Hands On: LG HU85LA 4K UST Projector Turns Any Room into a Home Theater
Have you ever bought something and used it in a completely different way than you expected? LG’s HU85LA projector is not your typical 4K projector and I haven’t used it in a typical home theater scenario.
Right, when I contacted LG about checking the device – full name HU85LA 4K UHD Laser Smart Home Theater CineBeam Projector – I was looking for my bonus room theater. After recently testing the solid BenQ HT5550 4K projector, I wanted to see how another 4K product would perform in space.
In theory, an ultra-short throw projector (UST) like the HU85LA CineBeam opens the door to home cinema for almost every room in the house. So why not try this out? As it turns out, this could be the real fun of the LG HU85LA unit when integrators discuss potential media rooms with customers – this adds new meaning to the flexibility of the installation.
I discovered this while grinning dizzy as I turned the wall of my home office into a beautiful 100 inch home theater screen / video wall in minutes.
LG HU85LA Projector Features & Setup
Out of the box, this is a formidable device – it’s hefty at almost 27 pounds, but it also speaks to LG’s amalgamation of design and technology that it has demonstrated over the years with products like OLED displays and previous projector offerings.
Part of the reason I decided to test out the UST aspect in my office is that thanks to features like LG’s built-in webOS platform and 5W stereo speakers, I didn’t have to make AV connections to make it a big one TV to use. That’s another beauty in the flexibility of the projector (remember, this is just one way to implement the product).
There are accommodations where you can add more content sources and external audio systems. In / Out includes some HDMI ports, a digital S / PDIF audio out, two USB ports (plus a USB Type C), and a wireless Bluetooth audio out. There is also a digital tuner and control options like RJ45, IP and voice recognition for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
I have several record boxes on an AV console on the wall so I used the top as a makeshift shelf for the projector without knowing exactly what to expect. I saw UST demos at InfoComm showing educational / whiteboarding ceilings and saw the LG product at CEDIA Expo but no real world setup.
The HU85LA projector was just inches from the wall, which means my screen size would be about 100 diagonals – between the 90 to 120-inch range LG specifies for the CineBeam (90 by 2.2 inches , 100 at 3.9 and) 120 at 7.2 it says on the website).
The LG HU85LA was in my makeshift setup on top of two record boxes when I was testing its potential as a secondary room theater / television screen. The only connection was the power cord.
Then you can hit the hidden compartment and find the focus wheel to make things look clear. Instead of using the test pattern generator and de-warping feature (which allows you to line up 12 adjustment points), I fixed keystone issues by just moving the projector slightly. After switching on the LG Magic Remote, the setup process was carried out via the webOS platform and the settings.
As part of the steps, I connected the HU85LA to my wireless network. Since I skipped the source connection part next (even though I later added a Sony Ultra Blu-ray Disc player), I went straight to services like YouTube and Netflix, both of which offer a variety of 4K content.
LG HU85LA projector performances and conclusions
The features of LG’s 4K images were easy to spot, so I may have taken a closer look at the usability, usability, app features, and other aspects than image quality (though customers want to be sure for around $ 5,600 MSRP) that the quality is stellar, which I can say for sure).
Compared to other projectors, for example, the LG can be switched on and off in a flash (12 seconds on, 2 seconds off), making it much more TV-like in this regard. According to LG, the laser light source has a lifespan of up to 20,000 hours, so it can be used at the frequency of a television set.
By using webOS from LG, you benefit from the various channels in addition to the typical services such as Netflix, Disney +, Amazon and Google. In addition, the search function, including language support, summarizes the results regardless of where they come from in the apps.
LG’s Magic Remote may take some getting used to.
The web platform also provides access to a photo and video storage area where you can retrieve your own still images and videos to display on the big screen in outstanding clarity and detail. There are also web browsing capabilities.
A warning for users is that the remote control takes some getting used to. Between clickability, scrolling through sources / features, and more, a cheat sheet can come in handy. I had tested an LG remote control smart projector many years ago and was ready for a device that looked more like a gaming controller than a traditional clicker.
