What is a DLP Projector?

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Updated February 8, 2023

The question, “What is a DLP projector?” has some interesting answers. For starters, the famous Texas Instruments created the technology initially, and it’s very different than LED projector technology. Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors use tiny mirrors to reflect light and project images. These mirrors are known as digital micro-mirrors and are mounted on a semiconductor chip known as a DLP chip. DLP projectors are highly sought after for their superior image quality, boasting fast refresh rates, high contrast ratios, and the ability to produce deep blacks. They’re a popular choice for home theater systems, professional presentations, and for those seeking a compact and portable projection solution.

So obviously, the resolution tends to be very crisp. In addition to great picture quality, that does mean that prices and costs for such DLP projectors does go up. But, who wouldn’t want excellent color performance and higher native resolution on a DLP projector? As far as digital projectors go, DLP is a great way to go. This technology is among the best projectors available.


  • DLP, or digital light processing, is a method of image projection created by Texas Instruments and later repurposed for cinematography.
  • There are a few different DLP technologies out there, such as single-chip DLP projectors and three-chip DLP projectors.
  • Understanding DLP comes down to knowing how they work inside and delving into different parts, such as the dichroic mirror.

DLP Projectors Explained

Asking, “What is a DLP projector?” will lead you down a rabbit hole filled with exciting history, technology, and more. These are an excellent choice for anybody looking for a cinema-ready digital projection system at home. Initially created by Texas Instruments, this type of projector has a rich history. If you’re interested in learning about more types of projection, the question “What is an LCD projector?” is a great stepping stone to further knowledge.

Insider Tip

Ambient light can be controlled by using black-out curtains, turning off lights in adjacent rooms, and using dark paint on the walls of your home theater.

The History of DLP in Digital Projection

This system was created by Texas Instruments and then used by a different company to create a new style of digital projection. You can now find DLP present in most digital-cinema projectors. They come with their pros and cons, and all investment decisions should be carefully considered. Make sure you understand basic troubleshooting, like tips for an overheating projector and other essential maintenance.

Explaining DLP Projection Technology

DLP stands for digital light processing. Out of all projector technologies, DLP is used most often in both commercial and home-theater projector models. While they still use traditional projector lamps, DLP has many special features that LCD models do not.

The Utilization of a Color Filter Wheel

The laser light a DLP uses first shines through a color wheel of each primary color, resulting in fantastic color accuracy. This is what creates the colored light beam that results in a full-color image on your projection screen. Its overall appearance matters based on the aspect ratio of the projector screen. There are a few other steps on the light path before it reaches the final destination. One of those is through a front-surfaced mirror.

The Use of Microscopic Mirrors

Once the color wheel has done its job, the color of light is decided, and the beam needs direction. DLP projection uses a micromirror device to control each individual pixel of your projection lens. A beam of light shoots toward the mirror’s reflective surface. From there, reflective technology determines imagery.

STAT: The PC monitor and projector market increased to over 30 billion dollars globally in 2020. (source)

How Reflective Technology is Involved

Some of the mirrors do not reflect light, however. This is how DLP projectors create a full-color image. The pixels that are not in the light path are called “closed pixels.” These closed pixels are what determine how the final full-color image is going to appear.


Should I buy a DLP or an LCOS projector?

You can think of LCOS as the combination between DLP and LCD technology. There is a wide range of differences between the two. However, there is also a wide range of similarities.

How do LCD projectors work?

Liquid crystal displays are popular for multiple devices beyond projectors, like TVs. A crystal gel is sandwiched between LCD panels, with an electric current running through.

What should I look for when buying a projector?

There are a few features to keep an eye out for:

What equipment do I need to project movie content?

Digital movie theaters are a hit when streaming movie content at home. Digital cinema projectors are a great choice, but any model made for digital cinema projection will work.


In lamp-based projectors, one of the most common causes of image degradation is a metal-halide lamp that is low on hours and needs replacing.

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