused by the numerous types of projectors they come across in the market. If you are not aware of different projectors, getting a definite kind of projector for your requirement can be tricky. Moreover, the lack of knowledge can lead you to buy the wrong projector, which would be a waste of your hard-earned money.
Here we have come forward with the details of different projectors that you should know before venturing into the market for a new projector. In this guide, we have not only described different projector types but also associated their good and bad side.
So, without further ado, let’s start with all the different types of projectors;
Table of Contents
DLP or digital light processing projector is probably the most popular and common choice when it comes to buying a projection device for the home. If your main priority is entertainment, or watching football matches, then this projector type serves as the ideal choice. Not only do they serve as a better alternative than TV, but they also treat you with an immersive viewing experience.
Most of the DLP projectors offer images with high contrast, bright ideas, and lively color; thus, you can stay assured you will have a theater-like experience at home. However, to get the best out of them, you need to use a room with a dark environment. If you love watching 3D movies, then this projector type is ideal for you as they offer the best visual quality without any sign of double images.
A significant drawback in this type is a poor rendering of black colors, so while watching dark scenes, you might frown on its quality. DLP projectors are available in both single-chip and three-chip versions where single-chip is available in most projectors, while three-chip can be found in high-end models.
Single-chip projectors are cheap and offer incredible sharpness as they don’t have any panel alignment. The color quality they have on offer through its colors wheel is simply unbelievable, and it also serves as one of the reasons behind their beautiful 3D output. However, due to the color wheel, it often faces rainbow effects that ruin the overall experience.
Three-chip DLP models, on the other hand, come with advanced engineering where they use three DLP chips for three colors and negate the rainbow effect. Not only do they offer brighter and sharper images and produce 35 trillion colors instead of 16million by a single chip. However, they are really expensive, and it is quite hard to align them.
Another disadvantage of DLP projectors is their minimal amount of placement flexibility, and it often serves as a deal-breaker for some users. Many gamers also prefer DLP units because many of them offer a super-fast response, low input lag, and numerous gaming modes.
Besides DLP, LCD projection systems are another projector type that many people prefer primarily due to their ability to deliver sharp images and accurate colors at a decent price range. Liquid crystal displays use a simple configuration where they make use of polarized mirrors that pass and reflect specific colors through them.
When the light passes, first, they get separated and later get converged while they pass through a prism. The whole system is built with an LCD panel that manages not only the color saturation but also its intensity. Nowadays, many LCD units are engineered with iris, but they can often be noisy and will hinder your experience.
LCD projectors may not offer massive brightness like DLP projectors but whatever they have on offer gets the job done. They render black scenes really well, and it makes a significant impact on your overall viewing experience while you are watching a movie or playing games. A great thing about this type is that it produces sharp and fast images for motion scenes, but you can’t compare it to DLP projectors.
The color quality and saturation are awe-inspiring, and this is why they are widely used for movie projection, data image presentations, and 3D movies. However, the 3D visuals are not as sharp as DLP, and they often show faint signs of double images while showcasing any 3D film. Learn more about 3D technology in our post, “How Do 3D Projectors Work?”
LCD projector serves as a sweet spot between DLP and LCoS projector, and most importantly, it comes in all price ranges, so they are easy to afford. Moreover, they are available in different projector segments like office, outdoor, educational, and many more.
In terms of clarity, they might not offer you the best performance, but you can stay assured that you won’t be able to complain. Another great thing about LCD projectors is they come with excellent lamp longevity, making it last for a long time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with LED or laser light engine options.
LCoS projector is not a popular choice when it comes to buying a projector. But if you want to experience theater-like image quality at your home comfort, then nothing can match the quality of LCoS projectors. This projector type follows a simple image reproduction process where the light passes through three individual LCoS panels, and then they are combined to produce an image.
Unlike an LCD projector that throws the light through the panel, this projector type reflects the light off the panel and allows the device to produce top-notch image quality with a high-contrast ratio.
