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LCD Projectors

LCD ("Liquid Crystal Display") projectors have traditionally displayed rich color saturation and image sharpness on the market. The term LCD projector encompasses all models using LCD technology, whereas "3LCD" is a trade brand and does not include some projectors. For example, there are actually a few projectors out there with four LCD panels.

Since we first published this page a couple of years ago, there is an additional industry standard for measuring brightness, which we refer to simply as measuring Color Lumens.  Historically projectors have been measured by only measuring white.  Different general projector technology/designs with similar white brightness measurements may have drastically different color brightness.  We recently completed a video on the topic ofColor Lumens and Brightness, where we measure both white and color from LCD and DLP projectors.  It's rather impressive.  With simpilar white measurements, the LCD projector produced well over twice the color lumens. 

Translated to practical meaning; at full brightness, LCD projectors deliver bright individual colors.  DLP's with their color filter wheels and white segments, however, tend to have bright whites but colors, especially reds and yellows tend to be a bit dim by comparison, with the reds more wine colored and muddy yellows.  Oh that other technology is fine when brightness is dropped way down in a video or cinema mode, but often that's after losing something near half the brightness, sometimes more. 

I would suggest that this is a good reason why LCD projectors tend to make the best "family room" projectors, by offering maximum brightness with vivid colors. LCD projectors are certainly just as at home in a dedicated home theater.

Here are some highlights of LCD projector geared for schools, business and government. They are known for a crisp, sharp look when displaying data. And, while LCD portable projectors are typically larger in size than their DLP portable counterparts, they pack more punch than the competition. LCD is also the most popular technology available. Projector manufacturers using LCD technology claim about fifty percent of the world market, with Epson manufacturing the LCD panels for almost all brands. LCD projectors also offer great placement flexibility. Few DLP are designed to be mounted on a rear wall, but almost any LCD home theater projector can be mounted on the rear wall or on the ceiling.

LCD technology, as well as the 3LCD chip architecture, is found in home theater projectors, office projectors, and portable projectors.

Popular home theater projector brands include: Sony, Panasonic, Epson There's another brief and old article comparing LCD and DLP, but I would recommend the video

The Difference Between LCD and DLP technology

There was a time when  people typically referred to most projectors as being LCD projectors, and at one point that was almost true. Today, however, most people are aware that there are three different technologies used in projectors. However, LCD projectors remain the best selling of the different technologies in use.

Virtually all LCD projectors use three separate LCD panels – each do “greyscale” not color, but one has a red, one a green, and one, a blue filter.  Ultimately the light passes through each of the LCDs with filters, and then recombines into a single beam of light... Bingo! The light shoots out through the lens and on to the screen, giving rich colors.

Of the three technologies, LCD, DLP and LCoS, no one is in all ways better than the others.  Each has distinct advantages. LCD projectors produce highly saturated colors.  In home theater space many LCD projectors add a special color filter to get the best overall color tracking.  This creates an interesting difference between the LCD projectors and the other technologies.  A typical home theater projector using LCD technology, like Epson's popular, mid $2500s Home Cinema 5020UB, can produce a good two thousand lumens at its brightest - unusually bright for home theater.  When you get into its best modes Cinema or THX, though, the filter slides into place, and color goes from very good to great, but down go the lumens to  about 670 lumens calibrated.  The thing is, few projectors calibrated offer much more than 700 lumens.  And most of the competition, ($1500 to $5000) except for the Panasonic PT-AE8000 (another LCD projector) produce less than 1200 lumens maximum and many less than 1000 lumens maximum.  In home theater space, only lower end DLP projectors that are not true "home theater" quality can match that brightness.

OK, LCD projectors designed for business and education are also particularly known for great color compared to single-chip DLP projectors. Consider though, LCoS projectors also have great color, they are usually significantly more expensive than their kin, the LCD projectors. Furthermore, LCD projectors are perhaps the greenest of the technologies, they get noticeably more brightness out of lamps of similar wattage, than their LCoS and DLP competition.

In the home projector market, LCD projectors tend to dominate sales in all but the most entry-level price point, which consists of all DLP projectors. LCD based projectors sold in the US start at just over $1000 for 2D models and from about $1600 for 3D capable projectors.  LCD doesn't really place in the high end space, with no popular models over $3500, yet they give many more expensive projectors some serious comptition. 

In the business, education, and government segments, (excluding pico projectors), LCD projectors outsell the other technologies, except when it comes to the very smallest and most portable projectors – under 3 pounds – that, so far seems to be primarily DLP.  On the very high end, LCD projectors offer more bang for the buck than the drastically more expensive 3-chip DLP projectors which are generally the best projectors, but you might buy a loaded 8000 lumen LCD projector for $8000, and an 8000 lumen DLP, for $25,000 or more. One "limitation" of LCD projectors on the high end. They top out around 10,000 lumens.  Those 3 chip DLP's which can hit 25,000 lumens or more are reserved for really high end installations.  You know. for lighting up screens 100 feet wide, or more.  Sorry, the brightest LCD projectors are merely bright enough for a sports arena, or major auditorium.


( Updated: 2013-10-21 )
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