There are some compromises involved, but if you want a TV-like experience from a large-screen projector, the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 is the brightest laser TV that we’ve reviewed. It produces bright and vibrant images, although blacks could be better, and it is bright enough that it can be used during the day. Although cheaper than an actual 100-inch TV, this projector is expensive and you have to factor in the cost of a ALR screen to get the most out of it.
- Bright enough to watch during the day
- Loud speakers
- Feels like a TV
- Expensive and doesn’t include the screen
- Only three HDMI inputs
- Average black levels
- USARRP: $4947
- 100-inch 4K pictureUses DLP XPR to boost a 1080p image to 4K.
- Media streamingShips with an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which plugs into a compartment on the back of the projector.
- Built-in speakersDual 36W speakers support Dolby Vision and DTS-X.
Should I buy a large-screen TV or a projector? This is the age-old question facing those looking for a quality home cinema experience.
Now, we’re getting to the age with Ultra Short Throw projectors (or laser TVs as they like to be called) where the answer can reasonably be both. With a huge 3500-lumens brightness, and able to cast a 100-inch screen from just a few inches, the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 is one of the strongest contenders yet.
At its best, it delivers an awe-inspiring big-screen experience that’s hard to believe it’s coming from a projector. It is expensive, particularly as it doesn’t ship with a screen, and the limited number of HDMI ports may put some off.
- Sits close to the wall
- Best used with an ambient light-rejecting screen
- Speakers built in
As with all Ultra Short Throw projectors, the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 is a wide flat box, designed to sit just in front of the projection surface, beaming its picture upwards. It’s quite a large and chunky box (145 x 595 x 353mm) and at 12.4kg it’s a solid bit of kit.
It sat neatly enough on my standard TV cabinet, although I did have to slide this forward to give the projector the 9.8-inch gap to project a 100-inch image. A slightly deeper cabinet would make more sense with this model to give it a neater installation.
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Even so, having a projector so close to a wall means that it can be swapped like-for-like with a TV, without having to buy extra long HDMI cables to reach a projector mounted in the middle of a room.
I was loaned an AWOL Vision Daylight ALR (Ambient Light Rejecting) Screen for testing. This, effectively, only reflects light shone from below it, rejecting other light, making the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 suitable for use during the day. It’s a needed accessory, but it’s also an additional $1399 for the 100-inch model, with the larger 120-inch version costing $2299. You can buy alternative third-party ones.
The rival Hisense 100L9GTUK Laser TV ships with a 100-inch ALR screen, costing less overall. Plus, at the time of review, Hisense was offering to come around and fit the screen and set the projector up for free.
With the AWOL Vision LTV-3500, you have to set up the screen yourself, which involves screwing the frame together, and tensioning it to keep it all flat, so you can get a perfect image. There’s then the job of mounting the screen on the wall, which takes a little adjustment to get everything square and level.
It’s a job worth doing properly, as the finished result looks great – just like having a huge TV on the wall.
- 4K (XPR) image
- Tri-laser ultra short throw projector
- Three HDMI inputs, HDMI eARC output
Although I’ve seen laser TVs before, such as the more value-orientated XGIMI Aura, brightness has been the issue. The XGIMI Aura peaks at 2400 lumens, so needs a dimmed room to work in; here, the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 has a massive 3500-lumens brightness.
As the projector is so close to the screen, less light is lost in transmission than with a regular projector. Combined with the ALR screen, light that isn’t from the projector is rejected, cutting out reflections that will quickly spoil the party. I’ll dig deeper into image quality, but the brightness and screen combined mean that this system can be watched during the day, with curtains open, just like with a normal TV.
Technically, you can project onto a flat wall, but you’ll get worse contrast, a dimmer screen and, unless your walls are really flat, every imperfection highlighted.
Furthering the fact that this is a TV, not a projector, are 36W stereo speakers compatible with Dolby Atmos. Thanks to the size of the case, there’s more room for quality speakers than you’ll get on a regular TV. There’s no tuner on this model, so you’ll need some kind of set-top box if you want to watch broadcast TV.
That’ll eat up one of the HDMI 2.0b inputs. There’s a second port that provides HDMI eARC, so that could well be gone if you decide to hook up a soundbar, such as the Sonos Arc instead of relying on the onboard sound.
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There is a third HDMI 2.0b input, although this one is hidden underneath a panel and is taken up by the bundled Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. On one hand, this is a good shout. Rather than AWOL Vision managing apps and software updates, even though the projector runs Android 9.9, it’s passed this over to Amazon and the brilliantly supported Fire TV Stick.
However, it means that the HDMI inputs can go quickly, and I had no ports free to plug in my 4K Blu-ray player; it’s either a plug-and-unplug job or I’d need to invest in an HDMI switch. Just one more HDMI input would have made things perfect.
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None of the inputs supports 4K/120Hz or variable refresh rate gaming that high-end TVs have. Input lag comes in at around 30ms, so it’s not particularly one for dedicated first-person shooter players, although regular single-player gaming is fun.
Branded as a 4K model, the AWOL Vision LTV-3500, like all other DLP 4K models, uses a technology called XPR combined with a Full HD projector chip. It works by shifting the DLP chip slightly, four times per frame, to scale up the resolution to 4K.
You don’t get true one-to-one 4K pixel mapping, but the technology is advanced enough to fool you into thinking that there’s a 4K image on-screen (or near enough). Compared to a Full HD projector, XPR models, such as the AWOL Vision LTV-3500, look far more detailed.
HDR support is present with both HDR10+ and HLG are both supported, with the former quite rare to see on projectors. There’s no Dolby Vision support, which is rarer still on projectors.
Three lasers (red, green and blue) are used in succession to create a colour image on screen, forgoing the need for a colour wheel, and creating a brighter image with a wider colour gamut: AWOL Vision claims 107% of the HDR Rec 2020 (also known as BT.2020) standard. This is common for laser, DLP projectors and the same claim as made by the Hisense 100L9GTUK.
AWOL Vision says that the non-replaceable lasers will last for 25,000 hours. That’s more than ten years if you were to watch for eight hours a day, longer if you watch TV far less.
I measured power consumption at 200W, which is double that of my 55-inch LG OLED TV, although here I’ve got almost four times the screen size. It’s a fair trade-off if you want a big screen, and the AWOL Vision LTV-3500 isn’t excessively expensive to run.
As with most laser TVs, there are very few configuration options. Getting a square picture relies on aligning the projector properly with the screen, and adjusting its four feet to get it level. There’s basic six-point keystone correction if you can’