Editor's Choice Award
Our Editor's Choice award goes to products that dramatically exceed expectations for performance, value, or cutting-edge design.
- Long-life laser light source
- Accurate out-of-box color
- Effective dynamic HDR
- Sophisticated webOS smart platform
- HDMI 2.1 eARC port
- No 3D playback
- Netflix and some other key services not supported
- Middling input lag for gaming
- Limited low-level contrast
With their attractive pricing and overall excellent performance, LG's HU810PW and sister AU810PB could usher in the laser revolution for a legion of videophiles hungering to leave aging lamps behind.
Editor's Note: This review was originally published January 15, 2021 and updated with additional details March 30, 2021.
The dropping cost of laser technology among commercial projectors in the last two years has relegated conventional lamp-based models to only the most cost-sensitive installations. Nonetheless, laser has seen a much slower uptake in the performance-sensitive home theater segment. While laser projectors have been an option among Sony's top-of-the-line models for several years now (at prices starting well over $10,000), it wasn't until the latest crop of UST living room projectors that we began to see laser applied in a meaningful way to consumer projectors at lower price points. LG was one of the first on that front with its $5,999 HU85LA that we reviewed favorably in 2019.
Now comes LG's CineBeam AU810PB with an $3,999 list price, and its sister CineBeam HU810PW at an eyebrow-raising $2,999—LG's first attempt at a serious, laser-driven, long-throw theater projector. At this writing, these are being promoted on the LG website at $3,599 and $2,699 respectively. The models should be identical in performance, but vary based on cosmetics, distribution channel, and inclusion of a few features.
The AU810PB, which was actually provided for this review, is designated for the custom installation and professional integrator channel and comes in black, while the HU810PW, targeted for direct-to-consumer sales, comes in white. Of the two, only the AU810PB comes WiSA ready; as with compatible LG TVs, plugging in a third-party WiSA transmitter to one of the projector's USB ports allows it to throw up to 5.1-channel audio wirelessly via the high-resolution WiSA standard to compatible powered speakers. It also adds an auto-calibration function compatible with some versions of the popular Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays, similar to what's offered on LG's better panel televisions.
Beyond this, the AU810PB comes with some extra control options: an RS-232C port, a 12V trigger jack, and IP control via its wired RJ45 network connection. It also boasts a two-year parts/labor warranty vs. the one-year warranty offered on the HU810PW. We've tagged our review under the HU810PW banner on the thinking that most readers are interested in this lower-priced model, but you can assume my comments apply to both models except where noted.
The HU810 is rated for 2,700 ANSI lumens and offers full 3840x2160 UHD resolution via TI's popular 0.47-inch DLP XPR chip, which takes a native 1920x1080-pixel digital micromirror device and applies super-fast, four-phase pixel-shifting to render all 8 million pixels of a UHD signal in the time period of a single frame of video. Unlike LG's HU85LA UST projector, which uses a red laser and two blue lasers (one with a filter on it) to deliver the red, green, and blue primary colors, the HU810 has a dual-laser configuration with red and blue lasers plus a phosphor wheel. Gamut is rated at 97% DCI-P3; I measured three dimensional color volume as 143% Rec. 709, 96% DCI-P3, and 65% Rec.2020. Contrast is rated at 2,000,000:1 dynamic with the projector's Adaptive Contrast feature active. The projector also has a mechanical iris that is pre-tuned for each of the various picture modes but can be adjusted for taste or to best accommodate dark or bright viewing environments. It does not react automatically to content in the manner of a true dynamic iris. The laser is rated for 20,000 hours of life, and the light engine started up very quickly, going from full off to a live source appearing on screen in just 12 or 13 seconds. It powers down and goes dark instantly; I never even heard the fan running more than a second or two after hitting the Off button.
The LG handles high dynamic range content in HDR10 and HLG, plus the HGiG gaming format with compatible consoles and games. As with the HU85LA UST projector, it applies frame-by-frame dynamic tone-mapping, which assuming it works well—as it does here—is a desirable feature that eliminates the need to tune the image separately for different HDR titles mastered at different brightness levels. It's a strictly on or off affair that lacks any dedicated control to hone the HDR image to accommodate taste or extremely bright or dark outlier titles. But it is a highly effective execution I'll say more about later. Furthermore, the projector supports Filmmaker Mode, which means it'll recognize the flag in compatible content that tells the projector to turn off frame interpolation and other default processing that messes with the picture and causes movie directors to lose sleep.
