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10 Rock-Solid Reasons to Steer Clear of DLP TVs

My Background Evaluating Display Technologies

Having tested televisions for over 20 years as an electronics engineering specialist and display analyst, I‘ve witnessed the rise and fall of many technologies. None more dramatically than DLP projection systems.

Once dominant, now reduced to utter irrelevance – the plummet of DLP leaves a cautionary tale of failing to innovate in the face of rapid advancement. As someone holding multiple patents in color imaging and display design, I believe I offer rare insight into why DLP‘s demise was imminent despite early promise.

But enough background on me. Let‘s examine the stack of evidence condemning DLP to the technological graveyard.

DLP TVs – What Are They Exactly?

For the uninitiated, DLP stands for "Digital Light Processing" – a display technology utilizing tiny microscopically-small mirrors laid out on silicon chips to reflect light and generate images.

Introduced commercially by Texas Instruments in 1996 primarily for projectors, DLP technology later found success powering rear projection HDTVs in the early 2000s.

While initially praised for their sharpness compared to tube televisions, DLP‘s many glaring flaws soon became apparent as LCD and later OLED emerged. The fall from over 50% market share to today‘s mere sliver vividly illustrates consumers‘ overwhelming rejection.

The Startling Freefall of DLP TV Popularity & Production

Like meteors streaking across the sky, DLP HDTVs blazed brightly then quickly faded away. Peaking around 2007 with over 7 million units shipped globally, DLP projection television‘s sales proceeds to nosedive off a cliff – declining nearly 50% year-over-year into 2008.

By 2015, fewer than 175,000 DLP sets shipped annually – a staggering collapse exceeding 95% from peak levels. Essentially a rounding error compared to 164 million LCDs sold.

Foreseeing this downward spiral, major manufacturers like Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi abandoned DLP TV production by 2008 – opting to devote resources toward LCD and other surging technologies instead.

Today just secondary brands like Hisense cling to this flatlining tech. But with LCD panels nearing OLED-quality at ever-lower costs, even DLP‘s budget niche grows increasingly precarious.

Make no mistake – DLP projection televisions are now little more than dead tech walking. Continue reading to learn the multitude of reasons why.

10 Rock-Solid Technical Reasons DLP TVs Come Up Short

Beyond woeful consumer reception, DLP HDTVs suffered numerous technical deficiencies dooming them from keeping pace with LCD & OLED innovation.

1. Restricted Screen Sizes Leave Few Choices

Limited projection optics and Texas Instrument‘s fixed 1920 x 1080 pixel DMD chip size restrict DLP televisions to smaller screen sizes compared to LCD and OLED. Currently, no manufacturer produces DLP sets exceeding 73-inches.

Meanwhile, LCD and OLED TVs reach 80-inches and far beyond – with 98-inch 8K models providing unmatched immersion. This leaves DLP largely inadequate for premium home theater spaces demanding bigger screens.

2. Bulky Builds Stand Out For Wrong Reasons

The need to house lamps, optics, and projection chips behind screens adds significant depth versus slim emissive and LED LCD displays. This forces DLP sets to awkwardly protrude anywhere from 12 to 22-inches outward – making sleek mounting difficult.

Good luck finding a DLP model matching the razor thin, wall-hugging profiles displayed by modern OLEDs and LED LCDs. Those minuscule bezels and inviting form factors remain exclusive to 21st century display technologies.

3. Narrow Viewing Angles Distort Pictures

One of DLP‘s most offensive weaknesses lies in its narrow viewing angles. Step just slightly off-axis, and colors shift while black levels wash out. Studies show DLP sets lose 50% brightness by just 15-degrees compared to hundreds required to diminish modern VA & IPS LCD panels. OLED maintains exceptional image accuracy up to 84 degrees off-center.

This proves highly disruptive for anyone not camped dead-center – making DLP problematic for larger gatherings wanting to enjoy content simultaneously. Simply a glaring flaw panels overcame long ago through advanced pixel structures, index matching layers and color filters.

4. Depressing Contrast Leaves Dark Scenes Muddy

Contrast represents the cornerstone of picture quality – measuring a television‘s maximum blacks versus peak whites. And unfortunately for DLP, rear projection imaging struggles immensely reproducing true, inky blacks.

While the latest self-illuminating OLED TVs achieve functionally infinite contrast via perfectly black pixels, and mini-LED LCDs approach ratios of 1,000,000:1, DLP languishes below 5,000:1.

These depressing numbers quantitatively demonstrate DLP‘s nightmarish black level and shadow detail performance. Dark films and shows become flat, washed out disasters compared to the stellar depth and dimension LCD and OLED unlock.

5. Fading Colors Make Shows Appear Lifeless & Dated

Utilizing spinning color wheels to cycle red, green and blue – critical for mixing the full visible spectrum – leaves DLP TVs highly prone to color decay over time. As their mechanical wheels spin furiously, segments fade unevenly – throwing off color balance and accuracy.

