What is 3LCD Technology?
Found in all Epson projectors, 3LCD Technology is the world’s leading projection technology that delivers unbelievably bright and natural colour, amazing detail and proven reliability.
3LCD Technology was pioneered by Epson in the 1980s and is today marketed by an affiliated organisation known as the 3LCD Group that has licensed the technology for use by other manufacturers worldwide for the ultimate viewing experience in projectors.
How a 3LCD Projector Works
1: Creating Colours from White Light
A 3-chip Liquid Crystal Display (3LCD) projector works by first splitting the white light from the lamp into its three primary colours of red, green and blue by passing it through special dichroic filter / mirror assemblies called “dichroic mirrors.” Each dichroic mirror only allows specific coloured wavelengths of light to pass through while reflecting the rest away. In this way, the white light is split into its three primary colour beams and each is directed toward its own LCD panel.
2: Image Generation at the LCDs
The three LCDs are the elements that receive the electronic signals to create the image which is to be projected (hence the technology’s name, “3LCD”). Each pixel on an LCD is covered by liquid crystals. By changing the electrical charge given to the liquid crystals, each pixel on an LCD can be:
- Darkened until they are totally opaque (for full black),
- Lightened until they are totally transparent (allowing all the lamp light to pass through for full white), or
- Shaded in varying degrees of translucence (for different shades of gray.
- This is similar to how a digital watch’s characters appear bold and black on its LCD when its battery is new, but start to fade gradually as its battery weakens.
- In this way, the brightness level on every pixel for each primary color can be very precisely controlled to produce the final pixel's specific color and brightness level required on the screen. Thanks to this ability to display a smooth range of brightness levels, the LCD panels of a 3LCD projector can generate very smooth image gradations.
3: Colour Image Recombination and Projection
After each coloured light is filtered through its individual LCD panel, the beams are recombined in a dichroic prism that forms the final image which is then reflected out toward the lens. This results in images with rich and full colour, since all three basic colours are included in each pixel of the projected image at all times.
3LCD Technology Advantages
Over 90% of the world’s projectors are based on either Epson’s 3LCD technology or 1-Chip DLP technology. However, the majority of 51% are based on 3LCD. Projectors based on 3LCD Technology offer users these three main benefits compared to 1-Chip DLP systems:
- Brighter colours, smoother gradations - 3LCD projectors are able to produce brighter colors and smoother tonal gradations compared to those using single-chip DLP technology. This is because 3LCD projectors mix and project the light beams from all three colours to form each individual pixel's color, while single-chip DLP projectors create colors by projecting them in sequence one at a time and rely on human color perception to mix and interpret the correct colors for each pixel.
- Equal white and colour light output – The brightness rating of projectors in lumens typically measures only white light output. Colour Light Output (CLO) is a new specification published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to measure the brightness of colour light (also measured in lumens) from a projector. 3LCD projectors are able to produce a CLO that is equivalent to the brightness of their white light output, resulting in better color balance and more faithful image reproduction.
- No “rainbow effect” - The way a single-chip DLP projector works sometimes causes viewers to see a "rainbow" or "color breakup" effect where false colors are briefly perceived when either the image or the observer's eye is in motion. As all three primary colors are displayed all the time by 3LCD projectors, they do not suffer from this effect.
- Efficient power use - All the lamp light in a 3LCD projector is used to create the image while the colour wheel in a 1-Chip DLP system reflects all but the light wavelengths of one colour away, wasting the lamp energy. A test by projector review media http://www.projectorcentral.com/ of about 800 projectors found that on average, 3LCD projectors use 25% less power than 1-Chip DLP projectors. This also translates to lower operating heat that in turn, allows the lamp in a 3LCD projector to last longer.
- Greater reliability - All 3LCD projectors have no moving parts involved in the image generation engine, eliminating the risk of mechanical failure. This compares to 1-Chip DLP projectors that all need a rapidly spinning colour wheel to create colour. All 3LCD projectors are also protected by serviceable filters that effectively clean the air that is being drawn in by the fan to cool the lamp.