LG HU915QB 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
Pros
  • Very bright
  • Supports auto 3D LUT calibration for remarkable post-cal accuracy
  • Excellent contrast
  • Outstanding HDR processing
  • Sophisticated smart TV experience
  • Extremely short throw ratio
Cons
  • Iris Mode alters the color balance
  • Requires calibration for true accuracy
  • High latency in Game Optimizer mode
  • No 3D support
Our Take

LG's CineBeam HU915QB ($6,499) is a powerful and capable 4K HDR UST projector that serves as the company's home theater-oriented flagship model. It offers excellent picture quality with deep blacks and crisp contrast, though it comes at a high asking price and needs calibration to look its best.

LG HU915QB front angle

LG's latest UST, the HU915QB, is the new company flagship in the category. At $6,499, it carries a hefty price tag. But it is a powerful projector offering unprecedented precision along with high brightness and contrast. It easily creates a vivid, accurate image on a 100- or 120-inch UST screen—even in moderate ambient light. And when you dim the lights, the combination of high contrast, deft HDR handling and excellent detail rendition deliver a compelling home theater-like viewing experience.

The HU915QB has a wide array of preconfigured picture modes, both for SDR and HDR. These are similar to what's found on LG TVs and its other projectors, and help make quick work of configuring the HU915QB for everything from daytime sports viewing in the living room to watching movies in a darkened room with the lights turned off. However, picture-setting purists take note: None of the picture modes offer textbook calibrated accuracy out of the box for color balance, not even the Filmmaker Mode. Still, perceptually speaking, even without calibration the images created by this UST are captivating and realistic.

 

For serious enthusiasts, the outstanding feature of the HU915QB is its support for 3D LUT calibration using Portrait Displays Calman software and its AutoCal function. This locks in a level of accuracy that you'd likely never achieve with any other currently available UST projector, at least not without using a dedicated external video processor.

Where the HU915QB shines, quite literally, is its impressive light output. Mind you, with 3,000 ANSI lumens it's not rated as high as its sibling, the 3,700-lumen HU915QE. The HU915QE, which has a white chassis vs. the QB's black case, sells for $5,999, or $500 less than the HU915QB despite being 600 lumens brighter. What gives? Along with the 3D LUT calibration ability not found on the HU915QE, the HU915QB is touted to offer a wider color gamut: 100% DCI-P3 coverage, rather than the 94% coverage of the QE version. DCI-P3 is the standard color space for commercial cinemas and is used when mastering the vast majority of UHD content—disc or streaming. That's why you want full DCI-P3 coverage; it's to leverage the wide color gamut used when mastering HDR content.

Measuring the uncalibrated presets, the HU915QB's 3,000 ANSI lumen rating applied to its Vivid, Standard, and Sports modes. It reached 2,400 lumens in its most desirable Cinema and Filmmaker modes using default settings, and a much higher 4,400 lumens—well above spec—in its heavy blue-leaning Brightest mode. (See the Editor's Note in the Brightness section of the Measurements appendix for more on this.)

What you do not need in a UST, at least at this point in time, is full coverage of the wider Rec.2020 gamut; there's almost no Rec.2020 content, and rarely is there a need for the saturation levels it supports anyhow. Full Rec.2020 coverage is touted today by several other tri-laser USTs, which is a byproduct of using discrete red, green and blue lasers. While both HU915 models do use a three-laser, three-channel light source, LG employs a red laser and two blue lasers, one of which fires to a phosphor to provide the required green primary color. The end result is that it sacrifices Rec.2020 coverage capability for a cleaner-looking image by avoiding the pixel-level, chromatic aberration-like color misalignment issues found on every discrete RGB tri-laser UST I have seen.

LG HU915QB front right

While there is a lot to like about the HU915QB UST, it's important to understand that it stands alone among UST Laser TV projectors in terms of its calibration options. If you do spend the considerable money to buy a HU915QB, you should plan on doing a 3D LUT calibration, either yourself or with the help of a pro. The process is mostly automated, so an AV hobbyist can successfully tackle it if you have the right equipment and software. And in short order, a pro should be able to calibrate multiple picture modes to near perfection.

While this LG is immensely capable, there are a couple of limitations to consider. The most important are that it lacks 3D, and its Game Optimizer mode cannot overcome the inherent input lag of the 0.66-inch DLP DMD. The choice of this chip allows for a higher native resolution and achieves 4K with only a two-phase pixel shift—in the process delivering excellent contrast while handling the high brightness. But it's simply not optimized for gaming.

Features

As mentioned, the light engine for this UST is a triple-laser design, but instead of the RGB lasers found in many tri-laser models, it uses two blue lasers and a red laser, with a phosphor chip converting one of the blue lasers into the green channel. Having steady-state red, green, and blue channels eliminates the need for a sequential color wheel as found in most single-chip DLP projectors, which greatly reduces the tendency to create rainbow artifacts. LG specifies a 20,000-hour lifespan.

