8-3 LCD 14-9 DLP 27-15 The Technical Differences between LCD and DLP 32-28 Projection Technology (LCD and DLP) 36-33 Digital Light Processing (DLP) Television & Projection 7

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The Technical Differences between LCD and DLP:LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors usually contain three separate LCD glass panels, one each for red, green, and blue components of the image signal being fed into the projector. As light passes through the LCD panels, individual pi els ("picture elements") can be opened to allow light to pass or closed to block the light, as if each little pi el were fitted with a Venetian blind. This activity modulates the light and produces the image that is projected onto the screen. DLP ("Digital Light Processing") is a proprietary technology developed by Texas Instruments. It works quite differently than LCD. Instead of having glass panels through which light is passed, the DLP chip is a reflective surface made up of thousands of tiny mirrors. Each mirror represents a single pi el. In a DLP projector, light from the projector's lamp is directed onto the surface of the DLP chip. The mirrors wobble back and forth, directing light either into the lens path to turn the pi el on, or away from the lens path to turn it off. In very e pensive DLP projectors, there are three separate DLP chips, one each for the red, green, and blue channels. However, in DLP projectors under $ , , there is only one chip. In order to define color, there is a color wheel that consists of red, green, blue, and sometimes white (clear) filters. This


wheel spins between the lamp and the DLP chip and alternates the color of the light hitting the chip from red to green to blue. The mirrors tilt away from or into the lens path based upon how much of each color is required for each pi el at any given moment in time. This activity modulates the light and produces the image that is projected onto the screen.

The Advantages of LCD Technology
One benefit of LCD is that it has historically delivered better color saturation than you get from a DLP projector. That's primarily because in most single-chip DLP projectors, a clear (white) panel is included in the color wheel along with red, green, and blue in order to boost brightest, or total lumen output. Though the image is brighter than it would otherwise be, this tends to reduce color saturation, making the DLP picture appear not quite as rich and vibrant. However, some of the DLP-based home theater products now have si -segment color wheels that eliminate the white component. This contributes to a richer display of color. And even some of the newer high contrast DLP units that have a white segment in the wheel are producing better color saturation than they used to. Overall however, the best LCD projectors still have a noteworthy performance advantage in this area. LCD also delivers a somewhat sharper image than DLP at any given resolution. The difference here is more relevant for detailed financial spreadsheet

presentations than it is for video. This is not to say that DLP is fuzzy--it isn't. When you look at a spreadsheet projected by a DLP projector it looks clear enough. It's just that when a DLP unit is placed side-by-side with an LCD of the same resolution, the LCD typically looks sharper in comparison. A third benefit of LCD is that it is more light-efficient. LCD projectors usually produce significantly higher ANSI lumen outputs than do DLPs with the same wattage lamp. In the past year, DLP machines have gotten brighter and smaller--and there are now DLP projectors rated at 5 ANSI lumens, which is a comparatively recent development. Still, LCD competes e tremely well when high light output is required. All of the portable light cannons under lbs putting out 35 to 5 ANSI lumens are LCD projectors.

The Weaknesses of LCD Technology
LCD projectors have historically had two weaknesses, both of which are more relevant to video than they are to data applications. The first is visible pi elation, or what is commonly referred to as the "screendoor effect" because it looks like you are viewing the image through a screendoor. The second weakness is notso-impressive black levels and contrast, which are vitally important elements in a good video image. LCD technology has traditionally had a hard time being taken seriously among some home theater

