There are 3 mainstream display technologies in the projector market, including 3LCD, LCOS, and DLP.

3LCD is widely adopted by Epson, Sony, and many other established projector brands. LCOS is an improved liquid crystal reflection technology based on LCD technology, which is seldom used by projector manufacturers.  DLP scheme is a mechanical reflective array scheme based on DLP chip from TI, which has been adopted by more and more products.

The technical background, pros, and cons of the 3 technologies will be introduced in the following parts.

3LCD Technology

3LCD refers to 3-chip LCD panel, which was born in 1987.  The core technology of the 3LCD projector is mainly controlled by Epson and SONY.

At present, the projector brands using 3LCD technology mainly include Epson, SONY, Sanyo, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, NEC, Sharp, and other Japanese manufacturers. 

Pros of 3LCD Technology

  • Good color reproduction

3LCD technology is based on color space mixed restore, making the color more realistic.  Its three HTPS are correspondingly responsible for the red, green and blue components of the video signal respectively. The characteristics of 3LCD technology in imaging and color restoration is to fully mix the three primary colors at the same time, and then project images of different colors. 

  • Mature Technology

3LCD technology has been launched for nearly 30 years, and all products have been applied and optimized for a long time, with relatively stable performance. 

Cons of 3LCD Technology

  • Low native contrast

As HTPS adopts transmission light path, the opening rate is only 75%. When the light passes through, there is a certain loss and the utilization degree is not high. The black picture is not black enough, and the contrast of the picture is naturally low. 

  • Poor dustproof and Aging

HTPS is made of high-temperature polysilicon, this polymer liquid crystal material suffers aging under high temperatures and dusty environments for a long time.  In order to solve the high temperature, it is necessary to introduce fan heat dissipation, which can’t achieve a sealed environment, so the LCD will inevitably lower the picture effect and aging. 

  • Large product size

limited by the insufficient HTPS transmission rate, HTPS chip cannot be made very small, and therefore the volume of the optical path system is difficult to shrink. The overall volume and weight of the projector are relatively large. 

LCOS Technology 

LCOS technology is the abbreviation of “Liquid Crystal on Silicon” technology, which belongs to a new reflective micro LCD projection technology.

The first prototype was developed by Aurora Systems in 2000. However, there is no great development due to its high cost. Only a few high-end projector manufacturers adopt this technology.  In the home projector market, SONY, JVC, and LG adopt LCOS technology. 

Pros of LCOS Technology

  • Good visual effect

Using LCOS technology, the light utilization efficiency of LCOS projector is significantly improved, bringing the images with bright color, excellent grayscale, deep black, bright picture, and less mesh. 

  • Small size

As LCOS technology greatly improves light utilization efficiency, the projection resolution is improved. The silicon chip does not need to be designed too large for light transmittance, which can greatly reduce the size of the optical machine. 

Cons of LCOS Technology

  • Complex processing technology and low yield

There is a high technical threshold in LCOS technology, which involves the design, manufacture, and integration of the whole component in the development, there is a high technical threshold.  Moreover, LCOS developed by each manufacturer has its own special ASIC, optical engine, etc., and its components and production are in their own array, which cannot be standardized. At present, the processing yield is still too low. 

  • High cost

A large number of components can’t be standardized, so it is difficult to achieve the economic scale of mass production. In addition, the yield is difficult to improve, the overall cost is too high. 

DLP Technology 

The full name of DLP is Digital Light Processing.  DMD, the core component of DLP projector, is called Digital Micromirror Device. It can display images by controlling the opening and deflection of the lens. 

DLP technology was developed by Dr. Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments.  DMD was successfully studied by Dr. Larry Hornbeck in 1987, and it was not until 1993 that the optical system based on DMD was named DLP. 

As the owner of DLP technology, Texas Instruments does not produce projectors and other terminal products, but only provides DMD chips and video processing chips to manufacturers, which ensures the fairness of competition in the DLP projector market to a certain extent.  At present, most non-Japanese projector brands in the world use DLP technology, and DLP projector also occupies an important position in Japanese brands, including Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Sharp, and other brands. 

The core components of DLP scheme are DMD chip and color wheel. 

Pros of DLP

  • High native contrast of the image

DMD chip adopts mechanical working mode, and the movement controllability of the lens is higher, and therefore the native contrast is higher. 

  • Smaller Size

DLP projector adopts the reflection principle, which is easy to achieve a high opening rate. Provided some projectors with the same configuration, a DLP projector’s light path system is smaller, and the size can be smaller. 

  • Sealed Light Path

DMD chip adopts a semiconductor structure. The lens remains unchanged under high temperatures. Therefore, DLP projectors adopt a closed light path to avoid dust accumulation. 

  • High cost performance

The overall cost of a single DLP chip scheme is about $160, with annual shipments of 4 million pieces, occupying almost all the projector market except for brands like Epson and SONY. 

Cons of DLP Technology

  • Poor color effect: rainbow effect

Single-chip DLP projector adopts reflective structure, especially for low-end products.  Single-chip DLP projector is slightly inferior to LCD projector in terms of image reproduction, whose color is not bright and vivid enough.  In addition, the low-speed color wheel can create a rainbow effect of red, green, and blue shadows. 

  • The old model chip has low resolution, but the new chip that supports 4K has a high cost

Limited by mechanical processing accuracy, the DMD chip can only achieve a maximum resolution of 1K in the past.  TI has invested heavily in new products supporting 4K resolution in recent years. DLP660TE was released in 2016. Currently, the supply has been stable, but the price is about 80% higher than that of ordinary DLP chips. 

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