LG AF115 Physical Tour
Here we take a close look at the LG AF115 projector itself, its lens, inputs, menus, remote, and a whole lot more. Because it is essentially identical to the previously reviewed LG CF181D, we've lifted this page, almost word for word, from the previous review. Basically we simply used search and replace to change the projecor model name to AF115.
8/9/2010 - Art Feierman
LG AF115 Physical Appearance
The LG AF115 home theater projector is a medium-largish black projector. It is essentially identical to the LG CF181D we reviewed several months back. Both weigh in just under 22 pounds. The AF115 has some styling, including a curved front, and a recessed band around the projector. Overall, it looks nice, but not overly impressive unless that it has a pretty massive look to it, compared to a lot of smaller home projectors. The lens is center mounted. To its right, is the front IR sensor (there's a second one in the back, on the input panel).
Interestingly, the control panel is in the back (see image and description below). The top only has a recessed ring for adjusting vertical lens shift, and around it, some indicator lamps. There's a blue LED trim ring around it, which makes for a pretty lighting when warming up or shutting down as the blue LED light rotates around the ring.
Two screw thread adjustable feet are found below the front on the left and right side. Vents run under the front of the projector and on the sides.
Inputs are all in the back. The LG projector comes with a very nice remote, which will also be discussed below. The lamp door is located on the bottom, but in a corner. It looks like, from the manual, that the lamp may be replaceable without unmounting a ceiling mounted projector. However, that's my best guess, and it assumes you go with the LG mount. If you go with a typical universal mount, my guess is that some will require unmounting, others may not. So, definitely consult with your dealer about that issue, especially if you are doing the work yourself, to make sure you buy a mount that makes sense.
Another maintenance issue is filter cleaning or replacement. The manual only says, "clean or replace the filter when the projector tells you to." They give no indication of that's after 100 hours or a 1000, or ??? The filter areas are in the bottom front vents, where you will find two filters. Yes, they can be cleaned, but if damaged, should be replaced.
Ok, time for a closer look!
The control panel consists of a row of buttons in a slightly recessed area on the right side of the back of the projector. I don't find that to be a very good location or design, but, hey, since once you start using the projector in its permanent place, you'll be relying on the remote control, let's not worry about that too much. Still, having navigation using a diamond, round or square arrow key layout, with a center Enter button is far easier to use than a linear run of buttons.
That said, the control panel does work fine. Looking at the control panel on the rear, from the back, finds the buttons organized this way, from left to right:
Power, Auto (setup, mostly for PCs), Input (source select), up, down, left, and right arrow buttons, and finally, the OK (enter) button. That's about your most basic control panel.
The AF115 is very typically equipped. In terms of inputs there are the usual two HDMI 1.3 inputs (I prefer to see 3, but that's very uncommon). Of course there's a component video input (3 color coded RCA jacks), and an HD15 analog computer input, which can double as a second component video input. That pretty much covers the highest quality inputs.
There's also the usual composite video and S-video inputs, not to mention an RS-232 and also a USB labeled "service only." According to LG, neither the USB or Serial port is set up to support command and control, such as working with a Crestron room control system.
Lacking as noted would be a (rare) 3rd HDMI, but also not there, one or two 12 volt "screen" triggers, and apparently a serial port for command and control. (As to screen triggers - nice to have, but there are usually work arounds available).
LG AF115 Menus
LG's menus are pretty good, just one or two objections.
The first is obvious. Hit menu, and you get your 6 main menu choices up on the screen (image on the right). Select the one you want, and click.
That's not as efficient as most others, who will have a starting menu that shows all the main menus, but also displays the most widely used menu at the same time. (That is, main menu names - usually on the left). The most popular main menu, though (usually called Picture or Image) is also there when you open Menu. That saves one less step, most of the time.
Saves a click. Hardly the end of the world, but one of those minor things.
One other objection which I've also complained about Sanyo in particular (but also others), to task for, and that's scrolling menus. With the LG, the Advanced menu has a lot more features than you see. You have to scroll down to find the rest. It's not really well indicated and easily overlooked. And there are a lot of items to scroll through. That kind of thing has one diving for the manual. Of course that would bother a reviewer more than an owner. You owners will after a while remember that. For a reviewer - I work with a projector for a week or two, and spend tons of times in the menus, and therefore like a setup where everything is easy to find. While I make this complaint, it's a very minor thing, so I'd also say "don't worry about it - it's not a big deal."
The first main menu is Picture (as shown) hit has all the basic stuff - brightness, contrast, color (saturation), sharpness, tint...