Along with supporting HGiG HDR, the AU810 and HU810 have a Game picture mode that performs some optimization to reduce input lag compared with the other modes. An "Instant Game Response" menu setting allows the projector to automatically detect when you've selected your game console for viewing and switch to Game mode. With Game mode active, I measured a low of 47.9 milliseconds lag time with 2160p/60 Hz signals, and 52.8 ms with 1080p/60. This mediocre lag time may be sufficient for casual gaming or games that don't require fast response time, but will be insufficient for serious gaming where lag times under 20 ms are a requirement.
The appearance on the HU810/AU810 of a modern HDMI 2.1 port would normally also be cause for celebration among gamers awaiting a projector that can support 4K/120 Hz games from the new Sony and Xbox consoles. Unfortunately, that requires a port with minimum 32 Gbps bandwidth and the LG's is limited to 24 Gbps. However, it should support uncompressed 4K/60 up to 12-bit color depth.
Furthermore, the HDMI 2.1 port is equipped with an up-to-date-eARC connection—perhaps the first we've seen on a projector—so you should be able to extract Atmos soundtracks from the projector's internal webOS 5.0 streaming platform for an external sound system or pass through Atmos from another connected source.
And speaking of webOS: borrowed from LG's panel TVs, this is by far the most polished and sophisticated on-board streaming platform we've seen in any projector to date except for LG's own models. As seen in LG's TVs, and even its high-end HU85LA UST projector, webOS provides a well built-out app store that supports most of the major streaming services and a nice library of other engaging content. However, at the time of the projector's release the webOS execution in this projector came without apps for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and others; only Amazon Prime was supported among the majors. Disney+ has since been added, and LG reports that Netflix may be added this summer. A built-in web browser is part of the platform, and although I was able to use it to sign into my Netflix account, it did not support Netflix's requirements for browser streaming. Voice searches are supported by Google Assistant, Alexa, and LG's ThinQ technology with the projector's microphone-equipped remote. You can connect the projector to your network via WiFi or a wired link to its RJ45 jack. A WiFi connection supports sharing from a DLNA supported device, screen mirroring via Miracast, and Apple AirPlay.
This is a friendly projector when it comes to setup, though with a couple of minor caveats I'll mention. Both versions accommodate front or rear projection from a flat surface or inverted ceiling mount. The chassis is relatively compact, especially compared with some of the behemoths from Epson, JVC, and Sony, though it still weighs in around 24 pounds. At 13.3 x 5.7 x 16.1 inches (WHD), it is slightly less deep and tall and considerably less wide than, say, an Epson 5050UB. The trade-off: it doesn't have a particularly large lens that would have required that bigger chassis, though I found its UHD images at least comparable in sharpness to a 5050UB (a native 1080p pixel-shifter) that I directly A/B'd it with. Nor does the LG have any motorization for zoom, shift, or focus, which eliminates its use for a constant image height (CIH) installation on a 2.35:1 wide screen.
The 1.6x optical zoom (1.3-2.08 throw ratio) throws a 100-inch, 16:9 image in a range from 9 feet- 5 inches to 15 feet- 1 inch from lens to screen. You can see the throw distance for your particular screen size with the ProjectorCentral LG HU810PW throw calculator. The zoom is accompanied by a fairly generous ±60% vertical and ±24% horizontal lens shift, but therein lies one of the issues. Despite the wide range the specs suggest, a number of users have reported on the hobbyist forums that, with an inverted ceiling mount at some unspecified throw distances, the vertical shift fails to bring the image low enough to align with a previously mounted screen. Regretfully, with my studio's tall shelf mount (for which the vertical shift seems better suited), I failed to notice any limitation and report it in my initial review. Be advised that depending on your situation you may require a pole extension to drop the projector a little off the ceiling.
