Posted on September 20, 2018 By Art Feierman
LG HU80KA 4K Home Theater Projector Review – Hardware: Overview, The Lens and Lens Throw, The Control Panel, Inputs/Connectors
The HU80KA is certainly one of the most unique projectors we’ve seen in years. It doesn’t look like other projectors. It uses a large mirror to aim the beam (the last time that was popular was with Proxima and Polaroid projectors in the mid-‘90s) and it has a carry handle! Cute! And practical, considering LG markets this as a projector that can be moved around easily, indoors or out, for movie nights, sports, whatever.
The most common setup of the LG will likely be people standing it up on the floor, although lying it down horizontally will work if your table you rest it on is about the same height as the bottom of your screen (or any other surface you want to project on).
Either way, there’s a 1.2:1 manual zoom lens, with controls on one side.
The mirror allows you to adjust the height of the image on the screen, but if the angle is a lot, then you’ll see a trapezoidal image. That’s normally made into a rectangle by lens shift (which the mirror can sort of do a bit of), or keystone correction, which the LG has, but we always say, don’t use keystone correction unless you must, because it softens the image and reduces detail.
There are four screw-on feet that can be used when the projector is intended to be lying down flat. You can see the four screw thread holes are on the same side of the projector as the cutout for most of the connectors. The two pairs of holes (left side and right) are about 5 inches apart, with one set just above the cutout, and the other “higher up” (closer to the mirror and lens). Those will protect your tabletop, and the bottom surface of the projector when it is used horizontally.
The projector can even be ceiling mounted horizontally, in the same fashion as most home theater/home entertainment projectors!
If the projector is set up vertically, and you are standing behind it facing the screen, the focus and zoom controls will be on the left side, just behind the front (lens area).
The mirror, as noted, is hinged and can be moved out of the way, rotated, etc.
There’s a cable cover close the opening (except for the back). The power cord, interestingly enough, is about 10 feet long (a guess). What’s interesting is it is hard-wired to the projector instead of using a typical, standard power receptacle.
There’s a button just above the bottom, on the opposite side of the lens controls, which, when pushed, reels in the power cord. Nice touch, although a little more tension might be better. Sometimes it just doesn’t have enough muscle to reel it all in, especially if the projector is on a table, and has to pull the cord “up” to the unit. Still, count it as a nice extra thought, great for those that plan to move the HU80KA around a lot.
As noted, it is a 1.2:1 manual zoom lens. The zoom and focus controls are on one side of the LG projector. The throw distance seems pretty typical:
Obviously, if a screen is 10% larger (110” diagonal), then both distances would increase by 10%. With a calculator, you can quickly and easily figure out the distances for any sized screen, larger or smaller.
There isn’t enough zoom range to pair with a Cinemascope type widescreen, and there is no lens memory, to make that easy, even if it had enough zoom to be viable. Of course, very few DLP projectors offer lens memory, mostly because the typical single DLP chip design isn’t conducive to having a large amount of lens shift, or the 2.1:1 zoom ranges offered by non-DLPs as many Sony, JVC and Epson projectors over $2000 offer.
The control panel of the HU80KA is minimalistic, something up until now, was a term I only really applied to Sony’s control panels.
The control panel sits on the top surface in the front right corner, just a few inches from the lens. It is a round affair, with a center button and four arrow keys for navigation, as seen in the photo above. Its operation is pretty strange, so please don’t lose the LG’s Magic Remote (as they call it).
If the HU80KA is powered off, pressing the power button in the center will turn it on.
Once the projector is on, when you press the center button on the control panel, (it has a power marking on it), you get an image of a similar wheel, with each arrow’s purpose designated.
It comes up on screen pointing to the X – for cancel. Or the left arrow, will bring up Inputs, the top arrow, Power Off, and the right arrow is the Setup symbol which brings up the main menus. After pointing to the one you want, pressing the center button executes it, as it acts as an Enter button.
(I hope that made sense – art).
In addition to these inputs, there are two more, and a audio out, on the projector's side.
Here are those extra 3 connectors: HDMI 2, USB and the headphone jack/audio out.
The HU80KA has two areas with inputs. The large, recessed input area by the bottom back. That area has from left to right: A coaxial cable input for a traditional TV antenna, a Digital Optical Output, a USB, and HDMI 1. Finally, there’s a standard RJ45 jack for wired networking.
The LG projector comes with a cable cover, so when it’s used, the cables exit from the bottom of the projector (if you are using the projector in the standing position). The power cord, as mentioned elsewhere, retracts into the same large area as the connectors above.
There’s more. On the right side, if looking at the projector from the rear, is the second HDMI input, and also an additional USB.
There’s also a Kensington lock slot for security, not that many folks will use it.
Overall, an interesting physical design. Wait, I forgot to mention the handle! Nice touch. It does make this rather long projector easy to move around.
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