Is A DLP Projector The Best? DLP Vs. LED

Is A DLP Projector The Best? DLP Vs. LED

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Projectors are popular right now since everyone seems to be purchasing one, whether the projector is for a home theater system, workplace, classroom, or even their upcoming camping trip. In short, people are purchasing mini and portable projectors to carry the excitement of watching on a huge screen.

When shopping for the best projector for you, you might have come across the debate on which one is better, DLP and LED projectors. So, if you are wondering which one is the best for you, we have explained the differences.

What is a DLP Projector?


DLP projector is a video display using a digital micro device that reflects light towards the screen. DLP is also known as Digital Light Processing and is the name of Texas Instruments’ original patent.

It has a DLP chip known as a Digital Micromirror Device or DMD, which has millions of micro mirrors where the mirrors can be adjusted independently, meaning they can move on their own. Each mirror in your DLP projector’s DMD Chip represents one pixel in the digital image. So moving closer to the light source forms a darker pixel, while moving away creates a lighter pixel.

The DLP projectors also have a spinning color wheel in combination with three arrays of red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which provide color and project it on the screen.

For the correct color of tiny mirrors in the DLP chip to reflect the proper color from the color wheel to the screen, the DLP chip timing and color wheel must be perfectly synchronized.

How Do DLP Projectors Work?

projector in a classrom

Inside the (DLP) Digital Light Processing Projector, you will find a chip with tiny mirrors, and each mirror will stand for a separate fraction of the projected image. The mirrors are angled in one direction or another to give your image exceptional brightness and contrast.

DLP technology makes a single blue laser diode the sole light source. A complex optical system with rotating elements is used to divide a single laser beam into the colors red, green, and blue. The DLP matrix is where this beam collides through the lens and onto the image projection screen; this matrix transmits the image.

What are the Types of DLP Projectors?

Watching on a projector screen

There are two types of DLP projectors, based on the number of DLP DMD chips it contains. They include:

a). Single Chip DLP Projector

Single-chip DLP projectors are the most common types of home theater projectors, and they produce sharp images. However, this type depends on the color wheel to get its color.

A Single-chip DLP projector either uses a color wheel to separate the white light from the primary projector bulb into its component Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colors or use a colored LED or laser as the light source.

b). Three Chip DLP Projector

On the other hand, three-chip DLP projectors are costly and are mainly used in digital movie theaters. These three-chip systems have RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) DLP chips responsible for maintaining color accuracy without rainbow artifacts.

The DLP 3-chip projector is suitable for high-brightness applications and high performance in large rooms like digital cinemas, large audience venues, and lecture halls. In addition, these 3-chip systems are perfect for producing stunning images.

Pros of DLP Projectors

  • Filter-free with a sealed chip design, meaning dust can’t settle on the DLP chip, causing an image spot.
  • High picture quality, which offers a sharper image with good contrast and an extremely high native contrast ratio
  • Sharper image thanks to the limited space between pixels
  • Produces a smoother image quality as good as 35 mm or 70 mm film with no shadows
  • Minimized light loss with a high light output thanks to the use of mirrors
  • Long-life service of the light source
  • It offers a deep black color, unlike other digital projectors
  • Accurate
  • Resistant to sudden power outages like lamps and LED projectors
  • Large image size

Cons of DLP Projectors

  • The DLP projectors can produce a rainbow effect where colors could appear to bleed into each other.
  • They are noisier than other projector types.
  • Image quality and brightness are not as high as with laser projectors

What is an LED Projector?

turned on projector

LED projectors are a perfect alternative to DLP(digital light processor) and LCD projectors which uses light-emitting diodes or LEDs to create an image. The Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) give a lighting element for various projector technologies like DLP, LCD (liquid crystal display), and LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon)

An LED projector is a DLP device backlit by LEDs. Also, too often refers to the light source for the projector, so you need to check your projector for the type of technology. For technology, LED projectors can use the ones of both DLP and LCD projectors, which means they can have man qualities of either DLP or an LCD projector, depending on your choice.

Advantages of DLP over LCD Projectors

DLP projectors have many advantages over LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors, including:

  • Maximum portability where DLP projectors are smaller and therefore easy to move since it has one chip, unlike LCD projectors which come with three LCD panels
  • High contrast since DLP projectors make achieving deep blacks easier, making them popular for home cinema applications
  • DLP projectors feature a muted pixel structure when you look at them from a normal distance
  • They are immune to color decay and so are not affected by misalignment, which occurs with an LCD projector
  • More reliable since DLPs have fewer parts meaning they are less expensive to repair where sealed optics work great for dusty environments
  • DLP projectors are not easily compatible with zoom lenses or lens shift functions, and they are most suitable for smaller areas

DLP vs. LED Projector


Although there is no difference if your DLP projector uses an LED lamp, there are DLP projectors that don’t use LED lamps.

LED projector is a mixed projector technology that uses DLP or LCD technology which uses an LED light source to produce the images.

DLP projectors use a laser light-emitting diode. However, they are not referred to as laser projectors due to the nature of the technology and marketing reasons.

