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Liquid Crystal Display - LCD Projectors




LCD - Liquid Crystal Display


Due to LCD projectors being around for a long time compared to DLP. Many people see it as the old out of date technology many remembering their low contrast ratios and comparing them to current DLP machines. But LCD technology has not stood still and currently the budget priced LCD home cinema machines offer better performance than their single chip DLP counter parts. Epson and Sony manufacture LCD panels, Epson markets the 3LCD system used by Panasonic, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Viewsonic and others. Over the last few years the latest LCD panels have created eager anticipation from the industry, each new release producing higher resolutions, better contrast and the highest refresh rates. LCD's are known to produce greater colour definition, offering more shades or variations of colour (up to 252 billion colours)  than single-chip DLP projectors (1 billion max). Add to this the superior brightness, no Rainbow Effect and good portability and you'll know why LCD still remains the most a popular choice for presenters.


Click here for LCD flash demo


Once upon a time, it was widely accepted that LCD projectors had two major weaknesses. First, in commonly available consumer models, the pixel structure could result in the infamous "screen door effect". That is, because the wiring driving each pixel had to be routed between the pixels, the pixel spacing, or pitch, was wide enough to make the pixel grid visible at close viewing distances. The picture below shows the screen door effect on the keys of a piano.

lcd screen door effect

While the picture above is an example of the screen door effect, still noticeable on LCD data projectors but greatly reduced by smooth screen technology on the latest Home Cinema models. This issue has been over played by DLP manufacturers. To clarify all projector have the screen door effect, including DLP. Yes to a lesser extent than LCD but for a mirror (used in DLP projection) to be able to move it must have space around it in exactly the same way LCD requires wiring. The fill factor of a projector panel gives only an indication of the potential screen door problem. Currently LCD panels have the lowest fill factor of 60%, DLPand LCOS (Dila, SXRD) have the highest at 93%. The screen door difference between the technologies has also been reduced by the increase in panel resolution and larger LCD panels in home cinema machines. Micro Lens Arrays have also been used to reduce the screen door and boost Lumens.


Improved Contrast Ratio


Iris control goes a very long way in resolving the contrast and black-level issues. In a camera, the iris controls the exposure in conjunction with the shutter speed. In a projector, it changes the brightness of the image on the screen. If you close down the iris in a projector, it darkens the overall image, including the darkest grays and deepest black. But the only type of iris that has been available to date in video projectors has been fixed; multiple settings are often provided , but once you make a selection, the iris size remains unchanged unless you manually adjust it.

Closing down such a manually adjustable iris will reduce the light levels in both the blacks and peak whites, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Reducing the average picture level on the screen with the iris may improve the overall image by deepening the blacks, thereby reducing the grayish, washed-out effect of an absolute black level that is too high, without sacrificing adequate punch in brighter scenes. For this to work, of course, the light output of the projector must be high enough that the overall dimming effect of the stepped-down iris is tolerable.

Advanced Iris dynamically adjusts the iris to suite the scene. That is, it closes down automatically on dark scenes to provide darker blacks, and opens up on bright scenes to make optimum use of the projector's available light output. This has raised the contrast ratio to levels never before seen on an LCD of 2000:1 to 12000:1.


LCD Panels


In 2006 the manufacturer of DLP, Texas instruments, tested the durability on LCD panels by running the best Home Cinema machines 24/7 for 3 months. At the end of this test they concluded that the Organic material used in LCD panel gets damaged from the heat generated by the projector lamp. This results in discolouring of the panel to amber.  This has led to the development of inorganic LCD panels. One such technology is BrightEra . Developed by Sony BrightEra microdisplay devices are LCD devices that employ an inorganic alignment film and new LCD materials.


LCD Organic projection panels

inorganic LCD projection panels


This inorganic alignment film and new LCD materials are original technologies developed to achieve the high picture quality and high durability of the reflective LCOS type LCD projectors. Current high-brightness projectors generally use LCD materials that are advantageous for increasing brightness, and the optimum organic alignment film (polyimide) for aligning these LCD materials. One thing to note is the effect of panel size. Larger LCD panels are less prone to the deterioration because the UV light is spread over a larger surface area. 


 lcd projector system



Industries highest refresh rate - 480Hz


When projecting 3D images or for gaming, Image brightness is greatly reduced 120Hz DLP machines can drop to 40% perceived brightness. This is due to the switching from Left to right eye images. Increasing the refresh speed reduces this loss. The latest D9 LCD panels have a refresh rate of 480Hz, 4 times DLP


LCD - 480Hz refresh rate

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