LG HU80KA 4K DLP Laser Projector
Projector Central Editor's Choice Award

Editor's Choice Award

Our Editor's Choice award goes to products that dramatically exceed expectations for performance, value, or cutting-edge design.

  • Performance
  • 5
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Value
$2,399 MSRP Discontinued

The LG Electronics HU80KA is by far the most unique and original 4K projector to hit the market so far - there is quite literally nothing else like it. It does not even look remotely like a projector when you pull it out of the box, but once you get it set up it can produce a dazzling high contrast 4K picture with superb color saturation.

Of course, the HU80KA has attracted a lot of attention simply because it is LG's first 4K projector. It uses the 0.47" 4K UHD DLP chipset, but unlike competing units with the 0.47" chip, all of which are lamp-based, the HU80KA is driven by a laser phosphor light engine that improves its overall black levels and contrast performance and promises 20,000 hours of life without concern for lamp replacements.

In addition, the HU80KA's Smart TV platform makes it set to go with wireless streaming of TV, Netflix, YouTube, and other sources, but it has an HDMI 2.0 input with HDCP 2.2 to accommodate wired Blu-ray and gaming consoles as well.

LG HU80KA Features/Advantages

  • Laser driven 4K for high contrast imagery
  • 20,000 hour life in brightest mode, longer in reduced brightness modes
  • Smart TV with wireless streaming of TV, Netflix, YouTube and other sources
  • Extreme portability
  • Much better than average on-board audio
  • Eight segment RGBYRGBY color wheel with virtually no rainbow artifacts

LG HU80KA Limitations

  • No 3D compatibility.
  • Video optimized lumen output sufficient for dark room viewing only.
  • Menu complicated and difficult to navigate.

LG HU80KA Performance

Brightness. There are a lot of ways to adjust lumen output on the HU80KA, First, you can place it horizontally (or ceilling mount it horizontally) so it projects directly at the screen like a light cannon. Or you can stand it upright in its "tower" orientation, where the image is reflected 90 degrees outward from a mirror. This reduces lumen output by 4%.

Second, the HU80KA has three Energy Savings power options that act like Eco modes on competing models -- labeled Minimum, Medium, and Maximum. The Minimum setting is the brightest option and corresponds to Full or Normal power on competing models. Switching to Medium reduces lumen output by about 28%, and Maximum reduces lumen out by 52% from Minimum.

Third, the HU80KA has four independent Color Temperature settings that you can select with any preset operating mode, labeled Cool, Medium, Warm, and Natural. Of these, Natural is by far the brightest, producing over double the lumen power of the second brightest option which is Warm. Cool and Medium are almost identical in brightness, and both are about 20% dimmer than Warm.

The Natural setting is your choice if you need maximum lumen output. It tends to have a greenish bias, but not as dramatic as the Dynamic modes on many competing models. Nevertheless, it is noticeable enough that those looking for ideal color balance will want to opt for Medium, which is the most neutral of the color temperature options, or get a professional AV specialist to calibrate the unit to your taste.

All of the lumen readings in this table are taken with the projector oriented for direct projection (not using the mirror), the zoom lens at maximum wide angle, and the various color presets below are taken with the projector's Color Temperature option set to Natural:


(Direct projection, Natural Color Temp, Zoom at Wide Angle)

Zoom Lens Light Loss. The projector is at its brightest with the 1.2x zoom at it widest angle setting. It loses 7% of its lumen output when set to the maximum telephoto end of the zoom range.

Mirror Light Loss. The HU80KA loses 4% of its potential brightness when used with the mirror as opposed to projecting directly without the mirror.

Brightness Uniformity. This projector measured a solid 87% uniformity at the wide angel end of the zoom, and 92% at the telephoto end. This is the best we've seen so far from any 4K projector using the 0.47" chip, and excellent uniformity for any projector.

Input Lag. Minimum input lag with processing features like True Motion turned off is 71 ms.

Fan noise. Overall, a very quiet projector even with its Energy Savings option set to Minimum, its brightest option. Audible noise is low in pitch and unobtrusive.

