LG CF181D Projector - The Bottom Line
I am impressed. And pleased to grant LG's new CF181D home theater projector our hot product award. There are a number of contributing factors, but, what it really comes down to is this: The LG CF181D is one of the brightest 1080p home theater projectors, and it combines all those lumens with some rather great looking color. Add to that, some pretty good placement flexibility, and, it starts looking like the decision was a slam dunk. Truth is, not quite. The LG projector would have been even more impressive with better blacks, but, the LG's blacks are borderline, but not quite, ultra-high contrast level performance.
There are 3 or 4 other projectors in the general price class that can beat the LG in terms of black level performance, but, I've deemed the black levels to be good enough. While folks really into performance will always prefer better blacks still, I found the LG to do a sufficient job that "I could get by with these blacks." I'm not that easy to please. Nonetheless, when I kicked back and said "Art - what projector would I put in my main theater, with its 128" Firehawk screen, if I was limited to under $3500, and had to surrender my JVC?" It all became rather clear:
The LG, for my room, would be the best compromise projector. The Epson, Panasonic and other LCD projectors are all too thin in "best mode" lumens to survive my room for movie watching (without switching to a brighter, inferior mode).
Then I looked over to DLP - With InFocus out of the picture in this price range, that primarily leaves BenQ and Optoma, and of course the much less expensive entry level Mitsubishi HC3800. The DLP's might all be a touch brighter, but only the BenQ is brighter, with only the BenQ having comparable black performance, and having more lumens. (The BenQ, would not work in my particular room, unless I went back to ceiling mount,which means the projector would hang down on an 8 foot pole, instead of a nice, neat shelf mount).
Finally, there's not much "low cost" LCoS competition, basically just the Sony VPL-HW15, and the Cinetron HD700, the rest of the LCoS projectors are over $4000. When, the Cinetron was an OK projector, nothing to write home about except lots of lumens, and the LG is brighter still. The Sony, well, it's got some really nice things going for it, but, like the Epson, has no chance of filling my large screen for best movie watching.
And there you have it. I'd probably have to take a close look between the LG and the BenQ, but, it really has to come down to one of those two, in the lower price ranges.
I define a Hot Product Award winner as basically being a projector with overall very good performance, but also one that is likely the best choice for at least one significant segment of the buying public. Well, large screen folks are definitely a very significant segment! As I said, wasn't hard to decide.