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Evaluating Pros and Cons of LCD, DLP and Laser Projection

Evaluating Pros and Cons of LCD, DLP and Laser Projection

A concise list of the benefits and potential drawbacks of today's projection technology.

From movie theaters to churches, and seemingly everywhere in between, is a projector.

For churches, projectors can be used to display readings, announcements or lyrics, among other ways to help their congregation follow along. The little contraption that magically outputs light to form a beautiful image on a myriad of surfaces can be a complex piece of technology to understand.

But don't let the mystery of their model numbers confuse you. In the end, projectors are beautiful instruments that have a very specific place in our technological world!

Projection Technology

First, let's examine the various projection technologies available that is, how a projector actually creates an image. There are pros and cons to each of the following three primary projection technologies for a house of worship, and I'll do my best to break down each technology that is the backbone to their operation.

The Pros to LCD Projectors:

Incredibly cost effective
Low maintenance cost
Better access to replacement parts (pay attention to brands where one must be certified to repair them, as that could become an issue down the line).
More portable (make sure that projector has cooled off first, and that the crystal displays aren't hot, which can cause them to be a bit fragile).
More varieties; more options to choose from during the purchase process

The Cons to LCD Projectors:

Low contrast ratio (i.e., no true black)
Shorter lamp life (many projectors will benefit from lamp replacement every 2,000 hours, as the lamps slowly degrade before completely "burning out.")
Images can become "burned in"
Increased chance of "dead" pixels
Honeycombing effect more apparent (when you project really large, you'll see your image seems to have a grid laid on top of it. This is the separation of various pixels on your chips.)
May need to recalibrate the pixels more often, through a complex process of convergence, which requires specific tools such as the Christie Convergence kit, which includes an adjustable torque limiting driver/angled driver; 2.5mm coated ball-point hex bits; 1.5mm coated ballpoint hex drivers; loosening handle and 0.050" hex ball driver.

The Pros to DLP Projectors:

Better contrast (whiter whites and blacker blacks)
Better color brightness (on the three-chip DLP, not true for single-chip DLP)
More uniform colors throughout image
Less hot spot from lamp
Lower chance of a "burned in" image since it's entirely digital

The Cons to DLP Projectors:

More expensive (generally speaking of three-chip vs. LCD)
Tough to punch "brightness" beyond standard settings
Noisier operation, because of spinning wheels
Can provide "rolling effect" of image when using certain video cameras due to refresh rates and spinning chip set
Inconsistent quality across brands. The cost of parts involved (much like what exists for computer
chips or camera lenses) for the higher-end brands, like Barco, Christie or Panasonic, may cause the projector performance to significantly
exceed those in the next tier, like models from BenQ, Epson or Sanyo.

The Pros to Laser Projectors:

The brightest projectors available
Extended lifespan, with standard lamp being replaced multiple times over that span
Low energy consumption
Extremely quiet operation, as fans aren't needed to cool device.
Minimal maintenance required to sustain quality image and brightness, as laser projectors save on costs related to operating at lower
temperatures, thereby not needing fans, or requiring vents that will be gummed up with dust or filters that will need to be regularly
replaced, typical of other projectors.

The Cons to Laser Projectors:

Fairly expensive for models featuring brightness more than 3,000 lumens.
No models yet produced above 20,000 lumens, which is often a degree of brightness (or sometimes even brighter) sought after by larger church environments.
May have "scanning" issues if using them with video cameras or photography.
Difficult to replace laser, if the light goes out.
Fragile by comparison to LCD or DLP projectors, not ideally suited for
multipurpose rooms


Crystal panels: Small panels made of dichroic glass or crystal to reflect light in various angles, thus creating a pixel from a computerized image.

Contrast ratio: The ratio of the luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color (black) that the system is capable of producing.

Lamp life: The expected operating time for any projector lamp.

"Burned in": The concept images remain on the screen, similar to ghosting, where if a a black WFX logo was displayed on a projection screen on white background for a couple of days, then put another image on the screen after that, you could still see a hint of the logo displayed on the screen with the new image.

"Dead" pixels: A defective pixel or pixels on an LCD screen resulting in spots on the projection that don't receive light, or a "stuck" pixel which means it only renders a specific color (red, green or blue).

Re-calibrate: The re-alignment of the crystal panels to ensure that the red, green and blue pixels are perfectly aligned in a process called convergence.

Convergence: Tweaking the position of the red, green and blue crystal panels for the purpose of increasing the clarity of a projected image.

Color brightness: The amount of light that is outputted with color as opposed to just lumens (which only measured the output of white).

Hot spot: A small area or region with a relatively brighter area in comparison to its surroundings.

"Rolling effect": Essentially this is when you see a series of black lines moving up or down vertically when trying to film something that doesn't sync with the same framerate.

Refresh rate:
The number of frames per second the television can display. Its unit is a Hertz, which is equal to 1/second. 120Hz means it can draw 120 images per second.

ANSI lumens: A measurement of light that has been standardized by ANSI. It is commonly used to rate the brightness of a data projector. An ANSI lumen rating is derived from an average of multiple measurements taken across the face of the light source.

Aspect ratio: The ratio of the width to the height of an image or screen.

Keystone correction: Also referred to as keystoning, is a function that allows multimedia projectors that are not placed perpendicular to the horizontal centerline of the screen (too high or too low) to skew the output image, thereby making it rectangular.


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