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Review Contents
Ease of Use
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

Frame Interpolation. The CF181D has a frame interpolation system which is quite useful for 60p material, and not so much for 24p. Like the JVC RS25, if your source material is HD video at 60 fps, the CF181D's frame interpolation system will produce a clearer and more stable image. It is excellent for music concerts, live performances, sports, and so forth. On the other hand, our test unit does not perform well with 24p movie material. It seems to jump in and out of frame interpolation, creating a jerkiness in camera panning shots that is quite distracting. We hasten to remind readers that we have a pre-production sample, and LG may fix this prior to the release of production units.

Calibration. Our preproduction sample was not properly calibrated. We have no idea whether final factory calibrations will be different than they are on our sample. So the following data may be irrelevant. But we used the CalMan Pro calibration system to bring Cinema mode into a reasonably flat 6500K gray scale. Starting with the Medium color temp, the adjustments were these:

Red Contrast 9
Green Contrast -11
Blue Contrast 0
Red Brightness -3
Green Brightness 0
Blue Brightness -6

There is an auto-iris with four options, Off, 1, 2, and 3. Auto Iris 3 yielded the least deep blacks, but a nicely balanced picture. We set contrast to 48, brightness at 50, sharpness at 5, color at 48, tint 0, and black level was set to low.

LG CF181D Rear Connection Panel

Zoom and lens shift. The CF181D has a 1.8x manual zoom lens, and vertical lens shift that travels a range of 2.6 picture heights. Throw distance for a 120" diagonal screen is 12 to 21.5 feet, which is typical. A shelf mount behind the seats is the ideal installation scenario, but the lens shift allows for ceiling mounting as well. If mounted on a shelf against a rear wall, keep in mind that the projector is 18" deep, and the connection panel is on the rear. We would allow six inches clearance between the rear of the unit and the wall for cables and heat dissipation, so the lens will extend out two feet from the wall.

Air filter: The air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced periodically. Access is from under the front of the unit. If ceiling mounted with the underside of the projector having at least four inches clearance from the ceiling, it is possible to dislodge the air filter housing and reinsert it without dismounting the projector. If the projector is on a shelf, the easiest way to access the filter is to lift the front of the unit, or invert it.

Remote and menu With the screen at a distance of twelve feet from the seats, and the projector directly behind the seats at 14 feet, the projector would not respond to the remote signal being bounced from the screen. Moving two feet closer to the screen solved the problem. If your seats and projector throw distance are going to be at least 12 and 14 feet respectively, installation planning should anticipate the need for the person controlling the projector to be seated in line of sight, so the remote can be pointed directly at the projector.

The remote itself has great backlighting, with buttons well spaced and easy to read in the dark. Several buttons give direct access to controls, enabling you to bypass the menu. These include mode, aspect ratio, input source, color temp, gamma, and others.

The menu layout begins with a display of six options: Picture, Adv. Picture, Screen, Option, Information, Input. Selecting any of these takes you to a secondary menu where all six are accessible again, but only by icons that one needs to learn to recognize. Once you become familiar with them, the opening menu screen becomes redundant and adds an extra unnecessary click to get you into the menu. Like most menus, this one takes some time to learn. It is not obvious, for example, which image controls are in Picture and which are in Advanced Picture until you explore it and get familiar with the layout. Want to switch the lamp from low to high? That's in Menu/Advanced Picture/Expert Control/Lamp, which is not as intuitively obvious as other menu systems.

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Competition and Conclusion
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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