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LG HU85LA 4K UST Laser Projector Review

Review Contents
Editor's Choice
Performance
4.5
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
LG HU85LA Projector LG HU85LA
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2700 Lumens
$5,997 Street Price
$5,999 MSRP

Connections

A recessed area on the left side of the rear panel includes all the connections for inputs/outputs and power, as well as a Kensington lock slot.

LG HU85LA Connections2a

• (2) HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2, one with ARC
• (2) USB 2.0, Type A (for media or smartphone)
• (1) USB Type C (for display, data, power)
• (1) ATSC Digital TV Tuner
• (1) S/PDIF optical audio output
• (1) RJ45 Ethernet (for network and IP control)

Measurements

Brightness. Due to the extreme angle of light coming off the HU85LA's 0.19 throw ratio lens, traditional ANSI lumen measurements could not be taken reliably into the lens at the screen surface with an ambient light meter. As an alternative, I measured lux directly off the center of my 1.3 gain screen using a Klein K-10a colorimeter at a distance of 2 meters, from which I calcuated lumens based on the 92-inch screen size. The measurements as shown, therefore, reflect an elevated bump from the screen gain and are not averaged against measurements taken from eight other data points on the screen, as is normally reflected in an industry-standard ANSI lumen measurement. They are offered here primarily for comparison among the projector's different color modes and power settings and should not be regarded as verification of the projector's claimed 2,700 ANSI rating.

Switching from the Minimum Energy Saver power mode (the brightest) to the Medium setting resulted in an approximately 30% drop in light output in all color modes. Switching from Minimum to Maximum Energy Saver resulted in an approximately 53%-55% drop in light output. However, changes to the Energy Saver mode also resulted in shifts in color temperature, as shown in the table below.

LG HU85LA Brightness (Lumens)

Minimum Energy Saver Medium Energy Saver Maximum Energy Saver
SDR MODES Lumens Color Temp (K) Lumens Color Temp (K) Lumens Color Temp (K)
Vivid 3018 11080 2124 12720 1632 14660
Standard 2941 11440 2011 12980 1630 14580
Cinema 2157 6970 1593 7430 1260 7810
Sports 2953 11410 2049 13650 1576 15610
Game 2910 10730 2030 12880 1579 14270
HDR Effect 2965 11470 2020 13720 1592 15190
Expert Bright 2182 6860 1606 7400 1246 7880
Expert Dark 2159 6890 1534 7750 1197 8050
HDR MODES
Cinema 2496 6940 1824 7560 1395 8020
Game 2995 11110 1986 14440 1555 16220
Vivid 3004 10940 2124 12580 1623 14250
Standard 2955 11380 2002 14180 1564 16080
Cinema Home 2978 11450 2004 14130 1562 15760

Input Lag. Unfortunately, due to the extreme angle of light coming off the projector's optics, I was unable to obtain input lag readings with either the 4K or 1080p Bodnar lag meters I had on hand.

Frame Interpolation. The HU85LA's TruMotion frame interpolation feature is available for both 1080p and UHD content with up to 60 Hz frame rate. Three settings (besides off) include Smooth, Clear, and User, with the latter offering up a 10-position De-Judder slider. The Smooth setting did an excellent job of eliminating judder and blur on moving objects and camera pans but imparted noticeable video effect to 24-frame native content, even when it was played at 60 Hz from a UHD disc player. The Clear setting provided a much better compromise, definitely smoothing the motion but imparting only modest soap opera effect. The User setting was also effective and was best used in it lower settings; at 5 and above the video effect became too distracting on film-based content.

Fan Noise. The HU85LA is extremely quiet. LG rates the fan noise at 26 dB(A) at the lowest Energy Saving setting (Maximum) and at 30 dB(A) at its loudest. The fan is barely audible when the projector comes on in a quiet room and has a fairly low pitch that makes it difficult to detect from any reasonable seating distance. High Altitude mode is recommended above 1,200 meters (3,937 feet). Activating it with even the Minimum Energy Saving setting adds a barely perceptible increase in noise and should not present any issues in most environments.