enthusiasts (understandably) because of these flaws in the image. However, in many of today's projectors these flaws aren't nearly what they used to be. Three developments have served to reduce the screendoor problem on LCD projectors. First was the step up to higher resolutions, first to XGA resolution (1, 7 8), and then to widescreen XGA (WXGA, typically either 1 8 7 or 13 5 7 8). This widescreen format is found, for e ample, on the Sanyo PLV-70and Epson TW100, (two more products currently on our Highly Recommended list). Standard XGA resolution uses % more pi els to paint the image on the screen than does an SVGA (8 ) projector. The interpi el gaps are reduced in XGA resolution, so pi els are more dense and less visible. Then with the widescreen 1 :9 machines, the pi el count improves by another quantum leap. While an XGA projector uses about 589, pi els to create a 1 :9 image, a WXGA projector uses over one million. At this pi el density, the screendoor effect is eliminated at normal viewing distances. Second, the inter-pi el gaps on all LCD machines, no matter what resolution, are reduced compared to what they use to be. So even today's ine pensive SVGAresolution LCD projectors have less screendoor effect than older models did. And it is virtually invisible on the Panasonic PT-L300U, which is a medium resolution widescreen format of 9 5 .

The third development in LCDs was the use of MicroLens Array (MLA) to boost the efficiency of light transmission through XGA-resolution LCD panels. Some XGA-class LCD projectors have this feature, but most do not. For those that do, MLA has the happy side effect of reducing pi el visibility a little bit as compared to an XGA LCD projector without MLA. On some projectors with this feature, the pi el grid can also be softened by placing the focus just a slight hair off perfect, a practice recommended for the display of quality video. This makes the pi els slightly indistinct without any noticeable compromise in video image sharpness. Now when it comes to contrast, LCD still lags behind DLP by a considerable margin. But recent major improvements in LCD's ability to render higher contrast has kept LCD machines in the running among home theater enthusiasts. All of the LCD projectors just mentioned have contrast ratios of at least 8 :1. They produce much more snap, better black levels, and better shadow detail than the LCD projectors of years past were able to deliver.

The Advantages of DLP Technology
There are several unique benefits that are derived from DLP technology. One of the most obvious is small package size, a feature most relevant in the mobile presentation market. Since the DLP light engine consists of a single chip rather than three LCD

panels, DLP projectors tend to be more compact. All of the current 3-pound miniprojectors on the market are DLPs. Most LCD projectors are five pounds and up. Another DLP advantage is that it can produce higher contrast video with deeper black levels than you normally get on an LCD projector. DLP has ardent followers in the home theater world primarily due to this key advantage. While both technologies have seen improvements in contrast in the past two years, DLP projectors still have a commanding lead over LCDs in this regard. Leading-edge LCD projectors like the Sony VPL:1 contrast, and Sanyo's VW1 HT is rated at 1 PLV-7 is rated at 9 :1. Meanwhile, the latest DLP products geared toward home theater like NEC's HT1000 are rated as high as 3 :1. Less than two years ago the highest contrast ratings we had from DLP were in the range of 1 :1. This boost in contrast is derived from Te as Instrument's newer DLP chip designs, which increase the tilt of the mirrors from 1 degrees to 1 degreees, and features a black substrate under the mirrors. These changes produced a significant advance in contrast performance that simply did not e ist before. A third competitive advantage of DLP over LCD is reduced pi elation. These days it is most relevant in


the low priced, low resolution SVGA class of products. In SVGA resolution, DLP projectors have a muted pi el structure when viewed from a typical viewing distance. Conversely, most SVGA-resolution LCD projectors tend to have a more visible pi el grid. This is entirely irrelevant if you are using the projector for PowerPoint slide presentations. However, it is more problematic for a smooth video presentation. For this reason, we don't normally recommend SVGAresolution LCD projectors for home theater. Conversely, the revolutionary InFocus X1 is a DLPbased SVGA resolution projector. It is selling now for and is an incredible deal for the home under $1, theater enthusiast on a limited budget. In XGA and higher resolution, DLP technology pretty much eliminates pi el visibility from a normal viewing distance. However, the latest WXGA resolution LCDs do so as well. So with higher resolutions, differences in pi elation are not the big competitive battleground they used to be. DLP continues to hold a small competitive edge, but the dramatic advantage of DLP over LCD no longer e ists. The screendoor effect is receding into history as a problem of days gone by.