Since the lights are reflected off the panels, it also delivers impressive dark levels that give you a better immersive viewing experience when you watch a movie in a dark room. It maintains razor-sharp clarity in all the frames, and shadows are much more prominent, unlike in DLP, which looks slightly hazy.
The color quality is also fantastic as it maintains a high saturation and realism in all the images. However, it fails to achieve the same brightness level as DLP or LCD projectors, and it needs a completely dark room for optimum image quality. Little ambient light is not a problem, but if your room faces a lot of light intrusions, then you won’t get the intended image quality.
Unlike DLP and LCD which can handle large screen sizes around 200inches, LCoS is not capable of such size, and the ideal screen range it can cater to is up to 130inches. The lack of light intensity is the main reason behind this issue. Another major drawback of this projector type is the blurring effect on fast-paced images, meaning you won’t get sharp images while watching sports or playing fast-paced games.
The 3D quality of this projector can be compared to that of the theaters, but it often becomes blurry and loses the shine while playing fast 3D content. You will find this projector type in Sony and a few other brands, and all of them come with a hefty price tag. A 1080p LCoS unit from Sony might cost you around $12,000, while a 4K unit costs more than $20,000.
If you are looking for a complete package with decent image quality and terrific durability, then LED projectors serve as a great choice. This projector is well-known for its immense lamp longevity, and on average, they come with 30,000hour of lifespan. They are designed in such a way that neither you will have to opt for maintenance, nor will you have to replace the bulb. Our article on how long projectors last may interest you.
The image quality is really excellent, and it offers a decent brightness level even in the presence of ambient light. We can say the black level rendering is proper, and it treats you with the right contrast level in all the images.
LED projectors come with specialized engineering where they use Red, Green, and Blue LEDs instead of a lamp, so they don’t have any color wheel to reproduce high-color depth. Plus, it covers a large percentage of the color gamut, so you can expect it to replicate almost all the colors from your video source.
The best part of this projector is that it won’t annoy you with the rainbow effect and also the noise that often arises from the color wheel. They are highly energy-efficient and moreover, come with an affordable price point. Generally, a projector takes a lot of time during startup but not this one as it quickly starts and shutdown without any heating issue.
A laser projector is an uncommon choice when it comes to buying a projector, as it is a new concept in the market. Lasers serve as a light source that is coupled with a DLP or LCoS projection system, and together they create a terrific image quality.
What makes it unique is its ability to render dark black and high contrast in all the images. The color quality and image brightness are also excellent, making it ideal for home entertainment. They come with incredible lamp longevity, and a standard laser projector can last for a minimum of 20,000hours.
The best part is the light output is really consistent, and it doesn’t even when they are about to die. It runs quietly and doesn’t heat up even after hours of usage. To own a good laser projector, you need to pay a minimum of $6,000, and the price goes higher for high-end units.
A slide projector is a unique type of projection device that is mostly used for viewing photographs on large screens. It is designed using a reflected, bulb, holder, and a focusing lens, and together, they produce images through optical and mechanical processes. The overall process is straightforward, where the slide first passes through a transparent glass, and then they are magnified by the lens that ultimately is projected on the large screen.
Elmo is another specialized projector that was developed by Japanese optics manufacturers, Elmo, and it is used for showcasing documents on large screens. It is devised with a blend of a document camera and projection system so that everyone can adequately see documents in a magnified way. Although it shows contents in 2D format, it has the ability to read 3D items without any issue.
So we have presented all the essential projector types that you will find in the market, and every type has its own specialty. It would be smart to go through this guide thoroughly before making the final purchase.
- EH Contributor, “Buying Guide: Types of Video Projectors“, Electronichouse.com, September 1, 2015
- Globus Infocom Limited, “Different Types Of Multimedia Projectors: What Are The Differences“, Electronichouse.com, June 12, 2019
- “Projector“, Wikipedia, Retrieved 26 January 2021
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.