Projector Nirvana for $399 (another LG PA70G review) - AVS Forum
Digital Projectors - Under $3,000 USD MSRP > Projector Nirvana for $399 (another LG PA70G review)
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 12:23 PM 12-27-2012
It's been awhile since I've had a projector setup. I started with the Sony HS10 maybe 8-10 years ago and moved up to a higher end Sharp DLP that I greatly enjoyed until moving to a house we didn't own I opted not to install cables and bought an LED 55" Samsung to hold us over.

But my wife wanted a bedroom TV for Christmas and I started reading up on cheap LED projectors and ended up taking advantage of the Fry's sale of the LG PA70G. It's off now, but it seems to be a recurring thing.

Warning! I've been out of the projector world and market for so long (probably 7 years) much of my amazement might be just due to catching up with the state of technology. Either way, this is a slammin projector for $399 so I'll post my thoughts.

Specs:

LED, WXGA Resolution DLP techology, 10K contrast ratio, HDMI, optical, component input, 20K hour bulb life, 700 lumens

It's been awhile, but holy moley, could these specs be for real on a $399 projector? I knew there had to be a "gotcha", but decided to take my chances since it was a bedroom projector anyway. If it outperformed itself, I could always promote it to the main system.

Right Off the Bat:

Before it was even opened, one big wow was that I wouldn't be paying $400 plus a year for bulbs anymore. How cool is that?
On power up several things struck me, ok four.

1) No 15 minute warm up - it fired right up to a bright sharp pretty picture in seconds. How cool is that #2.

2) No noise. Unlike the vacuum cleaner like noise from my Sony and Sharp projectors, nothing - no sound. And that was in default "medium" bulb mode. How cool is that #3.

3) I was worried about ambient light in the room and the projector being only 700 lumens. My other 1200 lumens were badly washed out with just about any a light in the room. In high lamp mode even with all the ambient light, the image was actually watchable. This tells me that the effective lumens of the LG is significantly greater than either of the 1200 lumen projectors I've owned before. (All together now) How cool is that? (#4)

4) Even in ambient light I could tell that this $399 projector had seriously good contrast. 10,000 /1? Very possible, seemed on par with the Sharp. HCIT? #5.

After dark testing:

I was using Apple TV and Netflix streaming as the source. So only hi def material was used. This is significant because I've heard lower resolution material doesn't fair as well on this projector. Of course I'd expect not much from a de-interlacer in a $400 projector.

Once the ambient light was gone things really got interesting. Figuring the quality would be so-so, I never even thought of anything but the bedroom wall to project onto. The image was probably around 130" (significantly larger than my 105" screen).

Focus: This scared me since I saw several reviews where people returned their unit because of lack of focus or focus uniformity. At first I was also disappointed once I dialed the focus bar as closely as I could. But after playing with the settings (quite flexible for a projector of this price), the sharpness and focus was actually phenomenal and better than the other projectors I've owned. Sharpness just was way dialed down by the default settings.

I used "Just" picture mode which I assume means 1-1 pixel mapping. And I'm pretty sure it does since focused seemed sharpest in this mode.

Calibration: As I mentioned the calibration settings were impressive for a unit of this size. There was even a calibration wizard that takes you through the process as simple as an eye exam. Gives you a series of pick the better image screens, and you're done. Plus there are some nice preset picture settings. I kept going between vivid, standard, and custom 1 depending on the material.

Color: Maybe it's the LED technology, but in terms of color pop, all you can is WOW! I didn't test for color accuracy, but with the excellent contrast the colors really popped. My kids who grew up with home theater projectors were amazed at the incredibly colorful, exciting image. One of their friends was along and just sat mesmerized saying "This is as good as a movie theater". All well and good, but the wife and I were laying in bed watching and really just wanted him to leave..lol

Black level: I thought the black level was decent though the blacks were crushed at first. Playing with the gamma settings fixed that to a large extent, and I think a more thorough calibration would also deepen the blacks. However quite good even if you don't consider the price.

