LG Electronics CF181D
1080p SXRD Home Theater Projector
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.
|Review Contents:||Overview||Overview Continued||Competition and Conclusion|