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Review: LG HU85LA Ultra HD projector

Review: LG HU85LA Ultra HD projector
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You place an ultra short throw projector close to the projection screen instead of far away. This makes it a good alternative to television if you want a very large image. This LG HU85LA Ultra HD projector is also equipped with laser light source, high brightness, support for HDR, and WebOS 4.5. A very attractive package.

LG HU85LA – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD DLP projector
  • Setup: 3,840 x 2,160 (2,716 x 1,528 with pixel shifting), light output 2,700 ANSI lumen, dynamic contrast 2,000,000: 1 , projection ratio 0.19 (100 inch diagonal to 0.1 m), sound level 30/26 dB (standard, eco-code)
  • Connections: 2x HDMI (2.0, ARC), 2x USB, 1x USB-C (media player, MS office player), 1x optical digital out, 1x ethernet
  • Lamp life: up to 20,000 hours
  • Extras: HDR10, 2x 5 Watt speakers, WiFi, WebOS 4.5, DLNA, media player, screen mirroring
  • Dimensions: 680 x 347 x 128 mm
  • Weight: 12.2 kg
  • Recommended retail price: 5,999 euros

LG HU85LA – design

Whoever sees this device for the first time may not think of a projector. The clean lines, the front speaker material … maybe a Bluetooth speaker? Only the aperture on top of the device, and the hidden connections at the back betray that it is a projector.

To say this, the LG stands out for its white color and yet hefty sizes, but its minimalist design and beautiful finish again make it relatively invisible place in your interior.

Connections

All connections, including the power cable, are at the rear, which means: the side that points to the wall. These can be difficult to reach if you want to go for the smallest possible screen.

The projector is equipped with two HDMI connections, both ready for Ultra HD HDR, and one is equipped with ARC. In addition, there are two USB ports and a USB-C port. The latter can be used to connect a laptop or smartphone if those devices support the “DisplayPort (DP) Alternative Mode”. Finally, there is an optical digital audio output and a network connection. The projector is also equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless headphones or to use the projector as a Bluetooth speaker.

LG HU85LA – Placement

This LG HU85LA is an Ultra Short Throw (UST) projector, and one that you can almost be placed against the wall. With a projection ratio of barely 0.19, you create a 100-inch image when the lens is 42 cm from the projection wall. This means that the rear of the projector is even 10 cm from the wall. The projection offset is 120%, so the bottom of the image appears 20% of the image height above the lens. In other words, the projector is actually where a television is normally located. That makes it a lot easier to install than a traditional projector.

That extremely short projection ratio has three important consequences. First, the smallest image that you can project has a 90-inch image diagonal (about two meters wide). So anyone who does not have a width of two meters must look for another model. A second consequence is that when you aim at a 90 inch image, the rear of the projector is barely five centimeters from the wall. The connections are very difficult to reach at that time, especially since it is best not to move the projector once installed. Plug in an extra HDMI cable and / or USB cable if you want to connect something else now and then.

The last consequence of the extreme projection ratio is that the projector has more demands on the projection surface. Every unevenness in your canvas or wall becomes clearly visible. You should therefore opt for a pre-stressed projection screen to prevent possible image distortion.

Also keep in mind that even a small movement of the projector can have major consequences for the image. When the projector is even slightly tilted, you get clear trapezoidal distortion. The first set-up therefore requires some extra patience. LG offers a very extensive keystone correction (based on 12 points that you can adjust individually, see photo above), but try to avoid that, because keystone correction always results in loss of detail. With the manual focus ring in the middle of the device you focus the image.

The projector is quite quiet, especially because it is further away from you than other projectors. Even with the lamp in the highest position we found the noise not disturbing.

LG HU85LA – Ease of use

The LG HU85LA projector uses WebOS 4.5, which means that you can count on all the ease of use that this smart TV system offers. Read our webOS 4.5 article for a comprehensive overview. You can quickly adjust the number of settings via the QuickMenu.

The image settings are very complete, just like on the LG TVs. There is a full color management system on board, and 2-point and 20-point gray scale adjustment. Starting up the menus takes a few seconds, but there are no further delays as soon as they appear on the screen.

Remote control

The remote control looks very familiar to those who own an LG television. Apart from a few minor changes, this is a standard Magic Remote. You can easily control the pointer on the screen by moving the remote. That principle is very useful within WebOS, but sometimes requires some getting used to. If you want, you can also operate the entire interface without using the pointer.

There are buttons that launch Netflix and Amazon Primevideo, and the remote is illuminated so that you can find everything easily even in the dark.

LG HU85LA – features

These Ultra HD DLP projectors use a 0.66 inch DLP chip from Texas Instruments. It offers two million pixels and uses pixel shift technology to display Ultra HD images. Anyone who wants to know how it works can look in our background article about projectors . Most cheaper Ultra HD DLP projectors use the smaller TI chip, but then have to shift the image four times. This larger version can achieve 4K by shifting only twice.

