- Long-life LED light engine
- Eight color presets for SDR; five for HDR
- Digital TV tuner and LG smart TV platform
- Google Assistant onboard
- Mediocre contrast/black level for dark-room viewing of 1080p content
- No HLG support
- No 3D support
Best understood as a 4K UHD Smart TV that happens to use a projector for its display, the LG CineBeam HU70LA is targeted more at everyday consumers than traditional videophiles and dark-room home theater enthusiasts. The latter groups will find better overall picture quality with other products in this price class, but the HU70LA delivers a satisfying image for ambient light and lives up to its promise of behaving like a big screen Smart TV that's also compact enough to be portable.
You can reasonably think of the $1,799 LG CineBeam HU70LA as a projector that includes a TV tuner, LG smart TV interface, LG ThinQ voice commands and Google Assistant. But that makes it sound like the TV and voice recognition features are some sort of clunky add-ons. Think of it instead as a 4K HDR smart TV that happens to use a projector as a display instead of a flat-panel, and you'll have a much better sense of how well integrated TV and projector are and how it's best used—namely, as a straightforward replacement for a big screen TV.
This isn't to say that you can't use the HU70LA like any other home theater projector. But the HU70LA is targeted more at everyday consumers than serious videophiles or home theater enthusiasts, and you'll find projectors with overall better image quality for dark-room environments at around the same price. What you're paying for here, along with solidly competent LED-based projection, is LG's sophisticated and proven web-streaming platform and user interface borrowed from its tradtional smart TVs. That, as well as the flexibilty that comes along with its compact, all-in-one package. For home use, for example, you can set it up as needed in any room or take it to the backyard for a movie night. LG also suggests it's ideal for business use in small conference rooms, or as a light-weight 4K projector for road warriors.
With all that in mind, even judged strictly as a projector and ignoring the smart TV platform, the HU70LA offers enough to make it a tantalizing choice. Its LED light source is designed to last the life of the projector, and image quality—particularly color accuracy—with default settings is good enough in most modes to be highly watchable straight out of the box. Several (though not all) of its color modes offer all the controls you need to fine tune color accuracy and grayscale.
LG HU70LA Features
The HU70LA is built around an LED light source specified to last up to 30,000 hours and a 0.47-inch 4K DLP XPR chip with a native 1080p micromirror array that uses the XPR system's fast-switch pixel-shifting to put a full 3840 x 2160 pixels on screen. The light source has four channels, or LEDs, with red, green, blue, and what LG calls dynamic green. According to LG, the dynamic green increases brightness and contrast.
One of the more notable features is the HU70LA's approach to adjusting HDR tone mapping. Since there's no standard for content to follow, the best setting—for any projector—depends on the movie you're watching. Most projectors offer an HDR Brightness control you can change manually. The HU70LA offers Dynamic Tone Mapping instead, a feature we first encounterd in our review of LG's CineBeam HU85LA UST projector. It analyzes each frame, adjusts mapping on the fly, and eliminates the need for manual adjustment. This feature deserves to be widely imitated if done properly, and editor Rob Sabin found it worked effectively in the much brighter, laser-driven HU85LA. However, I wound up turning it off in the HU70LA after seeing that the mapping tended to cause a significant loss of shadow detail.
Unlike most projectors, the HU70LA doesn't show any obvious color bias with any color preset mode, even with a black and white scene. Most people will consider even the brightest mode more than acceptable for casual viewing. I measured it at 821 ANSI Lumens, which is bright enough to fill a 16:9, 130-inch diagonal, 1.0 gain screen in a dark room, or a 90-inch, 1.3 gain screen in moderate ambient light—even without taking the promised higher perceived brightness for LED projectors into account—a subject I'll come back to when discussing my brightness measurements. LG's specs put perceived brightness as equivalent to a 1,500-lumen lamp-based projector.
