The two major competitors in the front-projector display universe are (1) Texas Instruments’ Digital Light Processing (DLP) and (2) LCD-based technology, which is dubbed 3LCD since it uses three discrete LCD panels inside.
While Texas Instruments always has been proactive about touting its technology’s virtues and advantages over LCD, 3LCD manufacturers have traditionally been more quiet. But no more.
Two years ago, the manufacturers of 3LCD projectors–which use panels built by Epson and Sony–banded together to form a consortium and foster branding of the 3LCD technology. Now, 18 years after 3LCD debuted, the organization is stepping forward to promote what it sees as the benefits of 3LCD, and to challenge claims from its competitors.
“We’re here, we haven’t gone away, and we’re number one,” says Craig Lee, director of marketing of the 3LCD consortium. “The basics tell the story. More than 58 percent of all projectors sold since 2002 have used a 3LCD light engine.”
With the 3LCD consortium’s new awareness push, the goal is to educate consumers on what 3LCD offers. “The color, detail, and reliability of 3LCD is what we’re trying to educate the market on,” Lee says. He adds that 3LCD-based projectors are known for delivering richer, more vibrant colors and a higher brightness than competing technologies. (Of course, the competition tends to say equally glowing things about their own offerings.)
“3LCD technology can deliver unsurpassed detail due to its ability to transmit continuous, variably controlled levels of light at the pixel level,” claims Lee. “The result is finer detail in text, images and video. The 3LCD system has high optical efficiency, due to the lack of moving parts in the light engine. Higher efficiency leads to brighter images and video.”
Lee notes that 3LCD has an “18-year record of road-tested reliability with more than four times the number of chips shipped than all other projector technologies combined. The optical system itself runs at relatively low operating temperatures, and it utilizes a solid-state design that has no moving wheels, hinges, or mirrors.”
3LCD is basing its market share numbers on data from Decision Tree Consulting, a UK-based market research firm. According to DTC, in the first quarter of 2007 and all of 2006, 3LCD technology led all other projection technologies combined in sales in the front projector market. DTC says that total 2006 shipments worldwide for projectors with 3LCD technology exceeded 2.5 million units, a new high. DTC expects the front projector market to grow at a rate of 20 percent per year.
Lee says he expects to see some trends in technological improvements from 3LCD manufacturers, including smaller light engines and chip sizes, the use of 1280-by-800-pixel WXGA resolutions, and more projectors with advanced connectivity features, such as HDMI 1.3 and wireless networking.