Light output: I mentioned with ambient light I had it in max brightness mode where projector noise was clearly heard (though not at the level of my old projectors even in eco mode). When the ambient light went away, the brightness mode was way too bright and I dropped it down to medium where it still seemed on the bright side. But I like a bright image, there's no bulb dimming to worry about, etc so I left it on medium. After more calibration, I'll probably prefer it on the minimum bulb setting. But again, these 700 lumens were significantly brighter than the other 1200 lumen home theater projectors I've owned.

Contrast: As stated before, it seemed to more than live up to it's 10,000/1 spec.

Panning smoothness: I was also concerned about reports from other low priced LED projectors like this that pans tended to be jerky (which would be an annoying deal killer for me). Using high def streaming material from Netflix (via Apple TV) movement was as smooth as silk with no panning artifacts.

Other cool stuff:

Audio: There are actually very good internal 3 watt speakers in the unit. These went loud and were superior in quality to most TV speakers you'll hear. A huge plus for a bedroom system making an external sound system optional. I've never even heard of a projector with decent speakers before - though I've been out of this for awhile...

Media center: Another plus is a nice media center built in where you can add movies by USB to the internal hard drive - or attach a media server via USB. HCIT # lost count.

Did I say it cost $399? Ok I just checked the Fry's website and they're back to $750, but even at that price I'd consider it an amazing deal, and just wait - Fry's seems to run the $399 deal regularly.

Conclusions:

You guessed it - my expectations were greatly exceeded by the LG PA70G. My only negative observations about picture quality might be that it lacks the creamy cinematic look of my higher end Sharp DLP. But I don't miss it's costly annual bulb replacements and vacuum cleaner sounding fan. And the lack of smoothness and consistency will be greatly helped by projecting on to a screen. I kept saying over and over that I couldn't believe it looked this good projecting on a wall.

Is it the equal of a $4K projector? On a pure image quality basis no it's not - and I don't think it will approach it even with expert calibration. But it's close enough that I can't see myself ever putting out $4K again for a projector. It's that good. The only thing I really missed was the extra resolution going from 720p to 1080p. If they ever make this unit in a native 1080p I'll be first in line - even if it's over $2K. But I'll be promoting this one to the living room (my kids are bummed that it's in the bedroom) and enjoying all the ooh's and ah's until that time comes. YMMV.

rdb4133's Avatar rdb4133 02:23 PM 12-27-2012
I'd have to echo your sentiments as well. For $399 it's really a great projector! For me personally I found the "Cinema" preset the best personally. After going through the Picture Wizard (built in calibration tool) it came out looking pretty much just like "Cinema". I have the following hooked up to it:

- 360
- Samsung Blu-Ray (using Plex Client)
- Old School Xbox
- PS2
- Wii
- Dreamcast

I only tested the 360 and Samsung Blu-Ray player last night. I'll try out the other tonight. I left the setting on the default "medium" bulb mode as well. When set to high you could hear the fan kick in a bit.

Having the lightning quick power up and not having to worry about buying a new bulb are great! Or as you would say "how cool is that!" wink.gif
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 10:43 AM 12-28-2012
Are you using a screen or projecting onto the wall? I think I'll try to get my screen set up over the weekend - it will make a big difference. As I recall it was a Da-lite high power.

Have you done much to calibrate yet? I'll try the settings someone else posted in the big PA7OG thread - though I was surprised they used the "high" black level setting. You're right, the fast start, no bulb replacement, low fan noise, etc of the LED projectors make even the much higher end projectors feel like they're about to be dinosaurs. I hope a lot more mid-priced LED's hit the shelves soon with 1080P native, zoom and a few other standard features missing in this one. But for the price I'm ecstatic.
rdb4133's Avatar rdb4133 11:15 AM 12-28-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTCrazy View Post

Are you using a screen or projecting onto the wall? I think I'll try to get my screen set up over the weekend - it will make a big difference. As I recall it was a Da-lite high power.
Have you done much to calibrate yet? I'll try the settings someone else posted in the big PA7OG thread - though I was surprised they used the "high" black level setting. You're right, the fast start, no bulb replacement, low fan noise, etc of the LED projectors make even the much higher end projectors feel like they're about to be dinosaurs. I hope a lot more mid-priced LED's hit the shelves soon with 1080P native, zoom and a few other standard features missing in this one. But for the price I'm ecstatic.