Setup is straightforward. The lens offset is most appropriate for putting the projector on a table, where the bottom of the image will be roughly at the center of the lens. It's also suitable for inverting in a ceiling mount, though you may need a mount extension. The 1.25x manual zoom offers flexibility for positioning, while the powered focus adds the convenience of using the remote to get sharp focus easily while standing at the screen. For a 100-inch image, the throw distance ranges from roughly 8.75 to 11.0 feet. (For the range for your preferred screen size see the LG HU70LA projection calculator.)
The HU70LA's unusually small size and weight for a 4K projector—3.7 x 8.3 x 12.4 inches (HWD) and just 7.1 pounds—helps make it easy to set up. It's also easy to carry to the backyard for a movie night, where you can either use the onboard pair of stereo 3-watt speakers or connect to wired or Bluetooth speakers for higher volume.
Here's a more complete list of the LG HU70LA's key features:
- 3840 x 2160 resolution on screen with 0.47-inch DLP XPR chip
- Accepts up to 4096 x 2160 input
- Four-channel LED light source; up to 30,000 hours rated life
- 1,500 lumen rating (based on its perceived brightness in comparison to the perceived brightness of a 1,500 lumen lamp-based projector)
- 150,000:1 contrast ratio rating (full on/full off)
- Two 18 Gbps HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2 ports
- HDR10 support
- Eight SDR color preset modes; five HDR preset modes
- Color management system for adjusting RGBCMY saturation, tint, and luminance; white balance adjustments for RGB with 2, 10, or 22 points.
- Dynamic Tone Mapping analyzes each frame on the fly to adjust tone-mapping automatically on a frame by frame basis
- Powered focus controlled though the remote
- Onboard ATSC digital TV Tuner
- LG webOS 4.5 smart TV platform offers built-in web browser and access to premium content from major streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, as well as an app store
- Voice control for smart TV and some projector operations with LG ThinQ AI, plus built-in Google Assistant
- Quick on/off cycling turns the projector on in 12 seconds and off in 2 seconds
- Onboard stereo sound system with two 3-watt speakers; connects to external audio systems using 3.5mm analog or S/PDIF optical port for wired connection
- Bluetooth with AV sync adjustment for wireless audio connection
- Full size LG "Magic Remote" combines a back-lit button keypad, air mouse for point-and-shoot control, and microphone for voice commands
- 1-year warranty, includes light source
The HU70LA offers eight preset color modes for SDR. Switching back and forth between them made it obvious that Standard, Sports, HDR Effect, and Game modes were blue shifted relative to Cinema and both the Expert (Bright Room) and Expert (Dark Room) modes. Except for the Vivid and Sports modes, however, which occasionally delivered oversaturated color in some scenes, none of the modes were far enough from accurate to move memory colors—like skin tones, blue skies, or green grass and leaves—out of a realistic-looking range. Most people would consider most of the modes to be more than acceptable straight out of the box and even consider the defaults for Vivid and Sports modes acceptable for occasional viewing.
Measurements using CalMAN Ultimate software, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 photospectrometer showed that all of the modes were at least somewhat blue shifted, but confirmed my subjective impression that Cinema and the two Expert modes were significantly less so compared with the others.
You can customize all modes, but the setting options differ with the input signal and from mode to mode. When using SDR input in my tests, only Cinema, Game, and the two Expert modes offered the Expert Controls menu, which includes the White Balance and Color Management System options that are critical to calibration. Unfortunately, this means these controls for adjusting color points and grayscale are omitted from the four brightest SDR color modes.
According to the CalMan results, the Cinema and Expert modes also delivered the best color accuracy, with better Delta E results—the measurement of how far color is from what it should be. The measured color temperatures for all eight modes was close to 7,550K rather than the industry-standard 6,500K target.
However, my CalMan results were suspect in this case. CalMan reported far better grayscale, RGB balance, and color accuracy after calibration than before. But—for reasons we haven't been able to track down as yet—the picture looked far worse after conventional calibration with the above-mentioned instruments, like an overexposed photo with a blue bias.
