Before the Digital Light Processing technology was invented back in 1987 and the DLP projector was developed in 1997, we had the LCD projectors of 1968. LCD projector tech has been around for about 53 years.
Even in the 20th Century or the 2020s, Liquid Crystal Display projectors still remain available as DLP projector alternatives for home theater purposes. With that in mind, what are LCD projectors? What are the things you should consider before buying them?
What are LCD Projectors?
Its technology developed way back in 1968, the LCD projector is the oldest type of digital projector. It works by projecting light onto mirrors that split the light into the three primary colors of Red, Green, and Blue (RGB).
The three colors then pass through three separate prisms that converge through the second prism in order to present the full-color picture, image, or video on screen. Compared to DLPs, these LCDs have sharper imagery and better picture quality overall.
DLP vs. LCD Projectors
They also have no rainbow effect or rainbow afterimages compared to the color-wheel-based DLP. However, it has lower contrast than DLP. It also tends to be bulkier so it’s not convenient for portability purposes. It uses transmissive instead of reflective technology.
Finally, it mostly uses standard lamps instead of LED lamps. It costs about $250 to $1,000 or more.
What are the Pros and Cons of LCD Projectors?
There are advantages and disadvantages of buying LCD projectors over their more expensive DLP and LCoS counterparts. Obviously, LCDs tend to be more affordable than other projector types as the oldest digital projector tech.
Pros of LCD Projectors
- Quieter operation.
- No rainbow effect.
- Sharper image on data.
- It uses less power than DLP projectors.
- It throws less heat with its unsealed vents.
- In ambient light, it offers richer color dynamics.
Cons of LCD Projectors
- Poorer contrast and more saturation.
- Black looks light gray compared to DLP’s deeper blacks.
- Its pixels are more visible, leading to a wire mesh effect.
- Video images have a wire mesh or screen door look to them.
- Even for the same lumen number, the LCD projector size remains pretty large.
LCD Projector Buying Guide
When buying LCD projectors, you should realize they include the latest ones used for schools, businesses, and home theater systems. It’s in no way an obsolete technology. It’s a type of tech that survives even with the dominance of DLPs.
Keep on reading to find out exactly why and what LCDs bring to the table. People mostly favor them because of their undeniable picture quality over DLPs in particular.
- Better Picture Quality: When buying an LCD projector, you’re usually doing so for image sharpness. Yes, DLPs are better at handling those pictures in motion by reducing motion blur and making the movement smooth. The picture on an LCD itself is super sharp and clear.
- LCD Technology is a Proven Commodity: LCD technology is ubiquitous and it’s found in everything from TV screens to projector mirrors as well as backlit digital displays on your dashboard. LCD in projector tech is also more affordable than its DLP counterparts.
- Rich Color Saturation: Although DLPs technically have better contrast and clarity, LCDs have richer color saturation that coincides with the sharpness produced by their digital image. Yes, LCDs don’t have deep black levels but its contrast comes from the white levels and colors.
- Sharpness and Vividness: Data is displayed on the LCD with sharpness and crispness of image and color vivacity in terms of yellows and reds, like how colors in a CRT TV offers better vividness compared to the washed out look of digital flat-panel HDTV systems.
- Ventilation System: When shopping for an LCD projector, you should also be on the lookout for those that offer better cool-down systems. Both DLPs and LCDs could end up overheating when using traditional lamps, but DLPs have the advantage due to its LED lamp usage.
- LCD vs. 3LCD: “LCD projector” is a term that encompasses all projectors that use LCD tech. Meanwhile, 3LCD refers to a trade brand that doesn’t include some projectors. Only a few projectors in existence offer four LCD panel tech or the 3-chip system.
- 3LCD Chip Architecture: The 3LCD chip architecture is LCD technology that makes it more expensive but also addresses the pitfalls of traditional LCD tech better. It was developed by Epson back in the 1980s. It results in finer image gradations and uses less power to work.
- Color Lumens: Color lumens is the new industry standard for measuring brightness levels. Projectors have traditionally been measured in terms of brightness by only measuring white. However, measuring color lumens offer a more complete picture of brightness levels.
