When it comes to choosing between a TV and a projector, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the former win, and there are always plenty of reasons for this: there is no need to make repairs in the room and lay additional cables, the image from the screen is always clearly visible, there is a TV tuner, a lot of opportunities thanks to the built-in Smart- TV, wireless connections along with the ability to transfer pictures from a smartphone and much more. Of course, when comparing image sizes on devices in the same price category, TVs always lose (several times), but the ease of installation and the factors mentioned above are significant advantages that you can’t argue with.
LG is well aware of this — and not only engaged in the continuous promotion and improvement of their OLED TVs, but also take care of fans of projection equipment. LG is almost the only manufacturer that has taken a close look at ultra-short-throw models and began to produce more or less affordable solutions with laser illumination, without forgetting the need to maintain adequate dimensions of the end device. The company completely abandoned the use of classic lamps, retaining only LED and Laser models in the lineup. In addition, as you already understood, LG was the first to bring the idea of Smart-TV to the world of projectors, having created more than one model based on its webOS operating system, well-known to consumers from the brand’s smart TVs.
The device we are reviewing today, the LG HU80KSW, is a unique projector that belongs to the CineBeam line. It offers an interesting mix of specs and a far from typical form factor that will appeal to those who have never thought about purchasing this kind of equipment before.
⇡ # Reference information, specifications and features
The LG CineBeam HU80KSW model in question was presented by the manufacturer at the beginning of 2018, at CES, in two colors: white (like ours) and black (HU80KG). However, projectors came to Russia much later and went on sale only a year ago, being the first 4K solutions with smart TV functions based on WebOS 3.5.
Due to the appearance of the projector, its design features and capabilities, it is not possible to identify competitors — they simply do not exist. Understanding this, the company probably does not plan to rush to increase the availability of the projector, because until now the price of HU80KSW is at the level of $1500 (for PCT deliveries with an official 1 + 2 year warranty), and this is the level of quality 65-75- inch TVs.
|Projector LG CineBeam HU80KSW|
|Brightness||2500 ANSI Lm|
|real resolution||1920×1080 (3840×2160 with 4-way Pixel-Shift)|
|Supported Resolution||VGA 640×480 to 4K 3840×2160 @ 60Hz|
|Number of displayed colors||ND|
|Contrast||150,000 : 1|
|Laser characteristics||About 20,000 hours|
|projection system||B-Laser, 0.47″ XPR (Expanded Pixel Resolution) optical shift, 4K UHD DMD Chip from Texas Instruments, Brilliant Color color correction, 8-segment color wheel|
|Projection ratio||1.3–1.56 : 1 (distance/width)|
|Diagonal image size||40-150 inches|
|Projection Distance||1.1-4.3 meters, 40 inches by 1.1 m, 100 by 2.9 m, 150 by 4.3 m|
|Zoom, focus||1.2 : 1, manual zoom/manual focus|
|Image Format||16:9 standard, 3 formats to choose from|
|Offset||one hundred %|
|Keystone Correction||Vertical, automatic/manual, ±40 degrees|
|Lens shift horizontal/vertical||By manually shifting the mirror|
|Speakers||2x 7W + tweeter|
|Installation||Desktop, floor, ceiling mount|
|Projection||Frontal or reverse|
|Supported standards||480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 2160p, PAL, SECAM|
|Interfaces||2 × HDMI 2.0 (1 × ARC), USB 3.0 + USB 2.0, 3.5 mm Audio-Out, S/P-DIF-out, LAN RJ-45, Bluetooth, IR Receiver (front and rear)|
|Peculiarities||Brilliant Color technology, HDR10 support, laser phosphor light source, TruMotion technology, auto-rolling power cord, Wi-Fi, Smart features (webOS 3.5), LG Magic remote, 3D support, vADJ. expert settings, WiDi|Miracast, LG Smart World, LG Sound Sync, Clear Voice III, Wired Internet Connection|
|Security||Kensington lock, keypad lock|
|The weight||6.7 kg|
|Noise level||30/25 dB (Standard/Save)|
|Power supply||100-240V, 50/60Hz|
|Energy consumption||250-280W (average/maximum),|
|Guarantee||1 year + 2 years free service|
|Estimated price at the time of testing||150 000-1620$|
The projector is equipped with a 0.47-inch 4K UHD Texas Instruments first-generation DLP sensor (with gray border around the image outline), with a native resolution of the matrix of 1920 × 1080 pixels, and to create a 4K image (8.3 million pixels), a 4- way Pixel-Shift uses an optical XPR actuator (Expanded Pixel Resolution) to tilt the micromirrors four times per frame.