As with LG's first UST, the HU85LA, they equipped this projector with a very short 0.19:1 throw ratio lens, allowing it to sit very near the wall. Unlike most USTs I have reviewed, it fits on a 15-inch deep IKEA credenza without any special accommodation. Also carried over from the HU85LA, despite this being among the most expensive UST offerings, is the manual focus adjustment on the lens. A small door on the top of the projector accesses the focusing wheel. However, if anything, I found this choice both more convenient and more precise than hunting for the focus setting in a menu and then using buttons—which always seem to overshoot the point of perfect focus. I'm all for manual focus when it is smooth and accurate, like it is here, especially considering it's a feature you'll probably only use once. And the HU915QB lens offers high-resolution with excellent uniformity and no visible chromatic aberration—unlike most triple-laser projectors I have seen.

This UST handles HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, and has frame-by-frame dynamic tone mapping as found to date on all of LG's HDR-capable projectors. It also offers HGiG high dynamic range, which is not a format per se, but a set of guidelines for HDR gaming modes. The goal of HGiG is to encourage greater consistency from display to display, focusing on avoiding deleterious dual tone-mapping, which occurs when a gaming console or PC is calibrated for HDR using the console's own picture adjustments, but the display tone-maps the result anyway. HGiG removes the display's tone mapping, allowing the console to apply its consistent, static tone mapping.

LG HU915QB lifestyle1

On the rear of the unit, you'll find three HDMI ports, two of which are HDMI 2.0, one of which (labeled HDMI 2) offers eARC. The remaining port is HDMI 2.1 and supports 24 Gbps bandwidth—too limited for 4K/120 signals—along with ALLM (auto low latency mode). It also supports 4K60P with 4:4:4 chroma, which is a plus when using it with a PC, but not relevant to TV, streaming or UHD Blu-ray.

The HU915QB has a black rectangular enclosure equipped with a Kvadrat "re-wool" recycled wool fabric grille that's permanently attached and covers the front-facing speakers. It's a comparatively large UST, measuring 5 x 26.8 x 13.7 inches (HWD) and weighing 26.9 pounds, but because it sits so close to the wall and sports a stylish but discrete appearance, it blends in nicely. And with the lights out, the black enclosure allows this projector to disappear. When installed, the projector's rear sits only 3.9 inches from the screen (for a 100-inch screen), leaving the front 17.6 inches away from the screen. This works with standard TV stands and credenzas; there's no need to pull furniture away from the wall or to use a special platform.

Adjustable feet on the unit let you physically position it to fit the image on a screen. This is supplemented by extensive warping and keystone correction capability. However, to avoid image resampling and resulting image degradation, for a permanent installation it's best to avoid these features.

The sheer variety of audio options is impressive. LG equipped the HU915QB with a built-in, 40-watt two-channel sound system, which is akin to a basic soundbar. You can use these speakers in conjunction with either Bluetooth or optical digital outputs. As we also reported for the lower-end HU715Q reviewed earlier, Bluetooth allows you to add wireless speakers that you can use as surrounds. Any single Bluetooth speaker will work on its own as a surround, or you can select from compatible LG Bluetooth speaker pairs that specifically work with this projector to produce 4.2-channel sound. LG has an auto-setup routine with test tones that automatically configures the Bluetooth surround speaker or speakers.

Perhaps most importantly, the projector's eARC support allows it to send lossless surround sound as well as full discrete Dolby Atmos to an external device like a soundbar or AV receiver, as well as leverage any additional HDMI inputs on those devices.

LG HU915QB back left

For this review, I put the HU915QB through its paces using a 100-inch UST-specific lenticular screen with 0.6 gain (Epson SilverFlex Ultra). Lenticular UST screens are strongly recommended due to their superior rejection of overhead light, enhancement of blacks, and overall contrast.

With its Dynamic Contrast feature, this projector can dim the laser based on content, but it also has an Iris mode that activates a physical (hardware) iris, which LG recommends for lowering the light output for viewing in a dark space. It can be set to a range of fixed settings, but does not change in response to the signal the way an auto-iris would. According to the company, you'd choose the darker iris settings when deeper blacks are a higher priority than bright highlights. However, I skipped using it at all and left the iris at full open because using it had a significant and deleterious impact on color temperature. In my opinion, there is no reason to give up any of the brightness this projector offers, and the HU915QB's black levels are good enough without engaging the Iris.

Adaptive Contrast is another highly useful feature that modulates the laser output based on scene content and can be disabled or set to one of three levels of strength. With laser dimming, you'll get deeper blacks on dark scenes but also brilliant highlights in bright scenes.

This projector is also equipped with an Auto Brightness mode that uses a light sensor to automatically adjust the laser output based on the environment. This was first introduced in the HU715Q. But like the Iris mode, I recommend skipping it because, again, there's absolutely no reason to handicap this projector when it comes to light output. Even used in a totally dark room, you can leverage its full (and preferably calibrated) brightness to create a more impactful image.

Of course if you are a cinema purist—and you want to replicate the SDR cinematic standard of 48 nits brightness plus use every feature the HU915QB offers—you can run AutoCal on one of the movie-friendly picture modes with the Iris Mode turned on. You definitely lose a lot of brightness, but the end result is basically spot-on SDR, what some consider home theater perfection. Just note that this sort of setting is for HD Blu-rays, not HDR, and only if watching in a totally dark room.