Another thing I initially missed on my first go-around, again due to my use of a shelf mount, was a noticeable degree of light spill off the lens that becomes visible on the ceiling when the projector is situated in an inverted mount. You can see what this looks like in our video review of the LG HU810PW/AU810PB. If it's bothersome due to the projector living between the seating and the screen, the problem is easily solved without affecting the onscreen image by taping a piece of cardboard in front of part of the recessed lens to act as a light barrier. This functions much like the barriers we see across the lenses of projectors from other manufacturers. But there's no doubt that in an otherwise excellent projector like this it should have been anticipated and resolved in the design.
The zoom and focus are accomplished with a pair of fairly firm and sure-feeling levers below the lens, while the shift is adjusted with a knob-and-ring arrangement on the right side panel (as you're facing the front). These had a bit of loose play in them and consequently required a couple of tries to zero in, but once they were set they stayed put. Should you need it, there's electronic vertical keystone and some sophisticated multi-point geometric correction, but as always we recommend you avoid these to retain full image quality.
Connections for both projectors include the three HDMI (one version 2.1 with HDCP 2.2/2.3, two version 2.0b with HDCP 2.2, one with eARC); a pair of USB 2.0 inputs (Type A) that can play media from a flash drive via the integrated player or accept connection of a keyboard, mouse, or gamepad; a Toslink optical audio out; and an RJ45 port. Both versions also have Bluetooth output to a speaker or headphones, supported by an AV Sync adjustment to hopefully resolve any latency issues. As noted earlier, the AU810PB adds RS-232C and a 3.5 mm 12V screen trigger output, plus the ability to add the WiSA speaker transmitter.
There are a pair of small utility speakers built into the two side panels of the projector, driven by 5 watts each. They might come in handy for dialogue-heavy content in a business setting, but as with most home theater projectors you should plan on an outboard audio system.
LG supplies the backlit Magic Remote shipped with its better TVs, which functions via both keypad and air mouse. It takes some getting used to, and offers some direct button access to select picture adjustments (picture mode and aspect ratio, and via a small Quick Access menu you can easily reach the settings for the mechanical Iris Mode and Adaptive Contrast mode). You can also press and hold the Settings button to directly access the All-Settings menu, which puts you right at the Picture settings. There's a direct access button on the remote for Amazon Prime, and a Home button brings up the webOS interface, which allows horizontal scrolling to your preferred apps or active HDMI sources.
Unfortunately, there's no support for 3D in either the AU810PB or HU810PW, which is a disappointment considering this projector's considerable brightness and how well-equipped it is otherwise. LG dropped 3D from its flatpanels years ago along with the rest of the TV industry, but I guess they didn't get the memo that it's still alive and well in the projection world.
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Color Modes. The AU810 and HU810 have a total of 10 picture modes for SDR: Bright, Vivid, Standard (the default out of box mode), Expert (Bright Room), Expert (Dark Room), Filmmaker, Cinema, Game, Sports, and HDR Effect. Bright mode has the expected heavy green bias that allows the projector to make its ANSI spec.
The rest of the modes are also mostly garish-looking throwaways that are excessively bright or oversaturated at the expense of contrast and color accuracy. But the Expert (Dark Room) and Expert (Bright Room) modes, though not perfectly accurate out of the box, were both subjectively very good and measured as such. These were the modes I ultimately used for dark-room and bright room SDR viewing. For these modes in SDR, LG provides a full set of multipoint grayscale adjustments for white balance (with options for 2-, 10-, or 22-point calibration) and a full color management system for adjusting hue, gain, and brightness for the six color points. Several selections for gamma are also provided.
For HDR signals, there are seven modes including Standard, Cinema Home, Cinema, Filmmaker, Game, Brightest, and Vivid. Of these, Cinema Home looked best to my eye in its out-of-box settings but too dark for punchy HDR even in a dark room on my 1.3 gain screen. Boosting its Iris Mode from Medium to Bright Room brought it up to the more-satisfying subjective brightness of the default Standard mode with a color temperature for white that looked just a touch warm in its default Warm setting. With further experimentation, the Standard mode, with its Color Temp shifted from Medium to Warm, provided a more neutral white than I got with the Warm setting in Cinema Home, without it leaning too far toward red. I ended up doing most of my HDR viewing in Cinema Home, but Standard with that Warm color temp selected is a good choice as well.