Over the past time, micromirror shift technology has proven its worth, so if you do not compare with a magnifying glass between projectors with this approach and devices with real 4K matrices (much more expensive), you can safely enjoy the picture and not worry about its quality.
The LG HU80KSW uses B-Laser (blue laser, or, as it is also called, laser phosphor illumination), as a backlight source. For 4K devices in the price range up to $2020, this is an extremely rare occurrence, and there were most likely several reasons for LG to take such a step: the manufacturer wanted to significantly extend the life of the device without the need for the buyer to visit the SC, and also forget about the production of replaceable sources illumination. So you can lead the consumer by the hand for a new projector when the old one fails (they say that all laser projectors are one-time purchases, without the possibility of repair / replacement of the backlight element).
However, according to the manufacturer, you can think about it for a long time — about 7 years when the projector is running 8 hours a day, 365 days a year, or 14 years if you watch it half the time. In addition, in comparison with lamp models, in which the lamp brightness decreases significantly already after ~500-700 hours of operation, laser models provide almost the initial luminous flux throughout the entire period of operation, and this is perhaps their no less important advantage.
The manufacturer indicates an 8-segment color wheel as a “color divider”, most likely, meaning by it a wheel with an RGBWRGBW color scheme with two white (transparent) sectors, which is also hinted at by the Brilliant Color technology specified in the TX model, which is used to increase the luminous flux, which the HU80KSW claims is 2500 ANSI lumens. This approach of engineers makes it possible to reduce the cost of installing a more powerful backlight source, do without increasing the size of the case and weaken the «rainbow effect», but at the same time increases the complexity of color reproduction settings.
The projector uses an optical design with a quite normal throw ratio and a manual 1.2x zoom lens that allows you to project a 16:9 aspect ratio image of 100 inches at a distance of 2.3 meters, and 150 inches from a distance of 4.3 meters . The special shape of the HU80KSW, combined with the use of a redirecting mirror, provides the ability to project an image in almost any position and on any free area of the room. For a more accurate fit of the picture, the projector has a vertical keystone correction, including in automatic mode.
To improve picture quality, TruMotion technology is used, which increases the clarity and smoothness of moving objects due to frame interpolation. No problem with color accuracy either: the projector has three finely tuned Technicolor modes, plus expert adjustments thanks to the vADJ function.
The model under study supports the processing of HDR metadata due to the declared support for HDR10, however, the HU80KSW does not have any technical capabilities for implementing an increase in the dynamic range — and this, in general, is an ordinary phenomenon among the vast majority of both modern projectors and monitors or TVs (OLED- models are one of the few exceptions).
The projector’s form factor allowed engineers to place a fairly good (by the standards of TVs or projectors) built-in speaker system, which LG describes as two 7 W (stereo) speakers + an additional high-frequency speaker. If the sound quality does not suit you, and there is no desire to run additional wires to the projector, then feel free to purchase a suitable Bluetooth system and connect it to the HU80KSW “over the air”.
The model is equipped with a sufficient set of modern interfaces: two HDMI 2.0, one each USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 for working with external media and providing power to various HDMI key fobs, 3.5 mm Audio-Out and S / P-DIF-Out, as well as RJ-45 for wired network connection. If desired, the LG HU80KSW can only get by with a pull-out power cable.
All other connections can be made via wireless communication channels (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, WiDi technologies, Miracast), and the capabilities of WebOS with an initially wide list of pre-installed programs will provide the user with a variety of content, from TV shows and series to the latest movies, music and simple games. It definitely won’t be boring.
⇡ # Delivery set, appearance and design features
The LG CineBeam HU80KSW projector comes in a small cardboard box with high-quality printing. The package contains several photos of the model from different angles, and from a single inscription it is immediately clear that we have an LG 4K laser projector from the CineBeam series.
