DLP vs. 3LCD Projector Technology – Which One to Choose?

DLP vs. 3LCD Projector

Pick any projector from the budget segment of the market. Whether the projector is for office presentation or home cinema, it will rely on either DLP or 3LCD technology if it falls in the budget segment.

For that reason, people looking to get a new budget-friendly printer tend to fall into a dilemma. Hence, the topic of DLP vs. 3LCD projector technology is still pretty hot. So, we wanted to pitch in.

As a team that tries out printers from different manufacturers, we have plenty of technology experience. And we will share all of the good and the bad about both technologies. So, if you want to have an in-depth idea regarding both, we would recommend sticking till the very end.

What is DLP?

What is DLP

Otherwise known as Digital Light Processing, DLP projectors utilize chips and mirrors. The chips are there to control the mirrors. It has a digital micro-mirror device that will have 2 million micromirrors. Yes, you read that right, two million!

The DMD (digital micro-mirror device) moves towards and away from the light source (laser or a lamp) to deflect or reflect light to the black and white image. What about the color? Well, the RGB or the color wheel system will come into play in that case. The color system will ensure each image has the right color.

In order to form a digital image, the color wheel will constantly revolve. The color wheel has the primary colors divided. During the spinning, it reconstitutes all of the split colors into one single color. That is why, instead of a black and white image, you will notice a fully colored picture on the screen.

Along with that, the projector will also rely on the “persistence of vision effect” to convert the black and white image into something colorful. The colors will generally flash at a sequential rate. However, the quick speed of the flash will give each part of the black and white image its actual color.

For DLP projectors, the light source can either be an LED, lamp, or laser. That is where the images get the required amount of brightness. And a DLP projector will bounce the light from this specific source to the tiny mirrors of the special chip.

After that, the reflected image will go through the spinning wheel and end up on the screen. This whole process takes place exceptionally fast. And it will depend on the “persistence of vision” to alternate the green, red, and blue monochrome images in one second.

Advantages of DLP Projectors

There are plenty of things DLP projectors can bring on to the table. Let us go through them one by one:

High Contrast

First of all, DLP can offer images with reasonably high contrast. That means the images will have deeper blacks. This higher contrast takes the grainy effect and hazy effect off the dark pictures out of the equation. You will undoubtedly enjoy the contrast rate when watching movies and playing games with these projectors.

However, the contrast ratio might seem a bit high in some scenarios. The overall image might look too dark. For that reason, we would recommend staying away from average-grade projectors.

Motion Blur

One of the more significant advantages that DLP projectors bring to the table is a better motion blur. Let us first explain what motion blur is. It is the softening effect that takes place on the moving pixels. This softening effect is something that some people prefer, while some do not.

However, too much of this softening effect can make the overall image look blurry. And DLP projectors are good at keeping the softness at the right amount. But what do we mean by “the right amount”?

The motion blur will be at a level where people who prefer them will find it satisfactory, while it will be less noticeable for those who do not like it. Also, the softening effect will not make the picture look hazy.

Easy to Maintain

Some of the DLP projectors do not need any maintenance at all. And when they do require maintenance, it is a light source change or light cleaning. Changing the light source for this projector is pretty straightforward. Users do not have to go through too many hassles in that case either.

Disadvantages of DLP Projectors

The DLP projectors are pretty good for what they can offer. However, they do associate with some drawbacks. Here is a description of the major ones:

Rainbow Effect

First of all, DLP projectors are well-known for providing a rainbow effect on the images. You might notice a brief flash around the photos. This might degrade the viewing experience a bit.

Color Issues

In comparison, the DLP projectors suffer a bit from color issues. Over time, the colors might seem a bit muted over time. However, a load of manufacturers have integrated advanced technology to mitigate issues such as this.

What is 3LCD?

What is 3LCD

The modern iterations of projectors will generally rely on Liquid Crystal Display or LCD technology. But, the technology is not that new. LCD has been around since the 1980s. However, you will still see this technology being used at a mass scale.

That said, the current offerings will not just rely on the old LCD technology. Instead, the projectors will depend on the latest iteration of the technology, which is the 3LCD. But who refined the old and trusty LCD technology? Epson! They have refined it to perfection and also have licensed the technology.

