Latest Spin on an Old Idea
The microdisplay wars are heating up. Over the past several years, DLP technology has gained major ground over LCD, and now some startup companies say they'll be making their own versions of DLP (which, so far, is only made by Texas Instruments). An even newer microdisplay technology—LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon)—appeared to be gaining momentum a year ago, but most recently both Philips and Intel announced they'd stopped work on their LCoS chips.
These newer microdisplay technologies may be grabbing all of the headlines, but meanwhile, the original microdisplay technology—LCD—keeps improving, and is now giving DLP serious competition, both for value and quality. That was the message that Epson, the world's leading maker of LCD microdisplays for projection TV and data projectors, was putting forward in September when it helped organize a joint exhibit of LCD projection technology at CEDIA.
To focus consumer awareness on the benefits of LCD technology, many manufacturers have started using the term "3LCD." Gone are the old days of single-LCD projection systems, with their inherent picture flaws. The best versions of projection TV have always used three, rather than one panel; this is true for DLP as well as for LCD (and for old-fashioned CRT projection TVs, which used three separate picture tubes for red, green and blue light). But while single-DLP chip systems are now commonplace in projection TV, the use of three LCDs has also become less expensive, and new, improved high-resolution LCD panels are giving DLP a run for the money for both front projection and rear projection TV.
At CEDIA, a group of 3LCD projection TV companies, including Epson-Seiko, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Panasonic, LG, Daewoo, InFocus and Mitsubishi, jointly promoted the benefits of 3LCD technology. One of the most impressive demos was a prototype of a new Fujitsu 3LCD front projector that Fujitsu says will sell for about $25,000. It is based on a 1080p LCD microdisplay chip from Epson that delivers true 1080-line progressive scan widescreen high-definition TV. Fujitsu, best known for high-end plasma screens, sees expansion of its TV offerings to include high-end projectors as a natural extension of its product line.