I have a fairly basic/budget setup. I am projecting to a flat white wall and it's been great, I have thought about a screen but as of right now I'll just go with the wall.

The only calibration I did was using the Picture Wizard option but just ended up going back to the "Cinema" settings, I found those to look the most natural. What settings are you going to try to use from the big PA70G thread?
Bejita's Avatar Bejita 12:43 PM 12-28-2012
I'm crossing my fingers for another special.
colts19's Avatar colts19 01:04 PM 12-28-2012
There is a thread started by me where some people have posted their settings. Its not the big thread, its in a different thread than that. I used the settings posted there and really improved my picture. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1446790/lg-pa70g-settings-can-someone-post-there-custom-settings-for-best-picture
rdb4133's Avatar rdb4133 01:35 PM 12-28-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by colts19 View Post

There is a thread started by me where some people have posted their settings. Its not the big thread, its in a different thread than that. I used the settings posted there and really improved my picture. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1446790/lg-pa70g-settings-can-someone-post-there-custom-settings-for-best-picture

Thanks! I'll take a look at that thread smile.gif
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 12:38 PM 12-29-2012
Are any of these settings from calibration equipment, etc or just eyeball?
DLPProjectorfan's Avatar DLPProjectorfan 02:06 PM 12-29-2012
One $ 400 bulb paid for that LG PA70 G projector.

Enjoy
DLPProjectorfan's Avatar DLPProjectorfan 02:15 PM 12-29-2012
I think another reason why you don't hear the vacuum cleaner sound in this projector is that it does not have a color wheel.
I know when I run my Infocus X2 you can hear the color wheel spin up.
The beauty of these LED projectors is that you won't have to worry about buying a $ 400 bulb anymore, you don't have to worry about the color wheel noise or the color wheel shattering that is another added cost and LEDs brightness don't fade over time like the old bulbs in bulb based projectors.
DLPProjectorfan's Avatar DLPProjectorfan 02:19 PM 12-29-2012
I bought a budget screen for $ 65 at Micro Center last month.
It's a Inland 100 " 1.2 gain screen.
I got tired of the dull look with the blackout cloth I was using.
In amount of black out cloth I have used over time I could have bought this Inland screen and saved my self some money.
bony's Avatar bony 03:46 PM 12-29-2012
Just edit the post and not write three posts in a row .You pay for the number of posts ? biggrin.gif
Amber Ale's Avatar Amber Ale 12:23 AM 12-30-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdb4133 View Post

I'd have to echo your sentiments as well. For $399 it's really a great projector! For me personally I found the "Cinema" preset the best personally. After going through the Picture Wizard (built in calibration tool) it came out looking pretty much just like "Cinema". I have the following hooked up to it:
- 360
- Samsung Blu-Ray (using Plex Client)
- Old School Xbox
- PS2
- Wii
- Dreamcast
I only tested the 360 and Samsung Blu-Ray player last night. I'll try out the other tonight. I left the setting on the default "medium" bulb mode as well. When set to high you could hear the fan kick in a bit.
Having the lightning quick power up and not having to worry about buying a new bulb are great! Or as you would say "how cool is that!" wink.gif

I'm very interested to hear how the Wii is one this projector, do you notice any lag?
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 10:12 PM 12-30-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by DLPProjectorfan View Post

I think another reason why you don't hear the vacuum cleaner sound in this projector is that it does not have a color wheel.
I know when I run my Infocus X2 you can hear the color wheel spin up.
The beauty of these LED projectors is that you won't have to worry about buying a $ 400 bulb anymore, you don't have to worry about the color wheel noise or the color wheel shattering that is another added cost and LEDs brightness don't fade over time like the old bulbs in bulb based projectors.

HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 10:18 PM 12-30-2012
Exactly - and don't forget about recalibration as the bulbs dim. It looks like pj bulbs are on their way out - and I won't miss them for a second. Even 10 years ago they seemed archaic to me.
rdb4133's Avatar rdb4133 09:47 AM 12-31-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber Ale View Post

I'm very interested to hear how the Wii is one this projector, do you notice any lag?

