DLP vs LCD
With each offering its advantages and disadvantages navigating the DLP vs LCD TV differences can be time consuming. We aim to help. This page is structured to provide some background in each technology, advantages and disadvantages to each then conclude with a decision tree diagram to provide a little more decision making guidance.
Note, this page focuses exclusively on the DLP vs LCD TV differences; if you are interested in some of the other technologies or comparisons with them, check out the links on the right.
OK, on with the DLP vs LCD TV comparison.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) televisions operate by placing a bulb in the TV that generates light. The light is then passed through millions of red, green or blue liquid crystals where an electric current is applied to turn the colors on and off providing the correct color on the screen.
LCD televisions are bright making them an excellent choice for the room in your house that has several windows or an area where you cannot limit the lighting.
Most LCD televisions are less then 4 inches in depth allowing them to be hung on the wall unlike DLP televisions, which are usually more, then 6 inches in depth.
LCD televisions provide a greater viewing angle then DLP. A LCD television should provide reasonable viewing up to a 60% angle. Therefore if you have a wide room the requires viewing the television from areas that are not centered in front of the tv, this should prove to be a better option then DLP.
LCD televisions do not come in as large a size as televisions made with DLP or Plasma technology. LCD televisions, with a few very expensive exceptions, are currently less then 80 inches.
Like Plasma televisions, LCD TVs have a limited lifespan. The typical lifespan for a LCD TV is 70,000-80,000 hours. What happens with the LCD televisions is that, over time, the green will start to fade giving everything a red or blue tint. This fade has to do with the crystals and not the light source; therefore there is no way to fix this without replacing the TV.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology was developed by Texas Instruments (now licensed to others for production) several years ago. A simple explanation of how this works is that there is a small computer chip with thousands of mirrors on it. A light bulb is aimed at the mirrors and the mirrors reflect the light through a color wheel (to add the correct color) onto the screen. Because the light is projected onto the screen from the mirrors, this is considered rear projection. However this rear projection should not be confused with rear projection of the past. These televisions are much brighter, provide a better quality picture with a better viewing angle then the rear projections of 6 plus years ago.
We see three advantages that DLP has over LCD TVs.
As described above in the DLP Background section, DLP televisions have a bulb that creates the light on the screen. This bulb is replaceable (around $250) which means that your DLP television set should provide a quality picture for a long period of time. Where both the Plasma and LCD televisions will degrade over time.
DLP provides the best size to dollar ratio. For the money, DLP provides the highest quality and largest television you can buy. If you are able to find a cheaper LCD of the same size, it is very unlikely that the picture quality will not be comparable to the DLP of a similar price. DLP is also available in larger sizes then LCD televisions.
DLP produces a very good consistent picture. That is expected, why is that an advantage you ask? Reasoning is that although a LCD may produce better color saturation (how color looks, full, deep, etc.) and accuracy, the LCD will begin to color distort over time (70K hours). Therefore a TV that will provide a very good (Depending on brand and price of the same or better quality) picture for a long period of time at a reasonable price point is a good fit for the majority of consumers. Therefore, we expect this technology to gain in popularity. This increase in demand will drive the price down and provide even more of an advantage over other options.
Biggest disadvantage is called the Rainbow effect. Everyone does not see the Rainbow effect; therefore this may not impact you. For the people that do see it, it is usually seen when people look away from the screen then look back quickly. It appears as a colored streak across the screen. We suggest you view a few DLP televisions in a store to determine if this will be a problem for you or not. The manufactures are also working diligently to eliminate this issue and it has improved, hopefully this will not be an issue much longer.
Although slimmer then older projection televisions. The depth (6-18 inches) of most DLP televisions is more then a Plasma or LCD. Therefore if you are planning on hanging it on the wall this will most likely prove prohibitive.
Because the DLP television is a rear projection TV, the viewing angle is not as great as Plasma or LCD technologies. With rear projection you will find that if you are too far off to one side or the other the color will not appear consistent. This may not matter to you unless you have a wide room and need to be able to see the television from areas off to the side. We suggest a viewing angle of 40% or less for a DLP.
DLP vs LCD TV Conclusions
While reading our DLP vs LCD review, some of you with a little more television experience, may be wondering why we did not mentioned the standard television features such as contrast (Difference between the darkest dark and lightest white), clarity (clean lines, not jagged, around images), etc. Reason for this omission is that the difference in these areas depends on the price and manufacturer of the television, not either of these technologies. Both technologies perform well in these areas.
Bottom line is that both technologies make for excellent televisions. There are some differences, which may lead you to one or the other, and the DLP vs LCD decision diagram below should help with those differences. If you get to the bottom of the DLP vs LCD diagram and still have not chosen one or the other then consider which looks best in your room, as either should work just fine.
DLP vs LCD TV Decision Diagram