As a result, I wound up going back to the default Cinema mode with just a few tweaks added for my viewing tests, because it delivered color in Casino Royale—one of my go-to discs for testing—that was close to what I knew it should look like. After experimenting with brightness, contrast, and other options, the only changes I made were to set gamma to BT.1886 and turn on Dynamic Contrast (which I'll discuss in the section on SDR viewing).
With the power mode set to Minimum energy saving (aka, full power), I measured the brightness on my 90-inch diagonal, 1.0-gain white screen at 24.1 ft-L (579 lumens), a bit higher than the 22 ft-L maximum that the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends for a dark room, but not as high as some people prefer. Switching to Medium power mode dropped the brightness to 17.8 ft-L (426 lumens).
With HDR input, the HU70LA automatically replaces the SDR preset modes on its menu with five dedicated HDR presets: Vivid, Standard, Cinema Home, Game, and Cinema. As with the SDR modes, different HDR modes offer different adjustments. Only Game and Cinema modes offered the White Balance and Color Management System options.
I ran into the same issue with the Calman readings on the HDR calibration as with SDR, and wound up going back to the default settings, choosing the Cinema (Home) HDR mode as giving the closest color to what I know should show in La La Land, then tweaking the setting based on scenes I'm familiar with. The only changes I wound up making were to set Dynamic Contrast to High, turn Dynamic Tone Mapping off, and nudge brightness a little higher. Making all three changes was the only way I could find to make the projector show the shadow detail I knew was hiding in dark areas in the La La Land night scene with trees and bushes lining a road lit by street lights.
After my adjustments, I measured the brightness for HDR at 34.5 ft-L (827 lumens) using Minimum energy saving mode (full power) on my 90-inch 1.0 gain screen.
It's worth nothing that the HU70LA's menus cover enough of the image to make it difficult to gauge the effect of any adjustment you make, even something as simple as adjusting the Brightness control. Typically, I had to close the menu to see the full result, then navigate back to the control to adjust it further. Nor was I very fond of the remote's air mouse pointer, which often required re-calibration by shaking the remote left and right so the on-screen cursor would properly follow the direction the remote was pointed.
The HU70LA was a little disappointing for 1080p/SDR viewing in a dark room, primarily because it doesn't deliver a satisfyingly dark black level or suitably high contrast. But that's not surprising—and not a deal breaker—for a projector that's intended primarily for use in ambient light. When I moved it to my family room, where room light would wash out dark blacks as well as lower the effective contrast even for high contrast projectors, neither black level nor contrast was an issue. (More on viewing with ambient light after the discussion of viewing in a dark room.)
As already mentioned, Cinema mode delivered color that closely matched colors I expected—in saturation, brightness, and hue—in movies I'm familiar with. Turning Dynamic Contrast on made a critical difference for getting the best picture. Each setting—Low, Medium, High, and Off improves contrast and shows more detail at some brightness levels while lowering both at others. The trick is to treat the setting like the manual HDR brightness settings most HDR projectors offer, and adjust it on a movie-by-movie basis.
For movies that have mostly bright scenes and high contrast in dark scenes—including La La Land, Casino Royale, and Batman v Superman—I preferred the Low setting in Cinema mode. Medium and High helped out on occasional darker scenes, but they robbed brighter scenes of the subtle gradations that give objects a sense of three dimensionality. They also left colors in brighter scenes looking washed out.
On the other hand, with Arrival, which consists primarily of either dim or dark scenes from beginning to end, I choose the High setting. In the scene entering the alien ship for the first time through the unlit passageway, for example, the people were hard to see when Dynamic Contrast was Off or Low. Using High made the black tunnel darker and the orange hazmat suits brighter. Much the same was true throughout the movie, particularly in scenes with bright backlighting and a much darker foreground.
I saw rainbow artifacts more often with the HU70LA than with most current DLP models. If you see them easily, or don't know if you do, be sure to buy the projector from a source that makes returns easy, so you can test it out for yourself.
The projector's frame interpolation (FI) earns points for offering an 11-position (10 step) De-Judder slider. In my tests, the first two steps offered slight smoothing of motion with a digital video effect beginning to show at the third step. Both it and motion smoothing increased with each step beyond that. Even at the highest setting, I saw fewer motion artifacts than with the FI most projectors offer.
