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LG HU810PW laser projector review

Sharp, bright and smart Tested at £3000 / $3000 / AU$5670

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW
(Image: © LG)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The functionality and performance of the LG HU810PW almost bridges the gap between UST projectors for casual users and more serious installation models

Pros

  • +

    Detailed, bright, vibrant picture

  • +

    Excellent motion processing

  • +

    Onboard streaming

Cons

  • -

    Requires a fair amount of tweaking

  • -

    Colours lack subtly

  • -

    Shallow black level

Household projectors fall into two types. There are those for discerning enthusiasts with dedicated space for entertainment, and there are those for more casual viewing that offer a portable all-in-one home cinema but without the picture refinement of a more purist design. 

In recent years, companies such as LG have focused on improving these smaller, more everyday models. The increasing affordability of laser technology means that manufacturers are now starting to produce slimmed-down long-throw projectors such as the LG HU810PW that aim to deliver excellent picture and functional flexibility.

Features

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW

(Image credit: LG)

Boasting a full 4K resolution, HDR support, an impressive 2700 ANSI lumens brightness, and a 97 per cent DCI/P3 colour gamut, the LG HU810PW has some very grown-up picture attributes. But it also includes onboard streaming courtesy of LG’s Web OS and in-built speakers, meaning that it’s essentially a home cinema in a box.

Relatively compact and light for a long-throw projector, the HU810PW is narrower than it is long. With its matt white, sharp-edged finish, LG has married some serious home cinema technology with a more ‘lifestyle’ design, letting users be both relaxed or specific in set-up. It comes with a white version of LG's pointer-style remote with backlit buttons that give users quick access to apps including Disney Plus, Apple TV, Britbox, Plex, Amazon Prime Video, Mubi, Rakuten TV, YouTube, Spotify and Napster. There’s no iPlayer or HBO Max, but it's a decent offering.

The projector has adjustable feet for shelf placement and mounting points for an inverted ceiling position, with front and rear projection options. As you’d expect from a laser projector, start-up takes only a few seconds, power-down is almost instant, and it’s rated for a hefty 20,000 hours of use.

Two levers below the lens provide manual focus and a 1.6x optical zoom. Meanwhile, on the side, two dials offer vertical and horizontal lens shift of up to 60 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. Having manual controls must surely keep the build cost down, and we can appreciate that trade-off; however, refining the focus is tricky given the stiffness of the lever and, of course, it means you can’t get up close to the screen while making adjustments. At this level it’s not unreasonable to expect electronic lens adjustment to be on the menu.

LG HU810PW tech spec

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW

(Image credit: LG)

Processor Quad-Core, DLP XPR chip

Light source Dual Laser (Blue and red)  

Brightness 2700 lumens

Resolution 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)

Aspect ratio 16:9/Original/Full Wide/4:3/Vertical Zoom

Screen size 40-inch to 300inch

Projection Image (lens to wall): 150-inch at 4.3 - 6.9m; 100-inch at 2.9-4.6m

Lens shift ± 60% vertical, ± 24% horizontal

HDR HDR 10, Dynamic Tone Mapping, HLG, HGiG 

Casting Screen Share with MiraCast, Airplay 2

Inputs HDMI x 3 (1 eARC), USB x 2

3D built-in? No

Light source Life in high brightness 20,000 Hrs

Sound output 5W + 5W speakers, eARC, SPDIF, Bluetooth

Fan Noise (bright) 28dB

Dimensions (hwd) 145 x 337 x 410 mm

Weight 11kg

At the rear are two USB sockets and a generous three HDMI ports, one rated as 2.1 and supporting ALLM and eARC/ARC. This means that if you’re streaming content with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, you can connect the HU810PW to a Dolby Atmos soundbar or AVR and enjoy it in all its immersive glory. This port has a 4:4:4/RGB 10-bit output, but its input bandwidth is capped at 24Gbps, so those with next-gen consoles from Sony and Xbox won’t be able to take advantage of 4K@120Hz gameplay. But given that even in Game Mode, the HU810PW has a lag time of 50ms, it's more suited to casual gamers anyway.