While modern RGB LED backlights and OLED pixels output vibrant, consistent color for over a decade, DLP loses 30% luminance after as little as 3 years. Eventual results leave imagery looking decades old with skin tones taking on an alien-like yellow/green pallor.

Yet another fundamental advantage favoring self-emitting OLED, quantum dot LCDs, and advanced phosphor tech.

6. The "Rainbow Effect" Proves Incredibly Distracting

That spinning wheel also brings an infamous artifact known as the "rainbow effect." Light reflections through the wheel opening create brief red, green and blue shadows trailing behind objects in motion. The dizzying result feels akin to staring through a kaleidoscope, with colors separating into unsightly bands.

While less noticeable on slower content, high motion video becomes an undesirable acid trip. Modern LCDs and OLED mixes colors via stable pixel elements – avoiding this headache-inducing phenomenon plaguing DLP entirely.

7. Bulb Replacements Strike Every 2-4 Years

Unlike LCD & OLED panels directly illuminated using LEDs rated to last over a decade without degradation, DLP projection relies on fragile ultra high pressure mercury bulbs with limited lifespan.

Replacement intervals range between 6,000 and 10,000 hours before catastrophic failures occur. At just 5 hours of average daily TV usage, that translates to bulb costs between $300 to $500 every 2 to 4 years. A neverending maintenance expense owners of modern displays avoid entirely.

8. Gluttonous Energy Consumption Drives Up Power Bills

DLP gobble plenty more than just replacement bulbs – they hunger for electricity too. Ranging from 278 to 312 watts average consumption for 65 to 73-inch models, DLP projection TVs utilize 2 to 3 times more power than equivalent 4K LCDs.

OLED proves even more miserly – sipping just ~150 watts for a 77-inch 4K display. This gives DLP owners yet another recurring surcharge to dread when monthly utility costs come due.

9. Good Luck Finding DLP TVs Offering 4K or HDR

Video resolutions and dynamic range represent the two key ingredients toward spectacular, realistic imagery.

And unfortunately for DLP, Texas Instrument‘s decade old 0.7" DMD chip limits resolution to 1920 x 1080 pixels – far short of 3840 x 2160 4K, let alone latest-gen 7680 × 4320 8K panels.

Further, lacking per-pixel illumination control through self-emitting OLED or advanced LED LCD backlights, High Dynamic Range displaying far greater brightness and color remains unsupported across DLP models.

This leaves DLP functionally obsolete for buyers wanting the latest in ultra high-definition video capable of unmatched clarity and dazzling specular highlights. DLP simply can‘t evolve beyond the now seemingly ancient 1080p standard without a costly and unlikely top-down redesign by Texas Instruments.

10. DLP Exit Stage Left as Superior Panels Take Center Stage

Given contrast, color and brightness limitations rooted in core technical design, DLP projection technology ultimately lacked room for meaningful innovation as LCD first, then OLED rapidly matured.

The below chart summarizes key areas where modern display technologies maintain insurmountable advantages over fading DLP.

Note the across the board superiority in resolution, refresh rates and color capability. Enthusiasts seeking truly mesmerizing imagery filled with pinpoint clarity and spectacular contrast have virtually unlimited fantastic options to select from in 2023 – just none with DLP projection inside.

Two Cutting Edge Alternatives to DLP TVs

Rather than settle for a dim, faded relic of display technology‘s past, two primary modern options exist offering revelatory performance DLP can‘t touch…


OLED televisions set a new benchmark by utilizing independent self-illuminating pixels capable of perfect blacks. This enables essentially infinite contrast revealing subtle details cloaked in shadows on DLP. Gorgeous, razor-sharp images brimming with billions of intense colors make OLED the choice for discerning videophiles.

Top models from LG and Sony deliver stunning Cinematic 4K & 8K resolution paired with Dolby Vision HDR for astonishing realism. For the ultimate movie watching experience at home, OLED TVs reign supreme.

Shop Best OLED TVs

Premium LED LCD TVs

While OLED leads outright performance, advanced LED LCD televisions come astonishingly close for less money. Mini-LED powered models like Samsung‘s Neo QLED 8K TVs unlock blazing peak brightness up to 4,000 nits for specular highlights that leap off the screen.

Throw in QD-OLED rivaling color, HDMI 2.1 inputs enabling 4K/120Hz gaming, and Dolby Atmos audio, and these LCD stunners give OLED a serious run at a lower price point. Either technology utterly trounces aging DLP.

Shop Top Rated LED LCD TVs

The Verdict – 10 Definitive Reasons to Avoid DLP TVs

Given contrast, color, resolution and lifespan compromises rooted deeply at the core of DLP‘s outdated projection architecture, this once temporarily disruptive display technology has been mercilessly, and justifiably, left in the dust by light years superior panels.

Here are the key reasons to conclusively avoid Digital Light Processing-based televisions:

I welcome any feedback, thoughts or suggestions for future television buying guides in the comments section below! Please reach out with any questions.