Technical data at a glance
- DLP 3-channel laser display
- 3840 × 2160 resolution; HDR10 supported
- Screen sizes approximately 90-120 inches by 2.2-7.2 inches from the surface
- Brightness of 2700 ANSI lumens
- Contrast ratio 2,000,000: 1
- Lamp life up to 20,000 hours
- WebOS Wired / Wireless Smart Platform
- 5W + 5W stereo speakers; Bluetooth support
- Dimensions 26.8 “x 5.0” x 13.7 “(WxHxD); 26.9 pounds
- lg.com; $ 5,499
I posted an episode of The Blacklist on Netflix and there was stained glass of a church that looked beautiful with all the bleed and well-saturated colors – aided by LG’s three-channel laser technology – and other architectural details. The picture quality is super sharp and very bright. You can even watch with the ambient light on, which makes the facility in an adjoining room even more attractive when you think of sports watching and games on weekend days.
Even during the day, images from 4K streaming on Netflix and YouTube were sharp and detailed. Wellness Digital Art is a great option with the wealth of 4K YouTube content.
One non-performance positive I can share is the wow factor and the spouse acceptance factor, which pass with flying colors. My wife was down when she walked into the office and saw our white wall turn into a huge screen. “I love it! It looks very cool too, kind of modern mid-century,” she said of the rectangular white cabinet accented by a stylish gray Kvadrat textile grille that hides the speakers.
One thing I’ll say when the projector isn’t paired with a screen is that I didn’t have to worry about playing around with a zoom (or motorized lens) to get the right aspect ratio on the screen like I did doing it when using my elite screens 2.35: 1 model in my media room. If you switch a lot between HD sports, 2.35: 1 movies, and even 2.0: 1 Netflix content, there is a lot of tweaking to do – score a point for the wall.
Users can choose from different picture modes: Standard, Cinema, Sports, Game, HDR Effect, Expert (Light Room), Expert (Dark Room), Vivid. At first I thought Standard was fine, but after going through the different options, cinema came to me the most natural so I stuck with it. The “Expert” options were similar in life likeness, while Sports and Vivid tended to be too light.
The UST projector is a great opportunity to sell furniture attachments that double up for equipment racks or further add to the design flair of the technology. In both cases, the “glamor” images of the LG product show that it is sitting on the wall that it shines on. Note, however, that you cannot see any cables, not even the power cord. Your customers may want a similarly minimalist installation. I had an electrical outlet right behind the record boxes that the projector was on, so that wasn’t a problem.
Some reviews of HU85LA projectors on the LG website noted that there was a problem with a hot yellowish line in the center of the screen, but I’ve never seen anything like this while watching Netflix, “The Mandalorian” on Disney +, Watched nature videos on YouTube etc. In fact, one “trending” application that I’ve tried in much shorter doses is the ability to launch incredible 4K landscape and travel videos on YouTube, some of which are longer than 8 hours – the UST projector makes for a fantastic digital art / spa canvas opportunity.
On the audio side, you pay tribute to LG for integrating audio that is better than what most flat screens can offer and reproduce quite loudly. It’ll serve a hobby room pretty well, though integrators may want to push for a higher quality surround sound system and something with more bass output.
The price point certainly creates a bit more exclusivity from the customer base, but keep in mind that LG has also been bringing premium-priced OLED products to the market for years and a powerful UST projector falls into that range. Current LG 4K OLEDs with the same AI ThinQ are available at 77 inches for $ 3,500 to $ 10,000, depending on the model, while the 88-inch 8K OLED costs 5 times as much as the HU85LA.
All in all, I couldn’t be more impressed with the HU85LA as a versatile video product that integrators can use for a range of applications, home theater, or otherwise.
CE Pro judgment
Benefits: Bright, colorful, detailed UHD images; quick on / off function; webOS provides easy wireless streaming access. Ultra short circuit offers versatile installation options. long lamp life
Disadvantage: The maximum screen size may be too small for some customers. Price will be prohibitive for some