The Cinema Home mode does not provide the advanced White Balance and CMS controls for tuning grayscale and color points described above, which are restricted among the HDR modes to the Cinema, Game, and Filmmaker modes, though following the subjective adjustments described above the white balance and colors looked good enough that I'd have probably have skipped a full HDR calibration anyway. As noted, LG provides nothing more than an On/Off switch for its Dynamic Tone-Mapping feature—there is no "HDR Brightness" control to make modest tweaks to the tone-map (i.e., the gamma curve) to account for different content or personal taste. Most projectors have such an adjustment—even JVC's NX series projectors that currently offer the most advanced dynamic tone-mapping scheme we've seen. This allows the viewer to, for example, raise up the HDR control to boost peak highlights and gain a little more visceral impact at the expense of blowing out a bit more detail in the bright areas. Or, to turn the control the other way in order to darken the highlights slightly to prevent any modest washing out of the image.
LG's lack of any tone-map trim adjustment here means you're ultimately stuck with whatever their algorithm delivers. Fortunately, as described below, it mostly works very well, and there were only rare moments where I yearned for a slider that would allow some modest tweaks. The only alternative was to attempt adjustments with the Contrast and Brightness controls, which had either too little or too much effect. The regular Gamma setting is also fixed by the mode and cannot be adjusted with HDR signals.
SDR Dark-Room Viewing. After a few hours of casual viewing, I set up the Epson HC5050UB on my projector rack right above the LG to provide a point of reference and do some rapid A/B comparisons during evaluation. The Epson, priced at $2,999, is a highly regarded lamp-based competitor that we've reviewed quite favorably. It comes out of the box with accurate color and an overall great-looking picture, particularly in its default Natural mode intended for Rec. 709 SDR high definition content.
Pre-calibration, the LG's Expert (Dark Room) mode also comes out of the box looking very good indeed. It proved a little too dark for my taste and was much less bright than the Epson. I boosted the Iris mode from its default Medium position (which equates with 5 on the customizable 0-10 slider that's provided) to a setting of 7. This has the effect of boosting the peak whites while also raising up the black level, but that wasn't detrimental on most content of average brightness or even noticeable except occasionally in black letterbox bars.
With that adjustment, I was impressed with how similar the projectors looked on most of my go-to test clips from a variety of 1080p Blu-rays. The LG's images were sharp and bright, and showed excellent contrast that revealed subtle depth around bright highlights that most projectors miss. Consequently, the picture had excellent dimensionality that even the Epson didn't always exhibit on the same shots. Colors were virtually the same on both projectors, including skin tones, which were natural and well-delineated from one another. An early shot in Oblivion of Jack Harper, played by Tom Cruise, shows a tight close-up of his face bathed in morning sunlight. The actor has a mild application of rouge on his cheeks, and the light coming in from the window adds a touch of extra warmth, but when properly displayed his skin has a natural look that's not overtly red or rosy. Many displays show some oversaturation on this shot or otherwise make him look too ruddy, but the LG nailed it. The follow-up shot of his fair-skinned partner Vika as she lay in bed was also beautifully rendered.
A short while later, there's an overhead aerial shot of Jack walking on the connecting catwalk to his Bubble Ship's heliport. The flat roof of his floating Sky Tower residence is a darkish gray, the trim around it a lighter gray, the walkway an off-white, and the hovercraft shell a pure white. An inaccurate grayscale will almost always be revealed with obvious tinting in one of these shades. The LG showed an exceptionally neutral white that was cooler and less warm (pink) than the Epson's out of box color temp, but they were hair-splitting close. Measurements using Calman color calibration software from Portrait Displays, an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectrophotometer, and a Murideo Six-G signal generator showed the HU810 was up around 7,800K, which is slightly bluer than the the 6,500K target to which most content is mastered. But it didn't look noticeably blue and I could have easily lived with it. In fact, I'm starting to prefer the greater neutrality and crispness of a very slightly cool white, which I think often mimic's real life better than a perfectly calibrated D65 white point.
