LG CF3D - Review Summary
A summary of the LG CF3D projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
11/24/2010 - Art Feierman
LG CF3D Projector - The Bottom Line
With the ability to fill, say, a 100" diagonal, 16:9 screen in a room with ambient light but reasonable lighting control, while doing 3D content, the LG CF3D is most impressive. I realize there are other very bright 3D projectors recently hitting the market, or coming soon, in the LG's price range, that will offer reasonable brightness, this is by far the brightest 3D image I've seen projected so far.
I see the LG as a very successful projector for 3D applications. It should do very well, in all those scientific, engineering, and other areas where 3D can significantly improve clarity of the information, and productivity of the viewers. As such, I do believe the LG deserves a Hot Product Award.
I'm always leery of giving out awards to a first of a kind projector (or first of a kind reviewed), where we haven't had the ability to compare to any direct competition.
That said, the LG does do rather impressive 3D. It may have some 3D noise visible, - be it some crosstalk, or the screen type noise I've discussed, but those are the kind of imperfections that likely would bother a home theater enthusiast, but barely on the radar, (if at all), of people viewing 3D in commercial applications.
I expect a year from now, that commercial 3D projectors will cost a little less for the same performance, and will do even cleaner 3D, thanks to both better content, enhanced processing, and projector refinements, but the LG CF3D does a most respectable job with 3D imagery, right now. If you have the applications to show (or are developing them), and the budget makes sense, the LG CF3D projector will definitely get the job done, with ample lumens to do it well in most rooms.
It's really unfortunate, that there isn't a good way to demonstate 3D content on your monitor, as performed by the LG CF3D. It seems almost criminal to have to only show you some of the same 2D images we use in many reviews. You'll just have to take my word when I tell you how awesome the molecular biology and neurological pathways 3D videos really look. That the 3D content is going to be superior in demonstating the information than 2D is downright obvious. What isn't better, simply by viewing it in 3D, is also just more interesting, more attention grabbing, and probably resulting in better productivity, than the 2D equivalent.
Above, from the new Star Trek movie - Blu-ray disc
Above, from The Dark Knight, Blu-ray. This CF3D image is a good example of a night time image with enough bright lights that the difference in black levels between the LG, and some projectors with better blacks, isn't going to be very noticeable, if at all.
The LG CF3D projector offers more brightness in 3D than any of the low cost 3D projectors. Although I was tempted to try to measure the brightness through one of the lenses of the passive glasses, I couldn't convince myself that it would be a valid measurement. Forgetting that, I conclude that this claimed 2500 lumen projector, first of all, gets very close to its claims. We know that 3D is going to wipe out an absolute minimum of 50% of the brightness (since you are only seeing one eye at a time), but how much more, we really don't know.
For practical purposes, I am assuming for now, that a system like the LG CF3D is going to lose about 60% of lumens. That means the CF3D, is going to output close to 1000 lumens in its brightest mode, while doing 3D!
Having owned a projector dealership for a great many years, I can report that it was less than 10 years ago, that portable projectors started reaching 1000 lumens. At the time, we all discovered, that 1000 lumens was enough to fill a typical conference room screen - 5 or 6 feet diagonal, even with a healthy dose of fluorescent lighting on.
In other words, 1000 lumens, in small, and even some medium sized rooms, has been enough to do good work, without killing the lights - essentially modern projection. As often said, you can never have too many lumens (well almost true), but the point is, the LG does have enough lumens to do nice sized projection for working groups, board rooms, and most presentations for less than 50 people. Remember, with a little more lighting control, the LG can do a respectable job on a screen in the 100" diagonal range, and still not be a pretty dark room. That's what people want, and the LG delivers!
LG CF3D Color Performance:
Post calibration, the LG looks really great. True, in most commercial applications, including those that are 3D, few of those applications are going to be very critical of the color handling. That said, if color accuracy is really important, the LG will definitely not disappoint. Even right out of the box, the LG is very good, if a little on the cool side (a bit more blue than red).
I want to say: "The LG is typically sharp for a 6 chip projector, but then it is the only 6 chip projector I've ever reviewed". (But not the only one out there - Runco, for example has at least one 3D home theater projector that really is a pair of projectors, stacked, with all the 3D processing). While sharpness seems a touch soft, the imagery looked great on all that 3D content. I don't think engineers, and others, looking at renderings, or architectural drawings, etc., will have any real issues, in terms of sharpness. If you, instead, want to use this for a screening or home theater setup, yes, you will like some other projectors for extra perceived or real sharpness, but, the complaints likely aren't going to be any worse, than say some former DLP home theater projector owners (single chip DLP projectors), complaining that their shiny new JVC LCoS projector doesn't seem quite as sharp... But then ask them if they want to go back to what they had, or something similar, they virtually all tell me, that while that LCoS projector could be a touch sharper, they still want the JVC for its other properties. The same is likely true with the LG. Once again, I was blown away with some of the scientific educational 3D content, never did I think- oh, this could be sharper. Rather mostly I was thinking: "Wow", or "cool".
