3D Projectors: LG CF3D Projector Review

CF3D 3D Projector uses Passive Glasses

What a machine – basically the reason it’s physically large, is that it has two projectors in one box, each with its own lamp, its own R,G,and B LCoS panels, but then combines all that, and shoots a bright image out the single 1.3:1 zoom lens.

The CF3D was not only the first 1080p 3D projector that we’ve received for review, but it is also one of only two that runs with nice, low cost passive glasses. In fact, the projector comes with six pair, and if you need more, while I’m not sure of the pricing, figure you can probably pick up the extra two dozen passive glasses you would need for a 30 student classroom, for no more than the price of one, or two active glasses needed by most other 3D projectors.

As to which system – 3D active, or passive, is ultimately better, I think the final determinations will be at least a year out. It’s quite possible that some of the advantages of one system, might end up becoming the advantages of the other. Never can tell with early technology. Consider, for years, DLP dominated contrast and black level performance, but these days, 3LCD projectors like the Epson’s and LCoS projectors like the JVC’s (I’m now talking home theater space where blacks are a key performance factor), now exceed the performance of today’s DLP projectors.

This past summer, we had 8 people at one point, checking out the LG doing 3D material in the old testing room. (I have a number of pair of my own passive glasses). Let’s just say, at current prices, if you have a projector needing active glasses, that could easily have been an extra $600 to $1500 for some glasses. (Today, late 2010, it still takes a about $3000 to equip a classroom with active glasses for 3D, although those prices will plummet over the next two years.)

I will have discussed the trade-offs between active and passive – glasses, and projector designs, in the 3D Report.

Creative Frame Interpolation: TruMotion

The CF3D projector is another LG projector sporting creative frame interpolation, for motion smoothing. Like the previous LG reviewed, the CFI is not as smooth as some. It’s functional, and for example very usable for sports, but, while I normally say, you can use CFI for movies but it changes things from the director’s intent, so best not to. That said, many will run it for movies, just like most people leave it on, on their LCDTVs that sport the feature.

For movies, I found some minor artifacts, as well as the whole “soap opera or live digital video look”.

For more commercial applications, however, it may be of greater use, as most of the content would likely be digital to start.

Color Management System (CMS)

The LG is fully equipped with a CMS system to adjust the individual primary and secondary colors. There are two savable “Expert” modes: Expert 1, and 2. We used those to save our “best” mode settings (color temp = warm), and for a quick-calibrate, based Expert 2 on Normal color temp.

LG CF3D Projector: Dynamic Iris

The real bottom line is that the black level performance of the CF3D is very respectable for a commercial projector, and even a screening room. I can’t think of more than a handful of commercial/business/education type applications where the black performance wouldn’t be just fine.

On the other hand, if you are planning to use the CF3D as a home theater projector, the 7000:1 contrast ratio gives you a clue. Black performance is very entry level for a home theater projector in 2D. The whole 3D process darkens everything, and may also be improving black levels somewhat, but certainly not enough to catapult the CF3D projector’s blacks into the same class as any of the ultra-high contrast home theater projectors – some of which are as little as $1800.

On most bright and mid scenes, you won’t notice the black level performance, but if you must view a lot of dark images, that’s where the so-so blacks will come up short. For movie viewing, I found the blacks to be a good bit disappointing, but then, every projector we’ve looked at so far, that can do better blacks – can’t do 3D at all. That, however will change shortly, with new reviews coming of the 3D JVC and Sony home projectors, neither of which are even close in brightness.

Overscan Feature, and Edge Masking Issues

The LG CF3D only offers overscan, and not edge masking (that’s very common.) I like to see both on projectors, as edge scanning allows you to crop any edge noise, without giving up the 1:1 pixel mapping (each of the 1920×1080 pixels of the data map directly to the 1920×1080 pixels of the projector). Giving up the 1:1 for overscan (enlarging most of the image, then cropping off what’s larger than the screen size), tends to soften the image slightly. I’d rather not quite fill the screen, and maintain the 1:1. This would be true for any precision applications, such as architecture, scientific modeling, etc.

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