A Potential Problem with DLP: The Rainbow Effect
If there is one single issue that people point to as a weakness in DLP, it is that the use of a spinning color wheel to modulate the image has the potential to produce a unique visible artifact on the screen that

folks refer to as the "rainbow effect," which is simply colors separating out in distinct red, green, and blue. Basically, at any given instant in time, the image on the screen is either red, or green, or blue, and the technology relies upon your eyes not being able to detect the rapid changes from one to the other. Unfortunately some people can. Not only can some folks see the colors break out, but the rapid sequencing of color is thought to be the culprit in reported cases of eye strain and headaches. Since LCD projectors always deliver a constant red, green, and blue image simultaneously, viewers of LCD projectors do not report these problems. How big of a deal is this? Well, it is different for different people. For some who can see the rainbow effect, it is so distracting that it renders the picture literally unwatchable. Others report being able to see the rainbow artifacts on occasion, but find that they are not particularly annoying and do not inhibit the enjoyment of the viewing e perience. Fortunately, the majority of the population either cannot detect the rainbow artifacts, or if they can they are not overly bothered by them. The fact is if everyone could see rainbows on DLP projectors the technology never would have survived to begin with, much less been embraced by so many as a great technology for home theater video systems. Nevertheless, it can be a serious problem for some viewers.


Te as Instruments and the vendors who build projectors using DLP technology have made strides in addressing this problem. The first generation DLP projectors incorporated a color wheel that rotated si ty times per second, which can be designated as Hz, or 3 RPM. So with one red, green, and blue panel in the wheel, updates on each color happened times per second. This baseline Hz rotation speed in the first generation products is also known as a "1 " rotation speed. Upon release of the first generation machines, it became apparent that quite a few people were seeing rainbow artifacts. So in the second generation DLP products the color wheel rotation speed was doubled to , or 1 Hz, or 7 RPM. The doubling of the refresh rate reduced the margin of error, and so reduced or eliminated the visibility of rainbows for many people. Today, many DLP projectors being built for the home theater market incorporate a si -segment color wheel which has two sequences of red, green, and blue. This wheel still spins at 1 Hz or 7 RPM, but because the red, green, and blue is refreshed twice in every rotation rather than once, the industry refers to this as a rotation speed. This further doubling of the refresh rate has again reduced the number of people who can detect them. Nevertheless it remains a problem for a number of viewers even today.


How big of a problem is the rainbow issue for you?
If you've seen earlier generation DLP machines and detected no rainbow artifacts, you won't see them on the newer machines either. The majority of people can't see them at all on any of the current machines. However there is no way for you to know if you or another regular viewer in your household are among those that may be bothered either by visibly distracting rainbows, or possibly eyestrain and headaches, without sitting down and viewing a DLP projector for a while. Therefore, if you think you've identified a DLP projector that is just right for your needs but you are not sure whether this will be a problem, there is an easy solution. Find an alternative product that is either LCD- or LCOS-based that would be your second choice if you find that DLP won't work for you. Then find a customer-service oriented dealer who sells both models, and who will allow you to switch the DLP product for the alternative after testing it out for a few days. There are a number of service-oriented Internet dealers who will be happy to make such arrangements, and there are plenty who will not. But if you choose a dealer who is more interested in your satisfaction than in closing a quick deal (and they are definitely out there), you will end up with a thoroughly satisfying solution in the end.


A Potential Problem with LCD: Long Term Image Degradation
Te as Instruments recently released the results of a lab test conducted last year which highlighted a failure mode in LCD technology that does not e ist with DLP. Given enough time, it appears that LCD panels, primarily those in the blue channel, will degrade, causing shifts in color balance and a reduction of overall contrast. The test did not include a large enough array of test units to draw any conclusions about anticipated rates of degradation under normal operating conditions. However it is possible that those who invest in an LCD projector may find that eventually the LCD panel and polarizer in the blue channel may need replacement. This is not much of a problem if the unit is under warranty. But if it isn't, the replacement of an LCD panel will represent an unpleasant incremental investment in your projector that you were not anticipating. (See more details on TI's test and our thoughts on it.)

