What is the LG HU70LS?
The LG HU70LS (HU70LA) is the latest entry in the company’s recent foray into the projector market. It’s a 4K LED DLP projector, and joins the CineBeam line-up that also includes the HU85LS (HU85LA) ultra-short-throw 4K laser DLP projector.
The two projectors are quite different, with the HU70 having a longer throw ratio and using an LED rather than laser light source. The HU70LS is also considerably cheaper than its bigger brother, and retails for £1,650 as at the time of writing (October 2020).
However, the cheaper model still includes built-in webOS 4.5, a backlit magic remote, HDR10 support with dynamic tone mapping, TruMotion, and a variety of connection options. It also has a motorised lens focus, as opposed to the manual control found on the HU85.
Design, Connections and Control
The design of the LG HU70LS isn’t going to set the world on fire, it’s a simple white chassis with curved corners and an offset lens. There’s an inlet vent on the left, an outlet vent on the right, and adjustable feet on the underside, where you’ll also find fixtures for attaching a ceiling mount.
There are some basic controls on the top and connections at the rear. The plastic construction is reasonably solid, and the lens is decent enough considering the price point. The projector is also fairly compact – measuring 314 x 95 x 210mm (WxHxD), and weighs in at 3.2kg.
The connections consist of two HDMI inputs that support 4K/60p, HDR10, HDCP 2.2, HDMI simplink (CEC), and in the case of HDMI 1 there’s also ARC (audio return channel). There are three USB ports (two 2.0 and one type C), an optical digital output, a headphone socket, and an Ethernet port. There's also built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless connections. In certain territories, but not the UK, there’s also an antenna port for a cable tuner.
This projector is compact, well-made, and boasts a decent selection of connections
In terms of control, there's a manual zoom ring for adjusting the size of the image. There’s also a power on/off button and up/down and left/right buttons that can be used for navigating the menu or adjusting the volume (left/right) and changing the channel where appropriate (up/down). There’s also a button for selecting the motorised focus control, which you can either adjust using the left/right controls or with the included remote.
This controller is basically the standard LG Magic remote, but it’s styled in white to match the projector, and has a motion-activated backlit buttons. It includes the same buttons found on the comparable TV remote, but with a few changes such as adding a control for the motorised lens focus and, in the case of the UK version, swapping the EPG button for direct access to the picture modes.
Features and Specs
The LG HU70LS is a DLP projector that uses a four-channel LED light source, rather than a colour wheel. The light source is composed of red, green and blue LEDs, along with a second blue LED with a green filter that’s designed to dynamically adjust the brightness and colour tone.
An LED light source has a number of benefits, including a 30,000-hour lifespan compared to only 2,000-3,000 hours for a bulb, a 12 second start-up time, and instant off without the need for the long cool-down periods associated with lamp-based projectors. Since there's no colour wheel, the colour-fringing and rainbow artefacts that often plague single-chip DLP projectors should also be minimised.
The HU70 has a claimed peak brightness of 1,500 lumens, and a claimed on/off contrast ratio of 150,000:1. While the latter number is somewhat fanciful, the claimed noise levels are actually spot-on, with the projector hitting 25dB in the Economic mode, 28dB in the Normal mode, and 30dB in the High Brightness mode. So, for most usage, noise shouldn't be an issue.
There's a good selection of features that includes a built-in webOS 4.5 smart platform
The projector has 1.25x manual zoom and a throw ratio of 1.2-1.5, which can deliver an image between 60 and 140 inches. So for a standard 100-inch image, the projection distance is between 2.7 and 3.4m. There are no lens shift controls, so you'll need to do this via placement of the projector itself. However, you have the option to flip the image vertically or horizontally depending on the installation and, for the best results, it’s best to avoid any keystone adjustment.
The HU70LS uses a DLP chip with XPR technology, this takes a 2716 x 1528 pixel 0.66" DMD chip and diagonally shifts the image at 120Hz to go from 4 million pixels to a perceived 8 million pixels (3840 x 2160). While technically not true 4K, the resulting image is imperceptible from 4K in most circumstances. The projector supports high dynamic range (specifically HDR10), and can accept up to a 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24/50/60Hz over the HDMI inputs and USB Type C port.
There’s a built-in sound system that uses two speakers and a total of 6W of amplification. The projector supports Dolby Surround, DTS-HD and Dolby Atmos, along with LG's Clear Voice III processing, but if you're going for the big screen experience, you really owe it to yourself to at least invest in a decent soundbar.
One of the HU70's big selling points compared to many other projectors is that it comes with LG's webOS 4.5 smart system built-in. Anyone with experience of webOS and the Magic remote will know what a superb operating system it is, and its inclusion on this projector is certainly welcome. The basic layout and interaction is essentially the same as LG's TVs, with the launcher bar and Home Dashboard.