Black Level Performance and Shadow Detail:
If your use is anything but home theater, the black level performance is probably more than fine. If for home theater - well, it's a trade-off, in this case - real 3D, but mediocre black level performance.
Shadow detail seems perfectly fine once Brightness has been properly adjusted. No issues here, though some others can do better.
Shadow detail of the LG is very good, comparable to pretty much everything else in the class. It has the slight edge in this regard, compared to the Epson, which has always been a touch weaker at dark shadow detail than the competition. Still, I don't consider the variation in shadow detail to be signifciant from one 1080p projector to the next.
Bottom line on blacks and shadow detail - for commercial (education, government, business, scientific...) use, the LG should be respectable enough. For home theater - ok, wait a year, and better blacks will no doubt be available on projectors that will compete with the CF3D projector, or its eventual replacement.
The very bottom line:
It's the 3D! I can't imagine anyone really needs to spend close to $15,000 for a 2D projector with only 2500 lumens, no interchangeable lenses, and only a dual lamp system for real uniqueness. You can buy brighter commercial projectors for 1/3 the cost. Many of those will be 3LCD or single chip DLP's but there will even be 3 chip DLP projectors available for less (and brighter). The point is, you will only buy a CF3D projector if you have 3D applications.
From a price check standpoint, the competiton looks a bit like this: Digital Projection offers a $20,000 single chip DLP, the new M Series 3D projector, claiming over double the lumens (5500), but is an active system requiring active 3D glasses. As such, a high brightness projector like that will likely be used with large audiences, so do figure thousands extra, to equip 50 or 100 people with the still pricey active shutter glasses. The DP is definitely more money, more power, if you must have big room abilities.
Sony offers a $10,000 SXRD (LCoS) 3D projector for the home, their VPL-VW90ES which should have an excellent picture, but is only rated at 40% of the brightness of the LG, so probably will stay "at home" since it isn't likely to be able to put even 400 lumens up on the screen in 3D.
Low cost, bright single chip 3D DLP projectors are hitting as well. Viewsonic has their Pro8500 for example - 5000 lumens (active - needs the expensive shutter glasses). It's MSRP is only $2299, but then, it's not exactly apples to apples. The Viewsonic is only XGA resolution, which from a practical standpoint is less than 1/4 the resolution (number of pixels) of a 1080p projector like this LG. XGA is definitely lower than normaly used for most scientific, rendering, architecture, type applications. That is, the Viewsonic may be affordable, and bright, but the commercial applications that are primarily being used with 3D, are too high for the Viewsonic projector. (That's not to say it isn't suitable for classroom use.)
The LG CF3D is a first generation passive 3D LCoS projector. It will need a 3D surfaced screen for 3D, but will save a fortune by needing only passive glasses (6 pair come with the LG). Color is excellent, it's bright enough for commercial applications in small and medium sized rooms as long is there is some reasonably good lighting control (without trying to fully darken the room).
And 3D looks rather excellent! All the demo software looked great, give or take some crosstalk and some screen type noise. The LG CF3D is definitely a viable projector for 3D wherever budget allows.
LG CF3D Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
LG CF3D Projector: Pros
- A brighter 3D projector with about 1000 lumens when doing 3D
- Excellent color (post calibration)
- Very competent on a variety of 3D content
- Passive 3D - does not require active glasses (which are still very expensive)
- 3D glasses are lightweight (6 pair included)
- Remote control has good feel, intuitive layout, good range
- Full CMS (color management system)
- Produces over 2000 lumens with extremely good color in 2D
- 120 hz smooth motion processing (creative frame interpolation)
- Good looking (if massive) projector
- 3D performance -Very effective - clear with good depth, on a wide variety of 3D content
LG CF3D Projector: Cons
- Dual lamp operation does mean higher cost of operation than almost all single lamp projectors
- A bit noisy (audible noise) for a projector of its brightness
- Physically a very large, heavy projector (relative to brightness)
- Passive 3D - requires a 3D capable screen (as well as passive glasses)
- Unable to convince PS3 (upgraded with 3D firmware) that it is Blu-ray 3D capable (in fairness, no problem at all when using a Panasonic Blu-ray player with HDMI 1.4, so it is likely the Sony firmware)
- Dual lamp system translates to higher cost of operation
LG CF3D Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Some crosstalk visible on virtually all 3D content
- Documentation is generally good, but as is typical, more explanation of many controls and features would be very beneficial
- Contrast for a commercial projector
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