Something needs to be said about the endless screen calibration settings that are made available to cover a gamut of user base on LG’s latest CineBeam HU810P 4K UHD home projector, which was awarded ‘2021 Honoree’ at this year’s Consumer Electronics Expo. This buffet of options, though producing a significantly better output with minimal yet marked differences in picture quality when fine-tuned to the user’s preference and environment, may sometimes leave you confused unless you are religious about aspect ratios and lighting conditions.
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It is another thing that the LG CineBeam projector gets everything right when it comes to colour saturation and colour accuracy. Perhaps you could attribute this to the dual laser light source that the projector wields like a weapon, in order to achieve its larger goal to offer a première viewing experience — even in the comforts of your home.
Sure, the picture quality may be not as rich as, say, Sony, which has positioned itself as the market leader and rightfully so, LG seemed to have built its empire based on its dynamic colour range, where there seems to be little to no compromise. I use a 43-inch LG smart TV and I can personally vouch for the colour accuracy part, although I am not sure why the greens look a little washed out in the projector, when I tested watching a 4K video. It could be due to the video quality, but I twice checked by watching a BluRay video and the greens still looked dull and unnatural.
Let us get this out of the way: setting up the projector is easy and convenient. The box contains the rectangular-shaped projector, a power card and an uber-cool Magic Remote, of which the in-built LED lights up when you come in contact: a useful feature essentially designed for a dark room.
There are two levers at the bottom of the projector for manual focus with 1.6x zoom, while on the side panel, there are two concentric circles for horizontal and vertical lens shift. Ideally, the projector should be placed at a 10-feet distance for the 110-inch screen, which I tested by projecting it on the wall. The HU810P comes with a set of pre-installed applications and streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Disney+Hotstar and YouTube, although it is quite surprising that it does not support Netflix and HBO max. It also supports AirPlay and Alexa.
Experience like never before
What gets the projector going are its two essential features: adaptive viewing and 4K resolution, which, according to LG, produces 8.3 million discrete pixels. The former is achieved through two in-built modes: IRIS Mode (optimises brightness and black level depending on the environment) and Adaptive Contrast (optimises brightness and blacks depending on the image). It also comes with a few picture options such as Bright and Dark Room, whereby the projector adjusts the image saturation level and blacks based on the user’s selection, if it is a dimly-lit room or has more light.
In order to test the efficiency of the black level, which, in some cases, produces a grainy output in the background, I played a BlueRay video of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — if you recall the combative sequence in pitch darkness. And the blacks turned out to be surprisingly even throughout and, in fact, too good. But the projector did suffer from the greens getting washed out, especially in the action sequence that takes place in a bamboo forest.
The HU 810P brims with pride about introducing the ‘Filmmaker Mode’, thanks to Tom Cruise who posted a reactionary tweet in 2018, lamenting about the lack of quality on high-end televisions. “It takes the cinematic look out of any image and makes it look like soap opera shot on a cheap video camera,” he wrote. We are not sure if Tom Cruise would agree to this, but I preferred the HDR Effect in HU810P over Filmmaker Mode, whose only purpose seems to darken the colour saturation, irrespective of the video that is playing.
The Filmmaker Mode absolutely killed my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon experience, for, I was able to achieve better, richer colour output with the HDR Effect. I was able to witness ultra-sharp images with HDR Effect when I played a BluRay version of Skyfall and the 4K version of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion .
I somehow felt the HDR Effect seemed to polish the edges around the images when I tested with the opening sequence of Skyfall . I hope you saw a ‘but’ coming. The Filmmaker Mode has astonishing results for certain kind of videos. The colour grading and image quality were stunning when I played Mad Max: Fury Road . In comparison, the yellows and oranges looked too bright in HDR Effect for Mad Max and Vada Chennai . One of the big advantages is that your calibration settings get saved by default for the application you are using, which is something LG can be proud of.
Sound is another thing you need to consider before buying a projector. Although it is essential that you opt for an external sound system, the HU 810P is compatible with Dolby Atmos. It produced better results with the AI Sound feature, amplifying the general sound level. Ideally, the HDR Effect for screen calibration, coupled with AI Sound, is my most preferred setting for HU 810P.
Worth a shot?
I am no gamer, but LG has created a new HDR game mode for Xbox and PlayStation’s games. I did watch cricket on the projector and was marvelling at how smooth the transition felt, which you don’t normally notice in a television. For this, the HU810P comes with a built-in MEMC (motion estimation and motion compensation) technology, especially for sports and action movies to appear fluid.
The dual laser source seemed to have been designed to achieve a powerhouse performance. As opposed to a conventional projector, which uses mercury lamp that would last 3,000 to 5,000 hours, LG claims that HU810P would last for 20,000 hours. All said and done, the projector is a little expensive.
Priced at ₹2.8 lakh, it appears that LG’s primary audiences are industry experts and filmmakers. For a regular, it is a cost that is too much to bear.
Sales for LG CineBeam HU 810P will start in June in India.