Still, the grayscale readings for the out-of-box Expert (Dark Room) setting showed the RGB balance to have an excess of blue and an equal deficiency in red as the image got brighter. This was easily tamed with the HU810's very extensive White Balance controls. I started with 2-point calibration but ultimately turned to the projector's 10-point controls, which allows fine-tuning of both the color balance and the overall luminance at 10% steps from 10 to 100 percent brightness. These tools allowed for a near-perfect result well below the 3 DeltaE error level that's considered undetectable. Post calibration, peak white brightness off the 1.3 gain screen measured a very punchy 47.7 foot-Lamberts, equivalent to about 33 ft-L on a 1.0 gain screen. It sounds like it should be too bright for dark-room viewing, though I never experienced any viewing fatigue that this number might imply.
The color points for the red, green, and blue primaries and cyan, magenta, and yellow secondaries were almost all essentially accurate in the default settings except for blue and cyan. The blue point was above 3 DeltaE but below 5, which is still very good. The cyan point was the worst offender at DeltaE 9.3. The red, green, and blue color points all sat beyond the Rec. 709 gamut limits—that is, at wider-than-specified gamut—but pulling them in to the 100% saturation points that define the boundaries of the Rec. 709 space resulted in poor accuracy at less saturated shades of each color. So I ultimately used the color management system (CMS) adjustments to target the 80% points just to insure better accuracy where most of the content lies. As I've seen on other laser projectors I've calibrated recently, the blue point ended up being the worst of the primary colors and the least responsive to the controls. My calibration resulted in a good measurement but an obviously poor onscreen result that exaggerated video noise in some scenes, so I reverted to the default CMS settings for blue and satisfied myself with tidying up the other colors a bit. Here again, I could have gone without the color point calibration and been very happy with the picture. Except for my calibration obviously altering the white balance to make it a bit warmer, all the adjustments had relatively small overall effect.
Even with the calibration, the LG and Epson tracked very closely on most content, including the extremely colorful wardrobe and set design in La La Land. Aspiring actress Mia's outfits in a montage of audition snippets showed beautifully saturated and natural looking red, blue, yellow, and green, and perhaps thanks in part to the slightly extended red color point, the red velvet pillow she lays upon in another scene looked a touch more accurate and less orange than on the Epson (which also delivers full DCI-P3 gamut, but not in the Natural mode). The water in a swimming pool on a sunny day had the appropriate greenish blue tone. Going back to Oblivion, the foliage surrounding Jack's mountain hideaway, which appears in a variety of green shades, was convincingly natural and closely matched on both projectors, as were the granite rock walls surrounding the meadow and the sand-colored linen curtains that marked the entryway to his cabin.
Meanwhile, the stubble on Jack's face in the opening shot of the movie had all the engaging detail I expected to see. On this and many scenes, including close-ups in Apollo 13 of the capsule controls and space suit details, the HU810's UHD resolution and lens provided excellent sharpness—not quite as tack sharp as I've seen on some native 4K projectors with big lenses like the JVCs and better Sonys, but as good or better than other projectors in this price class and with good uniformity across the screen.
About the only place I could complain about the HU810's picture was in its contrast, which was very good on bright and mixed brightness scenes but ultimately limited on darker content. To be clear, it rarely became a distraction, but on the most challenging dark scenes my trained eye found me yearning for deeper blacks and better shadow details out of the clips I knew well. While I could adjust the LG's Iris Mode to make the overall black level very deep, that understandably always came at the expense of losing punch on the highlights, and ultimately only shifted the projector's dynamic range without improving it. The HU810 has a couple of other settings to improve apparent contrast (besides its Gamma and Brightness controls), including the Adaptive Contrast control associated with the Iris Mode in the "Brightness Optimizer" submenu, and a traditional Dynamic Contrast control that brightens up highlights without deepening the blacks. Adaptive Contrast was on its default High setting for all of my viewing, and it was helpful to engage Dynamic Contrast on some scenes. But on very dark content, such as the opening of Chapter 12 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 where the Death Eaters assemble atop a moonlit rock before attacking Hogwarts, a projector like the Epson 5050UB—with its Ultra Black "UB" technology and better native contrast—could ultimately deliver much better dimensionality thanks to a deeper black, better rendering of near-black details, and less visible haze that made the moonlit faces stand out more.
