It may not be the smallest, cheapest or brightest mini projector around, but the LG CineBeam PF510Q has a built-in smart TV platform, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for a flexible, portable package that's functional and easy to carry from place to place.
- Small and easy to carry
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in
- LG smart TV software
- HDR capable
- No built-in or optional battery
- Limited apps library and no Netflix app
By combining 1920x1080 resolution with LED illumination and a built-in streaming platform, LG has created a small projector that punches above its 2.2-pound weight. It may not have the ideal color balance of a home theater projector or the brightness of a conference room projector, but the CineBeam PF510Q is just as good for watching the latest streaming TV show at home as for running a group training video or going over spreadsheet numbers at work.
Specified to have the perceived equivalent of 450 ANSI lumens at its disposal, it's probably not bright enough for leaving the lights on and the shades up, but the PF510Q has the one-two wireless punch of integrated Wi-Fi (for data and streaming programming) and Bluetooth (for external speakers). Priced at $599, it is built around LG's smart TV software, offering a competent Web browser and dedicated apps for major streaming services although, like a lot of projectors, it lacks Netflix compatibility.
At 5.8 x 5.8 x 2.6 inches, the CineBeam PF510Q is small and easy to carry from room to room, making it just as good at work for impromptu meetings or at home to binge the latest streaming show on a living room wall. Slightly smaller than the XGIMI Elfin, the PF510Q's textured white and gray case should fit in at home or at work.
It weighs the same 2.2 pounds as the Elfin, and with its AC adapter, the PF510Q has a travel weight of 3.0 pounds. On the downside, it lacks the felt bag that some earlier LG CineBeam mini projectors came with.
Based on its 0.23-inch Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging chip, the PF510Q displays full HD imaging. Behind the scenes, the projector has a four-channel RGBB illumination engine with single red and green LEDs as well as two for the blue channel to better control and balance the projector's color. Unlike some competitors, however, it does without an integrated battery pack for late night picnic movies or off-the-grid viewing.
According to LG, the PF510Q's LED light source should last 30,000 hours and never need to be changed. That means that it could run for more than a decade at eight hours a day for 200 days a year. Its 450 ANSI lumen brightness rating (we measured 464 ANSI in its brightest setting) is meager next to some larger portables like the Elfin or XGIMI's Halo models with 800+ lumens, though not out of line with small picos like the AAXA P8. It's enough to be used in a darkened room for watching a movie in the den or going over a new website design with colleagues, though with the lights on, its image starts to get washed out.
Like many in its class, rather than a lens cap, the projector's optics are recessed a safe 0.6 inches. Unlike many of the latest ultraportable projectors, the PF510Q lacks electronic auto-focusing, although its focus lever above the lens is accurate and the focus is uniform across the screen. It also lacks a zoom lens, which is typical for this class of projector where moving the projector's position up or back to alter the image size is usually a simple matter.
The PF510Q does without a traditional control panel for adjusting the projector and instead uses a single joystick button. It can turn the projector on and off with a press and allows maneuvering through its menu by pressing the nub forward, back, right or left. Like other LG projectors, the PF510Q has a bifurcated menu structure with a vertical section on the left of the screen for the projector basics and a horizontal multimedia menu across the bottom. Both can't be shown at once.
A lot can be done through the compact, rounded remote control, including turning it on or off, getting to the projector's Home page, or picking the input. The four-way control pad is for working with the PF510Q's menu and there are dedicated keys for volume, settings and to reach Amazon Prime Video or Disney+. While it isn't backlit, the remote control has strategic Braille-like dots that can assist in locating the functions in a dark room. The remote uses a pair of AA batteries and had a range of about 32 feet.
More than just a projector, the PF510Q has a built-in smart TV interface, but rather than using the popular Android TV software, it has LG's WebOS-based software. There's not only the aforementioned ability to stream entertainment through the Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, but also Apple TV+, YouTube and others.
Compared to Android TV, the selection is limited but that's where the PF510Q's web browser comes in. It was just as good for catching an episode of Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime Video as for browsing various sites. Like other streaming projectors, it works best with an external keyboard, like Logitech's wireless K400r I used.
