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Should you choose a DLP or LCD projector?

Decisions, decisions. Windows or Macintosh computers? Inkjet or laser printers? DLP or LCD projectors? While it's fairly simple to choose PCs and printers, the projector question can be a stumper. That's because there are advantages and disadvantages to both technologies.

Of the criteria to consider, first is price. While Digital Light Processing projectors usually cost more than their Liquid Crystal Display counterparts, the gap is narrowing rapidly. For instance, at the InfoComm trade show held this June in Orlando, companies including Epson and NEC rolled out LCD projectors priced at just $999--a new low for the traditionally high-end products. But right behind them came the InFocus X1, a DLP model also priced at $999. It may not be long before there's little or no cost variance between DLP and LCD. Midrange models for each type of projector run about $1,500 to $2,000.

Price is one thing--brightness and color quality are other considerations. According to's Evan Powell, LCDs tend to deliver better color saturation and sharper images than DLPs, though the latter are gaining ground. LCDs also produce somewhat brighter images because they are capable of higher lumen outputs, Powell adds.

DLP projectors do offer two important advantages: mobility and contrast. The nature of DLP technology allows the projectors themselves to be made smaller than LCD models, which benefits business travelers--but has less impact for schools. As for contrast, "LCD still lags behind DLP by a considerable margin," Powell notes. Consequently, DLP projectors are better able to tolerate extraneous room light--like in classrooms where it's not always easy or practical to turn overhead lights off.

Finally, there's the issue of projector longevity. A recent study conducted by Texas Instruments concluded that LCD projectors are likely to degrade over time, while DLP models will not. However, because TI is the exclusive maker of DLP technology, the reliability of this study has been called into question.

When it comes to choosing a projector for the classroom, LCD maintains a slight edge in terms of price, sharpness and brightness. But LCDs may not last as long as DLP projectors, which generally deliver better contrast--an important consideration for school settings.
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Author:Broida, Rick
Publication:District Administration
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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