On a more positive note, I saw virtually no rainbows in live content over many hours of watching the HU810, even on some black and white material I use to help reveal these. The only time I did see them was occasionally at the edges of white credits on a black background. I feel pretty good saying this projector is among the better single-chip DLP models I've seen in this regard, but I should qualify that I'm not particularly sensitive to rainbow artifacts. If you are or don't know if you are, our usual caveat applies: buy from a retailer who will accept a return or exchange as needed.
On the other hand, I should point out that I did observe some laser speckle. Speckle is a well known and common phenomenon with laser projectors that's caused by laser light being scattered randomly by the textured screen surface. It manifests as a kind of subtle, stationary haze that almost seems to sit in its own layer on the surface of bright objects of certain colors. In this case, it was visible in pure red and magenta objects and test patterns. It was subtle enough that I didn't even notice it at all during my initial evaluation, even in direct comparisons with the Epson 5050UB lamp projector. But after seeing complaints from some LG810 users on the forums I went back and looked again, and sure enough, I could see a degree of speckle that just wasn't there with my lamp projectors. Just like with rainbows, speckle is more bothersome to some people, and it'll be more detectable with certain projectors on certain screens and potentially at different viewing distances. Content also has an effect; besides speckle often being most noticeable on a specific bright color, it's harder to spot it on moving objects. You should just be aware that it exists, and that your choice of screen can have an effect. I wasn't bothered by the speckle I saw on my matte-white 92-inch Stewart Studiotek 130 1.3 gain screen or the 110-inch Elite Cinewhite UHD-B or Cinegrey 3D screens we have at our test studio (with an approximately 14 foot throw and 10 foot viewing distance in each case). But that's just my personal experience. In any event, I wouldn't let the potential of observing some speckle deter you from the LG810.
Finally, as mentioned in the Measurements appendix at the end of the review, the HU810PW/AU810PB is specified as having very low noise (under 28 dBA in lab conditions with the High Altitude mode inactive) and only about a 1 dBA difference between its three Energy Saver modes. This was borne out in my own casual measurements with an SPL meter, suggesting you're free to use the full available brightness of the projector as needed without penalty, and most of the picture modes do use the Minimum Energy Saving mode to optimize brightness. But the projector does emit a level of what seems like electronics-related noise that seems independent of any fan noise caused by rushing air. It's noticeable in a quiet room particularly if you're right next to the projector, but of a pitch that faded into the background in my space with any soundtrack playing, even something as barren as a news broadcast, and it became less detectable from just a few feet in front of the projector.
SDR Bright-Room Viewing. The Expert (Bright Room) mode, with minor subjective adjustments as needed to its Iris Mode, Brightness, Contrast, and Color saturation controls, looked essentially accurate out of the box and provided more than enough brightness to stand up well to my overhead can lights during news and sports viewing. Whites leaned more toward blue but served well in the ambient light, and this mode suffered from a touch of oversaturation on newscasts that was easily tamed by backing down on the Color control, resulting in nice delineation of skin tones and no egregious exaggeration of any colors. A full set of calibration adjustments are available for this mode, though I saw little point in spending time on it, both because the image was more than acceptable for casual viewing and because the combination of varying intensities and color temperatures of the different lighting conditions in my space would have undermined any fine differences. Contrast was somewhat washed out with the overhead lights beaming down on the matte white screen, but more moderate lighting from the sides made for a much better image. Have no doubt that mating the HU810PW with a decent ALR screen would allow its function for a dual dark-room/bright room set-up. You can see the results with a modestly priced Elite Cinegrey 3D in our video review.
HDR Dark-Room Viewing. As good as the HU810 was for SDR, it was even better on HDR and on most scenes was equal to and often superior to the Epson 5050UB—and that's saying a lot since the Epson, in its preferred wide-gamut Digital Cinema mode, does better with HDR than most projectors I've seen and has a 16-step HDR brightness control that accommodates a wide range of content. Typically, the LG's Dynamic Tone-Mapping feature managed to extract wider dynamic range overall, pushing the highlights to what I felt was the perfect amount of peak brightness to extract a visceral response but with minimal or no obvious blowing out of detail, while also maintaining good contrast throughout the rest of the image.