By one of the stickers on the package, you can find out the serial number, the place of manufacture of the device (Korea) and the main contractor, which is the Korean supplier of electronic components — Seronics.
The projector package is as follows:
- LG Magic Remote;
- a set of two AA batteries;
- instructions for working with the remote control;
- four legs-racks with rubber coating;
- user’s manual;
- prospectus with additional information;
- sheet with instructions for quick installation of the projector;
- booklet with the terms of the warranty policy.
We were a little confused by the lack of an HDMI cable, but given the extensive wireless connectivity and the presence of two USB ports for flash drives and portable hard drives, this may be the right decision.
The appearance of the projector is very different from everything that we have seen with you before. LG HU80KSW is an elongated parallelepiped made of matte white plastic with a non-fixed metal carrying handle.
Infrared sensors for receiving a signal from the remote control are located in front and behind the case, on top there is a cover for a lens block with an adjustable mirror and control buttons, and on the sides we can observe large zones with cellular grilles, behind which are the built-in speakers of the sound system and cooling fans.
Due to the shape of the body and the location of the optical unit with an adjustable and, if necessary, retractable mirror element, the projector can not only be placed horizontally or vertically, but also mounted to the wall and ceiling, as all users of conventional projectors are accustomed to doing. However, in the last two cases, all the magic and mobility of the HU80KSW disappears, and therefore priority should be given to the first two options.
Covered almost half the front lens does not leave the body, even at the maximum, 1.2x zoom. Zoom and focus adjustment is carried out by two smooth-running rings. The role of the protective cap of the lens is played by the top cover of the housing.
The mirror itself in the lens cover allows you to quickly change the projection height vertically, but it does not have any clear, fixed positions. In the case of using the HU80KSW in a horizontal position, the cover with the mirror is removed, and the body is installed on four rubber stands, which are screwed in place of the screws.
Some of the projector’s interface connectors are hidden behind a plastic cover at the back of the case. There is also a power cord here, which, when a special button is pressed, is automatically removed, wound on a coil inside the case. Additional ports for temporary connection of signal sources are located on one of the faces of the HU80KSW.
To ensure the safety of the device, you can use the classic Kensington lock and lock the control keys on the case (protection from children).
The plastic used in the LG CineBeam HU80KSW is of good quality and practicality, all elements are perfectly aligned with minimal gaps. The projector body does not crackle and does not make sounds when heated during long work, and also when cooling down. In other words, it is difficult to find fault with the manufacturing quality of the model under study. Let’s move on to managing it.
⇡#Management and settings
You can control the projector using the five physical buttons on the device body, as well as from a separate remote control included in the package. Rest assured that you’ll only remember the first option if you lose the LG Magic Remote, one of the most convenient controls you’ve ever held in your hands.
Users of LG TVs know this firsthand. The Magic Remote has a built-in gyroscope that provides the function of a wireless mouse in the air, so you can get to any menu button and webOS interface as quickly as possible. A large number of keys on the remote control help you quickly access the most important functions and settings of the projector, and the scroll wheel finally solves the problem of quickly moving between elements on web pages and between parts of large lists of TV channels, series and the like.
The projector supports 4K signal with vertical refresh rate up to 60Hz. When connected to a PC and HDR display is selected, the projector will automatically enter Ultra HD Deep Color mode and warn you about changes made and possible problems.
The very design of the menu and various sliding blocks is made in the same way as in modern LG TV models: strictly on the one hand, stylish and bright on the other. The main menu has six sections.
The first section that opens in front of us is called «Screen». In it, you can select one of the many preset picture modes, change the picture format (scaler operation mode), activate energy saving (brightness decreases — and the noise level along with it) and pass a simple graphic test to identify various display problems.
Here, thanks to the vADJ expert settings, you can make deep and fine adjustments to color reproduction and picture quality. Standard controls are available for contrast, brightness, sharpness, chroma (saturation), hue, color temperature (2 or 10 points), and dynamic contrast.
You can change the color gamut, activate the color filter, change the two types of noise reduction, adjust the black level and enable TruMotion technology.