LG HU915QB remote

LG equips this projector with its Magic Remote Control, which is surely familiar to LG TV owners. It connects via Bluetooth and offers gesture control with its air mouse navigation function. But it also has a numeric keypad and a standard directional pad control with a scroll wheel at its center. Plus, it's backlit, and there are dedicated buttons for numerous functions including volume, mute, voice search/assistant, and yes, even changing channels.

The Magic Remote is different and a bit more complex than typical, and air mouse navigation/gestures take a bit of getting used to, but it does offer the luxury of choosing how you navigate and you can just click buttons, if you prefer. Thanks to CEC control, this remote will also control compatible connected devices like a cable box or Blu-ray player. Kudos to LG for giving a dedicated button on the remote for picture mode, and it's located in the far bottom right of the keypad, so it's easy to find. In my opinion, all TV and projector remotes should have this feature.

LG's smart apps and overall menus plus functionality are among the standout features and reflect the company's commitment to the webOS platform that also powers its TVs. Consequently, you get a full-featured smart TV experience, with access to all the latest apps you'd expect like Disney+ and HBO Max, as well as Netflix, which is so often missing from other projectors. Moreover, all this built-in streaming is with support for 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos sound. This is in stark contrast to many UST projectors I have seen—even those running the Android TV platform—which are missing key apps or functionality.

Someday I might stop complaining about it, but for now, here's the obligatory "it's a shame this projector does not support 3D" paragraph. Considering that I was just able to recently purchase the new Dune in 3D on Blu-ray, it is unfair to call it a dead format. You can still buy new release movies in 3D, and the reason for that is because films are still produced in 3D for theatrical release. With no options whatsoever among TVs, the opportunity is there. This projector's brightness just begs to be used for 3D, but alas, it is unobtanium.

Okay, enough of what the HU915QE can't do. What it does offer is support for resolutions up to true cinematic 4K (4096x2160). And you can use TruMotion processing in Cinematic Movement mode with UHD material (3840x2160) and lower resolutions. This setting renders a realistic 24p cadence while helping to reduce judder for a more cinematic look.

While you wouldn't want to use motion interpolation with cinematic content, things are different when it comes to sports or reality television. For this content—which is already captured in a higher frame rate than movies, and where there's no psychological expectation of a film-like look—you can use your good judgment to apply Smooth Movement motion interpolation under the projector's TruMotion features. You can also dial in judder reduction manually by the number: The higher the number, the smoother the motion. But the more you turn it up, the more likely you'll start to see the "soap opera effect" with 24-frame content. The Cinematic movement setting, exclusive to the SDR Cinema and HDR Cinema modes, aims to reduce judder without creating soap opera effect.

Other available video processing functions include Super Resolution, Noise Reduction (with MPEG noise reduction), and Smooth Gradation. Activating and adjusting these tools allows users to process the source content to taste, or to suit specific needs if their content needs some polishing to make it presentable. While you can't expect miracles, LG knows what it's doing when it comes to making so-so source material like HD cable or streaming look as good as it can.

LG HU915QB top

And then there's the 3D LUT calibration. This feature offers a precise yet automated method to calibrate, and it delivers impressive precision. With the Calman AutoCal function, you can tell the software how precise a calibration you want, and as long as you have the patience to let the system perform all the requisite iterative measurements, you can push the system to achieve a hyper-precise reference-quality image. In other words, the more accurate the automatic calibration, the longer it takes. When I ran it, I asked for accuracy with a deltaE of 0.5 or under, which is well under the threshold of human perception.

Performance

SDR Picture Modes. LG provides a total of nine picture modes, including a Game Optimizer mode. Thanks to the ALLM (auto low latency mode) feature, with a source like the Xbox Series X that can serve as both a gaming device and a media player, the projector automatically switches from the default picture mode to Filmmaker Mode or Game Optimizer mode based on the type of content it detects.

This projector can wow viewers with an eye-popping bright, colorful, and contrasty SDR image that is perceptually realistic, even when analyzing the default picture modes with a meter reveals deviations from calibration doctrine. This seems deliberate, or at least consistent, because the behavior is the same as what I see on other LG UST projectors. Namely, even the Filmmaker Mode does not achieve a spot-on D65 white point/6,500K color temperature unless you calibrate.

Instead, when watching SDR in a movie-centric picture mode like Cinema or Filmmaker Mode, the color temperature measures around 8,300K or 8,400K—with the iris open. If you close the iris, the color temperature shifts to around 10,500K and looks blueish, so I did not use that feature.

I measured the native contrast of this LG UST at around 2,500:1—in my white-walled living room—which is great for a DLP, but still a bit low compared to the Sony SXRD, JVC LCoS or Epson LCD technology.

