Posted on January 26, 2020 By Phil Jones
LG HU70LA CineBeam ThinQ 4K Projector Review – Special Features: 4 Channel LED Light Engine, 4K DLP, Smart TV Features, HDR10 with Auto Tone Mapping, e-ARC
LG rates the HU70LA’s LED light engine at 1,500 lumens for 30,000 hours which equal years of worry-free operation. Most Laser/LED projectors rely on phosphors to create green color elements and sometimes red (if it only has a blue lasers) but the LG HU70LA uses four LEDs to generate red, green, and blue, with an addition of a fourth blue LED to boost brightness, contrast, and generate more vivid colors.
While I am not overly sensitive to the rainbow effect, I have seen the issue before on other DLP projectors. Since the HU70LA has a 4ch LED illumination system it does not utilize a traditional spinning phosphor wheel which reportedly helps reduce visible “rainbowing” that is an issue with many DLP projectors.
A 4K DLP projector cannot match the color saturation and native contrast of a 3-chip LCoS projector but the HU70LA LED illumination also appears to visibly improve those elements.
There are three modes to adjust the brightness output of the LED light source. The lamp power adjustment is called Energy Saving and the other options are as follows:
The HU70LA utilizes a Texas Instruments 2nd generation DLP (0.47” DMD) chip to reproduce perceived 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution.
I use the term “perceived” because a 4K DLP chip does not actually have 8.3 million mirrors, so the projector 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 to a native 4K LCD/LCoS model.
Since the HU70LA is a single-chip DLP projector, you will never have any convergence issues could occur with a 3LCD projector, so the image will remain sharp throughout the life of the projector without periodical adjustment. The projector can also accept signals up to 4K@60P via a 18Gbps HDMI/HDCP 2.2 Compatible Input (HDMI #1).
Also like all other DLP projectors, the HU70LA has a sealed light path to protect the optics from the dreaded “dust blob.” Having a sealed light path prevents particles of dust from settling inside the light path and obstructing the projected image.
The HU70LA utilizes the same ThinQ AI webOS that is found in LG’s current flat panel lineup. It’s a Smart projector made by a Smart TV manufacturer. LG is way ahead of most manufacturers when it comes to building Smart projectors. LG simply has incorporated everything they have learned over the years building Smart TV elements into this projector.
The HU70LA uses LG’s UI, which was developed over several years and is utilized in millions of LG TVs worldwide and is seamless, easy to navigate, and well laid out. A version of ThinQ AI webOS is utilized in all LG consumer projectors including the HU85LA 4K Short Throw projector that Art reviewed a few months ago.
The LG CineBeam lineup of projectors are some of the most capable projectors on the market when it comes to Smart TV and voice control capabilities. It would take a dozen pages to cover all the Smart TV features found in the HU70LA. Below are a few notable features that make the HU70LA a viable solution for a Smart TV.
The HU70LA is one Smart projector. It is equipped with voice control you can use to operate the Smart remote, which has a built-in microphone to control a wide variety of compatible Smart devices via Google Assistant. You just press and hold the mic button in the center of the remote control to activate Google Assistant. You can use your voice to operate the HU70LA. For example, you can ask the projector to “Play the Videos in USB” or “Change Mode to Vivid.”
In addition to the projector, Google Assistant allows voice control for several 3rd party items like a set-top box, lights, door locks, curtains, etc. There are dozens of available commands and you can get more examples of those commands by just holding down the HU70LA remote’s microphone button.
Built-in TV Tuner and Apps
As mentioned earlier the LG HU70LA is designed to be a viable alternate to a flat panel TV so unlike most competitive projectors, LG units have an onboard TV tuner. This is great for customers who are looking to replace their Flat panel TV with a projector. On the back, with the other connectors, you’ll find that old standard 75-ohm coaxial connector used by TV antennas. You can also plug in the coaxial cable signal from a set-top box, although most of today’s boxes will offer the best performance from HDMI.
The HU70LA can access LG’s long-established app store which is loaded with a massive amount of entertainment apps. You can also access many of the other popular streaming services including Netflix, HULU, and the newly introduced Disney+. Since the HU70LA utilizes the same ThinQ Ai WebOS as LG’s TV lineup, the library of services and apps will continue to grow.
Wireless Connectivity and Media Playback
In addition to a wired network connection, the HU70LA allows wireless networking as well. This is great for users who want to move the projector from room to room while still accessing the unit’s internal apps and services. Since the HU70LA has both streaming services and built-in speakers all you need is a power outlet and a wall/screen for backyard movie night,
The projector has a built-in media player and that can access files via its USB inputs. There are two USB 2.0 inputs that can be used to play all types of media (Videos, MP3, Photos, etc.). You can also use the USB input on the LG projector to connect things like a mouse, keyboard, or game controller.
You can also share content from Android and iOS devices using LG’s TV Plus app and Miracast/WIDI is also supported.
The HDR provides a major improvement in dynamic range as well as color. It lets you see more detail in the shadows and the bright areas and delivers more saturated lifelike colors.
HDR consumer content (4K blu-ray and streaming) is mastered for playback on a flat panel not a projector, so it’s produced at a variety of brightness levels ranging from 1,000 nits (292 fL) to 4,000 (1167fL) nits.
Most 4K HDR capable projectors can only deliver between 100 nits (29fL) and 200 nits (58 fL). This means no HDR compatible Home Theater projector can reproduce all the brightness found in consumer HDR content.
HDR projectors utilize tone mapping which is a compromise between maintaining bright highlight details and delivering full screen brightness. There is a variety of information embedded in HDR content that an HDR display uses to make picture adjustments. There’s an HDR Infoframe which triggers a display device to switch to the appropriate HDR mode. When the HDR info frame is detected, most HDR projectors switch to HDR mode with a fixed tone map. It is basically one size fits all which hurts HDR performance.
Additional HDR metadata is also embedded which a display can use to make tone mapping adjustments.
Since the MaxFALL/MaxCLL metadata is based on the average brightness of the brightest frame and brightest pixel in the movie, certain scenes with lower than average frame levels can still look way too dark.
Higher-end LCD and OLED TVs have been able to measure the HDR content frame-by-frame to generate accurate metadata dynamically for years. Just like LG’s Flat panels, the HU70LA has the capability to dynamically measure HDR metadata which further improves the projector’s HDR performance. The goal is to better utilize the HU70LA’s brightness capabilities based on the content being shown.
While HU70LA has built-in speakers, many consumers will want to connect to a soundbar or AV Receiver to take full advantage of the high-quality immersive sound available from many of the projector’s streaming apps. The HU70LA is one of the few projectors on the market equipped with e-ARC.
If you don’t use ARC or eARC, the only other option would be to connect the optical audio output. Like most Smart TV/FPJ the optical output cannot pass the latest immersive surround formats to an external sound system. Apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ are loaded with Atmos and DTS content and if you use an optical output all you are going to provide to your soundbar or receiver is stereo or Dolby Pro Logic information.
HDMI ARC supports multi-channel audio including Dolby Atmos, but due to bandwidth limitations, it delivers a compressed audio signal for example Dolby Digital Plus. The increased bandwidth capabilities of eARC allows the transfer of uncompressed audio like Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio for the highest sound quality.
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