LG HU70LAB 4K RGB LED DLP Projector: Hands-On & Review

I recently had the opportunity to review the LG HU70LAB 4K LED DLP projector. It’s a compact projector that features an advanced 4-channel “wheel-less” design. This is essentially the same projector as the LG HU70LA but it comes in a black enclosure. It’s rated to output 1500 lumens and is ceiling-mountable, making it a viable option for home theater applications and the all-black chassis lends itself to that.

The MSRP of $1799 puts it in the same price category as a premium 75″ TV, making it an attractive option for anyone looking for a much larger picture (up to 140″) than a TV provides. Of course there is the major caveat, TVs can look fantastic in a bright room, that’s much more difficult to achieve with any projector so if you go this route you’ll want to at least have shades if you’re going to use it during the daytime, as well as an ambient light rejecting screen.

The reward for taking this route is if you do dim the lights, you get a picture that’s tough to achieve with any TV—uniform, color accurate, with great motion and plenty of detail—even with native 4K content.

Now, it’s true the HU70LAB is a bit on the pricey side for a “faux-K” DLP but once you dig into what makes it tick, the price point starts to look pretty reasonable. Perhaps the most obvious example is the elimination of the color wheel, the bugaboo that has largely relegated DLP to entry-level status. Color wheels can cause rainbow artifacts and also created noise of their own. Plus they are a moving part, whereas the HU70LAB’s 3-LED light source is solid state.

Notably, this projector is substantially less expensive than any native 4K projectors, and especially 4K projectors with LED or laser light sources.


Overview

This is an intriguing DLP projector from LG. It has some outstanding attributes when it comes to picture quality—the images undeniably punchy yet color accurate and it features LG’s sophisticated image processing—but the best performance is only achievable within the context of a somewhat limiting lens (1.2X zoom, no shift functionality).

The LG HU70-LAB uses a 4-channel LED light source that features discrete red, green and blue LEDs as well as a fourth “dynamic green” channel. Eliminating the color wheel allows this projector to express extremely vivid color that stays accurate over time.

This projector’s lens is sharp, but it is limited in that it does not provide any lens shift functionality. A 1.25X manual zoom is somewhat helpful in getting the image to fit, but in the end the options for positioning this projector are limited. Having said that, ceiling mount is the most likely to work out in many instances and the black housing of this model makes this a viable option. However this projector is also quite compact and can be used as a portable, for example placed on a coffee table and shining on a blank wall.

It’s the middle of the day and I cannot black out my living room, but I can already see this projector is nice and bright, and also sharp from edge to edge. It’s a DLP so I don’t expect miracles in terms of contrast, but the colors look vivid yet accurate right out of the box.

My very first impression is that the simple, somewhat limited lens does have the fringe benefit of being high quality (no visible chromatic aberration or geometric distortion) so there’s a give-and-take versus a highly adaptable lens like you’d find on an Epson or Sony. Main thing is, if you can find a good spot for this projector, it appears to be a solid performer for a 4K DLP.

Since I no longer have a dedicated home theater and instead rely on the living room, I looked to projectorcentral.com and projectorreviews.com for measurements. Projectorcentral.com reported some rather low numbers, with Cinema mode clocking in at 579 lm, Standard mode 781 lm and the brightest modes, Sports & HDR Effect, at 821 lm each. However, projectorreviews.com states that Cinema mode reached 1078 lm, Standard reached 1279 lm, and in this case the two brightest modes were Game and HDR Effect, each peaking at 1291 lm.

Interestingly, hometheaterreview.com took measurements that fell right in between those of the other two review sites. That reviewer said Cinema mode delivered 765 lm and that the brightest mode was vivid mode at 1031 lm. However, these numbers include a grayscale calibration which typically reduces the peak luminance of any display, be it a projector or TV. My own quick and dirty measurements have me thinking that something was wrong with the projectorcentral numbers, whether it’s an issue with their review unit or their measurements.

One thing I did confirm is that any variations in brightness are not the result of the zoom setting. Light output remained constant (for the same screen size) with the lens fully zoomed in or out.