In the «Sound» section there is a «Smart» mode, available only for the built-in sound system of the projector, with automatic optimization of the sound depending on its quality. The equalizer mode is also selected here and deeper sound output settings are made. A wide range of audio outputs are available, an automatic volume control system (to equalize the volume when switching sources) and audio and video synchronization settings if problems arise.
Wired and wireless Internet connection settings are available in the third section, «Network». Here you can also establish a direct connection to the device via Wi-Fi-Direct and go to LG Connect Apps.
The fourth section, «General», meets a large number of subsections that focus on the settings of the localization language, location, time and date, on / off timers, LG account management, activation of Eco and SIMPLINK modes (for controlling devices connected via the projector remote control). HDMI). Here you can also perform keystone correction (including in automatic mode), change the projection mode, configure the LG wireless keyboard, disable prompts and startup screen saver, perform self-diagnosis, check for updates, and update the device’s firmware.
You can configure security (restrict access to applications and switch inputs) in the fifth section.
In the last section with a strange name «Accessibility» you can change the speed of tracking and displaying the «magic mouse», adjust the transparency of the menu and its contrast.
⇡#Additional features and Smart-functions
The LG CineBeam HU80KSW wouldn’t be a smart projector if it weren’t for its Smart features brought about by webOS and available wireless connections (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi).
At the first turn on, the hero of the review meets us with a graphical interface familiar to many users of LG TVs with color cards (applications), bookmarks and a set of on-screen buttons for quick access to basic settings. Popular streaming services such as Okko, Ivi, Netflix, LG Cinema, LG CH Plus (based on MEGOGO), UFC TV, YouTube are preinstalled by default. For some of them, when buying a projector and registering, a free trial period is offered from several months to a year, which, you see, is nice.
A browser is built into the shell, which seemed to us not only quite adequate, but even an advanced solution (exclusively by the standards of a smart TV / projector), with tabs, bookmarks, a Favorites list, various zoom modes, search, a full-screen display option and similar functions .
The webOS system itself is fast enough, and the Magic Remote provides a first-class experience for controlling anything and everything. Applications are updated at lightning speed, and new ones are downloaded and installed without delay. One gets the impression that you are not working with a projector, of which we have tested a sufficient number, but with a modern media combine. However, LG HU80KSW should be attributed to this type of devices.
An advanced connection manager makes it easy to connect and set up devices such as a digital set-top box, Blu-ray/DVD player, home theater, soundbar, external speakers or headphones/headset, game console, smartphone, personal computer, external storage device, and so on. . Half of them in the future can be easily controlled from one remote control along with the projector.
LG HU80KSW can work with files over a wired and wireless network, can read flash drives and larger drives, supports connecting cameras and camcorders (in PTP mode), displays and plays data from a shared folder on a PC.
For people who have their whole life “recorded” on their smartphones and those who prefer to play mobile games on the big screen, the LG projector offers a convenient mirroring function called Screen Share, which is powered by Intel Wi-Di and Miracast technologies. During testing of the function, a two-year-old Xiaomi Mi Note 3 smartphone was used, with which there were absolutely no problems. We were completely satisfied with the display speed, the so-called input-lag is adequate, the picture quality cannot be faulted. Turn on anything — and it will be in front of you on a huge working area.
⇡ # General impressions and picture quality
Now let’s move on to our permanent section and tell you about the general impressions and picture quality. As always, we will evaluate the projector from the very first steps that need to be taken to display the picture. The LG CineBeam HU80KSW takes about 30 seconds to turn on and go to operating mode, the same time it takes to completely turn off — even after hours of operation at maximum brightness.
By default, all eco modes on the projector are turned off, the laser backlight works at full power (in fact, it depends on the selected picture mode), and the cooling system gives itself out right away: the noise level is average, but not annoying and is completely blocked by the sound range from a movie or TV -programs and even light music at a low volume.
When you turn on the maximum economy, the brightness drops noticeably, and with it the air flow from the cooling system fans decreases significantly — it becomes really quiet. This mode is great for viewing photos in a quiet environment in a prepared (dark) room, or when the projector is placed closer to the work surface in almost any lighting condition. The luminous flux is quite enough to display a contrasting picture.
When evaluating the image itself, narrow gray stripes along the image contour became an unpleasant surprise (the larger the image size, the stronger they are visible), which indicates the use of the first generation UHD DLP matrix TI in the projector. This, however, is quite expected, given that the LG HU80KSW was announced more than a year and a half ago.