The brighter SDR modes like Vivid, Standard, and Sports are still on the "cool" side as compared to competing projectors, with a color temperature in the 12,000K range but with a good tonal balance. These modes all measured around 2,900 ANSI lumens, which meets the tolerance for the advertised ANSI lumen specification. The brightest picture mode, labeled "Brightest," measures over 13,000K and has a very strong blue color cast to it, rendering it unusable except where brightness is the one and only consideration.

Even without its AutoCal features, the HU915QB offers functional tools a professional calibrator can use to optimize and customize its performance—tools that are notably more limited or missing altogether from many competing USTs. Pro and enthusiast calibrators can choose from 2-point, 10-point, or even 22-point grayscale controls, as well as CMS adjustments. Any changes made can be applied to either an individual picture mode, or to all the picture modes.

My goal was to find an easy adjustment that gets the projector really close to a textbook 6,500K color temp, which works with any mode by setting the Color Temperature to Warm and then making the following adjustment to the High RGB setting in the White Balance 2-point controls: Red +25, Green -10, Blue -40.

Quick aside: I wanted to make 100% sure my particular choice of UST screen was not affecting readings, so I also measured color using a standard white 1.1 gain screen material (Elite CineWhite) but found no appreciable difference.

If you do pursue the 3D LUT calibration, it starts the process with a 21-point 1D grayscale LUT (Look-Up Table) that in itself greatly improves the overall accuracy. You can apply the 3D LUT result to the following SDR picture modes: Cinema, Expert (Bright & Dark Room), Filmmaker, and Game. It's great to see the Game mode included; modern video games deserve to be seen in accurate color just as much as a movie.

My take on this LG is that if you have calibration software and a color meter, you can manually come close to calibrated color without much effort—just a couple minutes working with the 2-point adjustment—so long as you can accept that it will fall short of reference. But like a track-ready sports car, what you get out of the HU915QB depends on how much fine-tuning you put into it.

HDR Picture Modes. The HU915QB offers numerous HDR picture modes, some of which are named the same as the SDR modes. There's no Sports mode or Expert modes in HDR, but LG does add a Cinema Home setting in addition to standard Cinema. As with SDR, the appropriately named Brightest picture mode should be avoided due to its extreme inaccuracy.

LG HU915QB lifestyle2

I found Filmmaker Mode the most appealing for HDR, just like I did with SDR. That's because HDR processing on this projector is robust and effective, so you don't wind up with a washed-out HDR image in Filmmaker mode, unlike with some other USTs I've reviewed recently.

It's worth noting that with a 4K UST, even a seasoned pro calibration expert will not be able to achieve the "textbook" HDR calibration that a flagship TV provides, due to the much lower brightness projectors achieve and how much more aggressively it must apply tone-mapping. However if you create a 3D LUT using Calman, you can lock in optimal tone-mapping by telling the projector the exact post calibration on-screen peak brightness.

The 3D LUT calibration is supported in HDR by the Cinema, Filmmaker and Game modes, which frankly is all you need. The key here is to set up Cinema as the "streaming and TV" setting that presumes some ambient light in the room, and which can be the projector's default for HDR. You can then tune Filmmaker for lights-out home theater presentation, and the Game mode according to the conditions under which you like to play. With both Filmmaker and Game modes auto-activating based on content, you can enjoy optimized picture quality with a wide range of content and under varying light conditions.

I cannot stress enough what a revolution this UST is for HDR handling, even if you do not calibrate it. In my opinion, 4K HDR viewed on a full 3D LUT-calibrated HU915QB establishes the precedent for what to expect out of a UST projector.

SDR Viewing. After trying the various picture modes, I settled on Filmmaker Mode as my suggested go-to and the best for most situations except gaming and bright room viewing of content like sports. Even without (but especially with) the color temperature adjustment I made to lock in 6,500K, Filmmaker delivers a home theater-worthy image. At the minimum, you should set it to activate automatically when the projector identifies compatible content, but I found it also works for standard TV—or any other video I watch for that matter, such as the 4K drone videos I shoot and upload to YouTube.

Whether the subject is movies, streaming, or a TV show, Filmmaker mode delivers a pleasing picture that looks natural and three-dimensional. It's a no-brainer way to apply settings that respect the qualities of the original content—or more to the point, it avoids and disables settings that are deleterious to the viewing experience.

Filmmaker mode also measures the most accurate by default versus Cinema or the two Expert modes (Bright Space/Daytime and Dark Space/Nighttime). And if a 3D LUT calibration is in the mix, the Filmmaker mode becomes a means to achieving a true reference-quality cinematic presentation. This projector can absolutely nail Rec.709 D65, the HD calibration standard. With the caveat that the lights need to be dim, I'd rank the resulting image up there with any flat panel I've seen; it quite literally approached picture quality perfection, and that accuracy is reflected in the post-calibration measurements.

LG HU915QB front left

I mentioned this earlier, but one thing I truly appreciated about this projector is that, regardless of picture mode, it does not have the RGB convergence/chromatic aberration issue that has been present on every single RGB triple-laser UST I have reviewed or seen on display. The lens is sharp from edge to edge, has high uniformity, and even renders small text from a PC sharp and clear.

