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Intended Use:
Home Theater
LG CF181D Projector LG CF181D
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Street Price: n/a
Weight: 21.6 lbs
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Lens:1.8x manual
Lens Shift:Vertical
Lamp Life:3,000 Hrs
3,500 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, Component, VGA In, HDMI (x2), USB
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 1080p/24, 1080p/50, 576i, 576p

LG Electronics CF181D
1080p SXRD Home Theater Projector

Evan Powell, December 4, 2009

Competition: CF181D vs. Epson 8500 UB

The CF181D and the 8500UB are priced very close to one another. A key advantage of the CF181D over the 8500UB is its brightness in Cinema mode. The CF181D is more than double the light output. So for very large screens, 200" diagonal and greater, the CF181D has a decided advantage, primarily with HD source material. It is true that the 8500UB has a Living Room and Dynamic mode that exceeds the brightness of the CF181D, but HD picture quality in most scenes is superior on the CF181D, so the trade off between incremental brightness and slightly less picture quality is a questionable one.

The 8500UB has a much deeper black level when the scene is black or very dark. On the other hand, in an HD scene with average light levels and good dynamic range, the CF181D can show deeper blacks and whiter whites. Typically in scenes like this, the CF181D has more picture depth. Overall, with an HD source, we prefer the image quality of the CF181D over the 8500UB for this type of scene, and we prefer the 8500UB when a lot of black is present in the image.

The Epson 8500UB has a clear advantage over the CF181D with standard definition. We fed both units a 480i signal from our Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player to see what they would do with a signal in native format. The opening scenes in Get Shorty were rendered with better contrast and black level on the 8500UB. Dark scenes that look somewhat muddy on the CF181D are better defined with more solid blacks and greater shadow detail. Beyond this, the 8500UB had a smoother, more filmlike essence to the image. The 8500 simply has a decided advantage across the board with standard DVD source material.

Both models have frame interpolation. Both of them work equally well with 60p video material. For 24p movies, the 8500UB works perfectly well, and the CF181D does not work well at all, at least on our pre-production sample. It is possible that LG may fix this prior to releasing the production units.

Both units have long range manual zoom/focus lenses, and both have manual vertical lens shift. The 8500UB has horizontal shift, while the CF181D does not. Neither model has an anamorphic stretch mode to accommodate and A-lens. Both projectors come with a standard two-year warranty. Click here for a spec comparison of the two models.


LG Electronics is coming to market with a formidable 1080p offering that we consider to be highly competitive. Its brightness in Cinema mode is unbeatable. In most average scenes with HD sources, its picture quality is as good as it gets in this price range, especially in terms of apparent sharpness and three-dimensionality. With HD material, its weakness in black level only shows up when the scene is black or very dark, but for many users this will be a limitation that is easy to overlook. With standard DVDs, the black level limitations are more apparent. So for those who plan to watch a lot of SD DVDs from their library, the CF181D might not be the best choice.

At the moment, based on the evaluation of a preproduction unit, we see problems with the frame interpolation on 24p material that we suspect LG may get squared away in production models, but at the moment it is an open question. Nevertheless, several competing 1080p projectors under $3,000 have no frame interpolation at all, so the fact that the CF181D has it working beautifully on 60p HD source material is a benefit.

When all is said and done, the LG CF181D is a pleasant surprise that we were not anticipating. For Blu-ray HD sources in particular, this projector is a genuine pleasure to watch. Its vibrant, natural and extremely clear image can often surpass that of the competition. If you intend to watch primarily HD/Blu-ray material, and you need a lot of light for a very large screen, we are confident that you will love the picture you get from the CF181D.

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Overview Continued
Review Contents: Overview Overview Continued Competition and Conclusion
Comments (9) Post a Comment
Joe Fox Posted Dec 5, 2009 1:10 PM PST
So how does this unit stack up against the PT- AE4000U? Are the additional 200 lumen's worth the contrast trade off?
mfrd Posted Dec 6, 2009 12:58 PM PST
How does it compare to the AE4000? That one was also said to slightly best the 8500UB in average-scene contrast but to not match the blacks in dark scenes.
Brian Posted Dec 8, 2009 11:38 PM PST
how about fan noise?
Roy Posted Dec 15, 2009 9:53 AM PST
You indicate this is an ".... a late edition pre-production unit." Have you gotten any feedback from LG on the FI issues in 24p and/or the image quality with SD source material?
Doniz Posted Dec 26, 2009 11:44 AM PST
Too many compromises with this LG unit. I'll stick with the Panny 4000, thank you very much.
sunny Posted Jan 13, 2010 11:07 AM PST
This proj is a very compelling buy based on the review..however will help making a decision... if we can find out if LG has fixed some issues in the actual units being shipped. Looking frward to a shoot out with p4000. Third point is about the Lcos technology..not sure about that as yet.
Sunny Posted Jan 16, 2010 8:36 AM PST
Does anyone have an idea when LG will start shipping this unit to dealers? I have been trying to get one..but nobody seems to know..
Ross McLaughlin Posted Mar 8, 2010 11:42 AM PST
For the BenQ the best mode was compared against the normal mode of the Panasonic PT-AE4000U to equal out the lumen difference. Would it be possible to hear how the LG in best compares against the Panasonic in Normal for colors & black levels?
HENRY PHILIPPEAUX Posted Jul 28, 2010 8:12 AM PST
I am on the market for a new projector. Reading your comments: I am torn between the brightness of the LG, the blackness of the Epson 8500 and the priceness of the Panny 4000. After a few years of bulbs replacing, I could have bought a SONY G90 for less the $5K. What's a man to do?

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