To get online, it has gigabit Ethernet wired networking as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There's no way to monitor or control the projector over a network as is often found on commercial projectors, however.
There's one more trick up the PF510Q's digital sleeve: wireless video casting. In addition to LG's Screen Share, the projector can also use Apple AirPlay 2 or Miracast to wirelessly receive video from a phone, tablet or notebook. It took a few seconds to connect and the projector and source computer need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, but it worked reliably.
If you want to use old-fashioned cables, the PF510Q has a pair of HDMI connections and is Dolby Audio compatible. One of the HDMI ports supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC) protocol, guaranteeing a high quality digital audio signal to an external soundbar or other audio system. The projector's single speaker's output is acceptable as long as the volume stays low, although the PF510Q also has a 3.5-millimeter audio-out/headphone jack for wired speakers as well as built-in Bluetooth for sending the audio stream to wireless speakers or headphones. It sounded great with the Pyle sound bar I used.
The projector's USB Type A port on the side can power a streaming receiver and connect with a flash drive to display images, view video and play audio files. It worked with my Logitech K400r wireless keyboard's transmitter and can be used with a simple USB hub. The projector lacks a SD flash card reader, however.
With eight picture modes, the projector can be tuned to the material at hand. In addition to Vivid, Standard and Cinema, the PF510Q has settings for Sports, Game Optimized and Brightest. There're also modes with LG's Expert settings for dark and bright rooms. If the material is encoded High Dynamic Range (HDR) programming, the PF510Q can use dynamic tone mapping to optimize the image, though there are no adjustments for tweaking it.
Because of its size and weight, the PF510Q was a snap to place and set up on the test bench. Underneath, it has a threaded mounting point for a tripod as well as a pair of adjustable feet in the front.
Along with less brightness, a price paid for the LG's small size and weight is that setup is more manual than projectors like the aforementioned XGIMI, models, which offer sophisticated autofocus and keystone functions. Still, it was a snap to get to a rectangular image using the PF510Q's vertical keystone correction (it lacks horizontal keystone correction). However, at an angle of 15 degrees, it reduced the light output by 28% This is on a par with the Elfin's 25% keystone light loss, but more than the 10% loss we recorded for the AAXA M7.
When getting started, the PF510Q has voice-assisted steps, although it's easy to turn off. But the 15-minute start-up routine is tedious and thankfully only needs to be done once. It requires entering where it will be used and registering with LG.
Able to create a 5-foot image from 64 inches away, the PF510Q tops out at a 10-foot image. Its sweet spot is closer to images of seven or eight feet. Check out ProjectorCentral's PF510Q Throw Distance Calculator for distance and image size measurements.
After I connected the PF510Q to my lab's Wi-Fi network I fired up CNN and other sites on the first try using the integrated web browser. There are a few dozen Smart TV apps but nothing like the depth of the thousands apps available for Android TV. There's software for AccuWeather and SkyNews, but nothing for CNN, BBC or MLB.TV.
With the PF510Q all set up, it took 7.2 seconds to start up and display an image and 3.2 seconds to shut itself off. This makes it good for use in a shared room where it will be turned on and off several times during the day.
Its 450 ANSI lumen rating slightly understated its real-world performance of 464 ANSI lumens using the projector's Brightest mode. While living up to its name, the Brightest mode projected an overwhelmingly green image that made everything look like a Halloween TV special. It should be reserved for projecting spreadsheets and documents where brightness counts for everything.
Using the Vivid mode, I measured 367 lumens although the projector's output was dominated by purple tones, while the Cinema mode put out 304 lumens and made everything look yellow, and the Sports mode was overwhelmingly blue and able to shine 367 lumens on screen. There are Expert Settings for Bright and Dark rooms that offered somewhat better color balance and came in at 378 and 300 lumens, respectively.
However, overall, the Standard mode often provided the best balance between brightness with close to a neutral color balance. It delivered 384 lumens.
There's also a Game Optimzed (GO) setting that delivered 342 lumens onscreen. More to the point for gamers, it reduced the projector's latency from 67.2-miliseconds (ms) in Standard mode to 38.3ms in GO mode. The GO interface allowed image adjustments for different types of games as well as changing the interface's color.
