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How LCD Projectors Work

        Tech | Video

The Ups and Downs of LCD Projectors
Watch it on the big screen.
Watch it on the big screen.
Sami Sarkis/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

So what does an LCD projector do that its other projector peers can't? For starters, you don't have to worry about the film wearing out. LCD projectors depend on either outside data from a computer (connected by USB) or data from an inserted DVD. The digital images sent to the three LCD displays (and then recombined into a single picture) are as clear the first time you show the footage as the hundredth time you show it. The gray scale used in the three LCD displays allows for intense picture detail, and all for 25 percent less electricity than other digital projector technologies [source: 3LCD].

Unlike Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors -– the other popular digital projection technology we mentioned -- LCD projectors don't experience the "rainbow effect," color flashes caused by the spinning color wheel inside DLP projectors. LCD projectors also benefit from higher contrast, allowing for sharper images.

DLP projectors, however, still dominate the high-end, professional projection scene. Catch a show at a major cinema and you're looking at light from a DLP projector worth more than $35,000. LCD projectors, on the other hand, will cost you anywhere between $200 and $9,000.

Like all gadgets, LCD projectors require a certain degree of care and upkeep. Although you don't have to worry about film quality degrading with use, individual pixels do burn out and reduce image quality. Dust particles can also collect on the LCD screens, smudging the image.

So the next time you take in a projected film at home or work, look and see what kind of projector is in use. If it's an LCD projector, just imagine those three tiny gray scale screens inside there and the recombined beams of light that bring it all to colorful life.


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