LG PF1500 Minibeam Pro Smart Video Projector - Review

LG PF1500 Minibeam Pro Smart Video Projector - Front View
Photo © Robert Silva

The PF1500 Minibean Pro is one of an increasingly popular class of extremely compact projectors that are designed to be used in a variety of settings.

At its core, the LG PF1500 incorporates lampless DLP Pico chip and LED light source technologies to produce an image that is bright enough to be projected on a large surface or screen, but is very compact, making it portable and easy to set up at home, or on the road.

However, what really makes this video projector unique, is that it includes Smart TV functions, including a built-in TV tuner.

To find out if the PF1500 is the right video projector solution for you, keep on reading this review.

Product Overview

The features and specifications of the LG PF1500 include the following:

1. DLP Video Projector (Pico Design) with 1400 lumens of white light output and 1080p display resolution.

2. Throw Ratio: 3.0 - 12.1 (Can project an 80-inch image from a distance of about 8 feet).

3. Image size range: 30 to 100-inches.

4. Manual Focus and Zoom (1.10:1).

6. Native 16x9 Screen Aspect Ratio. The LG PF1500 can accommodate 16:9, 4:3, or 2:35 aspect ratio sources.

7. Preset Picture Modes: Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Sport, Game, Expert 1 and 2.

9. DLP Lamp-Free Projection Display (LED Light Source with up to 30,000-hour life).

10. Fan Noise: Not Stated - Negligible unless using Vivid picture setting.

11. Video Inputs: Two HDMI (one MHL-enabled, and one Audio Return Channel-enabled), One Component, and One Composite Video. Also included, RF input for reception of Digital TV channels via the built-in tuner.

12. Two USB Ports for connection of USB flash drive or another compatible USB device for playback of compatible still image, video, audio, and document files.

13. Audio Inputs: 3.5mm analog stereo input.

14. Audio Outputs: 1 Digital Optical, 1 analog stereo audio output (3.5mm), as well as wireless Bluetooth output capability for compatible sound bars or Bluetooth-enabled speakers.

15. Compatible with input resolutions up to 1080p (including both 1080p/24 and 1080p/60).

16. Built-in Ethernet and WiFi connectivity.

17. DLNA Certified - Allows access to content stored on local network connected devices, such as PCs and media servers via wired (ethernet) or wireless (wi-fi) connection.

18. Access to a host of internet streaming content providers, including Netflix, VuDu, Hulu Plus, MLBTV.com, Youtube, Spotify, Vtuner, Facebook, Twitter, and Picasa - Full Built-in Web Browser also included.

19. Built-in two speaker stereo audio system (3 watts x 2).

20. Built-in DTV Tuner for reception of over-the-air and compatible cable SD and HD TV signals.

21. Miracast - which allows direct streaming or content sharing from compatible portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

22. WiDi - which allows direct streaming or content sharing from compatible laptop PCs.

23. LG Magic Remote included - Wireless remote with pointer function and voice-enabled search/channel changing through Wifi network.

24. Dimensions: 5.2 inches Wide x 3.3 inches H x 8.7 inches Deep - Weight: 3.3lbs - AC Power: 100-240V, 50/60Hz

25. Accessories included: Quick Start Guide and User Manual (Both Printed and CD-ROM versions), Digital Optical Cable, Component video adapter cable, analog AV adapter cable, Detachable Power Cord, Remote Control.

26. Suggested Price: $999.99

Setting Up The PF1500

To set up the LG PF1500, first determine the surface you will be projecting onto (either wall or screen), then position the projector on a table or rack, or mount on a large tripod capable of supporting a weight of 6 pounds or more.

Once you have determined where you want to place the projector, plug in your source (such as a DVD, Blu-ray Disc player, PC, etc...) to the designated input(s) provided on the side or rear panel of the projector.

Also, for connection to your home network, you have the option of connecting and Ethernet/LAN cable to the projector, or, if desired, you can forgo the Ethernet/LAN connection and use the projector's built-in Wifi connection option.

As an added connection bonus, you can also connect an RF cable to the PF1500 from an antenna or cable box to view TV programs via the projector's built-in TV tuner.

After your have your sources and antenna/cable connected plug in the power cord of the PF1500 and turn on the power using the button on the top of the projector or the remote. It only takes a few seconds to see the PF1500 logo projected on your screen, at which time you are set to go.

To adjust the image size and focus on your screen, turn on one of your sources.

With the image on the screen, raise or lower the front of the projector using the adjustable front foot (or, if on a tripod, raise and lower tripod next or adjust the tripod angle).

You can also adjust the image angle on the projection screen, or white wall, using the manual Keystone Correction feature.

However, be cautious when using Keystone correction, as it works by compensating the projector angle with the screen geometry and sometimes the edges of the image will not be straight, causing some image shape distortion. The LG PF1500 Keystone correction function works in both the horizontal and vertical planes.

Once the image frame is as close to an even rectangle as possible, zoom or move the projector to get the image to fill the screen properly, followed by using the manual focus control to sharpen your image. One thing I did notice with both the zoom and focus rings is that they are little loose compared to what you would find on a higher-end projector so you might find the need to periodically make a slight zoom or focus adjustment.

Two additional setup notes: The PF1500 will search for the input of the source that is active. You can also access the source inputs manually via the joystick control on the projector, or via the wireless remote control.

Video Performance

The LG PF1500 does a good job displaying hi-def images in a traditional darkened home theater room setup, providing consistent color and contrast, but I did find that the detail appeared a little soft for a 1080p projector (80 and 90-inch projected images).

