6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Projectors and Digital Displays

6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Projectors and Digital Displays
(Image credit: Sharp NEC Display Solutions)

During the past several years, organizations have faced immense pressure to not only compete with others in their industries but to meet ever-changing customer needs. Often, that means layering in new technologies to create a more seamless experience for all. But how should your organization determine if the business would benefit from new display technology?

Across the board, three technologies reign supreme—liquid crystal display (LCD), dvLED, and projectors. All are incredibly versatile and work to create engaging, functional environments in the hybrid era.

Digital signage technology, such as LCD, has been around for quite some time and is one of the most versatile options available. Generally speaking, though, LCD displays are best for companies looking to add interactive and engaging elements to their current roster of technology. Direct view LED is great for creating an immersive experience on a seamless screen with high contrast and unmatched brightness. The modularity allows it to be scaled to nearly any size, and the availability of fine pixel pitch options allows for detail to be seen at nearly any viewing distance. This also allows for unique and creative screens to be created, such as curves.

Mark Miller, Product Manager, Direct View LED Sharp NEC Display Solutions of America

Mark Miller, Product Manager, Direct View LED, Sharp NEC Display Solutions of America

(Image credit: Sharp NEC Display Solutions of America)

"With the technological advances made in projectors, LCDs and dvLED displays in recent years, you really can’t go wrong with either."

Typically, modern LCD displays are lit by LED backlights. A transmissive panel converts light to the images that are seen on the screen. DvLED will use individual light-emitting diodes that convert electricity into visible light to create an image. Meanwhile, projectors use a lamp or laser to deliver an image to a screen or other surface.

However, projectors are well-versed in creating jaw-dropping displays and reimagining spaces in order to educate, attract, and engage consumers. Traditional displays and dvLED will require paying attention to specific factors such as fixed aspect ratios. Projection technology though, can completely transform various walls, doors, objects, and floor spaces as well as be transferable from room to room in a building. Museums, artists, schools, and businesses can all benefit from the countless advertising opportunities, art installations, and other immersive initiatives.

[ Sharp/NEC to Launch New M Series Extra-Large Format Displays ]

There are a few important factors to consider before making an investment in any of these display technologies. While LCD, dvLED digital displays, and projectors can enhance nearly any space, they each offer distinct feature ranges and unique benefits.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to making display technology decisions, the six aforementioned factors will help you select the best option for your business’s needs. With the technological advances made in projectors, LCDs and dvLED displays in recent years, you really can’t go wrong with either. The three technologies offer excellent functionality, lifespans, and benefits that will enhance any space.

Indoor v. Outdoor Spaces

LCD displays, dvLEDs and projectors can all be used effectively in indoor environments with options available for nearly any lighting situation. All technologies typically offer the ability to adjust brightness and resolution as needed.

This is not true, however, for outdoor environments. LCD displays with high-brightness panels can be modified for use in outdoor environments. This comes in handy for educational campuses and shopping districts where individuals need to access wayfinding tools, among other things. Because of the nature of projector technology, they are more appropriately used outdoors at night.

On the other hand, dvLEDs offering high brightness along with the availability of IP65 ratings make LEDs a great choice for outdoor environments. Weather elements or bright sunlight will not damage or diminish the effectiveness of the display.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting, natural light or indirect lighting, can take many forms, including ceiling-mounted or recessed light fixtures. Configuration of ambient lighting in your space can mitigate the effectiveness of both LCD displays and projectors.

Large amounts of ambient light in a space, especially natural light, require a high level of brightness from projectors in order for their images to be seen. However, nearly any digital display with high-brightness options will function just fine in spaces with lots of ambient light. In addition, high haze (anti-reflective) panels are an equally important feature to consider when choosing a display as they help scatter incidental light as opposed to reflecting it.

Spatial Constraints

Not every room is built for every type of technology. Projectors are available in nearly every size and shape imaginable, which makes them easy to adapt to small or oddly-shaped spaces. They also tend to be scalable, and installation can often be tailored to a business’s unique needs. Additionally, high-resolution projectors are well-equipped to project high-quality images from both very close and very far distances.

While LCD display sizing varies widely, the technology is best suited to close-up, highly detailed images and graphics. Keep in mind, this level of detail is directly correlated to viewing distance and content.

Traditionally, direct view LED was limited to extremely large displays, like the kind you might find in major sports stadiums. However, as the technology has improved, finer pixel pitches are more readily available allowing it to be a more viable option for smaller scale, up close applications, with increasing popularity in boardroom and corporate applications. 

[ Sharp/NEC Delivers Stunning Visuals with New dvLED Display Series ]


Projectors are wonderful for videos, still images, branding, and promotional opportunities. Floor projection, logo displays, and simple slideshows are all extremely effective. LCD displays will also show excellent quality videos and still images, but they are also the best choice for content that contains fine detail. LED is also great for creating immersive experiences with videos and stills. It’s important to keep in mind that a key factor to consider when choosing LED is optimal viewing distance for the video wall, since pixel pitch directly impacts price—the smaller the pixel pitch, the higher the cost of the unit.


Projectors tend to offer the largest images at the lowest costs. If your budget is tight, projectors will get nearly any job done at a more attractive price point. LCD displays, on the other hand, offer the best resolution for the value. If money is no object and your main objective is to display high-quality, high-detail graphics, then LED will be a better choice.


The typical life of a projector is 20,000 hours. By contrast, the typical life of a LCD can reach up to 50,000 hours, while LED displays range up to 100,000 hours. If your business is comfortably settled in a permanent location and has a clear vision for its future needs, LCD or LED digital displays may be a more convenient investment in the future. If your business tends to move locations or shift priorities often, a projector will allow you to reassess your options more frequently.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller, Product Manager, Direct View LED, Sharp NEC Display Solutions of America

Mark Miller is an experienced product manager for Sharp/NEC, bringing over a decade of successful development and launching of new products. Miller has handled the product launches and marketing messages for Sharp/NEC’s Direct View LED for the last four years, including launch strategies, product training to sales teams, and the procurement and construction of demo units. A Northern Illinois University graduate, Miller enjoys living outside Chicago, Illinois.