Posted on November 3, 2020 By Phil Jones
LG BU50NST 4K Laser Business Projector Review – Picture Quality: Color Mode, Video Quality, Text and Presentation Quality, Sound Quality
LG provides a number of color modes that can be selected and customized by the user. The following modes can be selected from either the Settings menu or by simply pushing the Picture Mode button on the remote repeatedly until your desired selection displays. The following is a comparison of the various modes after factory reset. No adjustments were made other than Picture Mode.
HDR Effect Mode
Expert (Dark Room) Mode
Expert (Bright Room) Mode
The images above show the difference in color and skin tones, for the different preset picture modes. There are seven factory color presets. The following observations were generally made with the projector using its factory default picture settings.
The screenshots above are intended to give only a rough idea of the color accuracy for each picture mode. However, when viewed in person the color accuracy will generally look somewhat better than shown in these photos.
LG BU50NST Brightness: 4810 Lumens
LG BU50NST has a rated brightness of 5,000 lumens. I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens. At wide angle I measured the BU50NST in its brightest picture mode, PRESENTATION, with the lamp power set to Minumum.
At wide zoom, High-Bright mode, the BU50NST measured 4,810 lumens which was slightly below LG’s brightness claim. I also measured the other seven available modes.
The ProBeam BU50NST offers a wide range of Picture modes, each appropriate for different situations. In some cases such as presentations, a bright image with pop is more important than an image with perfect colors or enhanced details in shadow and bright areas. Conversely, if you are displaying art in a museum or a corporate logo, the color accuracy may be the most important factor. One of the great things about DLP-based systems is that they can deliver both high brightness/high color accuracy and contrast from the same design – particularly with laser phosphor illumination.
After spending time viewing a variety of content, I found that the projector delivered one of the widest real world ranges of appropriate usage scenarios. Watching film content in the dark was not the absolute best experience, but when set to appropriate output level and dark room picture mode (which uses an optical aperture to further reduce output and increase contrast) the results were very pleasing to the eye. Add in a bit of ambient light and things get perceptually better.
I greatly preferred the TV-like experience obtained by viewing in Standard mode with typical room lighting combined with some slight lighting control to minimize any light shining directing on the screen. Since the projector is not designed for a theater per se, the available picture modes and adjsutments provide both an accurate picture when needed as well as the maximum impact from Presentation mode which is great for the brightest rooms as long as color accuracy is not critical.
Overall, the video picture quality was quite good for this range of projector. Out of the box, the projector has the ability to produce relatively accurate color, with a set of controls for full calibration (should that be required). Combined with the capacity to make a very bright (albeit less “perfect”) picture when desired, the BU50NST delivers a versatile solution for a wide range of professional applications.
It is also well-suited for use as a TV in the office or home, particularly in spaces other than dedicated theaters where you would might find that a projector with a deeper black level would be a preferable option (this depends on a wide range of factors including the screen surface and reflected projector light in the room shining back onto the screen). The advantage of higher output typically overshadows the performance of designs that yield deeper blacks in applications where there is any ambient light as those improved black levels are immediately eliminated by the ambient light.
While there are some professional applications where the room is totally dark such as training simulators, in most cases projectors used in the target verticals of enterprise, education, museums, and hospitals will be used in rooms with some ambient light. In these cases, I cannot emphasize the advantages of ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens enough. The use of a dark or ALR screen combined with the high output of a laser phosphor projector such as the BU50NST can deliver a remarkable image in situations where just a few years ago you might not have considered projection. Before, you may have had to simply accept the limited performance of lamps dimming and washed out images on unity gain screens in rooms with windows, since these may have been the only options available.
Today, flat panels are certainly an option or even a preferred choice in sizes up to about 85” but if the image needs to be larger, a projector is typically the best choice unless there is the budget reserve for a direct emission LED wall.
The UHD (3840 x2160) resolution of the ProBeam BU50NST eliminates most concerns over legibility of text, leaving only the actual height of the font to be considered when viewing the content in the desired application. If you use 8-point font, you may be able to see it up close but an audience member may have a suboptimal experience. Higher resolution does not change the limitations of font sizes and viewing distances for PowerPoint presentations or other infographic-type materials.
Fortunately, UHD is the highest practical resolution available today so this will likely not be an item of concern. When displaying scaled text from my MacBook Air which does not support UHD output, the text was as clear as when output on a newer MacbookPro with UHD output other than at the smallest font size (8pt). I would suggest that if using an UHD image to view 8pt text you should be sitting close to the screen and feeding a UHD signal, however this not a typical use-case scenario for a projector. Most of my evaluation was based on an HD signal.
The ProBeam BU50NST has dual 5-watt built-in speakers located on the back of the projector. These speakers can provide adequate sound in a pinch and even play loudly enough for use in an average-sized classroom or meeting room. While the sound quality may be fine for soft music or narration, the placement of the speakers and the position of the projector in the room will often lead to the recommendation of a separate audio system. However, the built-in speakers may be sufficient and with HDMI audio extraction built-in to the projector, the headphone output can be used to drive a simple external audio system.
The projector provides flexible audio connections including the option of ARC over HDMI. I used the audio headphone output to connect to a separate 2.1 channel system in my living room for both gaming on PS4 and music from Apple TV and the audio did not sound compromised as you might find in some lesser products or TVs. Gunshots, explosions, and the latest Post Malone track all had deep bass and impact. When you use the included remote to adjust the volume, the level is conveniently displayed onscreen. There was plenty of range to drive my audio system to its capacity.
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