3LCD vs DLP Projector (What does 3LCD even mean!?) – Explained

LCD vs DLP InfographicAre you new to the world of digital projectors? Well, it doesn’t take long to discover the two main kinds of projectors when shopping for one. You might already know the terms 3LCD vs DLP since they are used so often in marketing micro-display gadgets like TVs and projectors. They are the two main kinds of micro-display imaging technology. Customers are known to ask one question especially when purchasing an electronic item; which one should I buy? / Which one is better?


Dwelling on the latter, there is simply none that is better than the other. They are two different kinds of one technology that have some dissimilar advantages and disadvantages. What this article aims to help you at is decide what type of imaging technology you need in 3LCD vs DLP. Both of these technologies have advanced greatly and have strong advantages in different areas. Depending on the purpose you intend to use your projector, it is important that you know the one that will give you the best results in a DLP vs 3LCD scenario.


What does 3LCD even mean? – Explained

If you are not that new to projectors, you may have seen the term 3LCD in press releases, websites or in projector literature. LCD stands for liquid crystal display. These projectors use a prism to split light from their beam into its component blue, green and blue colors. Each of these then passes through the projector’s LCD panel that shows the image of the specific color. These colors are then recombined by the projector into one full-color image that is projected through the lens. Several LCD manufacturers use 3LCD as a brand marketing name. It is intended to distinguish the unique implementation of LCD projectors as described above from the wide variety of LCD displays used across a horde of consumer products. There is, however, no technical factor that distinguishes 3LCD vs DLP, and the terms can therefore be used interchangeably.


LCD projectors have a wide range of prices running from a few hundred dollars to thousands, and are made by a horde of companies including Epson and Panasonic, among others. You can view more details on the 3LCD vs DLP here.


What does DLP entail?

DLP stands for digital light processing. It is a technology that was developed by Texas Instruments. The technology uses thousands of tiny mirrors to bounce light towards (on pixel) or away (off pixel) from the screen. Most DLP models use a color wheel that is literally a wheel with color filters, which spins to create sequential color. There are some high end DLP projectors that use three DLP chips; each for the component colors, red, green and blue. However, in lower priced 3LCD vs DLP projector (under $10,000), there is only one chip. These also widely range in price but have high end models that are very expensive. They range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands and more.


The Strengths of LCD

Contrast ratio

Most people ask what are the advantages of DLP vs 3LCD. In terms of picture quality this is the area that I’d recommend looking into the contrast ratio area the most. Contrast ratio plays the biggest role in determining how realistic the images look on the screen. JVC and Sony have produced a few projectors that have arguably the best contrast ratios in display. 3LCD vs DLP in this field, 3LCD wins. LCDs have taken huge steps in transforming the technology to offer excellent performance in recent years. So if you are looking to use your projector for purposes that need high contrast, LCD would be a better choice to DLP.


DLP has not taken steps as significant in their transformation in contrast ratio. Thanks to this, its contract ratio has only experienced little change over the past few years thus falling behind LCDs. For more on this, please check out the info here.


Greater Installation Flexibility

Projectors using the 3LCD multi-imaging technology often have 2.0x zoom lenses with extensive horizontal and vertical lens shift. This feature makes the LCD projectors easy to install in just about anywhere. DLP projectors in the contrary have little or no lens shift since they have short zooms. A contest in flexibility of 3LCD vs DLP projector, 3LCD wins.


If you are a DIY home theater enthusiast on a strict budget the flexibility offered by LCD models would suit you better. While most LCD projectors do not need to be ceiling mounted, most DLP projectors do. This will go a long way in saving you long run video cables and ceiling mount costs. Living with unattractive track of video cables is also not appealing in the house. LCD models will save you the hassle.


