$3,999 MSRP Discontinued
By taking the best attributes of its 6,000-lumen ProBeam BU60PST and 5,000-lumen BU50NST projectors and adding short-throw optics, LG’s ProBeam BU53PST delivers up close with 4K imaging, a built-in webOS browser, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and attractive pricing.
- Compact, high-brightness short throw projector
- 3840x2160 native resolution
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and web browser built-in
- 1.2X zoom lens
- Zero maintenance laser design
- Excellent value
- Confusing multiple menu systems
- No projector/fleet control via network
Need a short throw projector that can deliver a big, detailed image from close up? The LG ProBeam BU53PST does the trick with a proven laser-based illumination engine, 4K imaging, 1.2X zoom lens and a zero-maintenance design that means you shouldn't have to do anything but clean the projector's case over its life. It's got things that other business projectors can only dream about, like a built-in onboard web browser and Bluetooth audio for driving external speakers.
Nonetheless, like the BU60PST it's partly based on (reviewed by ProjectorCentral in 2021), the BU53PST suffers a few caveats. Despite its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth bona fides, the projector lacks an integrated web page for monitoring and controlling the projector from a network, and it's multiple-menu structure can make operation confusing. There's also no video-out port for a house of worship's overflow room, a lecturer's podium or a conference room leader's personal display. Still, at $4,299, the BU53PST is plenty bright enough to light up the room from close-up and an excellent value in its product class.
The LG Pro Beam BU53PST builds on the proven record of the BU60PST and BU50NST models but with a twist. Rather than the ability to fill a screen with images from across a mid-sized conference room, lecture hall or small church, it can do it from a few feet away. Its short throw optics can work in oddly shaped rooms where other projectors can't, and may mean that a teacher, presenter or cleric can stand in front of it to avoid casting shadows on the screen. The short throw lens also makes the BU53PST a good candidate for golf simulators, where high value is placed on fine detail and good color accuracy.
The best part is that the BU53PST doesn't sacrifice the things we liked most about the ProBeam BU60PST, namely its 3840x2160 resolution, zero maintenance design and inexpensive price tag. It does get by with a specified light output of "up to 5,000 ANSI lumens" versus the BU60PST's 6,000 lumens, but comes in with a $4,299 street price vs the $4,999 ticket on the BU60PST, and is priced right alongside the standard-throw, 5,000-lumen BU50NST at $4,266. That makes these models among the least expensive true 4K-resolution laser projectors in the 5,000-6,000 lumen product class, and it makes the BU53PST, by far, the cheapest 4K short-throw model in its class.
The good news is that the BU53PST is just about maintenance free with a rated lifetime of 20,000 hours or the equivalent of 12.5 years of typical business use of 200 days a year for 8 hours a day. Inside, the projector has sealed optics, solid state lighting components, and doesn't need a dust filter.
Part of the output from the BU53PST's powerful blue diode laser is converted to red and green streams of light. The three beams travel through an 8-segment color wheel that sequentially divides it up and bounces the light off the same 0.47-inch, 1920x1080 Digital Light Processing (DLP) imaging target that the BU50NST and BU60PST uses. The projector creates 3840x2160 video using Texas Instrument's XPR fast-switching pixel-shifting to get all of the pixels of a UHD signal up on the screen.
As with many lower-priced installation projectors, the Pro Beam BU53PST's lens is permanently mounted and can't be swapped. It has a throw ratio of between 0.94:1 and 1.14:1 with a 1.2X optical zoom lens. That translates into images from 3.3 to 25 feet from 3 to just under 25 feet. Try ProjectorCentral's LG BU53PST throw calculator to see if the BU53PST will work in your room.
Like the BU60PST and BU50NST, the BU53PST short throw cousin has strictly manual lens control rather than the motorized lens found on some more expensive projectors. There are rings around the lens for zooming-in and -out as well as focusing the image. There's also a pair of nested knobs on the side for moving the image up and down (by 50%) as well as right-to-left (by 20%).
While it lacks a traditional keystone correction mechanism, the BU53PST can correct for being horizontally or vertically tilted. The 4-, 8- and 12-point edge adjustment is quick and easy to use.
Rather than a four-way button interface, the BU53PST has a small mini-joystick in the back that can be used in lieu of the remote for setting the projector up and navigating the projector's menu. Just nudge the nub to select among the choices and press to accept the option. Based on LG's webOS 4.5, the BU53PST offers a lot of adjustments and set up parameters, but as eclectic as it is, the BU53PST suffers from the same interface shortcoming of the BU60PST I reviewed a while back. Namely, there are three separate menus for setting up and using the projector, which can take some real getting used to and can sometimes make it harder to get at things when you want to.