For viewing in the low to moderate ambient light of a family room at night, I used the brighter Standard mode after adjusting Contrast, Dynamic Contrast, and Dynamic Color settings, and setting Smooth Gradation to Off. The HU70LA gave me a bright picture on the 80-inch, 1.0-gain, white screen in my family room, with good contrast for the ambient light level, while maintaining subtle gradations in color. In daytime, with uncovered windows, I chose the still higher brightness Sports mode with default settings. The image was a little washed out, making it not worth the effort of optimizing it, but it still delivered high enough brightness and good enough color accuracy for casual viewing.
As a general rule for any projector, 4K UHD content with HDR is best reserved for dark rooms or dim lighting. In both cases, the HU70LA showed an impossible-to-miss boost in image quality compared to 1080p SDR. Color vibrancy, contrast, shadow detail, and sense of three dimensionality in both dark and brightly lit scenes were all enough better with 4K HDR for the difference to be immediately noticeable in every movie that I looked in both versions—including Arrival, La La Land, The Martian, Batman v Superman, and more.
Image detail got the expected boost at 4K as well. In Arrival, the close ups of faces in hazmat suits showed every pore and skin blemish. And in an early scene in Batman v Superman, the close up of a hand shooting a gun showed every fine line on the thumb along with the thumbnail cuticle.
As with 1080p/SDR viewing, you may want to experiment with the Dynamic Contrast setting and possibly the Dynamic Tone Mapping setting as well. However, I found that setting Dynamic Contrast to High with Dynamic Tone Mapping off gave me the best shadow detail in dark scenes without hurting the contrast, subtle gradations, or sense of three dimensionality in the brighter scenes in any of the movies I tested with. With the ProjectorCentral 10-bit HDR Grayscale test animation, which verifies 10-bit processing from input to image, I saw some slight suggestions of banding—as opposed to definitively obvious banding—in the brighter levels of our dark gray wheel (video IRE levels up to 20) and darker levels of our light gray wheel (20 to 100 IRE). The effect was subtle enough that I didn't see any evidence of banding with any of the 4K UHD movies I tested with.
For anyone who is interested in using a projector as a big screen TV, with or without other uses and either for permanent installation or as a portable you can move from room to room to backyard, the LG CineBeam HU70LA is a spot on choice at $1,799. Straight out of the box, it delivers color accuracy good enough that most people will find it acceptable for both 1080p and 4K content. And although its black level and contrast aren't ideal for dark room viewing, those limitations don't show with ambient light, even at low light levels.
The projector was also easily bright enough in my tests to light up a 90-inch, 1.0 gain screen in a dark room or an 80-inch 1.0 screen in moderate ambient light. It even stood up to daylight, in a room with a window near the screen, well enough for occasional use.
The built-in TV tuner and LG smart TV platform comes with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video browser apps that are directly accessible from the remote, and also supports Google Assistant. Plus, the remote offers control buttons, an air mouse, and a microphone for voice control. All that's enough to make the HU70LA behave much like a smart TV. But the HU70LA is a lot smaller and lighter than an equivalent big screen TV, and its 1.25x zoom also helps make setup easy. While some other portable, LED-driven lifestyle projectors have hit the market recently, none can lay claim to the LG's complete mix of attributes, and especially not its advanced streaming media platform. If its combination of features, flexibility, and lightweight form factor appeals to you, the LG CineBeam HU70LA offers a truly unique proposition.
Brightness. With default settings, I measured the HU70LA's brightest modes (both HDR Effect and Sports) at 821 ANSI lumens, or about 55% of the 1,500 lumen rating. Keep in mind, however, that the rating is based on matching the perceived brightness of a lamp projector at that rating, and the scientifically well-established observation that more saturated color and purer color—as produced by LEDs and lasers—can be perceived as being brighter than you would expect for a lamp-based projector with the same measurement. This advantage for LED projectors is greatest in a dark room, with the advantage dropping as the ambient light level rises. (For more details on perceived versus measured brightness, see the ProjectorCentral article Are "LED lumens" a Real Thing?).