I actually haven't gotten a chance to try the Wii yet. I'll try it out soon and let you know how it works! smile.gif
Verge2's Avatar Verge2 06:46 PM 12-31-2012
There aren't smooth pans for film on an appletv. Get a blu ray player ASAP.
Robert Clark's Avatar Robert Clark 12:05 AM 01-01-2013
I also picked one up at Fry's for $399 last month as a bedroom projector. Apart from my main home theater I've also owned four other led projectors and this one is the cream of the crop. Terrific brightness, fairly accurate colors and pretty quiet. A winner!
RankAmateur's Avatar RankAmateur 09:36 AM 01-06-2013
Any clue as to whether Frys will have that deal again?
Bejita's Avatar Bejita 10:44 AM 01-06-2013
We'll all chip-in for a fortune-teller, but there is none in stock yet.
RankAmateur's Avatar RankAmateur 10:54 AM 01-06-2013
A fortune teller would be nice, indeed; however, I was posting in hopes that someone might have inside information they wouldn't mind sharing. For instance, I was told that Frys is scheduled to get more of these units on the 8th (online).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bejita View Post

We'll all chip-in for a fortune-teller, but there is none in stock yet.

wyen78's Avatar wyen78 11:11 AM 01-06-2013
I would love to see some screen shots and calibration data comparing this and a 2-4K dollar projector since the OP says

"Is it the equal of a $4K projector? On a pure image quality basis no it's not - and I don't think it will approach it even with expert calibration. But it's close enough that I can't see myself ever putting out $4K again for a projector. It's that good."

I have a hard time believing that a 400 dollar projector would really have those kind of chops, but if it truly does that'd be pretty awesome. I'm looking at a panasonic 7000 or sony hw50 and both are between 2-4K I'm wondering how they stack up to this even though the comparison probably isn't all that valid since both the panny and sony are 1080p with 3D and lens shift (all 3 are very desirable to me).
Bejita's Avatar Bejita 01:14 PM 01-06-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by RankAmateur View Post

A fortune teller would be nice, indeed; however, I was posting in hopes that someone might have inside information they wouldn't mind sharing. For instance, I was told that Frys is scheduled to get more of these units on the 8th (online).

Hopefully the next batch has a more recent manufacturing date that ironed-out the you know what.
RankAmateur's Avatar RankAmateur 01:20 PM 01-06-2013
Due to the back order status it could be assumed that the next shipment is the newest manufacture. Whether that's a safe assumption is another story.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bejita View Post

Hopefully the next batch has a more recent manufacturing date that ironed-out the you know what.

HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 01:59 PM 01-06-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by wyen78 View Post

I'm looking at a panasonic 7000 or sony hw50 and both are between 2-4K I'm wondering how they stack up to this even though the comparison probably isn't all that valid since both the panny and sony are 1080p with 3D and lens shift (all 3 are very desirable to me).

No it won't compare to a 1080p projector (or shouldn't). But for a 720p projector it's quite good - especially for the price. Tho these days I wouldn't want to spend much more on a 780p pl anyway.

I have my old Sharp 12000 MKii in the basement for the kids (at one time a $5000 720p projector). The kids prefer the picture on the LG.
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 05:43 AM 01-20-2013
The longer I use and tweak this baby the better I like it. I still can't believe the 150" picture quality I'm getting on a bare wall. For the $399 deal this is the ultimate bedroom projector. The internal speakers lack of bulb noise and even less light spill not to mention lack of loud fan noise from bulb cooling make it just about perfect. For main PJ yes I'd want 1080P but I will definitely be going bulb less from now on. This is the $hit - hope it goes back on sale.
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 05:50 AM 01-20-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by Verge2 View Post

There aren't smooth pans for film on an appletv. Get a blu ray player ASAP.

I get smooth pans when using AppleTV's internal services like Netflix and Vimeo. Not so much when going from my IPad though ATV.
DaGamePimp's Avatar DaGamePimp 06:05 AM 01-20-2013
1080p/24 panning is very smooth with Real Cinema enabled, it appears to be true 5:5 pulldown (120Hz).

Too bad the image scaling is not as good since it usually looks better when sent 720p versus 1080p.

Jason
HTCrazy's Avatar HTCrazy 02:52 PM 01-20-2013
I wasn't expecting much of a scaler for the price which is why I stick with HD for the most part. Wonder if you can get Apple TV to output at 720p.
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