An LCD projector is a type of video projector for displaying video, images or computer data on a screen or other flat surface. It is a modern equivalent of the slide projector or overhead projector. To display images, LCD (liquid-crystal display) projectors typically send light from a metal-halide lamp through a prism or series of dichroic filters that separates light to three polysilicon panels – one each for the red, green and blue components of the video signal. As polarized light passes through the panels (combination of polarizer, LCD panel and analyzer), individual pixels can be opened to allow light to pass or closed to block the light. The combination of open and closed pixels can produce a wide range of colors and shades in the projected image.
Metal-halide lamps are used because they output an ideal color temperature and a broad spectrum of color. These lamps also have the ability to produce an extremely large amount of light within a small area; current projectors average about 2,000 to 15,000 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) lumens.
Other technologies, such as Digital Light Processing (DLP) and liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) are also becoming more popular in modestly priced video projection.
How do LCD projectors work?
Whether suffering through a business pitch or a classroom presentation or enjoying an evening of home theater blockbuster thrills, there’s a good chance an LCD (liquid crystal display) projector is responsible for the light show.
The technology behind the LCD projector is nearly three decades old in 2012, but it remains one of the top digital projection technologies, alongside Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors. Inventor Gene Dolgoff developed the first LCD projector in 1984, and both Epson and Sony continue to employ the technology in 21st century projectors.
The old method of film projection was simple: Each frame of the film was a tiny, translucent photograph. Shine light through the film and then have that light pass through an imaging lens and you’d display a larger version of that tiny image onto a wall or screen.
LCD projectors work a little differently. A beam of high-intensity light travels through thousands of shifting pixels in an LCD display instead of through a frame of translucent film. And these projectors don’t just use a single LCD display either — they use three, which is why they’re also called 3LCD projectors. The light splits into three hues, then travels through three LCDs before recombining in a prism to generate the crisp, colorful image projected on the screen.
The LCD projector is more light efficient and has a good color saturation. LCD projectors produce a brighter image with the same projector wattage and have high brightness capabilities. LCD projectors produce a sharper image which is more precisely focused. LCD projectors score higher when it comes to the brightness, an essential projector feature.
LCD projectors are bulky since they consist of too many internal components and are difficult to carry around. The LCD projector can fail fast, and the parts are expensive to replace. LCD projectors cause the image to look heavy with pixels, and color uniformity is lower than DLP. And finally, LCD projectors lose image quality over time.
Best LCD Projectors of 2021:
1. Epson 5050UB
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD1 projector delivers an amazing 4K home theater experience for the DIY enthusiast. Capable of displaying an astonishing 2,600 lumens for both color and white brightness3 – along with proprietary processors for resolution enhancement, color and image processing – the Home Cinema 5050UB produces incredible brightness, color accuracy and image detail to faithfully display all your favorite content the way it was meant to be seen. If you’re looking for an amazing 4K projection experience to power your new home theater build – this could be it.
Advanced 3LCD technology displays 100% of the RGB color signal for every frame. This allows for an outstanding color gamut while maintaining excellent brightness, without any “rainbowing” or “color brightness” issues some may see with other projector technologies.
2. Epson 6050UB
4K PRO-UHD1 Projection Technology — A new type of 4K home theater experience that utilizes advanced processing technologies for resolution enhancement, color and image processing – resulting in an exceptional 4K home theater experience.
True 3-Chip Projector Design — Advanced 3LCD technology displays 100% of the RGB color signal for every frame. This allows for outstanding color gamut while maintaining excellent brightness, without any “rainbowing” or “color brightness” issues some may see with other projector technologies.
Unique S2 Pixel-Shift Processor — Advanced pixel-shifting processor precisely controls three high-definition LCD chips to parallel process millions of pixels of information. This new type of resolution enhancement technology1 results in an exceptionally sharp 4K visual experience.
Precise H2 HDR Processor — Full 10-bit HDR2 color processing accepting 100% of the HDR source information to faithfully reproduce HDR content for an exceptional visual performance.
3. Epson LS500
I’ve been excited to test out the Epson LS500 ultra-short throw (UST) Projection TV since I first laid eyes on it back at CEDIA 2019. Then, the unit was still technically a prototype. But even still, it did what most other projectors on the bright show floor could not — look extremely bright, color-rich, and have a good sense of dynamic range and contrast to the image. This is the type of performance any projector claiming to be a TV replacement needs to have, especially in a world where OLED is quickly becoming ubiquitous.
After speaking with the Epson at its booth, they told me that part of the magic I was witnessing was due to the SilverFlex Ultra ambient-light rejecting (ALR) screen – designed specifically for this projector. It significantly enhances image quality in any environment with ambient light. Epson’s SilverFlex Ultra screen is an optional accessory, available in either a 100 or 120-inch version that you can bundle with your purchase. I highly suggest you do so if you’re looking to get the best performance from this projector.