With the 1.25x zoom lens set to its widest angle setting, and using a Konica Minolta CL-200A chroma meter for all measurements, the ANSI lumens at Minimum Energy Saving mode(full power), and the Medium and Maximum (Eco) Energy Saving modes, were as follows for each color mode.
LG CineBeam HU70LA ANSI Lumens
|Expert (Bright Room)||579||430||328|
|Expert (Dark Room)||577||426||324|
The above results are based on our standard approach to all brightness testing except for the measurements we report after calibration or other optimization. For most modes, the standard approach uses the default settings. The only exception is a possible adjustment of the brightest mode's Brilliant Color setting, for projectors that have one, to give the brightest image for the brightest mode. Most often, the default settings in the brightest mode will result in conditions that match those of the manufacturer's own brightness testing for purpose of establishing the lumens specification.
LG asked us to also test with the color temperature setting at Natural instead of the default Medium setting, which indeed gave us higher brightness. Note, however, that the Natural color temperature setting added an obvious green bias in every mode—though more obvious in some modes than others, which is to say that LG had good reason for choosing Medium as the default setting. Regular readers know that the brightest measurement for many projectors and the one that meets the maximum ANSI lumens specification often has a green bias that makes that mode unwatchable or less than ideal for color-sensitive applications.
The results with the Natural setting were as follows for each color mode:
LG CineBeam HU70LA ANSI Lumens (Natural Color Temp)
|Expert (Bright Room)||1,067||801||608|
|Expert (Dark Room)||1,061||796||605|
These additional measurements are a few percent higher than they would be with the Konica Minolta CL-200A chroma meter used for the initial measurements, because we instead used a Konica Minota T10, which was not designed to measure projectors with sequential colors, and tends to measure them as being 2% to 3% brighter than they actually are. However, the measured brightness increase using the Normal temperature setting is far more than 3%.
Zoom Lens Light Loss: The 1.25x zoom isn't enough to have a significant effect on brightness.
Brightness Uniformity (Wide Zoom): 79%
Color Brightness: The only mode with color brightness less than 100% white brightness was Vivid, which at 85% was close enough to white brightness to have little to no noticeable effect on either brightness or color accuracy.
Lowest Measured Input Lag (4K): LG rates the lag for 4K input at 43 ms in Game mode with Instant Game Response mode on. I was not able to verify this because the LG failed to connect properly with our Bodnar 4K lag tester.
Lowest Measured Input Lag (1080p): 54.8 ms
Fan Noise: The noise level in Minimum energy-saving mode (full power), rated at 30 dB maximum, is enough to easily notice in quiet moments from anywhere in a small room. Some may find it annoying while others will find it more than acceptable, particularly in a room with ambient noise. Much the same is true for the Medium setting, rated at a maximum of 28 dB, but it's enough quieter that far fewer people should be bothered by the sound. Maximum energy-saving, rated at up to 25 dB, was quiet enough that the sound was literally dwarfed by the sound from the burning pilot light on a nearby fireplace log set.
LG recommends using High Altitude mode at 3,937 feet or above, which is a bit lower than most projectors. It's loud enough even in Maximum energy saving mode to make it hard to ignore. Medium and Minimum modes are loud enough that most people who need to some form of acoustic isolation.
- HDMI 2.0b (x2, both with HDCP 2.2; one supports ARC)
- USB 2.0 Type C (Display, power)
- USB 2.0 Type A (x2, read files from USB memory, connect keyboard, mouse, GamePad)
- Coax in (for digital TV)
- Audio out mini jack (3.5mm)
- Optical Audio out (S/PDIF)
- LAN (RJ-45)
- Bluetooth speaker support (with A/V sync control)
- Built-in Wi-Fi; connects to Wi-Fi network, Miracast and WiDi devices, and iOS and Android devices via LG TV Plus App
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG HU70LA projector page.