On board audio. The HU80KA has an exceptionally good on-board stereo audio system as far as projectors are concerned. The two 7W speakers put out sufficient volume to fill a typical home theater room. As you would expect, the deep rumbling bass range is missing, so for permanent use a more substantial external sound system would be required to complement the large screen imagery. But this unit is designed for portability, and the sound it produces is plenty adequate and enjoyable for occasional back yard movie nights or other portable uses where a separate sound system might not be at hand. LG HU80KA

LG HU80KA Set Up / Install

The HU80KA can be set up in a variety of ways - you can ceiling mount it and point it directly at the screen, you can stand it in front of the seating area and bounce the picture via the mirror onto the screen, or you can even shoot the picture directly upward onto the ceiling if you want. You can also place it on a stand or rack behind the seats and project over the heads of the viewers. Due to its long tubular shape, it won't fit in a typical rear wall bookshelf.

Be aware that the throw ratio of the 1.2x zoom lens is in the range of 1.32 to 1.58. In other words, this is NOT a short throw projector. The projector will usually be placed at about the same distance as the seating area. For example, a 120" diagonal screen is 105" wide, and if you want to sit at a distance of 1.3x the screen width (a comfortable distance for a lot of people), that would be about 11.5 feet from the screen. Now in order to get a 120" picture from this projector, it needs to be placed in the range of 11.5 to 14 feet from the screen. So in this case you would need to place it upright between the seats or on a stand immediately behind the seats.

We mention this because it is easy to imagine that you'd set the projector upright in front of the seats in order to get maximum advantage of the audio output. However, if you do, this may require you to sit farther back from the screen than you would want.

For the actual throw distance needed to fit your desired screen size, see the LG HU80KA Projection Calculator.

Our Take on the LG HU80KA

Overall, the HU80KA is the most exciting projector we've seen from LG Electronics, and certainly the most unique and innovative 4K projector to hit the market so far. It is non-traditional in every respect, from its very odd form factor to its wireless Smart TV features and design for extreme portability. The laser-based light engine gives it a substantial boost in contrast for a rich, well saturation, engaging picture in both HDR and, remarkably, even in SDR where the picture's dynamic range can rival that of its HDR performance.

The selection of Medium as the Color Temperature yields overall the best color balance of the four temperature options, and this reduces lumen output by about 50% from the Natural setting. This in turn tends to render the Cinema mode too dim for very large screen use. Though Vivid is the brightest preset, it is a bit harsh for film/video. The Standard preset shows a more refined picture with just a slight drop in brightness from Vivid, and when you select Standard combined with Medium color temperature you end up with about 850 lumens of very high contrast light, excellent for use with a 120" screen in a dark theater room.

If you need more light you can switch to Natural color temperature, but this adds a modest greenish bias to the picture that you may or may not want to live with. It is not screaming green like some competing projectors produce in their Dynamic modes, but it is enough to compromise ideal flesh tones and the overall balance of the picture if you're paying attention. So for us, selecting the Standard preset and Medium color temperature was the key to a quick and optimized picture of sufficient brightness.

One of the most impressive attributes of the HU80KA is the high contrast and saturation the projector delivers with standard 1080p SDR sources. Since there is and will continue to be a lot more of this content than 4K for quite a long time, excellent performance for this type of material is a key advantage.

Beyond this is the super-portability of the unit, with a carrying handle integrated onto the unit. The mirror easily folds closed so the mirror and lens are both fully protected, and one can move it from place to place with ease.

The HU80KA's wireless Smart TV connections mean you don't have to run cables once you move it. The only connection is an on-board power cord which retracts into the unit when you want to transport it. So you don't have to think about carrying an external power cable like you do with all other portable projectors-a nice touch.

The LG HU80KA is offered for $2999, which is an aggressive price for a laser-driven 4K projector with wireless Smart TV features built in. Beyond this, if you want easy portability to set up occasional backyard movies or for other multi-location uses, there is simply nothing else on the market that will do it like the LG HU80KA does. For its originality and excellent performance for dark room home theater use, we are happy to give it our rare Editor's Choice Award.

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG HU80KA projector page.

