LG PF85U Review
LED DLP Home Video Projector
April 10, 2014
The LG PF85U is a brand new, highly anticipated, LED-based home entertainment projector from LG Electronics. It includes a huge variety of home video features that make it a viable TV replacement, including Smart TV capabilities, onboard sound, frame interpolation, both wired and wireless networking, and a built-in HD tuner. And since it is LED-based, it has instant startup and no lamp to replace.
The LF85U is due out in the United States later this month, with a preliminary price of $1299. This makes it only a little more expensive than other 1080p home video projectors and strongly price-competitive in its niche. If you're looking for a TV replacement that doesn't sacrifice the convenience of Smart TV and network connectivity, the LG PF85U is a great option.
The Viewing Experience
Starting up the PF85U for the first time, the image springs to life like it's always been there, just waiting for you -- one of the perks of LED-based projectors is near-instant startup. The projector begins by displaying its source list and, when available, it shows you a thumbnail of whatever content is available for each source you have connected. So our test pattern generator menu screen was visible, as was the home screen of our Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player, right there on the projector's source selector screen.
The PF85U is smart, a word that takes on several meanings depending on context. It is smart in that it saves calibration information and user preferences for each input. It is smart in that it remembers which audio output option you have paired with each input, as well. And it is smart in that it contains LG's Smart TV technology, allowing you to watch Netflix, Amazon Instant, Vudu, and other streaming services directly from the projector. The PF85U can also play media stored on your home network using DLNA. And the projector has both wired and wireless networking built in, so you're ready to go straight out of the box.
The projector's image is high in contrast, richly saturated, and easy to watch. While brightness tops out around 700 lumens, the projector looks great on a 60" to 80" diagonal screen even with some ambient light present. If you can afford to pair the projector with an ambient light rejection screen such as the Screen Innovations Black Diamond II or Draper XS850E, all the better. But these contrast-boosting screens are optional and are mostly handy if you want to drive the image to larger sizes.
The PF85U makes use of a lot of bells and whistles to make the picture look more TV-like. Dynamic Contrast adjusts gamma on the fly in an attempt to provide a compelling, contrasty image without reducing deep shadow detail. Dynamic Color increases saturation when required while attempting to prevent that ugly over-driven, over-saturated effect that can come from saturation being set too high. These features can all be disabled for serious cinema use when the sun goes down, but they do have a positive effect on the image during the day.