When the subject matter is TV—like live sports, news, or reality TV—and the projector needs to overcome daylight coming into the space, the Standard picture setting does the trick. If you like the boosted SDR color (not judging) you find on many HDR-capable TVs, the Vivid mode is very similar to Standard. Still, it offers that extra saturation without going too far and making things look cartoonish. But the colors created by this projector are so rich to begin with, there's no need to boost them artificially.

The Game Optimizer mode may be activated in any picture mode, and with ALLM (auto low latency mode) compatible devices, you don't even have to think about it; it happens automatically. When Game Optimizer is active, most extraneous video processing is disabled. This can make raw cable TV and HD streaming look a bit rougher, but that's clearly not what the mode is for. The purpose is to reduce latency with games, and with video game graphics, noise reduction and motion interpolation is not only unneeded, it's unwanted.

The bottom line is that SDR video games look incredible on the HU915QB. The big image, high contrast, and vibrant color achieve sublime, hyper-real visuals that are almost Hollywood FX-like. A perfect example is the updated Grand Theft Auto Online, which now offers 4K/60 Hz play and ray-traced lighting effects on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Because the graphics are now so much more realistic, the effect of the projector's picture quality is to increase the sense of immersion and suspension of disbelief. I particularly appreciate the way my character's avatar looks three-dimensional.

What the game consoles offer graphics-wise pales in comparison to my NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti-equipped gaming PC, which is able to feed the HU915QB a 4K/60 Hz signal at maximum quality settings. The visual quality achieved by my PC—which is pixel-perfect, free of compression artifacts or noise, and possesses detail—shows off the full resolving power of this projector. There were even moments in Grand Theft Auto when I deliberately flew to a cool spot to chill out and enjoy the sunset view through my character's eyes in the virtual world of Los Santos.

Unfortunately, with the HU915QB's 67-millisecond response time—even when Gaming Optimizer is active—some input lag will always be noticeable. So while the projector is acceptable for casual gaming, this is not the one to buy if the primary intended use is fast-paced gaming. There are some genres where this degree of latency does not matter, and personally I found it very playable, but if lightning reflexes are needed to win, this is not the projector that will lead you to victory.

The one thing you want to avoid on this UST is the "Brightest" picture mode. It is so far gone in terms of color accuracy that I'm left wondering why it was included. Unusually, this picture mode in our sample, and which we confirmed with a second sample, measured well above the 3,000-lumen spec at 4,400 ANSI lumens; it was 50% brighter than the next brightest picture modes.

For what it's worth, the HU915QB does a great job with the one TV show I still watch: South Park, which recently dropped a new episode on Paramount+. It has the rich color needed to make the animation pop, plus the detail necessary to bring out textures and emphasize the hard edges of the flat, construction paper cutout-style characters (which is how South Park started).

My review period happened to coincide with the NBA Finals, which provided an opportunity to see how it does with sports. I use YouTube TV streaming for sports with the 4K upgrade. Sadly, NBA games are not in 4K, but the live streaming quality is still decent, at least on par with cable TV.

I always dim the lights a bit, or close the window shades, so Filmmaker mode is plenty bright even for sports. What I particularly love is how well DLP handles motion without the need for interpolation, so even televised sports look good in Filmmaker mode. But the other thing is just how the LG makes the players look natural, like real human beings. I've seen other projectors somehow flatten the image, make it look diminished and almost fake, with waxy skin tones and basketball courts where the floorboards are a flickering mess as the camera pans. I got none of that from this LG; I feel the HD SDR picture processing is up to the company's high standards for its TVs.

Not unexpectedly, with lights on the loss of black levels is more severe than what a TV experiences. Moreover, many modern TVs can get brighter as well. However, among USTs the HU915QB is a beast, and for casual viewing it'll even work during the daytime, in a bright room full of windows. And crucially, the LG is bright enough that if you have shades or curtains, you can find a balance that works while enjoying the reflection-free qualities of a UST screen—TVs tend to act like mirrors in bright rooms.

One of the best things I did in SDR with this projector is use it to project art and photographs. It turns the screen into a giant picture frame, and I could not get over the perception of depth and vibrancy it achieved when showing my photos. There's enough contrast and detail in the images to trick your mind into seeing depth, or in the case of art prints and paintings, to make the projected image look like the original medium (oil painting, watercolor, etc.). My UST screen is surrounded by printed art and photos, and it's amazing how the projected image blends in with them.

HDR Viewing. When I first played 4K HDR content on this projector, I could scarcely believe my eyes. Why? I had grown somewhat cynical about HDR and projectors in general. But this LG has HDR figured out. Except for the Brightest picture mode, regardless of the setting, the rendition of various tricky scenes that have tripped up projectors was not just good; it exceeded what I've seen from many dedicated home theater projectors.

