Inexpensive for its 4K product class and bright enough to fill a mid-sized conference room, church or classroom with video, the 6,000-lumen LG ProBeam BU60PST delivers a lot for a little. Surprisingly small, the projector has built-in Wi-Fi networking, a file viewer and a Web browser so that it doesn’t need a computer.
- Excellent value in its product class
- 3840x2160 4K UHD resolution
- Zero maintenance design
- Built-in Wi-Fi, file viewer and Web browser
- 1.6X zoom lens
- Multiple menu systems can be confusing
- Lacks video-out port
- No detailed manual
The LG ProBeam BU60PST sets a new standard for bringing 4K resolution to offices, schools and churches in a $4,999 projector that's capable of delivering about 6,000 ANSI lumens. It not only hits a sweet spot on brightness and budget for these organizations, but the ProBeam BU60PST's laser-based illumination engine also means that it will never need a lamp change, while the single-chip DLP imaging engine doesn't need dust filter changes—making this as close to a zero-maintenance projector as exists today. That said, the big payoff is that it boasts Wi-Fi networking, a capable Web browser and a versatile file viewer that can project a variety of items from photos and .pdf files to Web sites and Google docs.
We applaud the ProBeam BU60PST's innovative nub-based 4-way control panel that saves space and can be more efficient than a traditional 4-way button design, but the projector's different interfaces can be confusing, to say the least. Plus, the ProBeam BU60PST does without some creature comforts, like a full manual to explain it all and a video-out port for an overflow room or secondary display in a lecture hall.
Still, at its price the ProBeam BU60PST is about the least expensive and most feature-packed model in its brightness and resolution class, and takes a bold step into the future of projection for a church, classroom, retail location, business or government group. In other words, the ProBeam BU60PST creates a new category: the economical 4K business projector.
From the outside, the putty colored LG ProBeam BU60PST doesn't look particularly special for a projector that tries to straddle several uses, from private and governmental offices to houses of worship and schools. It's what's inside that counts, and the ProBeam BU60PST takes the lead in delivering more for less by combining 3840x2160 resolution imaging with nearly 6,000 lumens of light for an unbeatable price. By comparison, the Epson Pro 1060UNL projector with its least expensive lens costs $2,500 more.
What's more, rather than relying on pixel-doubling technology with a 1080p imager used on the Pro 1060UNL, the BU60PST has a single 0.47-inch Digital Light Processing (DLP) chip that uses Texas Instrument's XPR fast-switching technology to pump out ridiculously sharp images in full UHD resolution. Its output looks great regardless of whether the input stream is HD or 4K.
The projector's light path starts with a single blue-diode laser. The stream of light is converted to make additional red and green beams with a phosphor wheel. Finally, the beams are run through an eight-segment color wheel and bounced off the DLP imaging target, through the projector's output lens and on to the screen.
If you don't need 4K imaging or can't afford the ProBeam BU60PST's price tag, LG's similar WUXGA version, the ProBeam BF60PST, sells for $3,499. Both are maintenance-free projectors that will never need either a lamp change or a new filter. With rated lifespans of 20,000 hours, they could last for more than a decade if used for 8 hours a day during business days.
Both the ProBeam BF60PST and BU60PST have an attached lens that can't be changed—no doubt a contributor to their attractive pricing. They are, however, versatile enough to be used in a variety of locations, including conference rooms, medium-sized churches, large lecture halls and even high-performance golfing simulators. The ProBeam BU60PST can fill a screen from 40-inches to 25-feet (measured diagonally). Because of its ultra-wide 1.6X zoom lens, the projector's placement isn't critical and the projector can create an 8-foot image from between 9.4 and 15.2-feet away, depending on the zoom level.
Zooming in all the way from the widest lens position reduces the projector's output by 14 percent, much better, for example, than the 33 percent drop in light level we measured for the Sony VPL-PHZ60. To check the range of throw distances with any screen size, take a look at ProjectorCentral's throw calculator for the ProBeam BU60PST.
The projector has a large lens barrel with rings for focusing the image and zooming-in and -out but lacks the powered lens adjustments you get with some other, pricier models.
With its three menus, the ProBeam BU60PST took a bit of getting used to. The traditional menu runs vertically along the left of the screen and includes things like projection mode, aspect ratio and network settings. There's also a round interface that can be reached from the remote control or by pressing the projector's control nub in the back. The nub is like a mini-joystick that activates the selection when pressed.
Finally, the ProBeam BU60PST's Home menu can be opened from the remote control's house icon. It provides access to LG's webOS 4.5 interface and provides access to multimedia choices with the Web Browser, Photo and Video, Music and files. Thanks to Artifex's SmartOffice productivity software built in, it worked with everything from Microsoft Office apps to .MP3 to .pdfs. In other words, it lets you do without a connected computer for most uses. Overall, it worked well, but an integrated interface with a single entry point would have simplified things.