Comments (44) Post a Comment
David Scott Posted Jun 19, 2018 11:54 AM PST
Does it have any lens shift? I can't find any details on that
Evan Powell, Editor Posted Jun 19, 2018 12:05 PM PST
David, it has what you might think of as "mirror shift." In its vertical orientation, the angle of the mirror determines where the picture hits the wall--tilting the mirror up and down makes the picture go up and down. However, there is only one mirror position that produces an image with 90 degree corners. If you don't angle it just right to get a 90 degree corners on your rectangle, you can use keystone correction to square it up.
Barry Koehler Posted Sep 5, 2018 9:00 AM PST
To David Scott's point, no lens shift is a HUGE missing feature if you want to ceiling mount this projector. It seems odd that such a great projector would be geared more for temporary placement than permanent. Others have commented on LG's site that it's very difficult to find a good mount and LG doesn't make one. It would seem you'd need a mount with the ability to easily shift the cannon up/down or left/right, independent of each other.
Kevin N Posted Sep 13, 2018 12:15 PM PST
I purchased this about a month ago and to follow up on ceiling mounting, yes it was a pain. I almost opted to build my own mount. I did have to reposition the new mount and drop it pretty low from the ceiling to accommodate the lack of lens shift and minimize the auto keystone use. Overall, it is a great projector and 4k images look surprisingly good for the price point.
Pedram Posted Sep 17, 2018 10:02 PM PST
Is there anything inherent in the design of this chip that prevents it from supporting 3D? I'm hoping maybe next year's model will have 3D support, then I'd be in.
Rob Sabin, editor Posted Sep 18, 2018 6:46 AM PST
Some of the budget 4K projectors using this DLP chip set, including the Optoma UHD51A, do support 3D. This is of course 1080p/2K 3D, as there is no standard for 4K 3D and no 4K 3D content commercially available. So it's not the inherent technology that prevents projector manufacturers from including 3D compatibility, but rather the now-proven lack of interest from the broader market. I wouldn't expect to see LG adding this feature back anytime soon, but you never know.
Steven J Posted Nov 20, 2018 8:05 AM PST
With Black Friday specials, this LG projector is roughly available for the same price as the Epson 5040UB. Given I have a completely dark theater and get overly excited about inky blacks, which of these two projectors would you recommend? The review doesn't offer a lot of insights against other projectors, and being a strikingly different design, I'm interested in how this design stands up. Does the LG truly excell against other projectors at its price point, or did it garner the Editor's Choice because of the laser light engine at its price point? Thank you :)
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 20, 2018 10:02 AM PST
Steven, I checked in with our co-founder Evan Powell on this as he's familiar with both projectors, and as you suspected these are two different types of products. The Epson 5040UB is the better option here for your dedicated enthusiast, dark-room home theater application. This LG earned its Editor's Choice designation based on its combination of 4K resolution, laser light engine, and very unique portability features.

J slovak Posted Nov 22, 2018 9:32 AM PST
Currently running a Panasonic AE8000 ( 6 years). Want to step up to 4k. I have a dedicated home theater without any ambient light issues. Deciding betteeen the lg HU80KA and the optoma UHD65 or the hd65 ( although that could land me in the doghouse)! Using a Screen Innovations 110” acoustic screen. Any suggestions?

