DLP Technology: 1-chip vs. 3-chip

The home theater industry continues to rapidly advance with the introduction of new technologies that are advancing the standards that have been defining the market for years. Front projectors for home entertainment are no longer accessible to only the high-end theater enthusiasts who have the money and space to build a dedicated home theater room.

Today, we are seeing mainstream acceptance of projectors optimized for home usage at price points approaching $1,500. Even more interesting is that screens are now considered optional as consumers are projecting them on white wall, sheets and even garage doors. According to Pacific Media Associates, the 2004 consumer projector market reached 350-400,000 units, up from 233,000 in 2003.

DLP? technology is bringing digital projectors to the highest standard to date, delivering incredibly sharp, brilliant pictures. With a wide variety of home entertainment projectors and TVs available from Optoma Technology, Inc. and other leading manufacturers, DLP technology offers home entertainment customers cinema quality and unsurpassed performance at prices that appeal to the masses.

Creating the Ultimate Image

DLP chips are micro-electromechnical semiconductor devices which feature up to 2.2 million microscopic and independently moving mirrors that can change positions more than 5,000 times per second, creating stunning, all digital images. When a DLP chip is coordinated with a digital video or graphic signal, a light source, and a projection lens, its mirrors can reflect an all-digital image onto a screen or other surface by tilting the mirrors 12 degrees to either an ?on? or ?off? position. The switching of the mirrors is coordinated according to the color shining on them. The human visual system ? communicating between the brain and one?s eyes ? integrates the sequential colors and sees a full-color image.

DLP projection systems are available in two different chip configurations: 1-chip and 3-chip. Although the technology is inherently the same, the unique advantages of the two systems offer consumers a choice in benefits.

Single-Chip DLP Systems

Televisions, business projectors, and many home theatre systems that utilize DLP technology rely on a single-chip configuration, which can create 16.7 million colors and process light at eight bits per color. Single-chip DLP projectors currently deliver brightness performance in the range of 1000-3000 ANSI lumens.

Advantages of the 1-chip system are:

Higher Contrast: 1-chip DLP system contains simpler optics, which allows higher contrast ratios of up to 5000:1, providing deeper black levels with incredible detail in dark scenes.
Mobility/Compactness: The 1-chip configuration leads to the most compact, lightweight and efficient designs delivering a range of brightness levels and performance to meet various application needs.
Single Panel Precision: The single panel precision of 1-chip designs consistently offers a razor-sharp image.
Affordability: Because of the cost savings in materials, 1-chip projectors for the home are now available from retailers and the professional AV channel for as low as $1,500.

3-Chip DLP Cinema Systems

DLP technology-enabled projectors for very high-end home theaters rely on the 3-chip configuration, which is capable of producing no fewer than 35 trillion colors. In addition to home theatre applications, 3-chip designs can be found lighting-up professional venues, including the Emmy? and Academy Awards? ceremonies, and digital cinema. DLP Cinema? is currently the only digital cinema display technology and is lighting up more than 200 digital cinema screens in movie theatres around the world.

Advantages of the 3-chip systems are:

Higher Brightness: For home theatre projectors, brightness is amplified ? up to 5,000 lumens. This allows home theatre enthusiasts to light-up larger screens in dedicated home theater rooms. 3-chip projectors developed for professional venues range up to 27,000 lumens.
Ultimate Color Fidelity: The 3-chip architecture efficiently accommodates a deep color gamut, and many 3-chip projectors also feature Xenon arc lamps which provide extremely uniform color spectrum. Advanced color processing insures extremely accurate color reproduction. When combined with high brightness, 3-chip DLP colors simply pop off the screen.
Greater Depth: The color and signal processing capabilities are more sophisticated with the 3-chip system, which deliver up to 16 bits of grayscale per color channel on screen. Although single-chip DLP? based systems offer excellent performance, grayscale performance dramatically increases with a 3-chip system to deliver substantially higher image detail and clarity.

Competitive Advantages

Both 3-chip and 1-chip DLP systems offer inherent advantages over competitive technologies. DLP continues to serve as the only digital projection solution available to produce an entirely digital video infrastructure, and offers the maximum benefit of digital and HDTV source material.

Because of its all-digital nature, DLP is highly reliable. DLP systems have passed a multitude of environmental and mechanical tests, including accelerated life cycle tests simulating approximately 20 years of use through thousands of hours of rigorous testing. More than 2.5 million DLP subsystems have been delivered to the marketplace over the past several years, demonstrating this outstanding reliability.

With some transmissive technologies, images that remain static for a period of time (i.e., tickers on news channels, gaming graphics, network logos) will ?burn in? to the screen. Because DLP is reflective, this is not an issue. Additionally, technologies with slower switching times tend to ?blur? fast moving images. DLP technology switching is extremely fast, which is optimal for fast action video, including sports.

Believe Your Eyes

Manufacturers and consumers are clearly seeing the advantages of DLP technology in the home entertainment market. Projectors featuring DLP technology are consistently ranked as best sellers in the custom and semi-custom installation. In addition, large-screen DLP TVs are exceeding all growth expectations. In choosing between a 1-chip and 3-chip system, the best advice is to ?believe your eyes.?

Delivering Digital Technology for the Homes and Businesses

DLP systems with 1- or 3-chips are built to serve different market needs. Single-chip projectors and TVs provide a high-quality experience at an affordable price for a variety of commercial and consumer applications, allowing projectors for home entertainment to reach the mainstream market. Three-chip systems meet the most demanding visual requirements required by large venue applications and provide high-end home enthusiasts with the best solution on the market.

The overall benefits of DLP technology remain consistent across all products: a superior image quality with sharp, seamless, high-contrast images, and the highest picture reliability. DLP technology is bringing sharp, brilliant pictures to movie theatres and living rooms across the country. With more than 5 million DLP products shipped since 1996, DLP is a proven technology in the marketplace.

Information about Optoma Technology, Inc.

Optoma Technology is a global manufacturer of Digital Movie Projectors and HDTV?s with sales exceeding $1.0 billion. Founded in 1991 and headquartered in the Silicon Valley, Optoma manufactures and markets these products world-wide both under the Optoma brand name and for OEM?s. Over the last twelve years, Optoma Technology has expanded its product offerings to include digital projector and display products that employ leading-edge Digital Light Processing? (DLP?) technologies. Optoma Technology?s products are sold through a global network of pro AV distributors, major consumer electronics retailers, and Internet resellers. For additional information about Optoma Technology, Inc., visit our website at www.optomausa.com.