This LG projector makes us think differently about projectors. For years we have been used to large, sometimes very heavy projectors that you want to hide as much as possible. Smaller projectors must always compromise on image quality. Is that also the case for the LG HF80JS, a projector in a modern and handy jacket?
LG HF80JS – specifications
What: Full HD LCD projector with laser lamp
Arrangement : 1,920 x 1,080, light output 2,000 ANSI lumens, dynamic contrast 150,000: 1, projection ratio 1.39 – 1.53 (100 inch diagonal between 3.1 and 3.4 m), noise level 30/28/26 dB
Connections: 2x HDMI (1x ARC), 2x USB (media and HID), 1x network, WiFi, 1x stereo minijack out, 1x optical digital off, Bluetooth (audio out)
Lamp life: up to 20,000 hours
Extras: WebOS Smart TV
Dimensions: 108 x 140 x 252 mm
Weight : 2.1 kg
Consumption: 140 watts
Recommended retail price: 1,799 euros
LG HF80JS – design
Done with those projectors that are bigger than a shoe box, the LG HF80JS throws it over a totally different bow. It is very compact and has a small, high beam with a particularly low weight. In the rounded front the lens is above the perforated air inlet. The lower part is made of dark silver colored ribbing. An absolute minimum of keys and controls: at the top you will find the prominent on-off key that doubles as joystick for the d-pad, and a slider for the zoom.
It is not a high flyer of design, but the surprising and original appearance alone is enough to attract our attention. Its compact shape and white / silver color scheme also make it easy to give it a place in the interior.
The connections are all at the back, so provide about fifteen centimeters extra between the back and a possible wall. In this area too, we see a rather unusual selection. The LG has two HDMI outputs, one with ARC. In addition, there are only two USB connections that, unlike most other projectors, do function for a built-in media player. You can also connect a keyboard, mouse or gamepad.
The projector is equipped with a wired and wireless network connection. An optical digital output and stereo minijack output are provided for audio. But you can also opt for bluetooth, the projector supports audio via bluetooth. In short, the LG has a lot of options (usb for media, wifi, bluetooth audio out) that are missing on many other projectors.
LG HF80JS – Location and ease of use
The projector is equipped with a lens with a fairly long projection ratio for home theater, and a fairly limited zoom. Specifically, you have to go to a little more than three meters distance for a 100 inch image, and from two meters you have about a 60-65 inch image. That is not uncommon in itself, but you might just expect a small projector to be placed on the coffee table. That is not possible if you really want a big picture. You control manual and focus manually.
The projector lens is flush with the bottom of the image, so the most appropriate arrangement seems to be hanging on the ceiling. Lensshift is not provided, so if you can not put it in the ideal place, you have to turn it. Keystone correction is present, and vertical correction can be carried out automatically if desired. Then you can adjust each corner separately for remaining trapezium distortion.
The projector is surprisingly quiet, mostly small models are much noisier. Especially if you set the energy saving setting to medium or maximum, the noise is absolutely not disturbing. If you set the light source to maximum (minimum energy saving), it is slightly louder, but still not overwhelming compared to a typical film soundtrack, even if you are not too far away from it.
The menu structure is taken straight from the LG televisions. It is very complete and contains the possibility to adjust gray scale and color range.
You can choose the picture modes directly from the remote. A small downside: LG opted for a slightly too weak hardware configuration. Opening the menus with settings or scrolling through the smart TV will in some cases really put your patience to the test.
Just like the LG TVs, this projector comes with a smart remote. You simply point to the screen, and you can easily control the cursor by moving the remote. That choice suits him because he is equipped with WebOS. The remote has to do without lighting, and without all the keys we expect remote on a projector, such as brightness, contrast or other fast adjustments of the image. You can only select the image preset via a button.
LG HF80JS – features
This LG is a Full HD DLP projector, and certainly not high-tech in that area. The surprise lies in two factors: the projector uses a laser light source and is equipped with WebOS.
