The Value Electronics UST Projector Shootout ended this week with the new Hisense L9G being named the "2021 King of UST Projectors."
Value Electronics is the suburban New York independent retailer responsible for the annual "King of TV" shoot-outs that have faced-off each year's most premium televisions. Top-tier calibrators are brought in to tune the sets and all efforts are made to present them on an even playing field to a panel of expert judges drawn from the professional video and movie post-production communities. Value Electronics is a 27 year-old operation in Scarsdale, NY founded and run by Robert Zohn. He organized the first shoot-out in 2004 and only missed one year in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This year's Shootout, featuring both 4K and 8K panel televisions, was followed by the first-ever competition for 4K UST living room projectors. As the editor-in-chief of ProjectorCentral, I was honored to function as the master-of-ceremonies and join in an industry panel discussion about the UST projector market.
As reported earlier, the three USTs participating in the Shootout were the Hisense L9G, the LG Electronics HU85LA, and the Samsung Premiere LSP-9T. These models were selected as the category's most premium products available today; all three feature a triple-laser design, and two of the three—the Hisense and Samsung—boast the ability to achieve greater than 100% BT.2020 color gamut. Of the three, the Hisense is the most current, having just been released for sale. The LG came out in 2019, and the Samsung was introduced late last year.
Each projector was mated with and tuned for the same 100-inch, 0.6 gain lenticular ALR UST screen that rejects 90% of overhead light. Tyler Pruitt of Portrait Display, maker of the popular Calman calibration software, and Jason Dustal of Murideo and the Imaging Science Foundation adjusted the projectors prior to the evaluations and perceptually matched them to the best of their ability to a calibrated Sony professional post-production monitor also used to match the TVs the day before.
Although the final results tallied up with the Hisense on top, a close look at the ballot results (see below) tells the picture of how widely the contestants varied in their performance across the different attributes that were judged. Still, the Hisense managed to capture the high score in most of the judging criteria in each of the three main categories of SDR Day Mode, SDR Reference Mode (for dark-room home theater), and HDR Reference Mode (for dark-room home theater with 4K HDR content).
Notably, the Hisense drew the top score in key areas such as Day Mode Peak Brightness (which was tested with the full complement of overhead and sconce lighting turned up in the large meeting room); Day Mode Black Level/Contrast, and Color Accuracy/Skin Tone in both the SDR Reference and HDR Reference Modes. Its primary weakness was in the handling of dark, low average-picture-level content, particularly in HDR, where the LG seemed to have a clear advantage over the other contestants.
The TV results mostly mimicked recent years with the LG and Sony OLEDs battling it out for top honors, leaving the LCD panels in the dust. The Sony XR65A90J was named the 2021 King of 4K TV, while the LG OLED77ZXPUA is the 2021 King of 8K TV. The 8K sets were evaluated with stunning native 8K content shot and graded by one of the judges, director and cinematographer Phil Holland.
If you missed the live streams of either event, the TV Shootout can be found at https://youtu.be/3CfuPR1F4BQ. The UST recording can be seen at https://youtu.be/vAHaSuTVxaQ. Note that the UST Shootout formally begins at 1 hour 59 minutes duration and is preceded on the video by the setup and calibration. The UST panel discussion begins at 2:57:00. You can visit the Value Electronics website here.(Header photo by Mark Jessamy Photography)