The next menu is the Advanced Picture menu, with all the "fun" image controls (also shown here): There's the TruMotion demo mode (half the screen does CFI the other half does not, for comparison purposes). The bulk of the advanced image controls are called either advanced, or expert, depending on which Picture mode (ie Vivid, Expert) you are in.
That Advanced/Expert control area has your controls for iris control (manual, dynamic or off), CFI (creative frame interpolation - high or low), Color Temp, Gamma, Black Levels, and your RGB and CMS controls. Many of these you have to scroll down to find. One of those I had to scroll down to find, was the Overscan menu option for dealing with image noise around the edges, (very common with HD sources showing standard definition content, but other times as well). See my comments on the first page of the review near the bottom.
The strangely named Screen menu deals with projector placement (front/rear, tabletop/ceiling), Aspect ratio, Keystone adjustment (please don't) and a single test pattern suitable for focusing and positioning. Most manufacturers would tend to call that menu the Setup menu.
Next is the Option menu, which is pretty bare bones, with menu Language choices the background color (and the color when you blank the screen), and two timers - one for sleep (shuts off when you tell it to, from Off, to 10 minutes, up to 240 minutes). There's also Auto sleep, which will put the projector to sleep if no signal is detected for 10 minutes. These are common features found on a lot of home theater projectors, although I don't consider them widely used, and often don't mention them.
There's an Info Menu, and finally, a menu just offering your choice of Inputs. The Input menu nicely highlights the inputs with active signals.
LG AF115 Remote Control
The AF115 remote is a really nice one. The range is very good, though not the best. Still it works well in my main theater, which stymies most remotes (about a 27 foot total trip including bounce off the screen). This is one of the few that works consistently as long as I point it pretty straight towards the screen.
After you get past the range of the remote, it's all more good news. The goldish backlighting is bright, but not quite, too bright, like, for example a couple of Optoma projectors with super bright blue LEDs.
The remote doesn't have a million buttons. Its layout goes something like this: At the top a single button for power - once for on, twice for off. A row of three for "setup" consisting of Auto, Aspect and Input (source select).
Next comes navigation, two buttons -Menu on the right, Exit on the left, and right below that, the navigation buttons - 4 hours in a round configuration, with a center "OK" (enter) button.
Then, a bit below two large buttons one for Brightness, the other Contrast. And right below them, in the center, the backlight button. Hit the button and the backlight stays on for about 5-6 seconds - an adequate amount of time.
More space, and then 9 buttons in a total of 3 rows. All of these are direct access buttons allowing you to skip using the menus. The nine buttons are:
Mode (Vivid, Cinema, etc.) Auto Iris, Keystone
Still (freeze frame), Blank, (test) Pattern
Color Temp, Sleep, and Gamma
Hard not to like this remote control. True, a number of remotes have direct buttons for each source, and I wouldn't have minded seeing say separate buttons for HDMI 1 and 2, but that's hardly anything worth bitching about.
LG AF115 Lens Throw
For the classic 100 inch diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the LG projector can be placed as close as 9 feet 10 inches, or as far back, as 17 feet 10 inches. Note, that means the lens is relatively short throw. Few home projectors can get any closer to a 100 inch screen than 9 feet 10, but, on the other hand 17 feet 10 inches as a maximum distance, puts the projector in the same class as the Sony projector competition, which also can't be placed particularly far back.
Thus, a significant percentage of folks who might want to rear shelf mount, likely won't be able to. Still, plenty of those folk will be fine, as long as their rooms aren't too deep, or their screen sizes small. By comparison, the Epson and Panasonic projectors can get out to 21 feet, and 19.8 feet respectively (that's from memory). That extra 3, or 2 feet can make a difference.
Still, one must consider placement flexibility to be very good.
DLA-AF115 Lens Shift
The AF115 offers vertical lens shift only, which, for 97% of people should be just fine. According to the manual, which has the minimum to say on the subject, the LG projector can position from 20% of a screen height above the top, to the same 20% below the bottom, of the screen surface.
For a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, that works out to just a tiny bit less than 10 inches above or below the screen surface (screen height is over 49.5 inches tall).
That's a good amount of vertical lens shift. Better than many, but not as much as some of the most flexible (Panasonic and Epson come to mind), but there are plenty of others that can at least slightly beat the LG (including, I think, the JVCs, but, those are close enough to probably not matter).
AF115 Anamorphic Lens Support
The LG AF115 does not support an anamorphic lens, best I can tell from the lack of any mention in the manual, or appropriate aspect ratio.