Projector Reviews

LG Minibeam PW800 Projector Review – Picture Quality

Out-of-the-Box Picture Quality

The PW800 offers 5 default picture modes – Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Sport and Game.   In addition, it has two user picture modes that LG calls Expert 1 and Expert 2.   The LG PW800, does have the necessary controls to do a more-or-less real picture calibration when one of the Expert modes is selected. This sequence of images shows the 5 pre-set picture modes plus the results with the factory settings for Expert 1 mode.

I did not attempt to do a calibration using the available adjustments for the Expert picture modes.

Generally, the brighter picture modes also had the least accurate picture.  The Vivid, Standard and Sports picture modes were the brightest and produced images that were overall very cool in their appearance (with a blue overall tint).  Vivid was the worst (or among the worst) with a very strong blue time to the image indicating a very high color temperature.  The Cinema mode produced fairly good colors, with just a slight too cool appearance.  While the colors appears a little over saturated with the default settings, they were certainly better than what I have seen on some other projectors of this class.    The default settings for the two Expert modes produced a good overall picture and I’m fairly certain that going into the expert settings menu and doing a formal calibration could have further improved to color accuracy to result in very good or perhaps even excellent color accuracy.  Overall in the best available out-of-the-box picture modes (i.e., Cinema and Expert), I would consider the PW800’s picture quality as good to very good, especially for this class of projector.

Overall the color accuracy was better when viewed in person that what appears in the above screen shots.

Text Readability

While this may not be directly of interest for a home entertainment application, text readability is a very important characteristic for a business or education projector.  Even if the PW800 were to only be used for home entertainment, this test provides a good indication of the image resolution provided by the projector.

Low cost Pico and Pocket projectors generally have a some limitations due to the truly tiny size of their DLP display chip and the challenge of producing a high quality lens at a low price point.  As seen in the three gallery photos above, the PW800 does a fairly good job producing legible 8 point text.  However, I have seen somewhat sharper images from full size projectors having the same 1280 x 800 native resolution.  To its credit the PW800 showed no obvious color fringing around the text, as I have seen on some other competing pocket projectors.  This indicates a low level of chromatic aberration for the lens that LG is using on this projector.

I had the LG PH300 in-house at the same time as the PW800 and of these two models from LG, I found that the PW800 performed a little better on the text readability test.

Video Quality

The first 7 photos in the gallery above are screen shots from the movie “The Fifth Element” and the final 4 gallery photos are from the movie “Casino Royale’.  The projector was operated in the Cinema picture mode with factory default settings.

I must note that the color accuracy looked better, especially for the Casio Royale screen shots, when viewed in person.

Overall skin tones were good and could probably be further improved by using the projector’s “Expert” adjustments.

While LG may rate the contrast ratio at 100,000:1 such ratings mean really little when it comes to real world black levels and image contrast.  This is because the dynamic contrast approach being used (dimming the LED light source), by this and most other LED picro and pocket projectors, is not really well suited to video (i.e., it’s much slower than the speed of a dynamic iris used in the better home theater class projectors). In this case the projector’s native contrast is more important and like most other low cost DLP projectors, the black levels are only fair.  While its black levels may be better than some low cost business or classroom 3LCD projectors, the PW800’s contrast and black level performance it only average for this class of projector.  It’s black levels and image contrast should prove perfectly acceptable for most business uses and most people using this projector as a highly portable home entertainment display would probably consider it more than adequate in these picture quality areas.   Just don’t expect a video picture quality to rival a good home theater class of projector.

Audio Quality

The PW800 has a pair of very small 1 watt speakers and let’s face it, you are not going to get high fidelity sound out of such small, low powered speakers.  Sure, it’s loud enough for you and perhaps a handful of friends to watch a video or play a game, but it certainly never going to be loud or dynamic.  If you want that then you can plug one, or a pair, of powered external speakers into the headphone jack on the rear panel of the PW800.