9.4
Expert Rating

Home theaters traditionally have required specialized room setups free of ambient light and large enough to allow for the projector location at the rear of a room to have sufficient throw distance to display an immersive image size. Home theater possibilities expanded greatly with the advent of the short throw projector which can beam a large image size while being positioned at the front of a room close to the screen. Nowadays an ultra short throw (UST) projector such as the LG HU85LA CineBeam ThinQ can deliver a massive image size while being positioned a mere inches from the screen, and with sufficient brightness that ambient light control is less of a problem. The LG HU85LA has multiple interfaces, supports HDR10, is easy to set up, and physically looks good in a room. Also be sure to consult GR’s Best Laser Projector buyer’s guide for comparisons of other projectors prevalent in the market, including the Optoma 4K Projector (CinemaX P2) or the Optoma UHZ65.

Why We Like It – LG HU85LA

The LG HU85LA is a 4K UHD ultra short throw projector that makes a home theatre possible in almost any room, plus being smart home compatible and having popular streaming apps available through LG’s webOS smart TV operating system.

Pros
  • 4K UHD picture resolution
  • 3 channel laser
  • LG’s WebOS and Magic Remote
Cons
  • Challenging to align to 120” screen
  • No HLG support
  • Pricey

Performance / Resolution, etc.

Performance of the LG HU85LA is excellent. It uses a 3 channel (3CH) ultra short throw laser, that adds a red laser light source to the blue laser, to produce wider color coverage (97% of the DCI-P3 color space) with essentially no color loss, as compared to DLP that uses a color wheel to reflect colors from one color light. This incredible color when combined with 4K picture quality — 8.3 million pixels capitalizing upon XPR technology (pixel shifting that renders true 3840 x 2160 resolution) — delivers a stunningly gorgeous image. The LG HU85LA has 8 different picture modes encompassing both SDR and HDR, that include Standard, Cinema, Sports, Game, and Vivid. All look outstanding with various trade-offs in brightness, color saturation and temperature, overall appearance –all deliver images that are crisply detailed. The HU85LA is WiFi compatible and uses LG’s WebOS, just like LG TVs, which is easy to navigate and user friendly. Once the HU85LA is Wi-Fi network connected with access to the Internet, select available streaming services and features from the gallery. The HU85LA ThinIQ remote control is dubed the “Magic Remote” and it is motion sensitive so you just point it at the WebOS UI displayed to make selections, and it includes a microphone so you can use voice controls. Plus the HU85LA is compatible with smart home ecosystems Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa as well.

Brightness / Lumens

The LG HU85LA produces a claimed 2700 lumens with a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, while the ViewSonic PX700HD 1080p produces 3500 lumens. Final calibrated peak white at 137.1 nits. The projector is a little less bright in SDR than it is in HDR, but both look fantastic. The HU85LA has multiple colors presets for HDR and two of these offer extended color adjustment possibilities equivalent to the SDR expert modes. There are Dynamic Contrast and Dynamic Tone Mapping features when viewing in HDR, automatically analyzing content frame-by-frame to provide best possible HDR on any scene. Great for true HDR10 content. While so-called best picture brightness is still dependent upon the ability to control ambient light in the viewing room, the HU85LA does a respectable job with regard to brightness and color rendering in environments that are not darkened. Using ALR screens specifically designed for UST projectors is also helpful.

Adjustability / Viewing Angle

Setting up the HU85LA is straightforward. The LG HU85LA is a 27lb. flat 5” rectangle about 27” wide and about 14” deep. It comes only in white color with a softer white cloth grille covering the speakers on the front. The internal speakers are ‘okay’ but they don’t do justice to the projected picture, so you’ll probably want to interface the HU85LA to a high end audio system, or a subwoofer at least. The throw ratio of the HU85LA is outstanding. By placing the HU85LA just 2.2” from the wall you can display a 90-inch screen (diagonal). Move it out to a mere 7.2 inches and you get a 120-inch image projected. Certainly qualifies as an ultra short throw ratio. Some user comments note that it was hard to align the picture geometry with a 120” screen (suggesting that the HU85LA could benefit from lens shift so you don’t have to move it), and some reports of it being challenging to get perfect focus in the upper corners of the screen. Once in place all the setup options are managed via LG’s WebOS using the ThinIQ “Magic Remote.” Sorry, but dealing with an on-screen keyboard is sometimes needed during setup, and that’s a hassle (although that’s nothing unique to LG). Some may find colors too cool out-of-the-box, so calibration may be desirable and is reasonably easy to accomplish. The HU865LA has connectivity options galore including two HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 USB ports, a USB-C port, Bluetooth, and even 75-ohm coax for a TV tuner.

Durability

The LG HU85LA is basically unobtrusive –a distraction-free box at the front of the room. It does emit some noise from its cooling fan, but not so much that it’s noticeable even during quiet moments in audio content. Other than the cooling fan, there’s really no moving parts, i.e., no spinning color wheel. The unit only comes in white, and a white color may not float your boat as it may be more noticeable in some room decors. Although not intended as a portable it’s certainly small enough to move from place-to-place (although perhaps not a typical use case), but moving it with some care is highly recommended. LG claims their laser light engine is rated for 20,000 hours (this isn’t the amount of time until it fails, but rather the amount of time until the laser engine’s brightness is 50% less). Of course a piece of equipment this pricey comes with a one year parts and labor warranty, but that’s still pretty short comparatively to others.

Value

The LG HU85LA is quite costly. It’s a substantial purchase, so you’ll need to be seriously committed to equipping your home theater vs. spending this much cash on something else…like a week-long family vacation or a motorcycle. If you’ve got that sort of commitment to having a home theater and if you’ve got the dough, then there shouldn’t be any disappointment (or “buyer’s remorse”), as this LG Cinebeam does deliver great performance, as well as allowing for different room environments and configuration options. On the other hand, likely you could obtain equivalent projected picture quality (in less constrained room environments) by using a less pricey medium throw projector such as the Epson EF-100. There are also less expensive UST projectors such as a VAVA 4K Projector that will leave some cash remaining in your wallet.

LG HU85LA Wrap Up

The LG HU85LA CineBeam is a significant innovation in UST projection delivering breathtaking imagery… although to own such innovation does require a breathtaking investment. The LG CineBeam performs outstandingly well, projecting most any form of content, from movies, to live sports, to games, in a variety of room environments.

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Brady Meyers

Brady Klinger-Meyers is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He regularly contributes to websites such as Hardcore Droid, Gamepur, and Homebli. His work remains primarily in technology, from video game journalism to consumer technology.

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