The Cinema mode's overly warm image was acceptable for watching the opening "Dawn of Man" sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The sunrise and sunset scenes were very rich, and the PF510Q showed details that some other projectors have obscured.
Using the Standard mode, I watched some HDR undersea exploration videos using the projector's YouTube app, where the PF510Q exhibited the saturated colors and sharp imaging of more expensive projectors. Its motion was smooth without jumps or freezes.
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In addition to the picture modes, the PF510Q has several audio modes, including Standard, Cinema, Clear Voice, Sports, Music and Game Optimizer. For me, the best overall audio performance came from using the projector's AI Sound setting that automatically optimized the audio. It had a little too much high-end for my taste but was an acceptable balance for music, spoken word, movies and websites. This setting was locked out when I used Bluetooth-connected speakers, however.
At 93%, the PF510Q's brightness uniformity rating confirmed its uniform on-screen image, which had no projected visible hot spots or dull regions.
The PF510Q's peak power use of 39.3 watts makes it a green miser, particularly next to the 59.0 watts used by the XGIMI Elfin projector, for example. The LG consumed just 0.4 watts at idle. Put together, expect to pay about $10 a year in electricity bills for the projector based on it being used for 8 hours a day for 200 days a year at the national average of 15 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity.
The LG is also pretty much maintenance-free—it doesn't need a dust filter, and as mentioned the LEDs should last for years and years. While running it never got above 98 degrees Fahrenheit. And at 39dBA in our casual real-world noise measurements, its fan's output was a bit loud but more or less on par with some of the bigger portables out there. LG rates the projector's noise at a maximum of 29dBA using the industry-standard averaged measurement taken in a soundproof room.
Small and easy to carry from room to room or city to city, the LG PF510Q is a mighty mite that combines LED lighting components and LG's smart TV software. It lacks the brightness and color balance of larger and more expensive projectors but for smaller images it should be a hit at home and at work with its 450 ANSI lumen output. While the PF510Q has Wi-Fi (for getting online content) and Bluetooth (for connecting wireless speakers), its LG's Smart TV format has limited apps available, particularly compared to the thousands that Android TV offers. Still, the PF510Q has an integrated Web browser and can receive material wirelessly using Miracast or Apple AirPlay, providing several different routes to the screen. There are brighter, cheaper and smaller projectors on the market, but the PF510Q stands out by doing a lot with a little.
Brightness. The PF510Q provides enough brightness for viewing business documents or streaming entertainment in a darkened room. Its Brightest picture mode registered 464 lumens, just over its 450-lumen spec, although its look is overwhelmingly green. The Vivid and Cinema modes reduce the output to 367 lumens and 304 lumens but change that color bias toward purple and yellow. The Sports mode delivered 367 lumens while the Expert settings for bright and dark rooms yielded 378 and 300 lumens.
Overall, the best color balance came with the projector's Standard mode. It put 384 lumens on screen with nearly neutral colors.
LG PF510Q ANSI Lumens
|Picture Mode||ANSI Lumens|
|Expert Setting Bright Room||378|
|Expert Setting Dark Room||300|
Power. At a maximum power use of 39.3 watts, the PF510Q is economical to operate. It should cost roughly $10 a year, if it's used for 8 hours a day and you pay 15 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, the national average.
Brightness Uniformity: 93%
Fan Noise. A little louder than some other LED-based mini projectors, the LG PF510Q's cooling fan recorded a maximum of 39 dBA as measured 36 inches from the projector in Brightest mode. The room's background noise level was 35.1dBA. Meanwhile, LG rates the projector's noise at a maximum of 29dBA using the averaged measurement from several position around the projector taken in a soundproof room.
Input Lag. Using a Bodnar Lag Tester, the PF510Q projector recorded a latency of 67.2ms for a 1080P/60 fps signal in Standard mode. This dropped to 38.2ms in Game Optimized mode. This may be suitable for casual gaming with some titles but is too slow for serious competition.
- HDMI 2.0 (x2, HDCP 2.2, one with ARC)
- USB Type-A
- 3.5mm analog audio out
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG CineBeam PF510Q projector page.