To start, its vertical main "quick" menu resides on the left side and provides access to what are likely the most used items, like Picture Mode, Networking and Sound. It can be worked with the projector's nub or the remote control.
If you navigate to the All Settings selection at the bottom, it reveals another vertical menu but with a different look. It controls things like the picture quality, audio connections and using the edge adjustment tool.
That said, the Home menu (accessed with the remote's house icon) is the webOS content and settings menu and presents its options horizontally along the bottom of the screen. From this horizontal set of tabs, I was able to open and use the web browser as well as display audio and video files from a USB drive and even Microsoft Office files using built-in SmartOffice software.
Getting used to the remote control is essential for getting the most out of the BU53PST. The device is neither backlit nor capable of having its wireless range extended with an audio jumper cable, but it has buttons for the projector's picture mode, inputs and getting into each menu.
The projector's range of ports is just enough, with a pair of HDMI ports that support version 2.0b with HDCP 2.2. The BU53PST can work with HDR10 material and uses dynamic tone mapping to convert the signal on a frame-by-frame basis to best optimize the image.
The projector's audio is handled by a 3.5 mm analog audio out jack or a pair of onboard 5-watt speakers. Its built-in Bluetooth connection makes it a gem for linking the projector with an external set of speakers like the Pyle soundbar I used. An AV synchronization control can help get the video's lip movement in synch with the sound.
In addition to an RS-232 serial port that can be used for remote access with Crestron Control, the projector's two USB 2.0 Type-A ports can help by playing the contents of a flash drive, including images and videos, or by powering a streaming device. The BU53PST also has two RJ-45 LAN ports, one dedicated for HDBaseT video and control. The other is for getting the projector online, although it also has Wi-Fi built in.
What the BU53PST lacks, however, is the ability to show its operating parameters or make remote adjustments from a network-connected web browser interface the way many business and education projectors can. On the other hand, it does have its own built-in browser and does a nice job of projecting web pages directly for streaming things like NBC and CBS TV news feeds or showing 2160p YouTube videos. A down side was that the stream took upwards of a minute to load full screen. The browser was best utilized with a connected keyboard that has a touchpad, like the Logitech wireless K400 I used. There is an on-screen keypad available, but it's not for those who value their time. The BU53PST can also mirror the screen of a phone or tablet to show a presentation, video or just a document or two. This is something few projectors can do on their own.
How do you choose the right screen for your projector?
Our Projector Screen Buyer's Guide will take you through the process of finding the correct screen for your projector and space.Screen Buyer's Guide
The projector's three-year warranty is adequate but falls short compared with the competition. After all, laser projectors from Sony include a 5-year warranty along with 12,000 hours of coverage for the illumination components, and Sharp/NEC also offers a generous 5-year warranty.
As was the case for the BU50NST and BU60PST, their short throw brother is compact for its class and a snap to set up on a tabletop, niche or ceiling mount. All three projectors share similar design and essentially the same dimensions and weight, though the BU53PST is a touch less deep, coming in at 14.6 x 11.4 x 6.1 inches. At 21 pounds, it's easy to grab, move and mount the projector.
LG doesn't sell a wall or ceiling mount for the BU53PST, but it worked fine with my generic hardware. Underneath are four threaded attachment points and the projector has adjustable-height feet up front. The projector can be aimed at any angle, even straight down for a floor. Cooling air travels from the side through the projector's illumination engine and out the back. LG engineers recommend at least a foot of clearance on all sides for cooling air.
With everything in place, I started adjusting the image's placement. As mentioned, rather than being controlled from the remote, the BU53PST's horizontal and vertical image shifting is all manual and controlled with two nested knobs on the side. The action is a little loose and can take a few tries to get it just right. The BU53PST has a single light up front to denote status. When it's red, the projector is in standby, ready to be turned on, but it turns off when the projector is running.
Finally, the BU53PST has LG's Simplink that uses the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) spec to be able to turn on and use things like a DVD player from the projector's remote control. This is more of a consumerish item but with the right gear, it can be a big help in business locations.
It was quick and easy to get the BU53PST running, taking all of 2.3 seconds to start it up and 2.2 seconds for it to shut its three fans off. This makes the projector a good fit for stop and go use throughout the day in a common area. It can be controlled with a light switch connected to an AC outlet.
Oddly, the BU53PST's six picture modes differ slightly from the BU60PST I tested earlier. In addition to Presentation and Standard, it has Expert settings for dark and bright rooms as well as Cinema and Game. There's no Dicom Sim mode, so the projector probably won't cut it for presentations of X-ray scans in a medical school or hospital auditorium.
