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Commentaries on Directions That Will Impact the Future of Technology

Big Screen TV: DLP Offers Great Price/Performance


DLP Technology

Developed by Texas Instruments, DLP (Digital Light Processor) technology is used in theaters offering digital projection and in home TV projectors – the kind you hang from the ceiling that projects imagery onto a screen. If you want to know how it works, click here. This article is about rear-projection DLP-based big screen TVs and why they should be considered in the face of tough competition from plasma and LCD TVs.

Price Considerations

Five years ago, a 65″ DLP TV cost $3500, a 65″ plasma cost $8,000 and a 65″ LCD was not available as a production product. Today, a 65″ DLP TV costs $1200 and a 65″ plasma or LCD costs $2500. While that is a significant difference, the numbers are even more intriguing as the size increases. Current DLP prices for a 73″ screen are $1300, for an 82″ screen, $1600, and for a 92″ screen, $3400.

Compare those prices to the latest big screen commercial offerings from plasma and LCD manufacturers: Sharp makes 70″ and 80″ LCD TVs that sell for $3000 and $5500. Panasonic makes 85″ and 103″ plasmas priced at $20,000 and $70,000. If you visit the CES show early in January, you will undoubtedly find companies like Samsung and LG showing 100+” LCD TVs, but they are not production models for sale to the general public.

From a price standpoint, DLP is the clear big screen choice for Joe Couch Potato. But there are, of course, other considerations.

The most important pros and cons:

Pros

  1. No motion blur, unlike LCD, because of a very fast refresh rate
  2. No worry about burn-in by leaving a static image on the screen like plasma
  3. Very sharp picture, as good as any other technology
  4. 3D is included and doesn’t require expensive glasses

Cons

  1. Not a flat panel, up to 25″ deep for a 92″ model
  2. Off-angle viewing not as good as LCD or plasma
  3. Lamp must be replaced every two years at a cost of $85 – $150.  Typical lamp life is 10,000 hours.
  4. Limited competition

Latest DLP Models Emulate Theater Projection

Mitsubishi recently announced the LaserVue Series.  This series uses the same laser lighting technology used in its theater-quality digital projection systems.  There are three lasers, one for each color, that provide the lighting instead of the incandescent bulb used in its standard models.  This lighting system provides extreme clarity, and there is no need to replace a bulb.  The lasers should last indefinitely.  The LaserVue comes only in a 75″ screen size and sells for $5500, although the price is likely to come down over time.

Mitsubishi is the only DLP TV Manufacturer in the North American Market

Mitsubishi is the only major manufacturer committed to DLP rear-projection TV selling into the North American market.  You may find models on store shelves from JVC, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba, but all of these companies have announced that they are abandoning the DLP rear-projection market, although they all sell DLP ceiling projectors.

The underlying technology continues to be developed by Texas Instruments and its many partners. Given that has a monopoly for projecting digital movies in theaters, it should be around for a very long time. In other words, the risk of betting on the technology is very low.

In Conclusion:  Big Screen DLP Should be Considered

In conclusion, if you want a big-screen TV today, a rear-projection DLP model offers quality viewing at the lowest price. Before buying one, however, make sure you see it and are satisfied with the quality of the picture. Since big screens take up a lot of shelf space, even the largest stores will not have a wide selection on display. Call first to be sure the one you want to see is actually in the store.

Note: Prices quoted in this article are the lowest US prices I could find via Internet search as of late December 2011, and may not be what you will find in stores or other online sources.

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2 thoughts on “Big Screen TV: DLP Offers Great Price/Performance

  1. I just saw something about this on television.

    It discussed the same things you wrote about.
    I go to university in Canada and we just now are learning about this in our class.
    Thank you for helping me with the last little bit of my
    report.
    Thanks for the outline of tv stuff.
    I totally think that cable television is going to go away.
    Or at least have to change with the times.
    Online television is totally the wave of the future. As broadband speeds get quicker,
    everyone will be watching their shows on sites like this.

    What does anybody know about this? I think there’s a
    lot more to the concept
    I was just watching this on PBS today. They talked about the same things
    you wrote about.

    • The issue is that the entertainment industry has yet to figure out how to make money on anything other than the current cable TV/advertising business models. If that issue is resolved, then Cable and Satellite TV will go away. Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Intel, Netflix, etc. are investing fortunes in TV. Some day they will change the landscape, but I don’t think I’ll live long enough to see it (I’m 75). I know that HBO has a small pilot program to test a $50/month online service that includes HBO, broadcasts channels and some other stuff for $50/month. I don’t think it is going well, although I haven’t seen anything definitive.

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