Thank you
Dan Posted Nov 26, 2018 10:53 PM PST
I have the same dilemma. Any expert input would be appreciated.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Nov 27, 2018 7:46 AM PST
Guys, I think Evan's comments about this being more of a specialty/portable projector, albeit a brilliantly designed and well-performing one, should be taken with more than just a grain of salt. Unfortunately, we've never done a direct face-off between the LG and any of the popular, well-regarded entries from Optoma, Epson, BenQ or others in this $2,000-$3000 range that I can point you to. What I will say is that you should look closely at all the features. Keep in mind that you're paying extra for a laser light engine and to some extent a smart-TV platform in the LG, but perhaps giving up some flexibility in set-up and placement or day-to-day adjustability compared with more traditional projectors. Also, to the extent it has any bearing, the LG uses the 0.47-inch DLP chip, which uses a 4-phase pixel-shifting scheme to deliver 4K to the screen, vs the UHD65, which uses the 2-phase 0.66-inch DLP chip.
wialeyard Posted Nov 29, 2018 3:49 PM PST
Mounting is not an issue. Chief Mfg RPMAU RPA Elite Universal Projector Mount with Keyed Locking works perfect for a 4-point solution, and if you use the 1/2in standoffs, you can flip/rotate the mirror out of the way. The 6-9" Adjustable Extension Column CMS006009 drops it from the ceiling as needed, and Structural Ceiling Plate CMA345 isolates some of the vibrations from it if people are walking above you.
Raj A Posted Jan 9, 2019 4:26 PM PST
In a vertical configuration, what is the best option wall mount ? I would prefer it to be as close to the wall , so that It doesn't stickout
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 11, 2019 1:38 PM PST
Raj, this is not an ultra-short-throw projector and the manual does not suggest it can be wall mounted on the same wall as the projection screen, if that's what you're describing. It could be mounted horizontally on a ceiling mount or shelf/table at an appropriate throw distance for the desired screen size. But in vertical configuration, you'll be restricted to using it a distance away from the wall that will vary with the desired screen size. You should check the manual and our projection calculator for this model.
neil Posted Jan 24, 2019 8:22 AM PST
We are currently setting up our theater "area," in which we would have to ceiling mount our projector. We opted not to have the theater set in a room by itself, but, instead, to have it open in the back, with the back facing the rec / bar area of the basement. Consequently, we're going to have some ambient light, but it's a good 18 feet the theater screen to the back of the room though. At our prior home, we had a similar setup and used an epson due to the brightness, and it worked great. I am now debating between this and the Epson 4010. Can you provide your thoughts as to which may be most suitable?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jan 24, 2019 9:05 AM PST
Neil, I would recommend the Epson HC4010 for a traditional home theater arrangement like this with a hung projecgtor for various reasons, including the flexibility of the lens for installation, the excellent out of box color in several modes including at least a couple of high-output modes suitable for ambient light viewing, and the generally higher light output overall. (The LG is rated for 2,500 lumens but measured 1,800 in its brightest mode, and although "laser lumens" may have higher subjective brightness on the same lumen count in some situations, I can confidently say from personal use that the HC4010 performs well in high light situations.)

Besides all of this, you'll save several hundred dollars with the HC4010, albeit with the promise of having to replace the lamp from time to time--something you'll never have to do with the LG or any other laser or LED projector.
Ray Kumar Posted Feb 12, 2019 8:52 AM PST
I have a dedicated home theatre with decent light control, I currently have a 120-inch Elite screen and use a ( vintage) Mitsubishi HC4900 1080p source. I am trying to decide between LG HU80KA and Epson 5040UB. Costco currently sells the LG for $2350 and the Epson sells for $2000 with an extra lamp. I have never used the 3D function even on the TV's that we have do not see us missing this functionality. we watch a lot of 1080p documentaries and foreign films, I have used the LG WebOS on TV's and it is something I believe LG may not abandon soon. One advantage I see is ( please correct me if I am wrong) is to stream videos out of the LG on 4k where available and listen to the sound on a Bluetooth headphone by doing this I think you can bypass your receiver and HDMI Cable if they are not 4k Ready. Please advise
Mil Posted Feb 15, 2019 11:57 AM PST
Hi, which one would you recommend UHD65 (larger chip) or LG HU80KA? The contrast ratio for LG is 50K:1, which is a lot less than UHD 1.2M:1, but then I understand that is dynamic (lamp on/off) but cannot tell what the standard CR is for both (so I can compare). This is for a dark media room where I have a Benq W6000. Would love your pros and cons of each, esp for my situation of it being in a dark media room. Thanks!!
801shirts.com Posted Feb 25, 2019 10:30 PM PST
In my opinion, there are a few projectors that are better than this one in every aspect (color, contrast, price, quality, gaming, etc), but what you're really paying for is the functionality (it being mobile/portable).

• Take it from the theater room, to the bedroom for some romantic comedies. • From inside the house, to outside for BBQ/Jacuzzi/Firepit while watching TV. • From your house, to a friends/family for a big sports event or family movie. • From personal use, to business use at work (projector sales stats, company goals, etc).