But the quality of the picture does not suffer from this. The image is high definition and detailed, especially when displaying native 4K content. There are no problems with gradients, and the uniformity of brightness across the field is quite expected — at an average level. The same can be said about the black field, where we saw a classic highlight in the lower zone in the center.
Thanks to the use of an 8-segment RGBWRGBW color wheel and its high rotation speed, you are unlikely to notice the rainbow effect even in the most difficult test scenes. And with a more philistine approach, you will never know what it is. In addition, two white (transparent) segments provide an increase in real brightness, which allows you to increase the contrast of the picture — useful for rooms that are not ideally prepared for a projector.
In a well darkened room, without bright light sources, the brightness and contrast of the picture cannot be faulted in any of the preset image modes, even when the laser backlight system is operating in the quietest eco mode. In this case, it’s definitely not worth focusing on the declared brightness level, especially since it is close to that only in the “Bright” mode, which, frankly, is set to so-so.
The LG CineBeam HU80KSW is set to Standard by default. It can be considered a good starting point for further correction, or the main one for those who like it brighter, more contrast and richer, but without a strong search in all three parameters. For fans of a softer, «tube» picture, the list of projector modes includes three Technicolor Expert options (Normal, Light, and Dark), which have more similarities than differences from each other. Most likely, it was in them that the manufacturer performed the “factory calibration” that was not listed in the list of features — and it is with them that you should start your study of the LG projector.
The stand-alone “Cinema” mode quite accurately repeats the “Technicolor Expert”, but the picture in it is still a little more contrast and bright. The «Games» mode is an amateur, as well as the standard settings. In turn, with the help of HDR options, you can carry out software emulation: saturate colors, play with the reproduction of tonal transitions in lights and shadows. It certainly won’t be organic, but if you’re breathing unevenly towards High Dynamic Range, you might like the effect even if the content you’re interested in doesn’t have embedded HDR metadata.
If you have any complaints about the projected picture, then CineBeam HU80KSW has all the necessary parameters in the menu to get rid of almost any display flaws (but LG does not talk about the possibility of calibrating according to the ISF standard, preferring to talk about an expert setting called vADJ). You can enable/disable various filters and signal processing technologies, enhance the clarity of moving objects on the screen thanks to the really working TruMotion function, or get a more “cine-like” picture without additional frame interpolation. There are really a lot of possibilities and final options for setting up the projector, so that everyone, with due desire and minimal knowledge, can get the desired result.
So our long-awaited acquaintance with the modern version of the projector from LG took place, after which, at least personally, my views on the projector market in general and the previously studied models in particular changed radically. After the CineBeam HU80KSW, it’s hard to take projectors seriously without smart features, dozens of wired and wireless connectivity options, and a fast operating system. They all seem to be solutions from the last century, but not from the 21st century. And it is especially striking when projectors priced over $100 or even $2000 do not have all this.
The insignificant difference for the home user between the various models in the picture (where LG may well lose, but it depends on what to compare with and how much you look closely) cannot have such a significant impact on the choice of a projector as a catastrophic gap in the possibilities for which the HU80KSW and many other LG novelties are at the level of advanced smart TVs, and solutions from market leaders seem to be stuck in the times of conditional Windows NT. There are exceptions, but there are only a few of them, besides, all of them, frankly, do not hold out …
The form factor of the review hero chosen by the manufacturer and the proposed options for its use, of course, will not suit all buyers. To many, all this will seem wild, they will twist a finger at their temples and will continue to choose among ultra-short-focus models, which are definitely the future. There are some in the assortment of LG — the company is actively developing in this segment, but the situation with the price is still not as rosy as we would like.
But in general, LG’s approach to designing new solutions and developing a range of projectors deserves special praise and provides confidence in a bright future in which there will be much less votes in favor of TVs (slowly but surely this is happening now). In such a future, I would like to believe, having an amount of about $ 60-1000, it will be possible to purchase a modern 4K projector with a full range of advanced features and excellent picture quality. Such that it will be enough for the next 7-10 years, and so that all this time you will not regret at all that you did this and not otherwise. Good luck with your choice!