LG AN110B £1900

1st Feb 2006 | 00:00

Don't know where to put a projector? Try going vertical

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A strong all-rounder that will make a good addition to your wall

Like:

<p>Cool, wall-mounted style</p>

Dislike:

<p>Disappointing black levels</p><p>Less than pin sharp detail</p>

Everybody knows that for the ultimate home cinema experience, you really need a projector. But most people also know that unless you're lucky enough to have a dedicated home cinema room, actually installing and using a projector tends to be far from convenient. Which makes me wonder why nobody has thought before of doing a projector like LG's AN110B...

What makes the AN110B so unusual is the fact that it's designed to be mounted vertically either on a desktop stand or wall. The lens thus sits on what would normally be the top of a standard projector, with all the inner electronics specially designed to fit into a vertical design that only protrudes around 3.5 inches from your wall.

LG has managed to turn this practical idea into a style icon too, thanks to a glossy, 'half mirror', ultra-minimalist black finish (white is also available).

The necessary wall-mounting kit is included in the packaging, and the connections are situated in a recess along the unit's bottom edge so that cabling can hang tidily straight down ready for tacking to a wall or even slipping into a wall conduit if you happen to be rebuilding your house.

The connections are a touch stingy, perhaps, in that a D-Sub PC jack has to double up as the component video input for analogue HD feeds. But at least the necessary adaptor cable is provided, and there's an HDMI interface for all-digital HD action.

Happily the AN110B's innovative design hasn't apparently been achieved at the expense of decent inner specifications. The unit has a native resolution of 1280 x 768, which shows that the Texas Instruments' DLP chipset used is at least reasonably modern. The resolution also combines with the connections to earn the projector the all-important HD Ready badge.

Other noteworthy claims are a claimed contrast ratio in excess of 2500:1, and impressive brightness of 1000 Lumens (though this drops to 700 ANSI Lumens if you use the projector's Silent running mode).

A potential flaw with the AN110B's concept crops up during setup, however. If you wall-mount it you immediately become quite restricted in terms of the image sizes you can achieve, potentially making it difficult to get a picture that fits accurately onto your screen. One solution would be to use a portable screen that's easily moved closer to or further from the projector.

Alternatively, you could forgo a screen altogether and project onto a white wall. The AN110's 1.42x motorised zoom is at least more flexible than some. But I nonetheless strongly suggest that you check out the throw distance data supplied in the Practical Tip box to see if the AN110 will work for your particular viewing room size.

When it comes to other features, the most significant is LG's XD Engine processing technology, which delivers a host of picture tweaks bettering image clarity; colour saturations/tone; contrast; brightness; colour gradation/greyscaling; and frame-rate handling when watching movies.

The onscreen menus, meanwhile, contain a few other bits and bobs of interest. There are three themed gamma presets, for instance; a white peaking option; adjustments for the offset/gain of the red, green and blue image components; separate saturation adjustments for the red, green, blue, yellow, cyan and magenta; and low and high lamp modes.

And so to the $64,000 question: have the demands of the vertical design forced too many compromises in the AN110's performance? And the answer is: not particularly...

Kicking off a reasonable run of good points is the image's video integrity. DLP projectors this side of £2k usually suffer with flickering stripes of pure colour in your peripheral vision (known as the rainbow effect) and/or fizzing noise over horizontal motion. But the rainbow effect here only appears so rarely that it's barely worth mentioning, while the motion fizzing only affects standard-definition material - and even then not badly.

It's also pleasing to report that XD Engine seems more at home here than on LG's LCD and plasma TVs, delivering noticeable improvements to standard definition without adding unwanted digital processing side effects.

Colours are the next thing to impress, as the AN110 serves up some exceptionally natural tones bolstered by subtle gradations that avoid all traces of solarisation. This is particularly evident during Tim Burton's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, as the projector does an unexpectedly fine job of bringing out the subtle skin tone differences Burton uses to distinguish Charlie's 'real', gritty life from the 'chocolate box' lives of many of the other golden ticket winners.

The inevitable negative points are these. First, the picture isn't especially vibrant; colours are natural and subtle, but not spectacularly rich or dynamic. Also, while I wouldn't go so far as to describe the SD picture as soft, its certainly not the sharpest or most detailed I've seen. Finally, while black levels contain plenty of shadow detail and subtle colouring, they're not especially deep. This in turn serves to exaggerate the lack of dynamism caused by the slightly muted colours.

Pump high-definition into the projector and there are immediate improvements. HDTV brings a snap to the image that is missing from DVD and DVB. There are also visible improvements to the colour range.

I expected the AN110B to be a case of style over substance. But to LG's credit it has clearly worked hard to combine its groundbreaking design with an enjoyable performance, particularly with HD sources. If the wall-mounting idea suits your needs and room, the AN110B really is worth considering . John Archer

LGProjectorHome cinemaHigh definitionHDTV
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