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.

UST Shootout ThreeUSTs 800
Judges looked at content ranging from bright-room cable fare to dark-room movie content. Left to right are images from the Hisense L9G, LG HU85LA, and Samsung LSP-9T. (Image by Mark Jessamy Photography)

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.

Hisense L9G frontangle 2
The Hisense L9G beat out competitors from LG and Samsung to take top honors at the 2021 Value Electronics UST Shootout.

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.

UST ballot SDR Day RefModes 800 UST ballot HDR 800

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.

UST Shootout Panel 2
A highlight of the event was a UST panel discussion during the lunch break. Left to right are Tom Samiljan, editor of trade journal Dealerscope (which helped sponsor the event), Value Electronics owner Robert Zohn, ProjectorCentral contributor Mark Henninger, and ProjectorCentral editor Rob Sabin. Other participants were Mark Major of Hisense, Stacey Spears of Spears & Munsil, and Jason Dustal of Murideo. (Image by Mark Jessamy Photography)

If you missed the live streams of either event, the TV Shootout can be found at The UST recording can be seen at 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)
Comments (9) Post a Comment
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 17, 2021 11:10 AM PST
Good questions, Robert...

- We'd have to take a look at these side by side, but I would guess the BenQ would compare favorably at least from a standpoint of color accuracy and even gamut -- it does full DCI-P3, and although at least two of the Shootout contestants were 100% BT.2020, there really is no content currently that goes beyond DCI. I don't know how the HDR and particularly dark-room HDR test would look on the BenQ next to these, but as you note and as I mention in the article, the Hisense didn't fare very well with that.

- Hisense had a rep there in part because they were a paid sponsor of the event, which isn't completely unusual in Shootout history. I think Robert keeps it all square, though. Although I personally wasn't privy to the ballot counting, I do know that there was a trustworthy outside representative (not a Value employee) present to assist one of his inside staff. And I think the ballot tallies as shown in the article more or less reflect what we saw, though short of the HDR dark content shadow detail test the projectors were fairly close on most other counts.

- It's actually interesting to note that the 0.47-inch DMD has the potential to look better than the 0.66 DMD. Although it's been suggested to me that you can see better color saturation with the larger chip, it is also true that there is no scaling involved with the 0.47 because it's a 1080p array that they just shift 4 times to make the full UHD resolution image. The 0.66 uses only a two-phase shift but each sub-frame requires if this processing isn't handled well, you an have image degradation.
Minarik Robert Posted Sep 17, 2021 11:05 PM PST
Hi Rob,

Well written and watched the session online, may i ask: considering all the praise Benq V7050i is getting with its single blue laser but latest .47dmd chip and its accurate out of box color reproduction for SDR/HDR whilst maintaining respective advertized brightness/contrast, how far is it off compared to these? to be fair, Hisense’s specular highlights in HDR looked super awful, hope the 1st place has nothing to do with having a Hisense representative on the shootout :)

Separately if I also may: - once you calibrate a UST correctly, how much of a difference does single vs trilaser source make? - is there much of difference in pixel shift to UHD using .47 vs .66 dmd chips or depends how companies use them? reason for asking is, Benq agan is praised for uniformity/focus although .47 so wondering if its to do with brands rather than chip size

Many thanks, Robert
Mike Posted Sep 18, 2021 6:17 AM PST
Loved watching this process on the stream. Based on the info above, it seems like every category was given equal weighting in the average, right? If you were to pick the top 3 most important aspects of a projector what would those be? To me it seems like contrast, color gamut and peak brightness performance would be the most important things.

How much do you think the throw ratio for the LSP9T and HU 85LA (0.19 for both of those) being under the specified minimum for the screens that you used effected their performance? I read that the material was Draper XH800X UST which the manufacturer says will suffer from brightness uniformity if you go under a throw ratio of 0.25. Was that the material used for the screens, or did the article that I read get it wrong?

Any thoughts on what you would change for the next evaluation? For instance, review the reference modes on lambertian screens…

Again, though nothing is ever perfect, I really enjoyed watching and chatting with others on the stream.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 18, 2021 6:28 AM PST
Hi Mike. Yes, equal weighting, which I don't think is ultimately ideal but that's how it's done. My own list of priorities would be:

1) General dynamic range/contrast -- how black is the black and how bright is the bright... and I would lump into this the handling of peak highlights with HDR. To me, it doesn't pay to have an HDR projector that can't make highlights pop off the screen in a way that SDR does not.

2) Color accuracy, particularly skin tones (most critical) and so-called "memory colors like foilage, grass, stop signs, school buses, etc...

3)Sharpness/detail, which adds to the dimensionality that good contrast provides and which is really distracting when it's poor...

Wide color gamut is a great feature to have and it's visible in more and more HDR content, but most of what we watch is inside Rec.709 and I wouldn't pay more for wide gamut in the absence of having numbers 1 to 3 above.

The screens used for the event were 100-inch Screen Innovations ST screens. Draper was a co-sponsor of the event but there were some issues with the screens they sent and the SI's were substituted from Value Electronics inventory.
Robert B McCloy Posted Sep 18, 2021 11:41 AM PST
Where does the Epson LS 500 UST projector stand up to the competition? The Epson is the Only LCD UST projector. Is the the Epson projector the best overall projector to replace the flat panel television in a well-lit environment what advantage does the Epson projectors Superior brightness have?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 19, 2021 9:38 AM PST
Robert, there was some discussion about whether the Epson LS500 should be included in this mix but it is really not in the same product class as these tri-laser models. It does bring the benefit of the highest brightness of any of the current living room USTs, and it does have the benefit of equal color and white brightness that comes with a 3-chip design, but the high brightness comes at the cost of contrast that would likely have been noticeable here.
Joel Posted Sep 20, 2021 8:34 PM PST
Hi Rob,

Out of the three, which had the quietest fan noise? I didn't see any specs on the Hisense regarding noise level. Also, how quickly does the Hisense turn on? Is it close to an instant on/off capability? Thanks!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Sep 21, 2021 6:41 AM PST
Sorry, Joel -- this room wasn't the place to make any determination on fan noise, and we weren't paying attention to the on-off timing for the units. We have a sample of the Hisense now and our review will be out soon.
Ken Reed Posted Sep 22, 2021 2:41 PM PST
It's very disappointing that the LS500 wasn't compared to the Hisense and the other two USTs. That's the match up most people in the market for a UST wanted to see.

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