I tried to trip up the LG with my usual suite of test scenes, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the remake of Dune, and the test clips from the Spears & Munsell UHD Benchmark disc. The performance is so exceptional that it effectively renders the other UST projectors I have reviewed obsolete. With 1,000-nit mastered HDR10 content, it nails the brightness and tone mapping, from sunsets to mountain goats jumping around to backlit honey dripping over a black background. But, like all other USTs I have reviewed, what it cannot handle is the 4000-nit mastered HDR10 versions from the UHD Benchmark. Like other projectors it lacks the required brightness and clips those. But ultimately you'll find that most HDR10 is typically mastered to max 1,000 nits anyhow, and that the content won't even use all of that headroom.

LG HU915QB harrypotter
The textural depth in Harry Potter displayed by the LG HU915QB was better than any other UST projector so far. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

My usual Harry Potter test scene was the most jaw-dropping. It is so superior to how other USTs have handled the same scene that I almost want to go back into the old reviews and edit them to reflect how embarrassing their performance now looks compared to this mighty LG. Looking at Voldemort and his army on the hill, any dimness or dullness that I had come to associate with projected renditions was eradicated. Instead, the scene has texture and tonality that I frankly only thought a high-end HDR TV could achieve. Granted, the highlights are not achieving TV-level HDR brightness, but there's something about the bigger screen that makes up for it.

One thing that helps a lot is the black levels achieved by this LG, which are noticeably better than most USTs. This is a real boon for science-fiction films with space scenes. Often, I'm let down by the grayish blacks of DLP, but the HU915QB's' combination of good native contrast and dynamic contrast through laser modulation keeps things nice and dark. Frankly, it's a performance that's within striking distance of what you see from some better long-throw home theater projectors.

What this projector does is akin to converting an HDR movie mastered for home viewing (typically at 1,000 nits peak luminance) into SDR, but while keeping the DCI-P3 color. The result is the equivalent of a wide color gamut, 10-bit SDR, which is exactly what you see when you go to a movie theater. So IMO, there's not much to complain about. If you want to talk about replicating the theatrical experience at home, this UST is doing its best to deliver.

Speaking of DCI-P3 color, I was only able to reach 96% coverage as revealed by measurements, and that is only because the green primary is not as saturated as the red or blue. This makes sense as the limiting factor since the LG does not have a native green laser, instead deriving that primary color from a dedicated blue laser and phosphor. The reds and blues can easily surpass the DCI-P3 gamut limits. And as I noted earlier, this approach seems to avoid the color fringing issues I see on RGB triple-laser USTs, resulting in a cleaner looking image.

The bottom line is this: LG has fully cracked the code for getting HDR to look better than SDR on a UST projector. All you need to do is dim the lights to appreciate the HU915QB's strengths. Chief among them is how it looks like a giant plasma TV, with excellent motion rendering and uniformity plus wide viewing angles.

The Batman (2022) is the movie that fully convinced me of the LG's HDR prowess. The film is tonally dark, but also literally dark. So much of it happens in shadows or (of course) a literal cave. The guy dresses in black and runs around at night, after all. And this is a movie where with other USTs, I have to give up on HDR to get the best viewing experience. But with this LG, I felt like I was watching the movie in one of those premium commercial cinemas like IMAX or Dolby Cinema, where the peak brightness is similar to what this LG can output in calibrated Filmmaker mode (while projecting on a lenticular 0.6 gain ALR UST screen). I ultimately found the calibrated Filmmaker mode to be sufficiently bright, plus so appealing and reliable that I saw no reason to use any other mode.

LG HU915QB batman
Even in a dark film like The Batman, the performance felt like a movie theater experience. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

While the HU915QB has its issues with out-of-box color accuracy, the HDR performance, black levels and overall contrast are impressive for a DLP projector and good by any standard. I am confident AV hobbyists will seriously consider its merits versus any other projector in its price range, not just other UST models—at least for living room installs, if not dedicated home theaters.

When gaming in HDR, you gain the benefit of HGiG, though you need to remember to run the HDR calibration routine for your console. That way, the console will understand the limitations of the display and apply an appropriate level of static tone mapping. This aspect of the gaming experience on the HU915QB is glorious; I give it the "chef's kiss" because it's so good.

HDR is a game changer for gamers; it adds realism to lighting effects and virtually eliminates banding artifacts because it's 10-bit. As of this writing, I continue to use Forza Horizon 5 as my visual reference for HDR gaming. Thanks to the supercharged PC, I enjoy 4K/60 Hz HDR graphics at max settings, no problem, and the result completely blows away the Xbox Series X in terms of image quality.

Input lag notwithstanding, from a visual perspective it's amazing how well this projector renders fast motion and preserves details. Driving through the various Forza environments, the amount of visual information I noticed sometimes had me involuntarily letting out a "ha!" or an awkward chuckle. I only wish the latency was less, but there's a lot to love about the visually immersive experience of seeing a game render graphics with such visceral detail.

Last but not least, I never once saw rainbow artifacts with this projector. Are the days of the dreaded DLP RBE coming to an end? This projector seems to have solved the issue, a lot like its sibling, the HU715Q.

Audio. LG's audio options on the HU915QB are deeper and more flexible than many competing UST projectors I have reviewed but also consistent with the features found on the step-down HU715Q UST, including support for eARC, wireless via Bluetooth, and optical-digital.

