Posted on January 26, 2020 By Phil Jones
LG HU70LA CineBeam ThinQ 4K Projector Review – Picture Quality: 4K SDR and 4K HDR, HDTV and Sports, Overall Picture Quality
While most Blu-ray UHD content is available in HDR10, a lot of 4K streaming material is still only 4K SDR. The HU70LA had no problems delivering sharp detailed 4K imagery. While a Pixel Shifting 3LCD projector can do a decent job emulating the original 4K content, when you do a side-by-side comparison with a native 3LCD 4K projector, the resolution difference is truly noticeable.
Since a 4K DLP chip does not actually have 8.3 million mirrors, so the HU70LA utilizes pixel (mirror) shifting to deliver the perceived sharpness of native 4K. This approach works very well because it is very difficult to see a difference in sharpness when comparing a 4K DLP projector like the HU70LA to a native 4K LCD/LCoS model.
With the introduction of the Apple 4K TV, the amount of HDR streaming movie content has increased dramatically. 4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, but even the brightest HDR projectors can struggle to faithfully reproduce HDR. In most situations, the HU70LA’s auto tone mapping feature did a good job balancing the need to deliver respectable full screen brightness while still producing bright highlight detail. It was only when I played content mastered above 4000nits that I felt the need to make any manual adjustments. Unfortunately, the HU70LA does not support HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) which is the HDR standard developed for live broadcast.
While the HU70LA could not reproduce 100% of DCI-P3 color space, I found that HDR colors still appeared rich and vibrant. While we focus a lot on color gamut (Rec709, P3, Rec2020) we also need to be just as concerned with HDR color volume which is the combination of color gamut and color brightness. It is easy to see how brightness affects color by just pausing a colorful HDR scene and zooming in to make the image size smaller. The colors will look more saturated because they are brighter. Therefore, I recommend always using a projector brightness lamp mode when viewing HDR content.
The HU70LA delivered a good HDR picture before calibration and it look even better after. AUTO TONE MAPPING really makes a noticeable improvement in the HDR picture. Unlike most HDR compatible projectors in the HU70LA’s price point, it was rare that I felt a need to make any manual tone mapping adjustments during HDR viewing.
The fact is most TV shows and live broadcast will continue to be produced in HD for several more years so good 4K upscaling will continue to be important. Since LG has spent several years perfecting its video processing, which is also utilized in millions of their flat panel TVs, the HU70LA’s upscaling is excellent. Whether I was watching 720P sports from ESPN or 1080p Blu-ray content, it all looked very good. Most 4K movies do not have enough fine detail to make the difference between watching 4K SDR and HD noticeable.
The HU70LA utilizes a version of LG’s proven TruMotion, which is their motion compensation system. While I normally turn off frame interpolation when viewing movie content, it can be useful for reducing judder and increasing the clarity of fast action or sports content. There are two factory presets (Smooth and Clear) and you also have the ability to make manual adjustments. When the HU70LA was set to Expert mode, I did not notice any blatant motion artifacts, so I left TruMotion in it default settings.
Whether you are watching HD, 4K, or HDR, the HU70LA delivered a very good picture for its size and price. Out-of-the-box the picture quality looked as good or better than most DLP projectors I have seen.
Whenever I evaluate the projector’s picture, I also try to consider the unit’s likely use case. Yes, the projector’s black level could be better but the HU70LA will probably be used in a room with some ambient light so the ability to reproduce ultra-deep blacks is not critical.
SDR content looked very good on my 120” Screen. When viewing HDR I would prefer to have more brightness when viewing HDR content on a screen 120” or larger but HU70LA will probably be used on a smaller screen in a den or living room. Its rated output of 1,500 lumens would produce more than enough brightness for HDR viewing on a small portable 84” to 96” pull up screen.
Overall, I was very pleased with the picture quality of the HU70LA. It produced a bright vivid picture which really made movies, TV shows, and live sports broadcast pop in my room. Combine the HU70LA with a good portable screen like an Elite Screen ezCinema or a Screen Innovations Solo to create a great 85” TV replacement which can easily be tucked away when not in use. In fact, I am personally considering this option for my master bedroom.
Above are a few more images from movies and TV shows. As noted elsewhere, there is some color shifting in these images, so they don’t fully represent how good the LG HU70LA looks in person.
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