Plasma is very prone to burn-in, the others are virtually immune. LCD has the lowest power consumption, DLP has expensive lamps, neither of those look as good to me as plasma but if I were buying one I'd lean towards a DLP projector or an LCD set due to the burn issue, though sky gradients always seem to show banding. Look at some of them in stores to get an idea of the picture quality.
The acid test is to watch a black and white movie on a DLP projector. If the rainbow effect doesn't bother you (some people are -really- sensitive to the flicker), they otherwise look pretty good and the better projectors will display anything you feed them... computer, 4X3, 16X9, HD, whatever. That's one big advantage over fixed screen devices... no "letterbox" bars to deal with. As stated, the pricy lamps are the big drawback. Most offer 2000 hours before replacement at about $500 for a lamp. A few years back I worked on an LCD projector that used two ten dollar transparency projector bulbs with a changeover switch just like an overhead projo. Flash in the pan. I'd would have bought one of those if the pixels had not been as big as fire hoses. On the other hand, the LCD projectors are catching up to DLP with ever better contrast ratio. They look pretty good too... and no rainbows. Shop around, ask questions, then sit down and watch for awhile before you decide anything.
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This very much depends on the specific model. No reason to expect that DLP is different from LCD, DILA, SXRD or LCOS sets.
Letterboxing and pillarboxing have nothing to do with the type of display technology. It has everything to do with the source material and the specific capabilities of the model in question to display it properly.
Most current lamps are rated for between 2000 and 8000 hours and average more like $300.
The latest DLP sets are pretty close to CRTs in blacks, LCDs are still and always will be poorer in this regard because it is a transmissive rather than a reflective technology. The latest DLP sets have all but made invisible the matrix, while with LCDs the "screen door" is clearly visible if viewed from too close. Newer DLPs have reduced the rainbow effect considerably over early units.
Overall, DLP has lots of advantages and you will never have burned panels or filters like an LCD. There are some LCDs that perform very well and are good values, but most of the advantages in the best sets these days goes to DLP.
Depends on how you look at it, if you want to display both 4:3 and 16:9 material and you do it with a fixed screen such as a CRT, LCD, plasma, or rear projector you'll have letterbox bands, there's just no way around that other than squishing or stretching which always looks weird to me. When you have a projector the size and aspect ratio of the screen depends on what you point it at. Sure the physical number of pixels doesn't change but it's a lot more pleasing to the eye, at least to me.
The lamp issue isn't even $300 bad. I just checked my Samsung HLN507W,
22 months old, 3436 hrs on the original lamp. After a friends lamp died last spring, I bought one on eBay for $124 total. ATI hdtv wonder/9600 pro linked DVI as a tivo like recorder and the Samsung TS165 HDTV receiver, Winegard SquareShooter in the LA area. Great pictures.
Plasmas look good but are power hungry. The 3 Panasonics at work peak out at almost 700 watts each. At $0.15/KWH in LA thats $0.105/hour-- plus the extra A/C in summer. The DLP runs around 200 watts.
LCD flat panels have uniformity issues though the projection LCDs look pretty even.