The projector's remote control is stuffed with buttons but lacks backlit keys. It not only allows changing the source or the image's aspect ratio but also quick adjustments to the power savings level. Dig deeper and the remote allows tweaking the brightness, contrast, tone and color saturation. It uses a pair of AAA batteries and had a 30 foot range but doesn't have a jack for a jumper cable that would allow longer reach as is found on some business projectors.
The port selection is adequate. There are two HDMI (version 2.0b with HDCP 2.2). It even recognizes an HDR10 input and automatically applies dynamic tone-mapping to take advantage. The ProBeam BU60PST also has a pair of USB 2.0 Type-A ports and two RJ-45 ports, one for network connection and moving data into and out of the projector and the other for connecting an HDBaseT receiver for content and control. There's a 3.5 mm analog audio out jack and an old-school RS-232 serial connector for remote control. The sound from the built in pair of 5-watt speakers was okay but flat, lacking in the midrange richness that's essential for music and movies. It's fine for spoken word material, which is what it will likely be used for. It can get surprisingly loud, though the bass breaks up at higher volumes.
Additionally, the projector has Bluetooth audio out and an associated AV sync control to adjust for latency, which is a rarity in a business projector. It connected fine with a small Bluetooth speaker and soundbar I had on hand. On the other hand, it lacks some of the creature comforts we've taken for granted in this class of projector, such as video-out or a VGA video input.
Fortunately, the ProBeam BU60PST makes up for its omissions with its built-in Wi-Fi, something that competitors often charge extra for if they offer it at all. It took just a minute to link the ProBeam BU60PST with my company's wireless LAN and be able to open a variety of Web sites using the included WebOS browser. It worked just as well with Google docs as with CNN and Ookla's Speedtest. A word of warning, though—the browser works best with a USB keyboard, such as the wireless Logitech K400 Plus I used. You can also screen share from a Miracast compatible device.
Despite being a complex piece of machinery with lots of nooks and crannies, the ProBeam BU60PST lacks a detailed manual. It does come with a 32-page setup booklet that's clearly not sufficient for a projector of this sophistication. In my case, it meant spending several hours of trial and error to explore the different features.
The projector's three-year warranty is adequate but falls short of expectations 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.
Think of the ProBeam BU60PST as a stealth projector that looks like nothing special, but is capable of 4K resolution, and you get an idea of its potential in businesses, governmental offices, churches and schools. At 14.6 x 11.4 x 6.1-inches, it's less than half the size of some competitors and its 21.4-pound weight makes it exceptionally light for its brightness class. It can be maneuvered and mounted by a single person and easily fits on a shelf or nook.
LG doesn't sell specific mounting hardware for the projector, but it worked fine with my generic mount. Underneath, the projector has a pair of adjustable feet up front and four attachment points. It can operate at any angle but requires 12-inches of open space for cooling air and its exhaust air is blown out the back.
The ProBeam BU60PST can correct for vertical and horizontal keystone distortion, but like with all projectors this costs some light output; at 15-degrees inclination, the correction lowered the projector's brightness by 23 percent. There's also a manual image lens shift mechanism with control knobs on the side that can move the image 20% right or left as well as 50% up or down. A 12-point warping control should be useful for aligning the image on curved or irregular surfaces.
Because of its small size and weight, the ProBeam BU60PST T was quick and easy to set up on the test bench. It was projecting an image 10.8 seconds after turning the projector on and took only 2.3-seconds to shut off its fan when turned off. This makes it perfect for on-and-off use in shared rooms, though unlike some projectors you can't turn it on and off via a light switch.
The projector has seven SDR (standard dynamic range) projection modes including Presentation, Standard, Cinema, DiCom, Screen Game, and Expert (Dark) and Expert (Bright) for dark or bright rooms. These last two are the closest you'll come to a color-accurate dedicated Rec.709 or sRBG setting. There's no settings to compensate for projecting on a painted wall as is sometimes found in commercial projectors, nor compatibility for 3D signals.
The ProBeam BU60PST measured an impressive 91.5 percent brightness uniformity with no visible hot spots. Its projection modes top out with the Presentation setting, which was the brightest at 5,940 ANSI lumens. That's only about 1 percent off its 6,000 lumen rating. Not surprisingly, the images in this mode are on the cold side and weighted towards blue and green, though it worked fine for Excel spreadsheets and presentations that didn't have a preponderance of photographic images.