The fact that it has WebOS and PLEX, means I literally don't have to connect ANY device to the projector to watch a movie (just use the built-in apps like Plex to stream all movies/shows) and the built-in speaker (or a HomePod/Alexa). So literally, just the power cable is the ONLY thing I need. It's the ultimate portable media center/theater.

I really want this projector so bad, and if I get it I'll put up some reviews, just need to save some money first!
FWbuckeye Posted Mar 15, 2019 7:57 PM PST
I have a Optoma HD141x projector that I use very sporadically, mostly because I see the Rainbow Effect and it takes me a while to get my brain to ignore it. I understand that laser projectors don't have this effect. Are they easier on the eyes? I have a Vizio 65 inch 4k (costco E series) and I am looking to upgrade to something better. I can get this projector for around $2k or a Vizio P series or Nice Sony/Samsung. Any recommendations as to which route to go?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 16, 2019 10:37 AM PST
Your best bet if you are sensitive to rainbows is a 3LCD projector like Epson's HC4010, which is better suited for a permanent dark room theater and performs as well or better despite its being a 4k-compliant 1080p pixel-shifter, or a 3-chip Sony or JVC LCOS model(considerably more expensive.) These are immune to any rainbow effects.

Laser projectors are not necessarily rainbow free; depends on whether they deliver colors sequentially, which is typical in most one-chip projectors. This LG is not immune to rainbows, but has a color wheel said to help reduce but not necessarily eliminate them.

Lars Posted Mar 20, 2019 4:09 AM PST
If you had to choose between this LG and the new Benq W2700 (and price diff. was not an issue), which projector would you choose for movie watching?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 20, 2019 7:38 AM PST
Our review of the W2700 (designated HT3550 in the US) is pending. But these are two different animals, with the LG geared as more of a lifestyle solution than a traditional projector. In any event, we do not anticipate the ability to perform a direct comparison.
Sam Panwala Posted Mar 22, 2019 11:59 AM PST
I can't wait for the HT3550 review. I want to make the purchase but the only thing that is holding me back is the fan noise. Please can you let me know how the fan noise is compared to the UHD50? Also, any ETA on the HT3550 review? Thanks
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Mar 28, 2019 7:53 AM PST
Sam,I believe you are referring to the HT3050, which is about to start shipping from BenQ. My mistake for referring to it above as the HT3550. We will be reviewing it sometime this month. We will comment on fan noise, but won't be able to directly compare this with the UHD50.
Victor Posted Apr 30, 2019 4:49 PM PST
Is this lg projector real 4k or not real 4k?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Apr 30, 2019 5:03 PM PST
Victor, as described, it's full 4K resolution using the DLP 0.47-inch 4K chip, which relies on four-phase pixel shifting of a 1920x1080 micromirror chip to deliver all the pixels in a UHD signal in the appropriate time interval. I prefer to call these projectors "full 4K" and save the term "native 4K" for now for those projectors that use chips that deliver all of the pixels in a UHD or 4K signal to the screen simultaneously. But, as we've reported, most of the time it's difficult to discern the difference between these UHD DLP imagers, native 4K imagers, or even the 1080p pixel-shifters from Epson and JVC. Subtle at best, but differences that are made more apparent by the quality of the lens and optics and possibly the image size.
Ktown C Posted Jun 15, 2019 10:10 PM PST
taking the recent market price $1600-1999 into account, it's still a winner for entry-level projector. The next laser source is either UHZ65 or VL7860 both at $4000,
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 17, 2019 9:16 AM PST
KTown, I think the laser-driven Viewsonic LS700-4K, at around $2,200, is of interest as well in this price range. We're waiting for a sample and hoping to review it soon.

