Projector Reviews

LG HU85LA CineBeam ThinQ 4K UHD Projector – Hardware

LG HU85LA CineBeam Review – Hardware: Overview, The Lens System, Inputs, and Connectors, Control Panel

Overview

The HU85LA is a compact 4K UHD Ultra Short Throw projector. True, most of the lower cost 4K UHD DLP projectors are physically smaller – some well less than half the size and bulk, but those are not ultra short throw projectors. For a home theater style UST projector this LG is on the small side. Also its white, sleek, minimalistic design helps give that impression. White is a good color choice for people planning to place the LG in living rooms, family rooms, etc.

Let’s get our orientation straight before we continue. With a UST projector, the Front, is the side facing the audience. The back of the LG is the side closest to the screen. Unlike traditional normal throw projectors we measure “distance to the screen” for UST projector, primarily measuring from the physical front of the projector to the screen, rather than the front of the lens, which is the standard for “regular” projectors. (True, both are measured from the front of the projector, but with these USST screens the lens is not at the front, but on top, usually about half way back.

And, folks that’s exactly where you will find the ultra short throw lens. As is typical, there is no optical zoom. But in front of the recess for the lens, is a focus ring hidden behind a small spring-loaded door.

All of the LG’s inputs and other connectors are found on the back. Venting is located on the sides.

The two 5 watt speakers are hidden behind the front grill cloth, which as mentioned is “designer” but there is no indication on their brochures, that there are alternative cloths available.

There are screw thread adjustable feet on the bottom, which are very, very helpful in getting a perfect alignment to the screen without using the digital correction system. The projector needs to be perpendicular to the screen. In my temp setup, for example, the screen has a slight tilt forward at the top. I was able to use the adjustable feet to keep the projector perpendicular. (Also the floor here seems a touch tilted (old house). So I adjusted one side a tiny amount more than the other. It came out really well, thanks to those feet.

The Ultra Short Throw Lens System

I’m old school, I’ve never studied how lens manufacturers today create aspherical lenses that can project over such a wide range, with equal brightness (I’m sure there’s some digital adjustment helping.). As you can see from the photo, the lens area is located about two-thirds of the way between the back and the front (closer to the front).

optics
The optical system ls located on the top toward the front of the projector

No matter. The LG’s lens looks to people as a small window recessed in the top of the projector about halfway back.

The challenge for UST projectors is that by their nature, they spread out light from the lens, (when used tabletop). At the far lower left and right, the light is traveling at only a few degrees above horizontal. But light is also exiting the lens at pretty much every angle from just above horizontal to full vertical. That means light is projecting over an almost 180 degree arc.

This is important to note, because the LG and similar design UST projectors are most often destined for a “bright room” environment.

To best accomplish that, there are light rejecting screens (ALR), to help deal with ambient light. Unfortunately UST ALR screens aren’t as effective at ambient light rejection as ALR screens for normal throw projectors. That’s because with normal though, all of the light hitting the screen comes from a relatively very small arc. Thus regular ALR screens can reject almost all side lighting, while the ALR UST screen designed for table top projectors, can only reject effectively light coming from above angles.

OK enough about that, and don’t forget, this projector has plenty of lumens behind it, to help with that ambient light, as so many pictures in this review show.

The lens itself, I should mention, is fixed, no zoom at all. That is pretty much standard on UST projectors.

Inputs and Connectors

All of the inputs and other connectors are located on the back of the LG HU85LA, closest to the screen.

Let’s run through them all, facing the input panel, and starting from the left:

inputs
The inputs and other connectors are located on the back left.

Top left – Two HDMI inputs, both are HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. Some projectors with two HDMIs still have one of them the older HDMI 1.4 which cannot support 4K HDR content, etc. Better to have two current ones. (HDMI 2.1 now exists, but very few products are using it yet.)

Directly below them are a pair of USB 2.0 inputs for the media player, and other uses, including providing power.

To the immediate right of those four inputs is a single USB 3.0 input. That is far faster and more capable than the HDMI 2.0 ones. Having one helps future proof the LG.

Further to the right is a normal (TOSLink) Optical Digital Audio Output. This output provides the highest quality audio to your external sound system, etc. And, as an added bonus, you can specify the HU85LA to output via this “TOSLink” connector, while the internal speakers are playing. This will allow, for example, a simple way to hook up a properly equipped powered subwoofer, to provide good bass to help out the internal speakers with some respectable bass.

The menus let you activate this Optical digital audio out, to work with the internal speakers, or of course you can opt to turn off the internal ones, and go full range though a sound system that accepts the TOSLink or Bluetooth.

Ethernet – a typical RJ45 network connector is the next connector over.

Finally, on the far right of the panel, is a coaxial input for the TV tuner. That could be a signal from a rooftop or in-room antenna or hook up the coaxial output of a cable or satellite box that has one. Note that the internal tuner does have a limited number of channels – all the usual UHF and VHF. Don’t start thinking you can use the internal tuner to watch the hundreds of cable channels, say, that a cable box provides, by using the internal tuner.

Almost done: There’s the AC power receptacle on the lower left, and right next to it, the usual Kensington Lock security slot.

One more item: I barely discovered it.

There’s a Power button! Or, rather a power Joystick. If you are facing the front of the projector it is located underneath the front right corner. It’s not far (but to the right) of the LED light in the lower right of the front grill.

The LG’s joystick lets you power on (press the center), power off: Press and hold.
Left and right will let you lower/raise the volume, while moving the joystick “up and down” (toward the back and front), will change channels.

Control Panel – MIA

As I just pointed out, while there’s no formal control panel, there is the tiny joystick located on the bottom of the projector in the front right corner. And it will control power, TV channels and volume.

Do not lose your LG Magic remote control!

There seems to be no way to change sources, activate the menus, etc. without the Magic Remote Control.  (Or A Google Home, etc. using Google Assistant.) You have been warned! (and keep spare batteries around too!  It would be horrible to miss using the projector because your remote’s batteries died!