How Does a DLP Projector Compare to a LED Projector?


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LED and DLP projectors are the main types of projectors, and with their distinctive qualities, it can be difficult to choose one. This is because some DLP projectors are LED, and also some LED projectors are DLP. There is also an intersection between the two types of projectors where LED is the light source, and DLP refers to projector technology.

1. Size

LED projectors are smaller and more lightweight than DLP projectors, making them more portable.

2. Price

DLP projectors are usually more expensive than LED projectors, but their price is okay with their advantages. While the cost of an LED projector can range from extremely inexpensive to very expensive, they are excellent at reducing maintenance costs because the light source is designed to last the full lifespan of the projector without ever needing to be replaced.

3. Brightness

The projector’s brightness, otherwise known as the lumen ratings, is the main determinant of the light output of a projector. The light output is different with different models and projector types, but generally, the DLP technology has the best light output.

Notably, the modern versions of other projectors integrate features that improve light output. However, if you shop for home theater projectors with minimum ambient light, you will not need a projector with so much brightness.

Observe how the sun’s effect on a flashlight compares to the impact of ambient light. You can’t see the difference between the two lights if the sun is very bright. You should consider a laser projector if you require the highest light output.

4. Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is the difference between two extreme pixels meaning the dark and white pixels.

DLP projectors offer the best contrast ratio, sharper quality, and better picture quality, while LED and LCD projectors are ideal for large gatherings.

5. Rainbow Effect

DLP Rainbow Effect

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As its name suggests, the rainbow effect enables a projector-generated image to emit a blended spectrum of multicolored light. This technology uses the color wheel and can be achieved with a range of single chips.

It occurs because the DLP projectors use different chips, which show different colors, and the projector will show all the colors before it moves to the next one. So you can see the rainbow effect when you move the eye quickly across light areas of the projected image or video scene, and you will see a fringe that looks like a rainbow.

DLP projectors tend to have a better rainbow effect than LED and LCD projectors because they use the color wheel. However, an LED and an LCD projector will be less likely to create the rainbow effect since it doesn’t use the spinning color wheel to make images.

6. Maintenance

LED projectors have lower maintenance costs and frequency than DLP projectors since you will only need to replace the projector lamp after 2,000-5,000 hours. However, DLP projectors are easy to maintain since they are filter-free and have a sealed chip design so that no dust can get in, and the maintenance is less.

7. Lifespan

LED projectors usually have a longer lifespan than other DLP projectors. Laser projectors have a longer lifespan but are not common for home use.

An LED projector will last 20,000 hours, while a traditional lamp model will give a maximum of 5,000 hours. However, after 2,000-5,000 hours, you will need to buy a projector lamp replacement and replace it.

LED projectors use LED lamps, while DLP projectors work using an LED or a standard lamp.

8. Color Consistency

LED projector

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Color is an important part of the display, influencing how attractive a projector’s output will be. At close ranges, color breaking can occur in projectors with a spinning color wheel.

Although it might not be popular among the best long-throw projectors, DLP projectors frequently include this feature because the wheel needs to adjust itself multiple times in a minute to produce each color image.

However, color breaking does not affect LED projectors that use LCD technology or other projection methods without a color wheel. These projectors use variously colored LED bulbs to produce the colors. Therefore, brands reduced the color-breaking tendency by doing away with the color wheel.

9. Color Accuracy

Although LED and DLP projectors work within the same color space, their color accuracy is quite different. The fact that LED bulbs are available in various hues, as opposed to traditional lamps, which employ white light with a color filter, contributes to this characteristic.

As a result, LED devices, especially the newer models, use 4LED to offer improved color accuracy and black levels. In addition, the devices are meant to create consistency around the projector’s lifetime.

Is a DLP Projector the Best?

home theater

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It depends on your needs. DLP projectors are the best for you if you are looking for an affordable option and are mostly concerned about eye fatigue. However, an LED projector will be the best if you need a small and lightweight projector.

In addition, DLP projectors have a higher light output with at least 2,000 ANSI lumens than LED projectors with an output of up to 2,000 ANSI light lumens. They also don’t need filters and include a better response time with 3D capabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions on Is a DLP Projector the Best?

1. Do DLP Projectors Get Hot?

Yes. About 98% of the projectors on the market are powered by traditional lamps and bulbs, which can easily get to 200 or 300 degrees while using.

2. Which is Better Between, DLP and LCD Projectors?

DLP and LCD projectors are different, and you can know which is better depending on what you are looking for. Let’s see the differences:

  • DLP projectors are small, lightweight, and more compact, while LCD projectors are bigger and slightly heavier
  • A DLP projector is cheaper than an LCD projector
  • DLP has a better contrast ratio than an LCD projector, although modern LCD projectors have high contrast ratios
  • LCD projectors have a higher brightness since DLP’s light is split into red, green, and blue light
  • The rainbow effect might be seen in DLP projector images, but this effect is not seen in LCD projectors
  • LCD projectors produce an image that is three times brighter than a DLP projector with the same lamp lumens

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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