With this level of video performance in a projector, I consider adding a dedicated external sound system almost mandatory. But if that's not possible, LG also offers the option of expanding the projector's capability to 4-channel surround sound with just a pair of Bluetooth speakers.

As mentioned, this LG offers plenty of external sound system options, including using Bluetooth speakers, soundbars, and full-sized AVR or pre/pro-based surround-sound systems. The eARC connectivity ensures there's no bandwidth bottleneck for sound, so you get lossless sound when available and full support for Dolby Atmos.

I had high hopes that the variable output from the optical digital connection, when set to its "Optical Out Device + Projector Speaker" setting, would track volume adjustments of the built-in speakers. This would have allowed the use of an optical-to-analog adapter to integrate an external subwoofer. But unfortunately, the optical output is locked on full output when the built-in speakers are active. An analog headphone jack that worked simultaneously with the speakers would have accomplished the same, but the HU915QB does not have one.

I count the lack of support for an external sub as an opportunity lost, in part because the built-in speakers are better than you might expect, which makes sense when you consider LG makes excellent soundbars. The speakers have no problem rendering a satisfyingly wide soundstage, and the addition of an inexpensive subwoofer would have further improved dynamics in a big way.

I demoed the Bluetooth surround using an LG UltraGear GP9 Bluetooth speaker, connecting as a single speaker. The option to connect dual compatible LG Bluetooth speakers is there as well, for 29 different speaker model options, but mine is not among them. However, the GP9 is a robust Bluetooth speaker, capable of significant output and even some decent bass, and it held up well as a surround. But again, you leave a lot on the table if you don't give this projector a proper surround-sound system; whether it's a soundbar or something more complex, you should aim to support Dolby Atmos and have a subwoofer in the mix.

For those who do add an external system—mine has Klipsch Reference Premiere speakers and an 8K Onkyo TX-NR7100 AVR in a 5.2.2 setup—the eARC feature is the best way to connect. It can output bitstream audio as well as PCM. Therefore, it can send high-fidelity sound from the projector's internal apps and any connected devices, which worked seamlessly in my system.

Conclusion

LG has created a 4K UST with the raw performance needed to knock your socks off with both SDR and HDR content. In particular, its ability to translate HDR into a stunning, realistic picture is unparalleled among the UST projectors I've seen so far. On the downside, at $6,499 it is a pricey flagship-class model that needs tweaking to extract textbook accuracy and get the most out of it. Fortunately, unlike many competing 4K USTs, it does have the tools a professional calibrator needs to achieve that higher level of performance—especially its support for automated 3D LUT calibrations.

While a calibration will make the most of its abilities—and is an appropriate extra spend for a projector of this cost and caliber—the uncalibrated SDR and HDR picture modes of the HU915QB are tuned to deliver an enjoyable viewing experience that, while not technically accurate, is perceptually realistic. And with LG's advanced processing, there's so much more to fine-tune than just the color.

Along with requiring calibration to make the most of your investment, the HU915QB comes with some other caveats. There's no 3D capability, which may take it out of contention for some, and despite its gamer-friendly features it's too slow for serious gaming.

Still, overall, the LG produces one of the cleanest and most compelling images I have seen from a UST, and with proper tuning, sets the high bar in this category for HDR picture quality. If you want the best UST money can buy, for now this is it. It earns Editor's Choice designation with ease.

Measurements

Brightness. [Editor's Note: Readers should be aware that the exceptionally high brightness we measured in the HU915QB's Brightest picture mode—well above the rated 3,000 ANSI lumen rating—was both highly unusual for any projector and questioned by LG during our factcheck. After confirming we had the most up to date firmware, they consequently sent a second sample that behaved in precisely the same way, and whose brightness was further verified by me in my own viewing studio. I also verified the unusually high out-of-box color temp readings Mark refers to in his review using Calman with an Xrite i1Pro2 spectroradiometer as well as a Minolta CL-200A instrument-grade handheld chroma meter.

As we've said before, taking accurate and repeatable UST brightness measurements using a handheld meter is notoriously difficult due to the steep angle of the projection and the need to tilt the meter to insure the sensor housing doesn't cast a shadow on the sensor. There's also the question of how LED and laser light sources interact with specific meters. So there are always enough variables to suggest our casual brightness measurements be taken with at least some grains of salt. That said, we used a variety of meters and software for a combination of handheld readings into the lens as well as fixed meter measurements off the test screen (accounting for variables like gain). While we can't say with 100% accuracy precisely how bright the Brightest mode actually gets, we can say with great certainty from off-screen measurements that it is nearly 60% brighter than the out of box Expert (Dark) and Filmmaker modes, and 35% brighter than the otherwise brightest Vivid, Sports, Standard modes. But here's the bottom line: even eschewing the Brightest mode with its ultra-heavy blue-green cast, this projector's best and most accurate picture modes as seen on a 0.6-gain lenticular UST ALR screen provide plenty of light output for a superb viewing experience in all but the very brightest ambient conditions.—Rob Sabin.]

