Last month, LG announced the launch of its Laser Display, a short throw DLP display that projects 100in of full HD video onto a specially designed screen. While it's very much a niche product given its $8999 price tag, we were still keen to see what all the fuss is about.
Thankfully, LG allowed us some hands-on time with the display this week. We had the opportunity to test the Laser Display in a large sized room, with the important ability to adjust the ambient lighting. Here's our first impressions.
Whisper quiet, quick start-up
The first thing you'll notice (or rather, not notice) is just how quiet the LG Laser Display is. When switched on and projecting an image, LG says the product produces just 22db of sound. We were sitting on a lounge situated around three metres away from the Laser Display's screen and even with the volume muted, the device was barely audible in general operation.
The Laser Display box itself is about the size of most ordinary home theatre projectors. Unlike a traditional projector, however, the Laser Display does not need to be mounted to a ceiling or wall. The DLP device will project a 100in image to the screen at just 56cm from the box, so it's ideally placed on a low-lying TV cabinet. This also eliminates the need to run wiring through a wall or cavity. Interestingly, the screen is black, not white like traditional projector screens.
The Laser Display has a typical layout of input connections. There's three HDMI ports, along with component, composite and VGA inputs. There's also an optical digital audio output, a LAN port and a side mounted USB port. In our testing, the Laser Display had no troubles playing back a variety of video formats from a USB stick. The omission of DisplayPort or DVI ports are forgivable given the device is primarily designed for home cinema use.
The LG Laser Display powers up and is ready to use in around six seconds, faster than most home theatre projectors. We aren't able to comment on how easy the device is to set up, as it was installed and ready to go prior to our test period. However, this isn't a concern as Australian-exclusive retailer Harvey Norman includes free installation and setup. It's a nice touch, but something we would certainly expect given the $8999 price tag.
Anti-glare screen but plenty of light glare
The LG Laser Display performed reasonably well in our test environment. We found it displayed a bright and vibrant image under both dark lighting conditions, and in a large room that was moderately well-lit. We were particularly impressed by the anti-glare screen, which isn't very reflective at all. You will notice some very slight reflection bouncing off the thin bezel surrounding the display, but it's not really an issue.
What you will notice, and what's more of an issue, is the ceiling and wall light glare that the LG Laser Display produces. The user manual makes reference to this issue saying that glare "depends on the light levels in a room and the distance between the product and the ceiling". In our experience, we found it pretty distracting with colours and light beaming off the walls, and the ceiling.
Another negative of the Laser Display is the tiny dots that continuously appear on the screen. While they're not a hugely distracting issue like the light glare, it's certainly noticeable. LG says the dots are a normal result of the Laser Display's manufacturing process and while this may be the case, the image isn't as crisp as a regular HD television.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to watch any sport on the Laser Display, but we did sample a range of content. We viewed Samsara, and Rango Blu-Ray titles, Avatar and Broken City 1080p video files, as well as regular definition television through the bundled twin-tuner recorder. The Laser Display does not have 3D capabilities.
The Laser Display has good contrast, displaying impressively bright white areas. It also displays deep blacks like shadows and darker screen areas. The blacks aren't as deep as a quality plasma TV, but they are particularly impressive given the environment doesn't need to be excessively dark. The fact the room doesn't need to be darkened like many dedicated home theatre projectors is one of the best features of the Laser Display.
The Laser Display has Vivid, Standard, Cinema and Game picture presets. We found Cinema the best setting for most content, as both the Vivid and Standard presets were a little bright and resulted in oversaturated colours.
Unlike a traditional home theatre projector, which uses mercury-based lamps, the LG Laser Display uses 36 laser diodes. The company says these diodes have a lifespan of 25,000 hours before needing to be replaced, which is equivalent to five hours a day of use for 13 years.
In Australia, the Laser Display comes bundled with LG's HR938T, a 1TB twin-tuner recorder and 3D Blu-ray player. It also comes with a regular remote control, LG's Magic Remote that functions as an on-screen pointer, the projection screen and a wall mounting bracket that will be installed by Harvey Norman.
The LG Laser Display will be available in Australia from mid-July for $8999.