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LG PF85U LED Projector - Review

Posted on August 28, 2014 by Art Feierman
The PF85U Projector has a long life LED light source, but what stands out most are the smarts of this large 1000 lumen "pocket" projector. We consider the PF85U for  home entertainment use, but it doubles nicely as a portable business projector.  

Specs Preview

LG PF85U Specs
Price 1299
Technology DLP
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1000
Contrast 10000:1
Zoom Lens Ratio N/A
Lens Shift No
Lamp Life 30000 hours
Weight 4.9
Warranty 2 years

LG PF85U Overview

The first thing to note about the LG PF85U is that it is the first small LED light source projector we've reviewed that is true 1080p resolution - 1920x1080.  Until now, most of these projectors have been WXGA (1280x800) or 720p (1280x720).

For a compact LED projector, the price tag that comes with the LG is relatively steep.  Street prices seem to be in the $1149 - $1199 range at the time of this publication.  That's reasonable considering that this is a 1080p projector, just note that there are a significant number lamp based 1080p projectors, also targeting the home entertainment market, that do sell for less.

1080p is a real plus on the business side of things, if you need maximum resolution.   For many business applications WXGA is normally fine, but the trending is to move up a resolution.  The LG becomes a leader in that sense.

The PF85U is also one of the first small LED projectors to claim 1000 lumens.  Just a couple/three years ago, the brightest ones were claiming 200-600 lumens.

On the home side of things, consider the PF85U to be a breakthrough product, for a couple of reasons, but first it's the resolution, because let's face it, 720p may be acceptable, but projected images are large, and people appreciate the higher resolution.  720p is "entry level" and with a number 1080p projectors now below $1000, 720p will mostly be found on projectors below $600.  LED projectors tend to cost more, though, so there are plenty of those between $600 and $1000, and that makes the LG PF85U very competitive.

Physically, the LG has a footprint larger than a traditional sheet of paper, so it's hardly a "pocket" projector.  Compared to traditional projectors though, it's very thin  (height).  And it's pretty light at 4.8 lbs, but all considered, it is neither dramatically smaller or lighter than some traditional lamp based projectors.

The projector comes with a thick printed manual, and the manual also on CD (my new laptop doesn't have a CD drive, does yours?)   I had great hopes for the manual, and it was thorough on some things, but still left a lot to be desired, especially relating to a number of menu functions.  Still, a better manual than most low cost LED projectors.

The PF85U is exceptionally "smart."  It has a very interesting Smart remote control, in addition to a traditional remote.  The Smart control, also allows control of sources when compatible.  It took me all of about a minute to configure the Smart remote to control a Panasonic Blu-ray player I was using for my initial look and photography. By the time this review is finished, I'm pretty sure I'll have configured it to control my DirecTV box as well.

The ability to control many sources can be a real plus in business/education, and certainly a nice touch, at home.

The LG supports multiple image modes, but with the exception of the brightest mode, they all have some pretty respectable color.  I'd definitely say better than many low cost lamp based projectors.   In fairness though, a similar 1080p lamp based projector will be two to three times as bright.

This projector review is included in our 2015-2016 Best Classroom Projectors Report, which is sponsored by Epson America.

The PF85U also has a slot for an SD card, and one of its HDMI inputs supports MHL, for plugging in other smart solutions.  More on that in the features section.

Built in sound won't replace your surround sound system, but had respectable volume and sounded pretty good, all considered.  In a business or education setting, it has sufficient volume to cover a conference room or a small classroom.  No serious bass of course.

A quick additional note on brightness.  First, as has been pretty typical in our reviews of the last five or six small LED projectors, the LG didn't get very close to its claimed brightness.   The other thing to note, is I performed all measurements after the projector was on for at least 20 minutes.  This is worth noting because LED light sources are the opposite of lamp types, in that they power up instantly, but the twist is that they are brightest when first fired up, and get a little dimmer over the first 5-10 minutes.   This is something we've found to be pretty consistent since reviewing the first Casio Slim-line LED/Laser projectors almost five years ago.

We'll also discuss audible noise in more detail than usual.  The LG offers a "Peak" mode, for maximum brightness, but the LG definitely "screams" in that mode.

Time to get started looking at the LG's many special features.

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