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LG CF181D Overall Color & Picture Quality

Posted on February 20, 2010 by Art Feierman

Overall Color & Picture Quality

Oh boy! I may beat up the LG a bit for its only ok (good) black level performance, but when you look at the whole package, the vibrant and bright colors, with very good skin tones and tons of lumens, make the LG one of the better overall home theater projectors in its price range. Until you hit some of those really dark scenes, the LG definitely produces a picture quality that would be the envy of most of the competition.

I should also point out that the dynamic iris action of the LG in Auto 1, is pretty smooth - one of the best ones around. If you could drop this dynamic iris, say, into the Optoma HD8200, that would turn the HD8200 into some serious competition, but, alas, Optoma has been hurting itself for a few years, with dynamic iris issues.

On a dark scene like the one, right above from Lord of the Rings, the image is all pretty dark, but blacks aren't critical. The LG handles a scene like this very well.

LG CF181D Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports


If the LG CF181D is pretty impressive for movies, it truly shines for sports. Oh, it's still a 3 chip LCoS projector, and "3 chippers" are always a touch softer image than the sharper single chip DLPs. Forgetting that slight difference though, the lumens and the dynamics of the LG are killer for sports. Watching the Olympics on the LG projector has been great. I can only think of a couple of projectors I would prefer for sports viewing.

For the images below the rear room lights (two in ceiling 65 watt floods), were dimmed down about 50%. The front of the room remained fairly dark. Screen size, approximately 100" diagonal.

The one example that immediately comes to mind is the InFocus IN83. a bright, Darkchip 4 DLP projector that was over $5000 before it was discontinued this past year. The IN83 was also bright, had the very best color, and was razor sharp. Perfect for sports. (The IN83, though had weak black level performance, not even as good as the LG.)

With almost 1400 lumens in brightest mode, the LG has tons of lumens for smaller and mid-sized screens, or, it can handle a decent amount of ambient light, even on some larger screens like mine. And, the LG still has pretty good color, much better than the one brighter projector it competes with, the BenQ W6000. (When both are in modes doing about 1100 to 1200 lumens, then the two are roughly comparable in color).

Now, we must all realize that if this was a bright sunny day, with sunlight coming in that window, the results would be completely different, it would be unwatchable. Having said that, with just over 1150 lumens, the CF181D is definitely one of the brighter home theater projectors around without getting up into the big bucks for a 3 chip DLP. Brighter, although not sensationally so. Just a good bright projector. Not quite as bright as, say the Epson UB projectors, but about half way between them, and the average home theater projectors.

The LG CF181D image is very sharp. And the color and skin tones, even in "brightest" mode, with some ambient light, looked reasonably great.

My wife and daughter remind me that a lot of people watch sitcoms and "regular programming", and that most women are not interested in space scenes, but more into Gossip Girl, American Idol, the Oscars, and Vampire Diaries. So, here's a couple for the wife and daughter. The one right below, from Gossip Girl, and below that, one from Wall-E.

Bottom line on HDTV and Sports - Excellent. While watching the Olympics, I switched from the LG several times to my RS20. The RS20 has slightly better skin tones, and far better blacks, but I never watched it for very long. With my JVC having over 900 hours on the lamp, it's probably no longer even half as bright as the LG's 1380 lumens, at this point. What a brightness difference! I am so jealous!

Of course, I cheer myself up by remembering that if I'm watching a movie, off of Blu-ray, or HDTV, that my JVC (at 3x the price of the LG), blows it away in terms of blacks, and, in general for overall movie viewing.

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