Victor Posted Jun 18, 2019 8:24 PM PST
I know maximum screen size is 150” but if I go with 160” what will happen. Do I need to go with brightest screen.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Jun 19, 2019 7:55 AM PST
Victor, putting aside the brightness, if the projector is spec'd at 150 inches max image size it is not likely it will focus an image much larger than that. Nor is it ever a good idea to expect to use a projector at the absolute maximum of its limit; you won't likely get the best optical performance.
Kyle Federico Posted Jun 24, 2019 10:47 AM PST
You glossed over the fact that is only the .47" chip instead of the .66 inch chip with twice as many pixels. so this chip needs 2 times as may shifts to approximate 4k.
Mike Posted May 18, 2020 12:22 AM PST
Purchased this and it has 3 big shortcomings: 1) Rainbow effect! You spend 2k and see rainbow? Sorry LG... 2) No horizontal keystone! Cannot be used from the side... 3) Speakers just adequate...

I wouldn't recommend...
Ayk Posted Nov 17, 2020 6:06 AM PST
Hi, can you please make a general comparison between LG HU80KA and Viewsonic X10-4K?
Jamey Scott Posted Jan 12, 2021 4:26 PM PST
I've been using this projector in a professional mixing studio for about 20 months. Looks great in a light controlled studio like mine but looks terrible when I turn on the lights. You have to work in the dark to get a solid picture. It's generally quiet which I appreciate since it's right above my head all day. A big downside is that I've got a dead pixel after about 14 months of use. A 20K hour laser rating doesn't really mean much when the pixels go out after a year. Fortunately, it's cheap enough that I can buy a new one every couple of years and still get away cheaper than any of the other 4K Laser options. But then, if you're replacing your projector every couple of years, you're not really saving much in bulb replacing by going laser. Buyer beware!
Pierre Robitaille Posted Jan 25, 2021 12:26 PM PST
I have bought this projector slightly used (150 hours) a few weeks ago. Mint condition. Got a great deal on it. 100 hours later I must say I am extremely pleased with it. Yes it is not the brightest but I use it exclusively at night so it is not a problem for me. This is my 5th projector in 20 years and I must say that the image quality is getting better and better. Very quiet and the image is simply WOW. My previous one was an Epson (HD) and what an amazing difference ! I no longer see any pixels. It is ceiling mounted, throwing at a 106''' screen from about 12'. I highly recommended it for a 4K projector that won't break your bank.
Scott Shaw Posted Feb 24, 2021 9:42 PM PST
This projector puts out a great and vivid picture except in dark scenes. Don’t expect the same milky blacks that you get from a higher end TV. This projector simply is not that. Placement is also limited. It needs to be centered positioned and 8 to 12 feet from the screen. So this projector has limitations. It is great for what it does, but understand it does not produce those milky black scenes and its placement option are limited
Tony K Posted May 24, 2021 9:38 AM PST
I have been looking at and comparing this projectors to others. I like the design and portability for backyard viewing options. Being this is a couple years old, would you recommend this or should I lean toward something later?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 24, 2021 10:28 AM PST
Tony, although it is not as portable and easily moved, the LG HU810 ($3,000) is far and away the better projector in virtually all respects. Not that you couldn't take it outside for a movie night, but it does weigh 24 pounds. It'll actually also be more flexible with placement for temporary setups.
Nick Posted May 16, 2022 1:04 PM PST
I echo Tony K's question a year later, is there an update to this model. I need something for the backyard, and was surprised that there is nothing new in this segment or a new model. Any advice on what to buy would be helpful.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 16, 2022 2:18 PM PST
No direct update to this piece. If you are in the market for a 4K laser portable the new Anker Nebula Laser 4K looks good on paper but is unfortunately disappointing for its price. If you can live with 1080p laser, the LG HF80LA is potentially a viable option with reasonable brightness.

Nick Posted May 18, 2022 1:28 PM PST
Rob, thanks for the feedback, how about in the semi portable space (with sound included) that hits an under 5k price with 4K and appropriate brightness?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted May 18, 2022 1:50 PM PST
The new Anker Nebular Laser 4K fits the portability need but didn't review well. XGIMI Horizon Pro LED projector is cheaper and probably as good or better a choice, but neither has really accurate image quality.



John Posted Apr 11, 2023 6:31 AM PST
Hi, does anyone know where I can get one of these repaired? the sound output stopped working and only the internal speakers work, it also cuts out intermittently when streaming from a fire stick. Regards John

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