The Standard mode adds some pink tones to the mix and tops out at 3,751 lumens of light, but the warmer Cinema mode delivered 2,189 lumens and provided a good option for photographs or movie/video material. The DiCom mode for showing medical scans yielded 2,349 lumens while the Screen Game mode put up 3,274 lumens. The two Expert modes for bright and dark rooms raised the contrast ratio and produced 2,393 and 1,841 lumens, respectively.
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When it encounters a 4K HDR signal, the BU60PST presents a similar but smaller mix of dedicated picture modes including Presentation (HDR), Standard (HDR), Cinema Home (HDR), Cinema (HDR), and Screen Game (HDR). A Dynamic Tone Mapping feature, defeatable from the menu, is active by default and was effective in boosting or taming highlights on UHD HDR movie discs. As with the standard modes, the Presentation mode leaned green and wasn't the best choice for HDR content, but the Cinema Home mode provided good skin tones and enough brightness to reveal an HDR effect in a dark room where HDR content is likely to be consumed. In reality, though, HDR viewing is not likely to come much into play with a business projector intended for bright conference and classrooms.
In its top output, designated by the Presentation display mode and the Minimal Power Savings power setting, the projector used 393 watts as well as 0.2 watts at idle. If you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, expect that the ProBeam BU60PST will cost about $82 a year to use if it's on for 8 hours a day for 200 days a year.
If that's too much, the ProBeam BU60PST has two eco modes that can cut its power use at the cost of brightness. The Medium Power Saving mode lowered the projector's power drain to 305 watts but reduced illumination by 20 percent. The Maximum Power Saving mode lowered power use to 244 watts but brightness was off by 36 percent compared to Minimal Power Saving settings.
The projector's color brightness was measured to be 1,868 lumens, about one third that of the white brightness level. This is to be expected for a projector with a color wheel that sequentially runs through the colors one at a time for the DLP chip to project, and is tuned to optimize brightness over color accuracy. Unlike with some single-chip DLP projectors, there is no DLP Brilliant Color control to trade some white brightness for additional color brightness and accuracy.
With the ability to put out nearly 6,000 lumens of light from a compact chassis, the ProBeam BU60PST had a lot of cooling to do. In our real world tests, it registered a peak of 42.5 dBA of fan noise measured 36 inches from the exhaust vent in a room with a background level of 35.3 dBA. That's a bit better than the 47.2 dBA we measured for Sony's VPL-PHZ60 at full blast. As the system reduces its power draw and heat developed when using its two power saving modes, which dropped the fan noise dropped to 39.9 and 39.5 dBA.
The fan was effective in helping the projector keep its cool. While projecting images, the BU60PST topped out at 95-degrees Fahrenheit, putting it on a par with laser-based HD projectors.
Compared with WUXGA or 1080p models, the LG ProBeam BU60PST may not be the cheapest or brightest projector aimed at schools, businesses and houses of worship, but it does the best job of delivering ultra-high resolution imaging on a budget. If you need or value the extra detail, the BU60PST's combination of 4K resolution and 6,000 lumens of light in a small package that sells for just $5,000 is sure to make it a winner in the boardroom, lecture hall, and sanctuary, not to mention the accounting department.
Brightness. With the projector set to Presentation mode, it measured 5,940 ANSI lumens, essentially achieving its rating of 6,000 lumens. Using the Standard and Cinema modes makes the imaging warmer but lowers the output to 3,751- and 2,189 lumens. The projector has a DiCom mode (for viewing medial scans) as well as a Screen Game mode that delivered 2,349- and 3,274-lumens respectively. Finally, there're the Expert modes for bright rooms (2,393 lumens) and dark rooms (1,841 lumens).
LG BU60PST ANSI Lumens
|Mode||Minimum Power Saving||Medium Power Saving||Maximum Power Saving|
Color Brightness. As is the case with most other color-wheel-equipped projectors, the ProBeam BU60PST's color brightness was much lower than its white brightness. It registered a total of 1,868 lumens when measuring the color fields individually, 32 percent of the total.
Zoom Lens Light Loss (from widest to maximum zoom): 14.1%
Brightness Uniformity: 91.5%
Fan Noise. LG measured the ProBeam BU60PST's fan noise at 33-, 30- and 29 dBA in its sound-proof lab using the industry-standard measurement that averages sound from multiple locations. In our casual real-world measurement taken from 36-inches away the projector put out a maximum of 42.5dBA at its highest output in the Presentation display mode and Minimum Power Saving power mode. That dropped to 39.9 and 39.5 dBA in the Medium and Maximum Power Saving modes. The room had a background sound level of 35.3dBA.
- HDMI 2.0 (x2) with HDCP support
- HDBaseT (RJ-45)
- RS-232C Serial Port
- Wired LAN (RJ-45)
- 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 BU60PST projector page.