Obviously, Blu-ray Disc sources looked best, and the upscaling capabilities of the PF1500 also did well with DVD and some streaming content (such as Netflix). Also, HD TV broadcast and cable programming looked good, but standard def or analog TV content sources suffered.

With its maximum 1,400 lumen light output (pretty bright for a pico projector), the PF1500 projects a viewable image in a room that may have some very low ambient light present. However, when using the projector in a room in such conditions, black level and contrast performance are sacrificed, and if there is too much light, the image will look washed out. For best results, view in a near dark, or completely dark, room.

The PF1500 provides several pre-set modes for various content sources, as well as two user modes that can also be added as personal presets, once adjusted. For Home Theater viewing (Blu-ray, DVD) the Standard or Cinema modes provide the best options. On the other hand, I found that for TV and streaming contents, the Standard or Game is preferable. The PF1500 also provides independently adjustable user modes, and you can also change color/contrast/brightness/sharpness settings on any of the Preset Modes (Expert 1 and Expert 2) more to you liking.

In addition to real-world content, I also conducted a series of tests that determine how the PF1500 processes and scales standard definition inputs signals based on a series of standardized tests. For more details, check out my LG PF1500 Video Performance Test Results.

Audio Performance

The LG PF1500 incorporates a 3-watt stereo amplifier and two built-in loudspeakers (one on each side). Due to the size of the speakers (obviously limited by the size of the projector), the sound quality is not that great (no real bass or highs) - but the midrange is both loud and intelligible enough for use in a small room. I definitely recommend that you send your audio sources to a home theater receiver or amplifier for that full surround sound listening experience, connect the audio output options on either the projector or your source devices to a stereo or home theater receiver.

However, one innovative audio output option offered by the PF1500 is the ability for the projector to send an audio signal to a Bluetooth-enabled speaker or headset, which provides additional sound listening flexibility. I was able to send audio from the projector to a Bluetooth speaker in another room (handy for internet radio listening). However, if you are using the Bluetooth function, the internal speakers, as well as the other audio output options of the projector are disabled.

Smart TV Features

In addition to traditional video projection capabilities, the PF1500 also incorporates Smart TV features that provide access to both local network and internet-based content.

First off, when the projector is connected to your internet/network router, it can access audio, video, and still image content from local connected DLNA compatible sources such as many PCs, laptops, and media servers.

Second, the PF1500 is also one of the few video projectors that can reach out to the internet and stream content from services such as Netflix without the need to connect an external media streamer or stick. Access is easy using the onscreen menus, and although the selection of apps is is not as extensive as you might find on some smart TVs or a Roku Box, there is access to abundant TV, movie, and even music choices.

In addition to streaming content, the projector also provides access to a complete web-browser experience. Web browsing via voice command is accessible via the provided remote control and actually works pretty well if you speak clearly. Network and Internet Streaming aren't the only Smart TV features that are included in the PF1500.

For more content access flexibility, the projector is also able to wirelessly access content from compatible smartphones and tablets via Miracast, as well as Laptops via WiDi. However, I did not have a Miracast or WiDi compatible source device to test these features for this review.

Antenna/Cable TV Viewing

In keeping with its theme of incorporating TV-like features into a video projector, LG has also incorporated a TV tuner right into the PF1500. This means you can receive and watch TV programs like you can on your TV, but on a much larger screen for a lot less money. The reason that incorporating a TV tuner into this projector is both possible and practical is that since the projector does not have a lamp that requires periodic replacement every few thousand use hours, you can watch TV programs all day or all evening every day without worrying about that lamp replacement expense.

I found viewing TV programs on using the PF1500 to be enjoyable - However, while HD programs looked good, as a result of the large projected image, standard definition or analog cable doesn't look that great.

What I Liked About The LG PF1500

1. Good color image quality.

2. 1080p display resolution in a compact lampless projector.

3. High lumen output for a Pico-class projector.

4. No visible rainbow effect.

5. Both Audio and Video connectivity provided.

6. Great Smart TV package - both Network and Streaming Access.

7. Built-in TV Tuner.

8. Very compact - easy to move around or travel with (however, you have to get your own carrying case).

9. Fast turn-on and cool-down time.

What I Didn't Like About the LG PF1500

1. Black level performance is just average.

2. Zoom/Focus controls not always precise.

3. Underpowered, limited frequency range, built-in speaker system.

5. Remote control not backlit - Pointer feature on remote difficult to use.

6. Fan noise may be audible when using the Vivid picture setting.

Final Take

Although not getting a lot of attention in the video projector category, I think LG definitely deserves a serious look with regards to their Minibeam product line, of which the PF1500 is the best example.

By combining a built-in TV tuner and Smart TV features inside a compact, good performing, video projector form factor, I feel that the PF1500 is a great home entertainment solution: It is portable, it projects large, bright-enough, images, it has built-in speakers, it provides the same features as most smart TVs, and it is priced around $1,000.

For those that are looking for a dedicated home theater projector, the PF1500 may not be the best match, as it does lack high-end optics, optical lens shift, heavy-duty construction, and, although I found its video processing to be very good - it isn't perfect. Also, the PF1500 is not 3D compatible.

However, if you desire a projector provides a satisfying general home entertainment experience (or even a second projector), with lots of content access options, is easy to move from room-to-room, or to take to family gatherings or on vacation, the LG PF1500 is definitely worth checking out.

Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Players: OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver (when not using projector's internal speakers): Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel mode)

Projection Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen and Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, John Wick, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.