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Performance, Conclusion
Review Contents: Introduction, Features Performance, Conclusion Measurements, Connections

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Comments (16) Post a Comment
David Rivera Posted Oct 4, 2019 7:46 PM PST
Pretty much as I expected. Very good dark room picture quality, expensive, but a bar set for the competition to come close to matching at lower price point. Rob, as always delivered a very well written review with all the bullet points covered and fantastic observations for us, the consumer, to consider. I am so eager for your review of the OptomaX P1. With 3D and a far more realistic price of $3,300, it may be the Goldilocks of the new 4k laser UST bunch.

Thanks Rob
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 4, 2019 8:00 PM PST
Thanks, David. We're awaiting our review sample of the P1 but unfortunately Optoma is not expecting to get us one until mid-November at this point. I did have the chance to do some casual A/B comparisons of a late engineering sample of the P1 against the LG and found it a credible competitor, though it too would have required some work to bring it into calibration. It remains to be seen what the final production sample looks like. I can say without hesitation, however, that the Optoma offered a much more robust and overall better-sounding built in speaker system than the LG -- something that Optoma has been promoting for this product from the beginning.
Mike Posted Oct 5, 2019 3:18 AM PST
Great review, Rob! Hoping to be able to find a dealer to se it in person soon.

I have 2 questions that I hope you might be able to help with.

1) Would you recommend having the projector professionally installed due to the difficulty of getting the focus and alignment correct? I am a little concerned as to your comment about the focus in the corners.

2) Did you try and push the image size to be greater than the 120” maximum? I have heard some reviews say that they took it up to 130” and got a sharp image.

Thanks much!
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 5, 2019 4:00 AM PST
Mike, there's no need for a installer for this product beyond the recommendation of a professional calibration to bring it to its best. The issues that I encountered with this and other other UST projectors I've tried in my space is that the height relationship between the projector and screen is very critical for getting a perfectly rectangular image. Assuming you stick to an image size within the product's specs, the installation is simplified by placing the projector first on its furniture, leveling it using the adjustable feet, and then experimenting with its left/right skew to get the right geometry. Then you can hang the screen at the height it needs to be. In my studio, I have a prehung screen whose bottom edge is relatively close to the ground and installation of a UST requires experimentation with various platforms and spacers of different heights to make it work just right. If I was setting the projector up permanently I'd make the effort to get this perfected.

I should point out another modest issue with mating this projector to a screen. The extreme angle of projection on USTs, and this one in particular because of the super-short throw ratio, means that there's potential for the screen frame to create a shadow at the lower edge of the image. I have a traditional black felt frame on my screen that resulted in a tiny strip of black at the bottom of the screen surface where the projected light could not reach the screen. This would obviously be eliminated with a zero-edge screen style or when projecting the image on a wall (which I never recommend).

As for the max image size, I was unable to test this at greater than 100 inch diagonal in my studio, though I'll see what I can do about moving the projector to another location to try it out at 130-inches and report back.
Victor Posted Oct 5, 2019 10:35 PM PST
Why is the Picture quality a 4 and half stars
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 6, 2019 10:57 AM PST
Victor, although I would put this LG at the pinnacle of what's possible today in a UST home theater projector (pending our looks at some of the other new competitors), it has two primary image-quality caveats that I mentioned in the review that caused me to stop short of issuing a full 5 stars for Performance, which I equate with image quality.

First and perhaps most critically is that although the HU85LA's contrast was mostly excellent with most mixed-brightness images, in dark-room viewing its ultimate black level and and dark-scene contrast was well below what we get with some of the better and in some cases much less expensive long-throw projectors, such as the two JVCs mentioned and the Epson HC5050UB that we recently tested. (The latter costs half as much, but does not bring the ease of installation associated with a UST design.) In LG's defense, this projector was designed primarily for bright-room viewing and has a very bright 2,700 lumen output from a laser engine to achieve that, which automatically makes it more difficult to achieve those deep blacks in a dark room.