- More Colorful Results: Practically speaking, shopping for LCD projectors over DLP projectors gives you screening results that deliver bright individual colors instead of just white brightness. This is coupled by how there’s now rainbow effect with the colors of an LCD image.
- White Lumens vs. Color Lumens: Compared to DLPs, LCDs make better use of color brightness in lumens even if they have similar white brightness measurements. Additionally, LCDs with similar white brightness measurements might have drastically different color luminosity.
- Better Contrast but Questionable Colors: Unless you’re paying extra for 3-Chip DLP, an LCD projector delivers better quality colors and overall color lumens or brightness compared to DLP projectors with their white segments and color filter wheels with dim yellows and reds.
- Color Brightness and Intensity: A DLP offers muddier yellows and wine-colored reds at peak brightness in cinema mode. LCD, like a CRT-style TV set, offers brighter yellows and reds that really give “old-timey” footage more pop and less dimness in terms of the warmest colors.
- Vivid Colors: While DLPs offer better contrast and smoother movement without blur, LCDs are characterized by their warm, vivid colors and better overall quality at peak brightness. They’re better family room projectors compared to the DLP cinema projectors made for real theaters.
- Portability vs. Stability: An LCD projector will never be as portable as its DLP counterpart. However, these big box LCDs will always have better luminosity and usefulness in family room settings as well as applications in school, business, and government.
- Mini LCD Projectors: The most portable mini projectors will always be bigger than the pocket-sized or cellphone-sized offerings of a DLP projector and its micro-mirror technology. However, the liquid crystal peer pixel offerings of LCD remain perfectly affordable and serviceable.
- Mounting Considerations: Only a few DLPs are designed to be mounted on a rear wall while LCD home theater projectors can be mounted on both the ceiling and the rear wall easily. This gives the projector superior placement flexibility compared to its more portable rival.
- Screen Door Effect: While the 3LCD and LCD tech lacks any rainbow effects or afterimages with their color rendering, some older models are bogged down by pixel visibility that results in a screen door effect. Shop for newer affordable LCD with smaller pixel pitches.
- LCD Remains Relevant: The screen door pixel effect is more of an issue with older LCD and 3LCD projectors. LCD thusly remains relevant despite its drawbacks compared to DLP because it’s more affordable than 3-chip DLP or LCoS technology while keeping up with HD trends.
- LED Lamp: LED lamp usage used to be an exclusively DLP projector domain. However, modern LCDs have done away with standard lamps themselves and incorporated the cooler, longer-lasting LED. This also reduces overheating issues mostly caused by halogen lamps.
- LCD Popularity: There was a time when LCD tech claims 50 percent of the world market in terms of sales, with Epson making LCD panels for almost all the brands out there. DLP is fast becoming the de facto standard though due to the rise of smart projectors and pico projectors.
- Popular Home Theater Brands: The most popular home theater projector brands for LCD include Epson, Panasonic, and Sony. DLP is more of a BenQ, Optoma, and ViewSonic type of tech. In the 2020s, DLP has become more ubiquitous while LCD remains the affordable choice.
The Final Conclusion
In terms of LED light usage, high functionality with additional services, and overall portability, DLP outdoes its LCD counterpart. It also offers clearer contrast, better textures, decent color, and smooth movement with no motion blur.
However, LCD has superior yellows and reds at peak brightness, superior image sharpness, no rainbow effect, reduced screen door effect from its modern offerings, and better power economy on top of affordability across the board. On that note, here are our LCD projector recommendations.
Dr. J Professional and DBPOWER
Amazon’s recommended picks for LCD projectors include Dr. J Professional and DBPOWER LCD projectors.
The DR. J Professional Full HD Projector has a native 1080p resolution and 4K support. It has HDMI, USB and VGA hardware interface, wireless mirroring, 7,500 lumens of brightness, and a 120-inch screen accessory included. It costs $230.
The DBPOWER Wi-Fi Projector is a more modern yet affordable LCD projector offering with LED lamp, 720p resolution and 1080p support, up to 7,500 ANSI lumens or lux of brightness, zoom and sleep timer features, carry case, and universal compatibility.
Long story short, DBPOWER is the budget LCD projector with a max 1080p resolution while Dr. J offers up to 4K support and even its own 120-inch screen included in the package.