The Current State of the Art
The largest developers and manufacturers of LCD technology are Sony and Epson. These companies have no interest in standing by and letting Te as Instrument sweep the digital projector market with its competing DLP technology. So competition has driven


both the LCD makers and Te as Instruments to improve their respective products in the ongoing battle for market share. While LCD technology has made significant improvements in contrast performance over earlier generation machines, DLP maintains its lead in contrast. Meanwhile LCD projector makers have continued to emphasize key advantages in color fidelity, color saturation, and image sharpness for data display. Both LCD and DLP are evolving rapidly to the benefit of the consumer. The race for miniaturization has produced smaller yet more powerful projectors than we might have even imagined possible just a couple of years ago. Light output per pound has increased dramatically. And video quality on the best LCD and DLP projectors now surpasses that available in a commercial movie theater. ProjectorCentral continues to recommend both LCD and DLP projectors for a variety of applications. For mobile presentation it is hard to beat the current group of 3-pound DLPs on the market. However LCD products like the Epson 735c at .3 lbs make it clear that LCD is still a very strong contender in the mobile presentation market. And for larger conference rooms that require higher light output and greater connectivity, LCD technology holds a commanding lead.

When it comes to home theater, DLP has continued to make competitive advances in color, contrast, and image stability that have served to make it a technology preferred by many for home theater systems. But the fact is that both DLP and LCD continue to improve, and both are capable of delivering much higher quality video for home theater than they ever were before. Which technology is the best? Well, it depends. Both technologies have advantages, and both have weaknesses. Neither one is perfect for everything. So the technology war continues. The only clear winner in sight is you, the consumer.





Technology LCD an DLP)(4)

Di it l roj tors roadl fall i to t o diff rent technologies, DLP from exas instruments and LCD ith its arious deri ati es (LCOS and D-ILA). DLP (Digi al Light P ocessing)

DLP uses a DMD (Digital Micro-mirror Device) chi made up of thousands of micro mirrors, each of hich corresponds ith a pixel of the finished image. Each of these mirrors can e independentl tilted to either reflect light towards the lens or away from the lens towards a light absorbing baffle. he easiest analogy is to think of each mirror being a light which is switched either on or off. he mirrors can tilt several thousand times per second so when an individual

mirror is "on" more often than it is "off" we get more light reflected and when it's "off" more often than "on" we get less light reflected. This results in a lighter or darker shade of gray pi el.

Adding Colour
The light reflecting off the DMD is - at this stage - in shades of gray and the ne t stage is to turn this image from grayscale to full colour. Between the DMD chips and the lens array is a wheel made up of coloured filter segments (red, green and blue in the simplest design). The colour wheel spins rapidly (5 times per second for a single speed wheel on a 5 Hz supply) and the tilting of the mirrors is timed to allow light to either pass or not pass through each filter as the wheel rotates, producing a colour image.

The Rainbow Effect
The result of this process is that DLP projectors build a colour image by displaying a series of static monochrome image. The rainbow effect - sometimes referred to as colour separation - occurs when the eye can detect these monochrome images in parts of the overall image produced. Most people are not susceptible to this problem but if you are then it can make single chip DLP projectors uncomfortable to watch. The problem has been somewhat alleviated recently with the development of faster colour wheels with more segments, causing the image to be


refreshed more often each second. See licker usion hresholdin our glossary. LCD

LCD (Li uid Crystal on Silicon) is currently the most widely used projection technology in the world. enerally the systems used are made of monochrome lcd panels, one each for red, green and blue. Light from the lamp passes through two dichroic mirrors, which separate the light into its primary colours. Each colour then shines on an lcd microscreen, each pixel of which can either be on", blocking light, or "off" allowing light through. he light that passes through enters a dichroic prism which recombines the red, green and blue to produce a colour image which passes on to the projector lens. The "Chicken i e" or "Screen oor" E ect ntil fairly recently people using LCD projectors have been able to see fixed pattern noise when viewing an image. his is the grid pattern made up of the gaps

between individual pixels. As LCD technology has improved and resolutions have increased this artifact has become less and less of a problem. ith high resolution lcd projectors it is reduced to the point where it can rarely - if at all - be seen from normal view distances. D-IL an LCOS