The second issue was the lack of more accurate color tuning or the ability to achieve that with any of the projector's brightest modes for purpose of bright room viewing. Unless I'm missing some subtle technical point here that would prevent this, it appears LG made a small error by not providing its full set of color adjustments for grayscale and color points for any of the full-output color modes, such as the Cinema Home HDR mode cited in the review and at least one of the SDR modes, such as the Standard setting. As noted in the review, I found the out-of-box tuning for all of the projector's brightest viewing modes garish in the dark and in most modest ambient light. It was a frustration that there were insufficient tools to really get things looking the way I wanted in any various ambient light conditions in which I tested the projector.
GIL ARROYO Posted Oct 6, 2019 2:21 PM PST
LG makes a HU87 front projector. Is this projector use the same DLP wiggler and the same laser light source? Is the performance comparable?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 6, 2019 2:25 PM PST
Gil, I can't find any information online or in our database for an HU87 model.
Spike Posted Oct 6, 2019 2:49 PM PST
UST projectors are very attractive for many installations. I recently moved to a condo and had to give up my dedicated home theater. A few months ago, I bought a chinese version 4k UST and paired it with a 90" ALR screen from Elite. I couldn't be happier. The LG sounds great, but the price is still more than double.
Victor Posted Oct 7, 2019 10:13 PM PST
Thanks for this information LG UST projector Rob. Is it really worth $6000?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 8, 2019 8:08 AM PST
Victor, this is a great question and perhaps one I should have addressed more directly in the review. There is no question that you can achieve a higher level of performance at lower or similar price in a traditional long-throw home theater projector intended for dark room viewing. If you were planning to spend $6,000 on a non-UST 4K-resolution projector, JVC's DLA-NX5 ($5,999) or Sony's VPL-VW295ES ($4,999) -- both native 4K models using LCoS imaging chips-would likely net you much better blacks and contrast for a dark theater and overall sharper optics. If you're planning a combination of mostly dark-room theater viewing with some ambient light viewing, and don't mind the idea of pixel-shifted 1080p imagers vs native 4K, the Epson 5050UB ($2,999) will produce a bright enough image in moderate ambient light as well as providing modes suitable for much better blacks than the LG for dark-room viewing. There are also high-value, long-throw DLP models from Optoma and BenQ below that $3,000 price point that can deliver images at least the equal of this LG, and all are capable of throwing a larger image than 120 inches.

But none of these projectors have a long-life laser engine, and all are classic long-throw projectors that entail the complex installation and potentially undesirable aesthetic issues mentioned at the top of my review. What wow'd me about the HU85LA is that it achieves a surprisingly high level of performance in the UST form factor that, for many viewers, will represent the only viable path to the bigscreen projection experience. It remains to be seen how well the lower-cost, competitive UST models emerging now will compare, but there's no question that this LG has set a high bar. Its ranking is largely representative of its image quality achievement within this UST product class, rather than all projection as a whole. But, if the only way you can get a 120-inch image in your home is with a UST projector...then, yes, it's worth it.
Douglas Call Posted Oct 8, 2019 9:33 AM PST
Can't wait for you guys to review the Epson LS500 Laser UST projector.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 8, 2019 9:59 AM PST
It'll be a while, Douglas. Epson officially debuted it at CEDIA in early September but their officially announced ship date is first quarter 2020. We might see it a bit earlier if we're lucky.

Tom Posted Oct 8, 2019 10:22 AM PST
Is it capable of rear projection?
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Oct 8, 2019 10:25 AM PST
Yes, Tom. You can set it for front projection from a platform surface or inverted ceiling mount, or the same for rear projection.
Cameron Boyle Posted Oct 9, 2019 8:03 PM PST
Great review Rob! I've ben checking the site frequently looking for this review. I have some questions on the audio front. You mentioned that the HDMI 2.0b ARC in the LG can deliver lossless audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD. I was under the impression only the newer HDMI eARC 2.1 ports and updated HDMI 2.1 eARC equipped soundbars and A/V receivers could transmit and receive the object based audio from Dolby and DTS. Is that not true? Also you mentioned support of DTS-HD but not DTS-X, which is the DTS equivalent of Atmos. Does the LG support Atmos but not support DTS-X?

Also on the audio topic. Where do you put a soundbar or center channel speaker with a UST projector? I like the Salamander cabinet designs that hide the projector but it doesn't seem like there is room below the screen for a center channel or soundbar without getting in the way of the projected image. The only other place is below the projector but that rules out the integrated cabinet like a Salamander design and also puts the center speaker?soundbar lower than ideal for dialogue. I see why the Optoma has chosen to go with a more robust integrated soundbar but that still doesn't satisfy someone like me who wants a true Atmos setup. I'd love any ideas.

Thanks!

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