The HU915QB is unusual in that its picture mode labeled "Brightest" measured 4,405 ANSI lumens, or 146.8% of the 3,000 ANSI-lumen specification. It's essentially unwatchable for traditional movie and TV content due to a heavy blue/green cast. The projector's next brightest modes, Standard, Sport and Vivid, came in close to the rated spec, while its most desirable picture modes, Cinema and Filmmaker Mode, delivered about 80% of the rated spec.

The HU915QB has three Energy Saving power modes that lower the brightness and power usage based on setting. In the Brightest mode these are grayed out and the projector delivers its full brightness as described above. For all other modes, Minimum Energy Saving provides the brightest output as described in the chart below. Moving the setting to Medium reduces brightness by 20%, and the Maximum setting reduces brightness by 40%.

LG CineBeam HU915QB ANSI Lumens

SDR Picture Mode ANSI Lumens
Vivid 2,907
Standard 2,907
Cinema 2,334
Sports 2,907
Filmmaker Mode 2,334
Brightest 4,405
Expert (Bright Space, daytime) 2,334
Expert (Dark Space, nighttime) 1,894
HDR PICTURE MODES
Vivid 2,907
Standard 2,907
Cinema Home 2,422
Cinema 2,422
Filmmaker Mode 2,422
Brightest 4,405

Brightness Uniformity: 82%

Fan Noise. I found the fan on this projector to be inaudible. I would describe this projector as effectively silent. Any noise it makes is enough below my room's 34 dB noise floor that I cannot measure it from a distance of 1 meter with the mic positioned in front of the projector. You can hear a fan if you put your ear up to the vent on the side, but that's about it. LG rates noise at a maximum of 30 dB, or 28 dB at normal brightness, using the industry-standard lab measurement that averages sound from multiple sides.

Input Lag. One of the more disappointing aspects of this projector is gaming input lag, but it is not a big surprise given that the 0.66-inch DMD used in this DLP is not known for its low latency, so LG had a hardware limitation to work with. A measured 67 ms lag with 4K/60 signals is not the end of the world, though—I was still able to enjoy casual gaming and the visuals are outstanding.

Connections

LG HU915QB connections
  • HDMI 2.1 (x1)
  • HDMI 2.0 (x2, one with eARC)
  • Optical Audio Out
  • Network (RJ-45)
  • USB (x2)
  • Wireless Networking

Calibrated Settings

Calibrated image settings from any third party do not account for the significant potential for sample-to-sample variation, nor the different screen sizes and materials, lighting, lamp usage, or other environmental factors affecting image quality. Projectors should always be calibrated in the user's space and tuned for the expected viewing conditions. However, the settings provided here may be a useful starting point for some. Always record your current settings before making adjustments so you can return to them as desired. Refer to the Performance section for some context for each calibration.

SDR and HDR

Ideally, owners of this projector will leverage the AutoCal function of Portrait Displays Calman software to create 3D LUTs. However, since a 3D LUT requires hardware and software to perform, I am listing the more basic manual adjustments I made to improve color accuracy.

Image Mode: Filmmaker Mode

I tweaked the default color temperature setting to bring the measured output to near 6,500K versus the default setting, which is closer to 8,300K in the highlights. Except for when I used a 3D LUT, this is the only adjustment I made to the projector's color settings.

You can apply this correction to any picture mode, SDR or HDR, by changing the Color Temperature to Warm, and using the above settings to White Balance.

White Balance, 2-point controls

Red Green Blue
High +25 -10 -40
Low 0 0 0

Video Optimized ANSI Lumens - Filmmaker Mode

SDR: 2193
HDR: 2276

For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG CineBeam HU915QB projector page.

To buy this projector, use Where to Buy online, or get a price quote by email direct from Projector Central authorized dealers using our E-Z Quote tool.

 
Comments (5) Post a Comment
Mike Posted Jul 28, 2022 9:29 AM PST
With these measurements, I am even more interested in the results of the IST projector shootout. Some of the claimed differences between the QB and QE aren’t apparent in the measurements. Seems like you’re getting the 3D LUT auto cal for the extra money and not much else.

Color gamut is the same, Contrast seems to be the same as well without the iris. Not sure what you’re getting for the extra money - maybe a better lens?
Vince Posted Jul 28, 2022 3:19 PM PST
Excellent review as always. Will you be reviewing the AWOL or comparing it to this projector ?
Steve Posted Jul 31, 2022 5:09 PM PST
Mark, thanks for the review. You mention being able to tell the PJ the leak brightness for HDR. By that do you mean the Tone Mapping adjustment in Portraits software or do you mean you can actually adjust it in the PJ and it adjusts the dynamic tone mapping to accommodate? I know with the HU810P if you leave DTM on then it defeats the Portrait Tone Mapping adjustment which is only used with DTM off.
Rob Sabin, Editor Posted Aug 1, 2022 8:17 AM PST
Both projectors will be part of our Laser TV Showdown later this week.
Steve Posted Aug 9, 2022 3:52 AM PST
In the showdown - This projector got really bad marks in sharpness/ focus. Did you notice any such issues? Any chance they had a bad unit?

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