That refinement made these protectors worthy of competing against the DLP projectors. However, the improvement did not bump up the cost. Instead, the price is still in the competitive range. Now, you might be asking yourself, how does 3LCD technology work?

Well, unlike the DLP, there are no tiny mirrors inside these projectors. Instead of mirrors, these will rely on a prism. This prism will also replace the color wheel that is present on the DLP projectors. It will separate the light from the source (lamp or LED) into red, green, and blue.

Each part of the RGB will pass through the LCD panels and combine, which will make the image obtain its true colors. As it does not rely on a color wheel, the chances of the rainbow effect occurring remains exceptionally low. Also, the level of distortion will remain reasonably low too.

Furthermore, as the prims handles most of the image production task, the brightness of the images remains reasonably high. That is why you will notice 3LCD projectors being used in both outdoor and indoor conditions.

Advantages of 3LCD Projectors

Like the DLP, 3LCD projectors offer plenty of advantages. Here is a brief description of the major benefits that you will enjoy after getting one of these projectors:

Immense Level of Brightness

One of the major advantages you will enjoy with the 3LCD projectors is that they will produce images with a high brightness level. Even when the device projects the images in a compact area, the light production will remain reasonably high. That makes these projectors ideal for both outdoor and indoor.

Compatible with Wide Range of Screens

The prism inside these projectors does an excellent job of projecting the images on most of the surfaces. That includes semi-flat walls too. And the image will not lose that much clarity or quality even when you are not relying on a projector screen, thanks to the higher light production.

Color Production and Contrast

You will not get disappointed with the color and contrast of the images. The richness and saturation of the colors will remain high in most cases. And thanks to the better contrast ratio, blacks will look deep, while the whites will be exceptionally bright.

Disadvantages of 3LCD Projectors

Like the DLP projectors, the 3LCD projectors also have some drawbacks. It would be better to have a clear idea about them before you make a purchase decision. So, let us get into describing them, shall we?

Screen Door Effect

Some of the older 3LCD projectors suffer from the “screen door effect.” It is basically a visual artifact that makes the images look unnatural in some areas. However, you will notice such issues in the modern 3LCD offerings.


Another thing that is pretty common among the 3LCD projectors is that they will fail to achieve a good amount of contrast ratio in the images. Sometimes, the images will seem less life-like. But the good news is that most of the new offerings have worked on it, and the contrast issue is less common among them.

Comparing 3LCD vs DLP Projector Technology

When it comes to choosing one between 3LCD and DLP, it will mainly depend on your requirement, budget, and intended use. Both a high-end 3LCD and DLP will be capable of producing high-quality images. The color and contrast will make you enjoy each of the pixels.

However, the DLP will be more than enough if you would like to use the projector for presentation purposes indoors. Also, the DLP will be the right choice if you want to bump up the resolution up to 4K. That is something that LCD projectors will be limited to.

On the other hand, if you prioritize color production and want images with higher overall brightness levels, then the 3LCD should be on the top of your list. In fact, if you plan to use the projector outdoor or in a room that has an ambient light around, you should not even think twice.

That said, do consider that 3LCD is pretty much limited when it comes to resolutions. There are not that many options available when compared to DLP projectors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the constrast ratio mean?

The contrast ratio is basically the ratio between the brightest and darkest shade of the image. For most of the cases, the ratio would state how bright the white is and how dark is black parts of the photos are.

What resolution is standard among the projectors?

Like modern displays, 1080p is standard among the projectors. The images that are lower than this ratio will either have less amount of clarity or lower sharpness, or both.

Is a higher contrast ratio better than a lower ratio?

Yes, a higher contrast ratio is way better than a lower contrast ratio. The higher contrast ratio can ensure that you can properly differentiate the bright and dimmed areas of the images. On the other hand, you will fail to notice the difference between bright and dark spots of an image with a low contrast projector.

Final Words

To conclude, when it comes to 3LCD vs. DLP projector technology, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. And as you know all about them now, hopefully, you are no longer in the dilemma that you once were. However, do consider all of the essential factors before making a purchase.