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LG’s CineBeam HU80KA Portable 4K Laser Projector: Big Picture, Small Package

LG CineBeam HU80K 4K Laser Projector

LG CineBeam HU80K 4K Laser Projector


  • Product Name: HU80KA
  • Manufacturer: LG
  • Review Date: August 24, 2018 00:00
  • MSRP: $3,000
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Display Type: DLP
  • Native Resolution: 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)
  • Screen Size: 40” - 150"
  • Projection Image: 150” at 14.1 feet; 100” at 9.5 feet; 40” at 3.6 feet
  • Brightness: Up to 2500 lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 150,000:1
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 6.5" x 18.5" x 6.5"
  • Weight: 14.8 pounds

LG’s OLED televisions have been picture-quality champions for the last few years. The company’s only OLED competitor in the United States has been Sony, which buys its OLED panels from LG. If you value deep, inky blacks and wide viewing angles, choosing an OLED TV is a no-brainer. Unless, of course, you want a screen bigger than 77 inches, where OLED panel size maxes out. If truly cinematic scale is what you crave, you’ll have to look to another technology to satisfy those desires. Samsung’s new 146-inch modular micro LED display would do the trick, but only if you can handle the price tag, which is expected to be in six-figure territory. For most home theater enthusiasts with big-screen aspirations and real-world budgets, the answer will be some kind of projector. LG’s new entry into the category is the CineBeam HU80KA, a portable 4K laser projector that sells for $3,000.

For less than you might pay for a 65” OLED, this unique projector combines serious performance with an unusual form factor that affords the user an unprecedented level of flexibility. In LG’s press release, the company said:

Projectors that support 4K have traditionally tended to be heavy, expensive, and difficult to install at home. LG’s engineers and designers took on the challenge of downsizing the LG CineBeam 4K Laser Projector without sacrificing image quality. The result is a premium device half the size of most competing 4K projectors while remaining price competitive… allowing any room in the house to turn into a movie theater.

The CineBeam HU80KA is DLP projector with a native resolution of 3840 x 2160. It uses a sharp and powerful laser engine to throw a crisp 150” image from a distance of 14 feet. Perhaps the unit’s most appealing feature is its placement flexibility; it can stand on the floor, rest on a tabletop, or be mounted on a wall or ceiling. The CineBeam looks more like a small tower speaker or desktop computer than a traditional projector. It has a square, 6.5” by 6.5” footprint, and stands about 18.5” tall. With a weight of 14.8 pounds and a built-in carrying handle, the CineBeam HU80KA was clearly designed with portability in mind — it even has a retractable power cord in its base. The compact size and unusual upright design are possible thanks to a mirrorless, I-shaped laser engine. The design relies on a flip-up mirror reflector, which is used when the projector is installed in certain positions (such as standing upright on the floor), but can be rotated completely out of the image path when the projector is installed in other positions, such as on the ceiling.  

The LG’s laser lamp is rated for up to 20,000 hours, so if you watch one movie every night, you’d need to think about replacing the lamp after about… 28 years or so. The HU80KA is equipped with a 1.2X zoom, and auto keystone correction prevents distortion of the image. With up to 2,500 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 150,000:1, the CineBeam should be able to perform well in rooms where ambient light can’t be completely controlled. High-dynamic range video is supported, but only for HDR10 content. The absence of Dolby Vision support is surprising, especially considering that many of LG’s other high-performance video products support the format. It may be possible that LG will add the feature via a firmware update add some point in the future. The HU80KA does feature LG’s TruMotion technology, which the company claims can reduce motion blur by increasing the projector’s effective refresh rate. The unit has two HDMI ports with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, a pair of USB ports, and an ethernet port. Audio can be sent to external speakers via an optical digital output, or via stereo analog outputs. The projector can also send a wireless audio signal to a bluetooth speaker, or play the audio through its own built-in stereo speakers. While the CineBeam HU80KA can of course accommodate any video source with an HDMI output, it can also serve up content using LG’s built-in webOS smart TV platform. The included LG Magic Remote gives the user access to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other streaming services. Compatible smartphones and tablets can share content via WiFi using the “screen share” feature, and the “Multi-View” feature allows the the CineBeam HU80KA to project multiple screens at once.

The CineBeam HU80KA appears to offer a great deal of functionality and style for a relatively reasonable price. Even if its portability and unique form factor are not of interest to you, the $3,000 price-tag is very competitive for a high-performance UHD projector with a laser light engine.

Does LG have another runaway hit on its hands? Share your thoughts in the related discussion thread below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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