Projector Reviews

LG PF85U LED Projector Review – Summary

LG PF85U LED PROJECTOR – SUMMARY:  Capabilities, Picture Quality, Brightness, Bottom Line

PF85U LED Projector Capabilities

The PF85U may make a perfectly reasonable compact portable projector for business and education use, but that’s definitely not its strong point.  The PF85U has been loaded with consumer features making it one of the smartest projectors (if not the smartest) that I’ve had the pleasure to review.  For its capabilities as a 1080p home entertainment projector with a solid state light engine, and lots of capabilities, it earns our Hot Product Award.

Let me start this section with a few paragraphs about the more business oriented capabilities then move to the home.

Business and education projectors typically need sound.  For a projector this small, you will be hard pressed to find a more powerful built in speaker system, and it really sounds rather good considering the size.  It will certainly cover most conference rooms with ease.

Dual USB ports, HDMI and MHL are all good features that can be put to use in the non consumer world.  The image is reasonably sharp, but not especially so for a 1080p resolution projector.  Of course almost all of the LG PF85U’s competition for other LED light source projectors are merely 720p or WXGA resolution, so no match for this LG.

The Smart remote is a great device to use for remote mousing.  It’s similarity to the Gyro mice of old is obvious, and I personally swore by those for controlling my powerpoint presentations, or navigating a browser.

You will need a carry case for this 4.8 pound projector though, if you plan to be a business road warrior.   On the plus side, bring it home and enjoy it as your personal theater.  You’ve got trade-offs to consider, so I would say that from the business side, you’ll have to decide if the LED light engine is worth the loss of brightness.  Also, decide if you really need 1080p resolution.  Most business projectors today are still WXGA.  For example, one of our next reviews is a less expensive, lighter, LED projector from NEC, with WXGA resolution.  It’s no match in features, but it may be all you need.  This LG, on the other hand, will still be viable when the world has “outgrown” WXGA (1280×800) resolution.  That might quite a while, but then, since this is LED, it should last a decade or more assuming it too, doesn’t become obsolete.  The price point of a bit over $1000 isn’t bad, but 1080p lamp based projectors within a pound or two of weight, start about $400 less, but typically lack all the extra smarts of the LG.  Most though will have a zoom lens

Consider this an interesting but not top choice as a road warrior’s travel projector, due to the points above, but it’s a different story if you buy it for home entertainment, with the occasional business need.

PF85U Capabilities as a Home Entertainment Projector

Wow!   Now things are getting interesting.

The PF85U is smart.  I mean it’s just dripping in modern features, such as MHL, and it’s Smart remote, and it’s online content network, and its dual USB’s, and of course it’s got that extremely long life LED light source.

What’s really interesting is how feature laden it is, when it comes to controlling the picture  the PF85U is a combination of smart wizards, user friendly choices, and more traditional calibration controls to adjust the picture.  In other words, it can go from a basic “set it up and watch”, to instead customizing it a bit without needing to be technical by using a picture wizard, to being able to calibrate it just as one would a $5000 dedicated home theater projector.

The one area where the projector is obviously weak, from a home standpoint is the lens.  Most home entertainment projectors offer a zoom lens, even if many in this type of price range offer minimum placement range.  As we spend a little more, some of those projectors will also offer lens shift (so that you don’t need the more destructive keystone controls to keep your image rectangular.   But this is more of a set it on a table and watch it, than a projector that would be permanently mounted.  You just have to get the distance right for your screen size.

For the dollars spent, not only are you getting a true 1080p resolution projector, but one with both wired, and wireless networking.  That’s not that easy to find, and even if you do find that elsewhere the networking setup was downright simple thanks to the networking wizard.

Capabilities make this LG make it acceptable, but not great, as a gaming projector!   Some LED projectors  turn in lag times of 0 ms, as is the case of the NEC 102W I’m also reviewing at this time.  The LG PF85U, though isn’t fast at all when it comes to lag times.  Doing our usual input lag tests, after turning off all the dynamic controls I could find, still only resulted in lag times of 35 to 50 ms.   That’s certainly in the range we call acceptable for serious gamers, whether they are into their 1st and 3rd person shooters, auto racing, etc. A 1/20 of a second lag time is considered just barely acceptable (50ms).  Just under 35ms, the fastest I was able to record for the LG, is considered very good, but it could still be better.

Consider that with 60fps content, 33 ms is a two frame lag, or with 30fps, that’s only a single frame of lag.   On the positive side for gamers, extensive controls of color, contrast, gamma, assure gamers, that that sniper hiding in the lower right corner of the screen will be visible, not lost due to contrast or shadow detail issues.  BTW, if you leave on features like TruMotion and Super-Resolution, lag times can hit 150ms, which is probably only acceptable to gamers playing tic-tac-toe, or in my case, Risk.

Of course the Wifi is a key feature / capability for this projector, since it’s in part built on the idea that between MHL and LG’s content library, that its prepared to let you watch most of what you want, even if you don’t have a Blu-ray player or a satellite/cable box.  As with the business side usage, the Smart remote is very useful/cool.

 

PF85U Picture Quality

The brighter modes of the PF85U produce better color than the brighter modes of most entry level DLP projectors.   Now that sounds good, but let’s look closer.  Most of those home entertainment lamp projectors will offer 1000 to 2000 lumens in their brightest modes, compared to only about 700 here.  Knock those lamp based projectors down into their best color modes where they are certainly at least the equal to the PF85U, and they are likely to still be brighter than this LG is capable of, with typically 800 to 1300 lumens vs. 400 to 700.

All that said, in a darkened room, even 400 lumens is enough for a 100″ diagonal screen!  In a brighter “family room” type environment, though, you will start running out of lumens.   That said, I was using the LG to do about a 70″ screen size for last weekend’s football, and I did the watching with a fair amount of ambient light let into my theater.

In other words, the LG has the brightness for dark rooms, and can do a decent job with brighter rooms, as long as the screen size is limited somewhat.

You can score (purchase) some fairly smart projectors (with MHL) and 1080p resolution, with far more brightness, and still keep the spend under $1000.  Think Epson HC2000 or HC2030, the BenQ W1070, etc.  Of course those are all physically much larger, and use lamps, which will need to be replaced from time to time, adding to their cost.