For example, there's a scene in Aquaman that shows the redhead Princess Mera—okay, she's really orange-haired—talking with Aquaman outside a bar on a pier at night. The lighted clock behind her glows with satisfying punch on the LG and while the Epson does render an impactful HDR image, the clock doesn't get quite as bright. Cranking up the Epson's HDR control bumps up the highlight, but at the expense of brightening up the overall image. As another example, a shot earlier in the movie when the pregnant Queen Atlanna is lying in bed with her husband Tom, the highlights where the sunlight is streaming in from the window and hitting the bedsheets had more pop and the darker pattern in the fabric areas around those highlights were better revealed—there was just more contrast in the areas immediately surrounding the highlights, which resulted in a more realistic and dimensional image.
The HU810's Dynamic Tone Mapping also showed an exceptionally wide range of flexibility, even handling The Meg, a 4,000-nit HDR torture test, with aplomb. Bright scenes of the research vessel Charlotte on the open seas that normally wash out on most HDR projectors looked sensational, with great punch on the sunny highlights and solid, dimensional contrast in the darker areas. One particular scene that features a side view of the full boat has a patch of extremely bright reflection of sun on water behind the ship while the side of the boat is cast in the sun's shadow; I was pleased to see that the the LG retained the detail of rippled water in the reflection without excessively brightening the hull.
On the other hand, the LG's algorithm does have its limits. I ran the montage in the Spears & Musil HDR Benchmark test disc, which allows the content to be set at varying levels of peak brightness. The most challenging shot—of horses standing in a snow-covered meadow during a snow storm—was too much for the HU810 at any brightness level at 1,000 nits or above, where all texture in the snow on the ground was blown out and the hills in the background behind the meadow were lost in the storm. The Epson, by comparison was easily adjusted with its HDR control to deliver the perfect balance of brightness and contrast. But this is a really extreme scene and the LG did much better with more mixed content.
Furthermore, the same lack of native contrast with dark material seen in SDR movies was evident with HDR as well. The opening scene of Darkest Hour, for instance, begins with a rousing debate in the British House of Commons in which members are bringing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to task for his weak response the Nazi's invasion of Europe. With the LG's Dynamic Contrast set to High, the beam of sunlight firing through the skylight on the speaker at the lectern leaps off the screen, as do the highlights on his face and the white pocket square emerging from his dark suit. But the other members in the shadowed gallery opposite him are blurry figures with little or no detail. By comparison, the Epson's deeper black and better low-level contrast brings out their faces and some details in their clothing. A moment later, a shot of one of Chamberlain's associates peering over the rail from the dark second-floor gallery makes the rail and wood fencing appear as almost solid black, while the Epson reveals all manner of decorative scrollwork in the dark stained wood.
All of that said, there's no denying that despite its limitations, the HU810 provided one of the most consistently pleasing HDR viewing experiences I've had with any projector beyond JVC's superb DLA-NX7 with its Frame Adapt tone-mapping, and one that was completely free of the constant tweaking that often takes place when trying to optimize HDR mastered for flatpanels on projectors not bright enough for the task.
In my opinion, the LG CineBeam HU810PW and AU810PB represent a significant step forward for home theater projection—one that I and many other enthusiasts have been awaiting. There are indeed better projectors out there, including some impressive lamp and laser-driven models at much higher prices that can deliver much or all of what the HU810PW does while improving on its low-level contrast. But what we haven't seen to date is such an overall high-performing UHD laser projector for under $4,000, much less under $3,000. This is the first such projector I can recommend as a potential alternative to the better lamp-driven models in this price range for serious enthusiasts who might accept its modest performance trade-offs in return for the benefits of a solid-state light source that never needs replacing. Even beyond its laser engine and excellent out-of-box image quality, the HU810PW/AU810PB remains one of a very few HDR home theater projectors with truly effective dynamic tone-mapping, allowing viewers to better enjoy this emerging format with zero hassle and minimum compromise.
It's rare that I get a projector in my studio that brings a constant smile to my face for the whole time it's here, but this is one such occasion where I found myself steadily impressed with the image quality and engineering design of the test sample. The HU810PW/AU810PB is a welcome new standout in the mid-priced home theater category that I hope will be a harbinger of more things to come, and a projector that rightfully deserves our Editor's Choice Award.
