LG HU80KA Cinebeam 4K Ultra HD Smart Projector Review
Last updated on Mar. 18, 2019
What the heck is this thing?
A designer trash can in a private Swiss yacht club? A very techy toolbox handmade for the Mission Impossible team? Something Marty and Doc brought back from the future? Surprise: it’s LG’s radical new home theater projector rethink, and it looks like we-don’t-know-what… until you open the lid and stare at its 4K HDR, Trumotion, 2500 lumen lamp. In other words: LG’s radical new HU80KA 4K UHD CineBeam Projector is a very serious, and very full-featured, home theater projector that just may be the prototype for all projectors in the future. And though we saw it in action at CES 2018, we’re even more impressed now that we’ve had a chance to test drive it for ourselves.
And the reason for the somewhat odd, boxy-looking container?
Versatility. Put it on the floor, stand it up, and you’ve got an amazing short throw projector that neatly stows away when you’re done. Flip it over, and you can project on the ceiling. Turn it on its side, and it’s made to mount to a ceiling or wall (in a more permanent situation). Pick it up by its handle and easily carry it from room to room or bring it to a party (it's only two and a half feet tall and 15 lbs.). In other words, the HU80KA from LG can be installed temporarily or permanently in any room, large or small. (LG built in a vertical automatic keystone feature that fixes any distortion issues when squaring the picture up.)
150-inch screen size in 4K? Cue the hallelujah chorus.
On the floor, positioned as a short-throw projector just a few feet away from a wall, the HU80KA can project a 150-inch image in Ultra HD 4K resolution. And honestly, if that’s all it did, we’d still give it a huge thumbs up: 150-inches = 12-feet… and 12 feet of 4K clarity is, by any standard, epic. Or, put it on a nightstand, lie back in bed, and watch something like “Interstellar” or “The Last Jedi” on your bedroom ceiling.
Here’s the thing: 150-inches of 4K picture is way, WAY bigger than, say, a big 77-inch OLED 4K TV… but the price for each is pretty much the same, and that’s crazy. Add to that: you can’t move a 77” OLED TV around from room to room and/or project a 12-foot picture on your garage door at the next block party. So really, if you’re thinking “it’s time for an amazing big 4K TV,” and you haven’t been considering a projector… well, hmmmmm…
2500 Lumens. LG’s brightest projector yet.
Rated at 2500 lumens, the HU80KA performs beautifully no matter where you put it or mount it – including rooms with ambient lighting. (No need to darken your room to get a fantastic picture.) And with 4K’s 8.3 million pixels, even the largest images remain crisp. The HU80KA is also compatible with industry-standard HDR 10 (HDR = High Dynamic Range) which allows for an almost infinite color range and best-possible brightness. And LG’s own “Trumotion Technology” increases the projector’s refresh rate so that fast-action movies and sports don’t suffer from motion blur, stuttering, or jagged fast-motion edges.
Smart. Wireless. Portable, too.
The HU80KA lets you stream pretty much anything via Wi-Fi from your phone, tablet, or any premium content on your home network. And screen sharing is a snap: shoot a quick video of the kids in the pool, walk inside, and project it on a wall or screen with a few taps. Or turn on Netflix from your phone and share it via the projector for an instant viewing upgrade. The HU80KA is also portable, making it easy to bring anywhere — as long as you can plug it into a power source. The power cord automatically retracts, so you can easily pack it up with no messy cables hanging around. Toss it in the car (or more like gently put it in the backseat), take it to work, and screen share your next client presentation. A 150-inch Powerpoint in 4K = some serious swat.
The HU80KA is Bluetooth-enabled, so you can connect wireless headphones, an external speaker system, or sound bar with ease. (Yes, it comes with an optical output and HDMI connection, too.) And though the projector does come with two small speakers inside, you’re definitely going to want to upgrade to real home theater sound with a real home theater system. Or, short of that, any one of our Top Sound Bars for 2019.
An HDMI connection lets you plug in external streaming devices – like an Apple TV, Roku, or Blu-ray player – but with LG’s webOS 3.5 running the show, you may not need to. A number of streaming apps are already built-in, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube, and Hulu. (The projector supports 4K apps.) Plus, there’s a USB port on the side for playing media from a USB drive.
- Lamp Type: Laser (LD + Phosphor wheel). Up to 20,000 hours
- Display Type: DLP
- Projection Image: 150"@14.1ft, 100"@9.5ft, 40”@3.6ft
- Trumotion / HDR10 / HDCP 2.2
- Digital Keystone Correction / Auto Keystone (vertical)
- 1 Magic Remote (Battery included)
- Power Cord (spring loaded and self-contained)
- App Store / Web Browser
- 2 HDMI + 2 USB (3.0 1EA, USB 2.0 1EA)
- HID (Keyboard/Mouse/GamePad Connection Thru USB)
Of course, you can't forget the awards, which include: Projector Central Editor’s Choice award, iF Design Award 2018, Reddot Design Award 2018, CES Innovation Awards - Best of Innovation 2018.
So, bottom line?
We love it. Are there better 4K HDR projectors? Of course. Are there better 4K HDR projectors at this price, or with this kind of portability, or with similar smart features that can roll out of a closet and do 150-inch short throw, or lay on its side and turn your ceiling into a cinema? No. Not yet anyway. Looks like LG just threw down the gauntlet, and it’s game on (and/or catch-up time) for everyone else.
P.S. There’s been a fairly big, sustained buzz over the HU80KA since CES; no doubt the result of its CES “Best of Innovation 2018” award. You can purchase it right here, and we’ll ship it free and give you the famous World Wide Stereo guarantee, which includes price matching and our own “60-day audition” period.
Also check out the Best Projectors award list.