Its 92 percent brightness uniformity rating is relatively high among all projectors and in line with the BU60PST's 91.5 percent rating. I could see no hot or cold spots across the screen.
Its top output in its brightest Presentation mode reached 4,651 ANSI lumens, about 7 percent off its "up to 5,000 lumen" rating but plenty for a mid-sized conference room, small auditorium or lecture hall. As is the case with most other laser projectors, the maximum brightness comes at the cost of imaging that's dominated by greenish-blue hues, making everything look stark and cold. It's fine for showing documents or spreadsheets and does well with the lights on and the shades up, but it won't be the right choice for showing photographs or video.
The Standard mode does a little better with a more neutral tone range. It can put 3,112 lumens on screen, although if you want some extra warmth, the Cinema mode delivers, but at the further reduction of brightness to 2,093 lumens. The Game mode delivered 2,736 lumens. The Expert modes for bright and dark rooms, which in LG's home theater projectors have traditionally been closest to the industry-standard D65 white point for video production, registered 2,075 and 1,927 lumens.
There's one more set up option that's critical for when the projector senses HDR-encoded material. It deploys dynamic tone mapping, but this can be turned off. It would be a shame to do so, however, because the HDR mode effectively brings out highlights and shadow detail not seen on the other modes.
Using the Presentation mode, the BU53PST topped out at 335 watts of power consumption, about 15 percent less than the brighter BU60PST. The projector should cost about $83 to run for 8 hours a day for 200 days a year and your organization pays the national average of 15.4 cents per kilowatt hour.
With three fans in the back, I thought the BU53PST might be too boisterous for house of worship or classroom scenarios. I was wrong, because the fans generally run at a low speed, while the exhaust never got above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The noise level hit a peak of 38.6 dBA measured 36 inches from the exhaust vent, much quieter than the slightly brighter BU60PST's 42.4dBA. The BU53PST's noise was measured in a room with a background noise level of 35.5dBA. LG specs the projector to have a noise level of between 26 and 29 dBA but that's in a sound-proof room using an averaged measurement from all sides of the projector.
There are also two Eco settings for the BU53PST that can be adjusted on the fly with the remote control. They reduce the power draw by 8.8 percent and 36.2 percent but at the cost of lower brightness.
By combining a zero-maintenance design with a capable 4K projector that includes a web browser and the best wireless connections this side of a tablet, the LG ProBeam BU53PST delivers a rare 4K, short-throw device that can fill a screen from close up. On the downside, its three menus are confusing at first and can be a bit cumbersome to use day to day. But this projector can do a great job in a small church, boardroom or school's lecture hall, or in a golf simulator where high-resolution, short-throw options are favored. Best of all, its $4,299 price tag makes the ProBeam BU53PST a true bargain among 4K projectors, long- or short-throw, in its brightness class.
Brightness. Using the BU53PST's Presentation mode, I was able to get 4,651 ANSI lumens of brightness. This is about 7 percent less than LG's spec of "up to 5,000 lumens." With the projector set to the more neutral Standard mode, the output dropped to 3,112 lumens while adding more warmth for the Cinema mode reduced it further to 2,097 lumens. The projector's Game mode yielded 2,736 lumens. With the projector set to its two Expert modes, the BU53PST delivered 2,075 and 1,927 lumens for bright and dark rooms, respectively.
The BU53PST has three Energy Saving modes that reduce power consumption and brightness. The Minimum mode is the brightest and represents full laser power. Engaging Medium mode reduces power and brightness by 8.8%, while Maximum Energy Saving reduces power and brightness by 36.2%.
LG BU53PST ANSI Lumens
|Picture Mode||Minimum Power Saving||Medium Power Saving||Maximum Power Saving|
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 11.1%
Brightness Uniformity. As was the case with the BU60PST, which the BU53PST is based on, the projector has an excellent uniformity of 92%.
Fan Noise. The LG BU53PST is among the quietest and coolest running projectors in its class. Its trio of cooling fans registered a peak of 38.6dBA 36 inches from the projector's exhaust in our casual measurements. The room had a background noise level of 35.5dBA. LG specs the projector at between 26 and 29dBA, depending on its mode, using the industry-standard averaged measurement in a soundproof chamber.
Input Lag. In line with most other business projectors, the input lag, as measured with a Bodnar lag meter outputting a 1080p/60Hz signal, was 60.2 milliseconds.
- HDMI 2.0b (x2) with HDCP support
- HDBaseT (RJ-45)
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- USB (x2) Type A
- Audio-out (3.5 mm)
- Bluetooth wireless audio out (with sync)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our LG ProBeam BU53PST projector page.