The built-in speakers (2x 5 Watt) deliver a considerable soundtrack with a lot of volume despite their modest capacity. We think they are optimized for performance in the voice range and midtones. That means that the treble is somewhat weak, and basses are rather modest. But even with the volume at maximum, there is little distortion. Given the premium price of the projector, we had hoped for more, but this can certainly count on sufficient.

You can connect the projector via Bluetooth, optical digital off, or HDMI-ARC to other audio installations, but keep it note that the projector is in the place where you normally place a center speaker. In the menu you can choose to use both the external output and the internal speaker at the same time.

Our version, the HU85LA, does not differ according to the specifications from the HU85LS sold in Belgium and the Netherlands. Still, when we selected Belgium as the country during the installation, Netflix was not available. Selecting UK as the country had solved that.

WebOS 4.5 offers a whole host of features for which you have to rely on an external solution for other projectors. For example, you have YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and all other smart TV apps that WebOS offers. You can also freeze the image from your smartphone and / or laptop. The built-in media player from WebOS supports all major audio and video formats, including support for 4K, HDR and subtitles.

LG HU85LA – Image quality

Excellent image processing on this HU85LA projector, and in this respect significantly better than many competitors. The deinterlacing and detection of film and video frame rates is fast and reliable. The noise reduction delivers good results. Color bands can be lightly concealed with the “Smooth gradations” setting.

Like all Ultra HD DLP projectors, you don't get a perfect Ultra HD detail with this pixel shifter, but you do get reasonably close. Thanks to the use of the larger DLP chip, the result is slightly better than the cheaper projectors and we could not catch the projector for other errors. As a final feature for image processing, the LG also has TruMotion (Motion interpolation), to make pan images nice and smooth if you wish.

The LG is equipped with a double laser: a red and a blue . The latter is split to create green via a phosphorus. This means that there is no color wheel in the projector, which in part explains why it is relatively quiet, but the projector does not suffer from a rainbow effect either.

The laser light source supplies 2,700 lumens on paper. But even in the clearest image mode we get no more than about 1710 lumens from the meter. The image is very cool and the colors are too intense. In the Cinema image mode the image quality is fine, but you only get 1,220 lumens, with the lamp in the brightest position. However, that is still enough for a 130-inch screen with darkening and approximately 95 inches with ambient light. The two eco-positions for the lamp reduce the light output to 74% or even 60%. In those positions, it is best to only look at darkening and you can still illuminate a 100 to 110 inch screen.

In addition to that considerable light output, you can also count on excellent contrast. In the Cinema image mode we reach 1,620: 1 and in the clearest image mode (Vivid) even 2,200: 1. With Dynamic Contrast you make darker shades a little darker and midtones a little brighter, which gives the image a bit more depth but does not inherently improve the contrast. There is a relatively thin, clear border around the image, but it did not interfere.

The Cinema image mode is properly calibrated. The color temperature is a bit too cool, but certainly not to the extent that we mind. The color reproduction is excellent and skin tones are very natural. The projector hides a minimum of black detail in some scenes.

LG HU85LA – HDR

The HDR support is limited to HDR10, no HLG, no Dolby Vision and no HDR10 +. The red laser delivers a very deep and intense red, but the blue and green color still fall short. The HU85LA lands at approximately 82% DCI-P3 (64% Rec2020), somewhat narrow for a good HDR display, but with a visible wider HDR color range.

The LG uses its own dynamic tonemapping and shows very narrowly all available white detail. Only in material that has to show brightness above 2,000 nits does some white detail disappear despite the tone mapping. This dynamic tonemapping also provides images with a nice impact, although you look for darkening for the best HDR effect.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements, we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. We use an HDFury Vertex to analyze possible HDR problems.

LG HU85LA – Conclusion

Yes, this LG HU85LA gives us hope that there is a future for laser projection. Although we must immediately say that the price tag is still quite hefty. Despite the laser light source, the color range (with the exception of red) is a bit too small for smashing HDR performance, but you can still enjoy it when it is darkened. Like all pixel shifters, it does not have a perfect Ultra HD detail. The audio performance is adequate, but given its price and spacious design, we also hoped for slightly better sound.

The Ultra Short Throw HU85LA almost perfectly takes the place of your television screen. The placement is relatively easy, but, as with all UST projectors, sensitive to minor deviations. Choose a pre-stressed screen for the best images. The laser light source not only guarantees a solid lifespan, but also a good deal of light. The projector manages to match that with a good contrast. This way you have a very nice image, both with darkening and with ambient light, which is also well calibrated. The fact that you also have WebOS 4.5, with all the advantages and streaming functions, is an asset that no other projector offers you. ] Sound performance should be improved

Advantages

  • WebOS functionality
  • Ultra Short Throw, easy to place
  • Excellent contrast
  • Good image quality
  • Laser light source with long life

Homecinema Magazine
Rating [19659070] 8.5
10 Eric Beeckmans product

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