LCD vs LED Projectors: Which is Better?

The quality of a projector and the images it casts are very important aspects to consider when searching for the right projector for you. Though this is determined by many things, a projector’s display technology being LCD, LED, or DLP will affect the overall projection. 

We will be considering the former two options here - LCD vs LED - and will help you understand their characteristics to help you choose the right one for you.

Making it even easier for you, we put their strengths and weaknesses into four categories - Image, Maintenance, Lifespan, and Overall Value - which will help to tell you which projector is the better option of the two.

LCD vs LED Projectors: Main Differences

  • Do you want to build your own home theater? (see best home theater projectors)
  • Do you want to project your video games onto a screen?
  • Do you prefer brighter or more colorful images?

Before getting into the specifics, we need to take a good look at the differences between LCD and LED projectors to understand why one is better than the other.

LCD Projectors

lcd projector

Created in 1984 by Gene Dolgoff, Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) projectors use a lamp and three LCD color panels - red, green, and blue - for light to pass through to project its image. As light passes through these panels, certain colors are blocked out while others are allowed to pass through. The colors then combine again to make the image on the screen.

Known for its brightness and great image quality at cheaper prices than other projectors, LCD projectors are great for watching movies, especially in large environments.

But due to LCD projectors’ bulkiness and lack of moving parts, they aren’t easy-going. With the collection of dust being a huge problem, LCD projectors require many constant filter replacements and a lot of maintenance. Learn more about https://www.outdoormoviehq.com/projector-maintenance/​cleaning your projector​​​. 

LED Projectors

led projector

Much newer to the game, Light Emitting Diode (LED) projectors do not use lamps, but LEDs to create the colors of an image. LED projectors can even use DLP or LCD technology to produce an image.

Environmentally friendly and energy-efficient with a 20,000-hour lifespan and smaller parts, LED projectors require little to no maintenance and are more reliable, smaller, and lighter than other projectors.

The LEDs also allow for a mass amount of colors in their images which are far superior to the amount of colors that LCD projectors can produce.

This comes at the expsense of LED projectors being more expensive and struggling to be bright. But, with hybrid projectors such as LED projectors using DLP technology, and the constant improvement of technology, this may soon no longer be a problem. See related - best LED projectors

Similarities

Both LCD and LED projectors work greatly at projecting your movies’ and video games’ beautiful images onto your screen.

LCD vs LED Projectors: Specifics

Image

Sharp, bright, and colorful images are what all home theater-enthusiasts are looking for. Both LCD and LED shine in this area. Let’s look at each of these to see who shines brighter.

Sharpness

LCD projectors are known for producing a very sharp and focused image. While LED projectors do not have complaints in this area, they are not regaled for it; so the point goes to LCD.

Brightness

LCD projectors are the brighter of the two. While technology is improving and creating brighter LED projectors, superior brightness is a skill attributed to LCD projectors for the time being.

Color

LED technology allows for a huge amount of colors, including more saturated colors, and no deterioration of the image’s color or the image itself.

While LCD produces beautiful colors, it cannot compete with LED’s number of colors and beauty.

color

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, LED easily beats out LCD. Having smaller parts, 20,000 hours of life, and no lamp puts it in a great place where it rarely requires maintenance.

This is not the case with LCDs. They cannot last as long, nor be left alone without constant maintenance due to its dust problem. Your LCD projector will not stay operable without tedious filter replacements and maintenance. 

Maintenance

Lifespan

With the average life of LCD projectors being 2,000 hours versus the LED’s 20,000, it’s going to be much more worthwhile to get an LED projector. Read more about lamp life span

Overall Usage and Value

This is not the case with LCDs. They cannot last as long, nor be left alone without constant maintenance due to its dust problem. Your LCD projector will not stay operable without tedious filter replacements and maintenance.

Now that you see how these projectors differ, you may still be wondering which is better for you. Let’s try to clear that up for you.

LCD

Cheaper with brighter and sharper images, if you want better image quality then you may want an LCD projector. But this comes at the cost of a bulkier projector that requires constant maintenance and filter replacements which will most likely equate to the amount you spend on a more expensive LED projector.

Lasting only one-tenth of the lifespan of the LED projectors, LCD projectors are good if you want a cheaper build or prefer better image quality.

LED

Though pricier, if you want a smaller, long-lasting, and energy-efficient projector that gives amazing colors and requires little to no maintenance then you may like the LED projectors.

Just know that these projectors lack the brightness and sharpness of LCD projectors at this time.

Final Verdict

So, when comparing LCD and LED projectors, which is better? Well, this is all up to your preferences and what kind of image you’re hoping to project. Regardless of both of their advantages, we suggest choosing the LED projector as they last longer, produce more colors, and require little maintenance. 

If you're still looking to decide check out our best cheap projectors for picks on both side of the spectrum. 

Quick Recap

LCD Projectors:

  • Brighter and sharper images
  • Bulky with no moving parts
  • Requires constant maintenance and filter replacements
  • Lasts 2,000 hours on average
  • Cheaper

LED Projectors:

  • Lasts 20,000 hours
  • More colorful images
  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Smaller with tighter parts
  • Energy efficient and environmentally friendly
  • Pricy
Sources:

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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