Looking for a projector to replace your TV? This LG short distance projector might do the trick
The LG Minibeam Ultra Short Throw Projector (PF1000U) projects a very large screen at a short distance. (Twitter)
When I first moved into my current apartment the first thing I wanted to do was to ditch my 32” TV and buy a projector. It’s sort of the ultimate ‘man-cave’ setup – a nice comfy couch facing a fantastic projection screen hooked up to a killer sound system. But once I actually started moving in furniture I realized that my projector dream wasn’t the most feasible one, simply because there wasn’t any way to setup a projector without mounting it to the ceiling and running a stack of cables all over the place. But my dream of a home projector setup has been rekindled this week, thanks in part to the LG Minibeam Ultra Short Throw Projector (PF1000U). While most projectors on the market have to be set up at a great distance from a screen or wall in order to project an image, this projector works in the opposite way, by being able to project a very large screen from only a short distance from the projecting surface.
Build Quality & Design
The PF1000U I was sent was a review piece, so it lacked the usual charm of retail packaging, but still contained everything I needed. In the box you’ll find the projector, power cables, remote control, and a few A/V cables depending on what you’d like to connect the projector to.
The projector itself is remarkably small – it’s not palm-sized by any means, but is still quite a little piece of kit. On the side you’ve got ports for HDMI, USB, and VGA, along with ports for AV In and Optical Audio Out. At the back you’ve got another HDMI/MHL port, the power port, and oddly enough an antenna port which lets the projector automatically tune into non-digital channels. At the base are four little rubber feet that you can adjust to make sure the projector is completely level. Alternatively, you can also ceiling mount this like you would a traditional projector.
Along with your standard connectivity options the PF1000U also comes with Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to a compatible speaker system or soundbar, as well as wireless screen connectivity from your PC or compatible smartphone/tablet.
LG says that the PF1000U can project up to 100” with the unit just 15” away from the projection surface, with the smallest projection screen being about 60”. That’s plenty of scope to figure out just how big you want your screen to be, without having to worry about positioning or unsightly cables. Because this is an LED projector, startup and shutdown times are just a couple of seconds, which is great. It also means that you don’t have to worry about replacing the light source, which can last up to 10 years, depending on usage. The PF1000U is also really portable, so if it’s not ceiling mounted it can easily be carried to another location and setup within minutes.
Out of the box setting up the PF1000U took me about three minutes. I just unboxed it and set it on a small table a few inches from the wall, hooked up my laptop via HDMI, and turned the projector on. It’s really that simple. The only minor adjustments I made later on was manually adjusting the picture settings and brightness, just because I’m picky that way.
Without changing any of the settings, the projection quality on the PF1000U is really good. Overall picture quality is quite bright, and colors are certainly more vivid that other front-throw projectors I’ve tested out. However I have to point out that you will face a slight issue with focus – while majority of the picture will be crisp and sharp, you’ll notice some very slight blurring towards the edge of the screen. This won’t be evident when you’re watching a movie or playing a video game, but if you’ve got the PF1000U hooked up to a PC, then you’ll find that certain bits of text (such as menus or text on a web page) will be slightly out of focus towards the edges. Mind you, you’re not going to be using this projector to pull up an Excel sheet, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
One very important thing I have to point out is that this projector works best when projecting on a proper projection screen. If you’re projecting on a blank wall, you have to make sure that the wall is completely flawless – i.e. it doesn’t have any textured paint on it or is warped in any way. In the image below you can see the test pattern curving a bit at the top right – this is because the wall I was projecting on was ever so slightly warped, which is invisible to the naked eye but is easily highlighted by this projector.
The PF1000U is also more than capable of reading media off a USB drive, so you can browse connected devices just by plugging them in. There’s also screen sharing via WiFi, or you can plug in your smartphone or tablet into the HDMI/MHL port. Noise-wise the PF1000U makes a gentle humming noise during operation – if you crank up the brightness to maximum and adjust the power settings it can get a little bit noticeable, but once you’ve got the sound going anyway it will drown out any fan noise. There are two 3W speakers built in to the PF1000U, and they’re loud enough to fill a medium sized room, but honestly why bother when you can easily connect it to a proper speaker system for better sound.
While the PF1000U is a great solution for anyone who wants a projector setup without the hassle of running cables halfway around your room, there appears to be one fatal flaw with this model. The PF1000U is available in two models – a US and EU version, which is of course sold to the corresponding regions. The US version of the PF1000U actually comes with LG’s Smart TV software – what this means is that you can run apps such as Neftlix and Amazon on it, as well as surf the web with a basic web browser. The remote is also swapped out for a Smart Remote, which lets you use gestures and voice to navigate around. Not to mention it supports DLNA (forgoing the VGA port for a LAN port), so any media on your network devices can be easily streamed to the PF1000U. The EU version (which will be the version sold in the Middle East) strips away the Smart TV functionality as well as the smart remote, so you’re just left with a barebones projector. It’s still a great projector, but if the smart TV functions were included in the EU version as well, it would be even better. I’m not sure why LG had to do this, so I reached out to them and this is what they said: “LG believes in bringing products to the market based on consumer needs and our research showcased a preference for the European edition of the PF1000U. The research further highlighted that regional consumers are technology savvy and leverage existing technology whether it’s a laptop or set top box to access the internet and Smart TV applications.”
The LG Minibeam Ultra Short Throw Projector removes the need for complicated projector setups, and most importantly means that you won’t have to run mounds of cables around your living room in order to set it up. It delivers some great projection quality and is super simple to set up, no matter what space you have. The only downside is that the EU model strips away the Smart TV features, which would otherwise make this projector easy to recommend to anyone inspite of its high price tag of AED 5,499. Still, if you’re in the market for a decent home projector that can work without any hassles or complex setups, then this is the one for you.
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