Posted on March 14, 2008 By Art Feierman
A breath of fresh air. The LG CF181D was a true challenge to lay my hands on for review. It finally happened, which was great, as I was very curious to see what LG would come up with. The CF181D is technically the least expensive of the LCoS projectors on the market, yet, it’s also easily the brightest.
In many ways it is very different from the top award winning Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, and in a sense, that makes it a good fit for the Runner-Up award. It may work very well for the few people for whom the Epson isn’t a great choice.
What’s so good about the CF181D? There are a number of strengths, and a couple of weaknesses, but if I had to define, in one short phrase, “what makes the LG so good?”, the answer would have to be extremely bright, with excellent, natural color.
Let’s take a closer look at the LG’s brightness. It’s one of the two true “light canons” in this Mid-Priced class. The other, by the way, is the projector the LG is sharing the Runner-Up award with, the BenQ W6000.
In “best” mode, like most LCoS projectors, the LG is brighter than average. As it turns out a whole lot brighter than average. Calibrated, the LG puts out over 900 lumens in “best” mode, almost double the brightness of 500 lumens which we consider average (and which happens to be what the Epson 8500UB produces).
Switch to “brightest” mode, and we measured almost 1400 lumens, second best, only trailing the BenQ W6000, and quite honestly, the LG’s color doing those 1380 lumens is a lot better than the BenQ in it’s brightest mode. The BenQ can put out just over 1700 lumens but with way too much green. The BenQ’s next brightest mode, is pretty good, but dimmer than the LGs. See, nothing is truly simple!
So, we’ve got lumens, big screen lumens, ambient light lumens, “sports with some lights intentionally on” lumens.
It’s the color, though, in combination with all those lumens, that really makes the LG projector exceptional. That’s a great thing, because when it comes to our “holy grail” of great black levels, the LG isn’t quite as impresssive.
Like its partner in crime (that is, sharing the award), the W6000, the LG’s black level performance is borderline “ultra-high contrast”. It is not a match for the top award winning Epson 8500UB, but still pretty respectable. Like the W6000, I give the LG the benefit of the doubt, so we can call it an “ultra-high contrast” projector, still a step up from most projectors at its price or less.
That makes the LG a great projector for a wide variety of source material. The blacks are sufficiently good, that many will consider the truly excellent color a reasonable trade-off against a projector with slightly better blacks.
The LG is typical in sharpness for an LCD or LCoS projector (3 panels to converge), and that’s just fine. I do like the extra perceived sharpness of DLP projectors, but the LG’s sharpness is comparable to most 1080p projectors.
Bottom Line: Great color, lots of lumens, reasonable sharpness, and a competitive feature set. Add good placement flexibility, and a reasonable price. All considered, I’m pleased to say: LG, congrats on a strong projector, and, welcome to the party!
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