Hands-On Impressions

What’s important, at least to me, is that with the lights off this projector filled my 110″, 0.9 gain screen with a gorgeous image. I’m using this projector with a Seymour Screen Excellence Ambient Visionaire screen with it (0.9 gain, ALR, 110″ diagonal 16:9).

Most of the time, the contrast fully held up. Sure, “difficult” scenes would reveal the somewhat elevated black levels. But overall this image has serious punch, all the more so when displaying HDR content. And you could opt for a 1.3 gain screen if you wanted to go larger or get brighter.

In the past (but as recently as five years ago) I would often see rainbow artifacts in DLP projectors all the time. It is not clear if I became less sensitive to it, DLP technology overall improved to the point where it passed the threshold of my sensitivity, or bit of both, but I certainly did not have any issues with it when using this projector. This is a “YMMV” type of thing that you have to judge for yourself because individual sensitivity to the effect varies from person to person.

Fee free to ask any questions in the comments below as I get into my hands-on with this unit.


Gaming

Personal opinion here, this is the absolute nicest PS4 Pro and Grand Theft Auto online rig that I have played. I don’t notice the input lag and with the lights out, the rich colors look absolutely incredible.

Game mode seems nice and fast and motion is dealt with well. And if I make a switch to PC, it gets even better graphics wise, as you’d expect. Which is to say, I think this projector exceeds what it takes to do justice to PlayStation 4 Pro graphics. Granted, this is all subjective opinion from a casual player but my overall impression is “wow” as long as you turn off the lights.

And while this is irrelevant to home theater, I love that this projector is compact enough you can pick it with one hand and that because it doesn’t have moving parts (color wheel, complex mechanical lens) or bulb it’s pretty robust. You could really treated as a portable device, meaning that you can set up a gaming session anywhere that you have a nice chunk of blank wall and controlled lighting.

On my 110″, the effect is completely cinematic and awesomely immersive. Also I’m winning races, which to me is always a good indicator that the response time is good enough for at least some forms of competition.


Movies

Is this LGF HU70LAB the best choice of a protector in this price range for dedicated home theater? Quite possibly not because of the end of the day it is a DLP projector and the black levels and native contrast is not what cinephiles have come to expect for brands like Sony, JVC and even Epson that use three-chip LCD based technologies.

On the other hand it has really good picture processing and a genuinely wide color gamut that excels at reproducing reds and blues, which makes a lot of movies really pop. And while it may not compete with the home theater centric projectors in contrast, if you use it in a living room or and AV room or some other space that is light-controlled but not a blacked out theater, then the value proposition of going a three-LED DLP route increases substantially.

In my living room the HU70LAB looks like a giant, near-perfect plasma TV at night. The crisp motion rendering and rich colors, as well as the genuinely “HDR-like” highlights more than make up for a mildly elevated black level, that isn’t even visible in most scenes.

While this projector may seem to have modest specifications, and it is based on a 1080P DLP chip that has well known limitations when it comes to contrast a black level, everything still seems to come together quite nicely on screen. The resulting picture is a pleasure to watch.


Conclusion

This is an intriguing projector. At first glance, it seems limited by its simple lens and its 1080P DLP imaging engine. However, hands-on usage revealed that this projector is a compact powerhouse capable of putting a punchy, appealing and quite accurate image on screen. It may not be as sharp, or have the flexibility of my dedicated home theater projector but it also costs a lot less, is much smaller and dispenses with the bothersome bulb.

There are numerous usage scenarios with this LG will work out great. If you want to projector that’s easy to move around the house, just put it on the coffee table and find some blank wall space and you are in business, this is a perfect choice. Looking for a quiet projector that does a great job with HDR source footage thanks to its brightness and rich color? HU70LAB has you covered. And most importantly, if it turns out this is the right projector for your home theater, it comes with a black chassis. Anyone preferring the same projector in White can simply purchase the HU70LA, which is the same projector in white. Either way you get a projector fits a sweet spot in terms of price and features for a 4K compatible 3-LED DLP. It’s a Top Choice for 2020.


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