The LG HU810PW sits at the top of LG's CineBeam range of projectors for domestic use. While the company’s ProBeam series is designed for business installations, this is the brand’s first model to make the leap into ‘proper’ home cinema and comes in two flavours, the HU810PW (£3000 / $3000 / around AU$5670) and AU810PB (£3500 / $3999 / around AU$6616). 

While both models share the same picture specifications, the latter is intended for custom installation and possesses a few additional features, including an RS-232C port, a 12V trigger jack and IP control. It also adds Calman auto-calibration compatibility and WiSA sound support, meaning it can send up to 5.1 channels of high-resolution wireless audio to a compatible sound system via an additional third-party transmitter.

Picture

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW

(Image credit: LG)

We tested the cheaper HU810PW, and its functionality will more than suffice for most users. LG’s slightly excessive sub-menus aren’t the easiest to navigate, and their terminology is not always logical. Still, the preset picture modes generally offer a good jumping-off point to start tweaking. In our dark test room, we ended up settling on Cinema Home Mode and taking it from there.

Projecting onto our reference 8ft screen, it’s the LG’s colour intensity and crispness that stand out. With the combination of the HU810PW’s red and blue dual-laser configuration (a phosphor wheel to produce green) and speedy DLP XPR chip, the opening of The Adventures of Tintin on Blu-ray is awash with colours that are punchy and rich, while the textures of the fabrics are beautifully rendered. The refinement of every hair on Tintin’s quiff is razor-sharp, while the brightness of the highlights from the backlit sun doesn’t wash out the detail.

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW

(Image credit: LG)

We get the impression that animation plays to the HU810PW’s strengths, and although we find that the onboard frame by frame dynamic tone-mapping helps to maintain consistency across different content types, switching to live-action with Dunkirk, we need to dial the saturation back to achieve a more nuanced picture.

The long vistas looking out to sea have excellent clarity, but compared to the five-star Epson EH-TW9400 there’s not quite as much gradation in the way this LG handles the shading of light, resulting in a flatter-looking image. And although we can clearly see every grain of sand on the beach or wrinkle on Mark Rylance’s face, the Epson simply comes across as looking more natural and convincing.

Like most projectors, including the EH-TW9400, the HU810PW’s black levels are wanting compared to those of a decent TV, and we end up compromising on black detail to gain a richer, more balanced picture. Streaming Aquaman from Apple TV means that some of the murkier elements of the sea bed are lost. We also find that in the more synthetic CGI scenes, such as when Nicole Kidman stands at the end of the pier in the opening, the HU810PW’s image looks a little over-processed, making the characters in the scene look like flat cardboard cut-outs against the background. But, overall, these flaws don’t detract too much from an experience with intensely vivid colours and exceptionally slick motion handling in the positive column.

Unsurprisingly, the stereo speakers built into the HU810PW aren’t really serviceable or particularly enjoyable to listen to, producing a narrow and harsh sound, especially when pushed to a high volume. If you care enough about home cinema to buy a projector such as this, then we’d suggest you at the very least take advantage of that eARC port and buy a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Verdict

Home cinema projector: LG HU810PW

(Image credit: LG)

With a crisp, detailed picture, punchy colours and smooth motion handling, the HU810PW delivers a lot of value and, despite its limited contrast range, it performs well both as a flexible all-in-one system and install model.

However, if you’re willing to forgo the smart streaming features (which you can always add with a streaming stick anyway), there are other models at this price point with a more sophisticated approach to colour and shading. 

SCORES

  • Picture 4
  • Build 4
  • Features 4

MORE:

Read our review of the Epson EH-TW9400

Also consider the Sony VPL-VW290ES

Read our Epson EH-TW7400 review

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