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DLP vs. LCD Projectors

DLP vs. LCD Projectors

At a Glance

DLP projectors are highly portable and tend to offer excellent performance for video content. LCD projectors tend to produce superior video quality when displaying still images.

For a person considering the purchase of a projector, two main options are available. These are the DLP as well as the LCD types of projectors. For those who may not know, LCD means liquid crystal display while DLP means digital light processing technology. Projectors are commonly used for projecting business data during a presentation, displaying pictures by graphics teams and also for projecting movies in home theater systems. Before making the purchase the buyer needs to consider the intended use whether for business or leisure, the budget available and required quality levels depending on the targeted audience. We take a look at the DLP vs LCD technologies to explore their differences and benefits.

Technical Specifications

Pictured at top: ViewSonic DLP Projector

The main difference between the two types of projectors is that the LCD projector has 3 LCD glass panels while the DLP in most cases projects using a single chip. The three individual LCD panels each process the green, blue and red components of light separately. When the light passes through the panels, it is opened to individual pixels and the light modulated to produce an image on screen. The DLP projector has a chip with a reflective surface. This chip is composed of thousands of tiny mirrors each representing a single pixel. When light is reflected on the chip, the numerous mirrors bounce the light around directing the pixels into the lens for the final projection. However, there are some expensive DLP projectors that come with 3 chips for an enhanced output.

DLP vs LCD Advantages

A look at the two technologies reveals various advantages which include;

  • LCD Has a balanced color saturation unlike DLP which may sometimes have a reduced saturation due to the color of its panel which is white.
  • An LCD projector has a sharper image than a DLC projector especially when presenting a slide show.
  • DLP is more portable and user friendly due to its smaller size. The LCD projector is bigger due to its 3 glass panels.
  • In terms of energy efficiency LCD leads because it produces brighter light than a DLP using the same wattage lamps.
  • DLP produces a higher contrast ratio and more pronounced black levels than an LCD projector.
  • DLP has noticeably less pixelation levels compared to the LCD. This is because a DLP projector has a more subdued pixel structure than an LCD projector.
  • However the main disadvantage of the LCD is the noticeable pixelation during a video presentation while DLP sometimes has a rainbow effect on the screen due to its spinning color wheel.


The choice of projector will be determined by various factors such as the size of the room you will be projecting in. For a small room, a short throw lens would be appropriate. A good thing is that most of the projectors now come equipped with one. Another consideration is whether you are looking for a projector to be fixed in one location or to be taking along for business presentations. A DLP projector makes a good choice for portability though it also depends on the presentation content. If your presentations are on a video format the DLP will deliver more quality. If however your material is in the still picture formats or in graphics, then the LCD will provide a better output. In terms of price the DLP projectors are costlier than the LCD. The final decision lies with you after looking at the pros and cons of each and matching them with your needs.