Projector Reviews

2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report – Non-Winners $2000-$5000 Class

This page contains comments on projectors that were considered in this year’s Best Home Theater Projectors Report, but did not win awards.

LG HU80KA

LG HU80K

The LG HU80KA won an award in last year’s report for Most Innovative: Smart Projector in the $2,500 – $5,000 Class. This year, it didn’t take honors, but that doesn’t make this projector any less innovative than it was last year. It has a moveable mirror that it uses to project the image pretty much whichever way you like. LG’s product shots show the HU80KA projecting horizontally on a wall, as any projector can, but also – onto the ceiling while you’re lying in bed.

This, personally, is what gives me my interest in the HU80KA, though it’s not enough to get me to spend $2,499 on this projector. Why? Art’s description of the black levels as being “entry-level” doesn’t justify the price for me. When the upgraded HC5050UB is just a couple hundred dollars more – I’d opt for the Epson, every time. Still, if you’re looking for smarts, the LG HU80KA has the Epson beat, no question. The HC5050UB is dumb by comparison.

HU80KA_4K_passengers_aurora_diningroom

LG is well known for bringing their Smart TV aspects to their projectors, and they did so with the HU80KA. Like their TVs, the HU80KA has apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime fully integrated into the projector itself. That means, if you’re primarily a streamer, there’s no need to hook up a Blu-Ray player or external streaming source to watch your favorite content. If you game, you’ll still need to hook up your console, but you won’t need to use it to stream. Pretty cool.

This projector claims 2,500 lumens, but when calibrated, it doesn’t even come close. Eric took it to calibrate and discovered that the most any of the modes could achieve was right around 1,000 lumens. Natural Color Mode measured at 2,000 lumens, but Art says the sacrifice in color isn’t worth it. So – if you don’t calibrate it, it’s probably quite a bit brighter. It’ll be bright enough for a living room or media room with control over ambient light, or for a dedicated home theater/cave.

Optoma P1

Optoma's P1 4K UHD projector is designed for you living room or family room.

Optoma has designed the P1 with an integrated soundbar by NuForce. This gives the projector a distinct advantage, sound-wise, over any other home entertainment projector with built-in speakers. The NuForce soundbar delivers deeper bass than your typical on-board speakers could even dream of being capable of. The P1 also has smarts! Like the other recent Optoma projectors, the P1 not only has support for Alexa and Google Assistant, but these AIs are incorporated into the projector itself. Nice.

Optoma has long had skills in the color department with their projectors, so it’s no question that the P1 will, too (see our photo of The Greatest Showman taken in the Optoma Booth at CES 2019). The P1, as it stands, is scheduled to start shipping this fall (provided that there are no more further delays) and will be selling for $2,999. I have been considering getting an ultra short throw projector, as it would really work better for my living room, so we’ll see if the Optoma P1 ends up on my short list.

iPhone photo

The Optoma P1 is missing in action for this year’s report, which is a shame because it might’ve won an award, had we had the chance to review it. Alas, Art’s only just received a pre-production model, so he didn’t have time to review it for the report. We’ve had our eye on the P1 since it was announce at CES 2019, and have been waiting patiently for our unit to review. Though it is not, by any means, the first 4K UHD ultra short throw laser projector to hit the market, it is an impressive 4K UHD ultra short throw laser projector for the home.

They’re calling it the Optoma P1 4K UHD Laser TV, which seems to be a growing trend among projector manufacturers. This Optoma can put a bright, 3,000 lumen picture on the wall at 120” diagonal. Paired with an ambient light rejecting (ALR) screen designed specifically for ultra short throw projectors, and we’re talking about a projector that is capable of rivaling LCD TVs for brightness and depth of color, even in the face of ambient light.