LG CF3D Physical Tour
11/24/2010 - Art Feierman
LG CF3D Physical Appearance
The LG CF3D home theater projector is a large, weighing in at 46 pounds and change. The 1.3:1 manual zoom lens is off center to the right (looking from the front). There's also an IR sensor in the front for the remote. Moving to the top, you'll find a sliding silver bar, behind the front, that when slided, reveals additional controls including the manual lens shift. The projector is heavy, but that bar, and the frame of the CF3D make for a carry handle. I don't know how durable that is, but I definitely used it to move this LG projector from room to room.
A full control panel (with a cool blue LED indicator light) is located on the top. The finish of the projector, I should note, is very good, and the projector physically looks nicely styled (in terms of fancy surfaces, etc.) despite the basic box design.
All the inputs are located on the back connection panel. The remote is moderately small, backlit, and very functional.
Ok, time for a closer look!
The control panel is a linear affair, hidden behind the big sliding chrome bar running along the top front. When you slide the bar forward, revealed is the control panel, to the right (looking from the rear) of the vertical lens shift control.
I prefer control panels where the navigation (arrow) keys are in a diamond or similar shape, rather than four buttons in a row, like this LG, but then, I use control panels a lot more than the average user, who will rely almost completely on the remote controls.
From left to right:
Auto: Automatically formats analog computer signals (VGA)
Up, Down, Left, Right arrow key buttons
OK (Enter) button
That's about as basic as you can get (except for Auto). I tended to use the control panel less with this projector, than with most other projectors, due to the arrow keys. In some commercial environments, the projector may be very accessible, and the control panel used. In those cases, I'd just say - it could have been laid out better.
The CF3D is well equipped. In terms of inputs you get three HDMI 1.4 inputs, while most other projectors at this time offer only two HDMI 1.3 inputs. (I consider having 3, to be a real plus, but pretty uncommon). Of course there's a component video input (3 color coded RCA jacks) and an HD15 analog computer input, which should be able to double as a second component video input. That pretty much covers the highest quality inputs.
In addition there's the usual composite input, but no S-video input (not much of a loss - almost everyone would rather have the 3rd HDMI). There is also a monitor out (labeled RGB out) if you have an external monitor you need to drive. The CF3D also has a LAN network port (ethernet, RJ45 jack), and a USB type B, for service only.
LG CF3D 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.
Saves a click. Hardly the end of the world, but one of those minor things.
One other objection which I occasionally mention, and that's the use of 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 to scroll when looking. 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... Note, these menus, like some of the other images in this review, were taken while projecting onto a 3D screen that hotspots rather badly. You'll see other images where different screens were used, and no hotspotting problem.
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), TruMotion (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 - for "theater" use) 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). 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.
One more menu that comes into play, and that's the 3D menu. It comes up to let you hit the 3D button, with 3D content, and get to select the correct type of 3D methodology: Shown here is the menu that will come up when you turn on 3D. From left to right, the different 3D modes: Top & Bottom, Side-by-Side, Checkerboard, and Frame Sequential.
LG CF3D Remote Control
The CF3D remote is on the smaller side, but still a "real" remote, not one of those credit card sized things with soggy buttons. It has a backlight, the arrow keys organized in a round configuration with the usual centered enter key (OK). There is, of note, a 3D button, top right, which brings up menu choices for the different 3D frame methodologies.
Also for 3D is a Left/Right toggle to adjust the image if it isn't setup left to left eye, right to right eye. Most of the content comes out right, but I have encountered some which requires hitting the button to reverse.
At the bottom of the remote, are six buttons with the major inputs. Range is at least as good as average, but not exceptionally long range. (good to at least 20 feet).
All considered, a nice remote control, although not as many preset and image control buttons as most. Simple layout, relies on the menus.
LG CF3D 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 12 feet 10 inches. We're talking a 1.3:1 zoom ratio, which is on the limited end of things. Many projectors with limited zooms have 1.2:1 to 1.5:1, while more flexible might be considered 1.5 to 2.1 zoom range.
Over all the zoom lens's ratio leaves the LG a projector with less placement range than average.
DLA-CF3D Lens Shift
The CF3D 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 respectable amount of vertical lens shift. Most commercial projectors in this price range will offer lens shift (and many, may offer interchangeable lenses), but for now, with few 3D projectors out there, this is about as flexible as there seems to be, without spending hugely more.
CF3D Anamorphic Lens Support
The LG CF3D does not support an anamorphic lens, best I can tell from the lack of any mention in the manual, or appropriate aspect ratios.