Less power usage

The LCD technology is built to consume less power than DLP. The lamps used by most LCD projectors are of lower wattage and they produce are generally equal image brightness to DLP projectors. This feature will be most notable if you are using LCD or DLP projectors that do not have a white segment in the color wheel. The low power usage also means that the amount of heat generated by the LCD projectors’ exhaust is comparatively lower. This makes the LCD projectors a better suit for home theater products. When it comes to power consumption contest DLP vs 3LCD, LCD wins.


Weaknesses of LCD

Indefinite lifespan of LCD panels

If exposed to extreme heat and high intensity UV light, organic compounds found in most LCD panels gradually degrade over a long period of time. The degradation will characterize in image discoloration and contrast reduction. To fix the problem, you would need to replace the LCD panels. You would normally be better off purchasing a new projector.When it comes to longevity in DLP vs 3LCD, DLP wins.


There is not enough data from reliable sources indicating the expected lifespan of the LCD panels. The vendors of LCD projectors will also not acknowledge that the degradation of LCD panels can occur, so they do not give the consumers a life expectancy for the LCD projectors. However, a trusted and very experienced developer using both DLP vs 3LCD technology believes that the LCD panels have an approximated lifespan ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 hours. This of course depends on the quality and more importantly for you, how bright the projector is- brighter projectors will give more stress to the LCD panels speeding up the degradation.


Lower contrast in business products

Most LCD projectors designed for commercial and education purposes have an arguably equal quality to the relatively cheaper organic LCDs. They also have no auto-iris. The contrast ratings in these LCD models run in the range of 400:1 to 700:1. DLP projectors in the same price, resolution and lumen class are often rated at 2000:1 or even higher. This is a significantly larger contrast rating. If therefore your intended purpose for the projector is education or commercial I’d recommend opting for the DLP projectors in the case where you have 3LCD vs DLP projector contest.


Strengths of DLP

Sealed imaging Chip

Most DLP projectors offer sealed imaging chips to protect them from dust particles that would create a dark or greyish spot on the projected image and reduce the quality. LCD projectors do not employ this feature on their sealed panels exposing them to the risk of lower quality images over long periods of time due to dust spots. Commercial users of projectors are especially affected by this feature since they have to clean the rooms regularly. When it comes to the imaging chip in the DLP vs 3LCD, DLP wins.


Lower maintenance costs

Since most DLP projectors have sealed DLP chips, they do not require air filters. This reduces maintenance costs since there is no need to clean the filters regularly or replace them. In terms of cost effectiveness in the 3LCD vs DLP contest, DLP wins.


No image quality degradation over time

DLP projectors can generally outlive 3LCD projectors since they experience no degradation in the quality of the images over time. They can, however, reduce image quality if dust builds up inside the projector. What is impressive about the DLP projectors is that the chips will not degrade. Color shifts and reduction of contrast that is experienced after long use of LCD panels, are hence not experienced by long used DLP projectors. In this 3LCd vs DLp contest, DLP comes out victorious again.



LCDs cannot quite match the extreme miniaturization afforded by the single-chip engine in the DLP projectors. There are about 15 DLP projectors in the market at the moment weighing less than 3 lbs and have the capability to put out more than 1000 lumens. The LCD projectors that can put out as much lumens weigh far more. The lightest LCD projector in the market at the moment weighs up to 4lbs more.


Limitations of DLP

The color wheels can produce rainbow artifacts. Sometimes referred to as color separation artifacts, these are momentary flashes of banded colors on the screen. They however last only an instant and occur at random. They are also only a problem in single-chip DLP projectors that are using slower speed color wheels.



The ideal projector choice is dependent on a few factors. Depending on your budget, whether you intend to use it as a home theater or office presentations, or will be used while travelling. Each of the technologies has strengths and weaknesses in different fields. You’d want to look into the projector that has the least disadvantages in the field you want to implement it in and opt for that one that both fits into your budget and outperforms the other in the specific area.

Getting conversant with the strengths and weaknesses is hence crucial to choosing the right type for your use. We hope that you will make the right choice when presented with a DLP vs 3LCD scenario.


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