Instead of a traditional UHP lamp, the LG is equipped with a laser light source that claims two thousand lumens of luminous intensity. That is quite something for such a compact model. The laser also lasts up to twenty thousand hours, which is easily five to six times more than a UHP lamp. It is also striking that he claims a maximum consumption of 150 watts, remarkably less than a normal projector (typically 300-400 watts). Lasers are not new in projection, but in this format and at this price.
The projector is equipped with 3W stereo speakers, but they are only really sufficient if you take the projector with you when traveling. Connect it to a good sound system, or use a Bluetooth speaker more easily to boost the sound.
And then there is WebOS. LG equipped the projector with its smart TV OS. Connect it to your home network and you do not only enjoy a very complete media player, but also a web browser, and the app offer. Netflix, Amazon Video, and a number of catch-up TV services (at least in the Netherlands) are the most notable names. YouTube is unfortunately missing, the projector did not succeed in the certification according to LG. The reason why is not known, though we suspect that the slightly too weak hardware configuration is possibly something in between.
LG HF80JS – Image quality
The image processing inherently inherits this projector from its television brothers, and that already gives him good points. Deinterlacing and detection of film and video framerates are good. This way the projector avoids serrated edges or moiré effects. The noise reduction provides good work with random noise and compression noise, so that even older or worse video sources still provide a good picture.
The pixel grid of the Full HD DLP chip remains invisible as long as you use a normal viewing distance. But the image here and there seems to flatten out the finest detail. We suspect that this is an effect of the lens. Yet the image is still sufficiently sharp. Be careful with the sharpness setting, which you quickly slide too high in an attempt to show some extra detail (choose somewhere between 10 and 20). Experiment with Superresolution, which gives slightly better results, we found the medium setting fine.
The projector does not have motion interpolation, so you lose a lot of detail in fast moving images. There is a clear double border when something moves through the image quickly and sometimes that edge is even colored.
We choose the Cinema image mode as the starting point for our tests. We immediately see that the LG shows a bit too much black detail, you can lower ‘brightness’ to 48 and put ‘contrast’ on 95 in one effort to give the image more punch.
The two thousand lumen that the LG promises on paper, however, we do not get it. In the three different eco-modes we get 810, 730 and 650 lumens. Even if we choose the ‘vivid’ mode, the meter does not exceed 990 lumens. Anyway, even with those lower values, the LG provides enough light for a screen between the 130 (blackout) and 90 inch (light ambient light) screen diagonal. Also the contrast is particularly poor: 550: 1 in cinemamode, mainly caused by a very moderate black value. He who completely obscures can not really expect a deep black. By activating dynamic contrast, you give the images more punch, but that costs you some black detail.
Another weakness: the projector is not perfectly calibrated. The range of colors and the gray scale clearly indicate that it falls short in red. The gray scale is too cool, but very uniform. This is with the color temperature on ‘medium’. If you choose ‘warm’, the screen gets too green, leaving it unchanged. The color range shows the weak red, and too intense blue. The secondary colors can also be much better. Yellow is a little too dark, and especially magenta leans too heavily towards blue. The gamma curve that determines the brightness curve is as good as perfect. Despite these poor results, the LG achieves a particularly well-balanced picture. He certainly does not provide reference images for film, but the result is still to be enjoyed. Even gamers can work with this projector, even though with a lag of 85ms (cinema) and 67.8ms (game) it does not deliver top results.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lagmeter.
For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator , an HDFury Integral for HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.
LG HF80JS – Conclusion
The HF80JS shows that there is a future in laser projection, even if you can not get started with the budget of a family car. The projector is compact, absolutely noisy, energy-efficient and delivers a decent image even though there is still a lot of room for improvement. The light source is too weak in red, and that is what you notice by the calibration. The contrast is somewhat disappointing, even for a DLP, and the light output is far below the specification, but is sufficient for a large image when darkening. And yet, turn off the light, and this little miracle box puts a very attractive picture on the wall. The addition of WebOS makes it a very nice multimedia machine, although LG has to provide something more powerful hardware. In relative terms you pay a high price for this compact laser projector. Competitors such as the Epson EH-TW6700 give a better picture for a lower price, but then you must of course settle for a classic lamp projector.