D-ILA (Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier) is a development of JVC and is sometimes referred to as LCOS (Li uid Crystal On Silicon). D-ILA operates on a reflective rather than transmittive principal. In other words, the polarised light (red, green and blue) is reflected by D-ILA chip's rather than be transmitted through the LCD chips. he D-ILA device¶s reflective techni ue involves laying out the pixel address

selection section and the light modulation section liquid crystal in three dimensions. The entire surface, e cept for the insulation section between pi el electrodes, is used as a reflective surface, so a very high aperture ratio is possible (making D-ILA more efficient than other technologies). For an e tensive e planation of D-ILA technology click here. The primary benefit to consumers of D-ILA is the ability to produce high light output whilst retaining high contrast without relying on lens iris adjustment.


Digital Light Processing (DLP) Television & Projection (5) Technology Overview & Description

DLPΠtechnology is based on an optical semiconductor called a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) chip which was invented in 1987 by Texas Instruments. The DMD is basically an extremely precise

light switch that enables light to be modulated digitally via millions of microscopic mirrors arranged in a rectangular array. Each mirror is spaced less than 1 micron apart - that's a thin gap compared to LCD. These mirrors are literally capable of switching on and off thousands of times per second and are used to direct light towards, and away from, a dedicated pixel space. The duration of the on/off timing determines the level of gray seen in the pixel. Current DMD chips can produce up to 1024 shades of gray. By integrating this grayscale capability with a 6 panel color wheel (2x RGB), the DLP system is able to produce more than 16 million colors. A DMD system can be made up of a single chip or 3 chips, resulting in even greater color reproduction. For example, DLP Cinema systems can reproduce over 35 trillion colors.

What's Next Advances are being made in the single DMD design. For example, Texas Instruments' newer DC3 (Dark Chip 3) design adds a new rear coating to the mirrors and eliminating more of the latent brightness when in the "off" position. Texas Instruments is also embracing LED backlight technology to improve color, eliminate the color wheel, and remove the need for bulb replacement in rear projection sets. After a long run of 1280x720 chips, TI has finally released a couple new 1080p pixel chips. One is a full resolution

1920x1080 DMD designed for front projection systems and should debut in select 2006 models. The other, however uses a horizontal oscillation technique to make a 960x1080 DMD function for a 1080p display (HP calls this "Wobulation" while Mitsubishi dubs it "SmoothPicture"). We call it "fudging", but it does look pretty good. Right now, DLP is the front-runner in the rear projection technology war and, except for on the price-front, is pretty much cleaning the clock of the likes of CRT and LCD rear projection. DLP Advantages Incredible color reproduction  Excellent contrast ratios (using the latest chips and color wheels)  Lightweight compared to CRT  Fully digital displays supporting DVI/HDMI without analogue conversion  Growing technology ("wobulated" and actual 1080p chips now starting to ship) DLP Disadvantages 

Most sets require a minimum of 12-14" depth for rear-projection lamp-based technology (InFocus, the 7" exception, had stopped producing their thin models as of 2005) Potential for "Rainbow Effect" in single chip systems. (look for higher speed color wheels and LED light sources to alleviate this) Most of the newer "1080p" sets do not accept 1080p input via HDMI or component video inputs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Light_Processing http://www.projectorcentral.com/lcd_dlp.htm http://www.ivojo.co.uk/articles.php?h=projector -tech




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