Brightness. The HU810PW/AU810PB is rated for 2,700 ANSI lumens. In its Bright color mode with default settings (Energy Saver Mode set to Minimum) and its zoom lens set to its widest position, it measured 2,548 lumens. This is 94% of its specified brightness and well within the 10% ANSI tolerance.
Changing the Energy Saver Mode from Minimum (maximum laser power) to Medium results in a nearly exact 20% reduction in light output. Changing from Minimum to Maximum (minimum laser power) results in a 40% reduction in light output.
Below are the lumen measurements for all the available color modes.
LG HU810PW/AU810PB ANSI Lumens
|Energy Saver Mode|
|Expert (Bright Room)||1,426||1,142||851|
|Expert (Dark Room)||986||790||589|
|HDR Cinema Home||1,177||943||703|
|HDR Filmmaker Mode||1,196||958||714|
Zoom Lens Light Loss. Shifting the zoom lens from its widest position to its longest telephoto position resulted in an 11% decrease in brightness.
Brightness Uniformity. Brightness uniformity measured 80.2% at the widest zoom position, and 82.7% at the longest zoom position. I saw no evidence of any visible hotspotting or shading with test patterns or live content.
Frame Interpolation. The HU810/AU810 has a TruMotion frame interpolation feature that offers four settings beside Off: Cinema Clear, Natural, Smooth, and User, the latter of which exposes a De-Judder slider with positions from 0-10. The Cinema Clear, Natural, and Smooth presets each provide gradually more effective blur and judder reduction. Cinema Clear (which seems to equate to a setting of 2 on the De-Judder slider) provides very little blur reduction but also does not introduce any noticeable "soap opera" video effect to 24-frame content. Natural (equivalent to De-Judder 8) and Smooth (De-Judder 10) were much more effective but both did introduce detectable video effect. Settings of 3 or 4 on the De-Judder control provided a nice compromise that added modest video effect while also noticeably reducing judder on camera pans and providing some modest reduction of motion blur.
Input Lag. As noted in the review, switching the projector to its Game picture mode provided the lowest input lag measurements, about half or less of what was measured in the other modes with 2160p/60 Hz and 1080p/60 signals. The lowest measured lag time was 47.9 for 2160p/60 and 52.8 ms for 1080p/60. This may be sufficient for casual gaming, but likely noticeable with first-person shooters and other competitive games that require fast response time.
Fan Noise. The HU810PW/AU810PB has at least four small visible fans mounted along its side panels that help move air through it. LG rates noise in lab conditions as a fairly quiet 26 dbA in Eco mode (Energy Saver set to Maximum), 27 dBA in Normal mode (Energy Saver Medium), and 28 dBA in High mode (Energy Saver Minimum). Casual measurements taken at a distance of 5 feet and slightly below the front of the projector (as might be experienced with a nearby ceiling mount), in a room with 30.7 dB background noise, registered at 32.1 dBA (Energy Saver Maximum), 32.4 dBA (Energy Saver Medium), and 33.5 dBA (Energy Saver Minimum). What these numbers don't reflect, however, is the relatively noticeable pitch of the noise, which sounded more electronic in nature than related to air passing through the fans. Initially it is easily noticeable in a quiet room if you listen for it, but I found it faded into the background with time and wasn't an issue for me with a soundtrack going and my mind focused on the content.
Turning on the High Altitude mode, which is recommended at elevations of 4,000 feet/1,200 meters or higher, boosted the measured noise to 36.6 dbA.
Note: Image shown is for the AU810PB model, which includes RS-232C and 12V trigger connections not found on the HU810PW.
- HDMI 2.1 (HDCP 2.2; compatible with HDCP 2.3; eARC)
- HDMI 2.0b (x2, both with HDCP 2.2)
- USB 2.0 Type A (x2, read files from USB memory, connect keyboard, mouse, GamePad)
- Optical Audio out (S/PDIF)
- LAN (RJ-45) (IP control provided for AU810PB only)
- RS-232C (AU810PB only)
- 12v Trigger out (3.5 mm, AU810PB only)
- Bluetooth speaker support (with A/V sync control)
- Built-in Wi-Fi; connects to Wi-Fi network, Miracast, AirPlay
- WiSA wireless audio (via 3rd-party transmitter, AU810PB only)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG CineBeam HU810PW projector page.