Even today, Texas Instruments remains the primary manufacturer of this technology. Many different manufacturers license the technology from Texas Instruments, and build their products around the TI chipset. In addition to its use in televisions and projectors, DLP technology is used in a number of specialized applications such as lithography and imaging.
DLP technology differs from other video technology in that it utilizes a small digital micromirror device (DMD) to tilt more than 1.3 million of these tiny mirrors, each of them smaller than the width of a human hair either toward or away from the light source contained within the DLP device. This process creates the dark and light pixels which appear on the projection screen.
The light is then filtered through a color wheel rotating at 120 times per second, to produce a technology that is capable of producing some 1024 different shades of gray. It is this gradation of color that really makes DLP technology stand out, and these gradations of color are achieved using color filters which are backlit using just the right intensity of pure white light.
There are four major components to the DLP system:
The DMD chip, which controls the mirrors
The color wheel
The light source and
In order to produce the picture, the light from the lamp passes through the color wheel filter and into the DMD chip, which then switches its mirrors on or off according to the color which is reflecting off of them.
This digital light processing, or DLP, technology is rapidly becoming a major player in the world of the rear projection TV, and more than two million of these TVs have been sold. More than 50 manufacturers sell at least one model of DLP based television, and as of 2004 the DLP TV had achieved a 10% market share. In addition, small standalone units, known in the business as front projectors, have become popular items both in the world of business presentations and in the world of home theater.
Advantages of DLP Technology
There are a number of important advantages to television sets that use DLP technology to produce their displays. Some of these advantages include:
Images that are smooth and free of jitter
No possibility of screen burn in
Good depth of color
In addition, DLP rear projection televisions are generally smaller, thinner and lighter in weight than traditional CRT televisions of similar size. Another potential advantage of the new DLP technology is that the light source is replaceable, which may be able to provide a longer lifespan than either traditional CRT or new plasma screen displays. The light source of the DLP unit is much easier to replace than that in an LCD model, and many models of DLP television feature light sources that are easily changed by the end user. Of course no one wants to replace the light source before its time, and the newest LED light sources on the market, introduced in April of 2006, have been shown to last 20,000 hours before needing to be replaced.
Disadvantages of DLP Technology
Of course there are some disadvantages to DLP television technology as well, and it is important for those in the market for a new TV to be aware of these potential pitfalls. For instance, in some single chip DLP designs, viewers may be bothered by the so called “rainbow effect”, which affects how colors are displayed on the TV and perceived by the viewer.
In addition to this rainbow effect, some possible disadvantages of DLP technology include:
Not as thin or as sleek as LCD or plasma displays, even though the weight is comparable
Some models have noisy fans
The replacement bulbs can be quite expensive, ranging from $200 to as much as $500
The main competitor to DLP in the market for rear projection televisions is known as LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon). This technology creates its images by using a stationary mirror which is mounted on the surface of a chip, and then uses a liquid crystal matrix to control how much light is reflected to create the image. These competing standards are still being worked out, so it is important to shop carefully and to read lots of reviews before making a final purchase.
When shopping for a DLP television, it is important of course to learn as much as you can about the new technology, and it is just as important to shop around for the best possible price. When shopping for a new DLP TV, it is important to look carefully at the kind of tuner the unit uses. Many modern television sets are designed to be multisystem devices, meaning that not only are they capable of reading the NTSC signal used in North America and Japan, but they will also be able to deal with competing standards such as PAL and SECAM. This can be an important consideration, so it is important to make sure you understand these various formats and how they affect you as an end user.
It is important as well to look at the type of components that can be connected to the new DLP television. Most modern TVs are built to accept signals not only from cable TV and satellite TV boxes but from DVD players, VCRs, and even computers. The presence of a VGA or DVI connection will allow the unit to function as a computer monitor as well as a television, but it is important to use caution when using any kind of rear projection TV for this purpose. While plasma TVs can often make excellent computer monitors, technologies like DLP may struggle to provide the depth and resolution that computer users are used to.
Even though the prices of televisions in general, and DLP televisions in particular, have become a lot more affordable in recent years, these TVs are still major purchases, and it makes sense to give that purchase the consideration it deserves. As with any purchase, shopping around carefully will help you get not only the lowest price but the best overall value as well.