However, the selection of streaming services is limited to the usual suspects – Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play and Rakuten TV (no UK catch-up services, Now TV, Apple TV+ or Disney+). There's also multimedia playback via USB and Bluetooth; screen sharing with MiraCast; and there's the TV Plus remote app available for iOS and Android.
SDR Out of the Box
The LG HU70LS doesn't just use the same operating system as the company's TVs, it also has the same menu system, picture modes and calibration controls. While it isn't ISF-certified, the two most accurate presets remain Expert (Bright Room) and Expert (Dark Room). However, the HU70 doesn’t really have enough brightness to actually be used in a room with a lot of ambient light.
The out-of-the-box greyscale is disappointing when using the Warm colour temperature setting, with a massive excess of red that results in some large and very obvious errors. Selecting the Normal colour temperature doesn’t help, because that has an excess of blue instead. On the plus side, the gamma is excellent, and tracked our dark room target of 2.4 precisely.
The out-of-the-box accuracy is disappointing, with an excess of red in the greyscale that affects everything
Unsurprisingly, given the large errors in the greyscale, the colour gamut and tracking are also inaccurate. You can see the colour temperature for white is skewed heavily away from the industry target of D65 and towards red. As a result, the colours are also being pulled in that direction, like planets being pulled into the gravity well of a black hole.
As with LG's TVs, there are expert controls for calibrating the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut. The White Balance controls offer 2- and 20-point adjustments, and the colour management system allows control of the saturation, hue and luminance of the three primary colours (red, green and blue), along with the three secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow).
Given the initial errors in the greyscale, the best approach is to significantly reduce the amount of red using the two-point, and then fine tune with the 20-point. As you can see in the graph above, once calibrated, all three colours are now measuring equally, and the gamma is still tracking 2.4 precisely. As a result, the overall errors are all now below 0.5, which is essentially perfect.
Thanks to LG's excellent calibration controls, it's possible to correct the errors and get near-reference accuracy
Once the greyscale has been calibrated, the colour gamut is freed from the inescapable pull towards red. Now the colour of white is hitting D65 precisely, and the overall colour gamut matches the industry standard of BT.709. The luminance (not shown above) is excellent, and the tracking is also impressive, aside from some minor errors at 100% saturation.
The HU70LS supports high dynamic range in the form of HDR10, and includes LG's dynamic tone mapping feature, which is actually quite effective and worth engaging. When it comes to HDR on a projector, it's all about the tone mapping. No projector can get close to the peak brightness of even a mediocre HDR TV, but as long as the tone mapping is effective, HDR can still look good.
More: What is Tone Mapping?
In the High Brightness mode, the HU70 approaches LG's claims of 1,500 lumens. However, in the lower modes the brightness is significantly reduced, although conversely the black levels are better. The LED light source might not be massively bright, but it is fairly consistent, and shouldn't dim much over its lifetime, unlike a regular bulb.
The HDR performance is marred by some poor colour saturation tracking when measuring DCI-P3 within BT.2020.
The greyscale was reasonable for an out-of-the-box measurement, but there was an excess of red, which was evident when measuring the DCI-P3 coverage and colour saturation tracking. As a result, there were errors, especially where the tone mapping rolls off. However, the tone mapping was certainly good until the projector reached its peak brightness at about 130nits.
LG claims the HU70LS can reach 92% of DCI-P3 wide colour gamut, and this proved to be accurate with the sample actually measuring 91.3% using 1976 uv coordinates. However, the saturation tracking of DCI-P3 within the BT.2020 container was poor, with hue errors in magenta and yellow. However, these measurements didn't exactly correlate to the coverage measurements, and with actual material the colours appeared very good.
The LG HU70LS proved to be a generally impressive performer, especially after calibration. Once properly set-up and correctly focused, the image is sharp and detailed. The single-chip nature of DLP is the reason why the picture often looks so sharp, even with cheaper lenses, and while it might not technically be native 4K, if you put on a disc like Blade Runner 2049 you’ll be amazed at the level of detail on show.
This projector might not be native 4K but the images are so detailed you'll find it hard to believe
The images are bright and free of unwanted artefacts, but despite the presence of a Bright Room mode, this projector can’t really be used in environments with any ambient light. However, pull the curtains and this beamer comes to life with big screen images that are sure to please. Having said that, even in ideal conditions the black levels are mediocre, and really more of a dark grey. This is typical for a DLP projector, and despite LG's claims the on/off contrast ratio actually measures 440:1.
Contrast aside, the other issue when it comes DLP technology is the possibility of colour fringing or rainbow artefacts. The LED light source should mitigate this, but since I don't suffer from rainbows I can't say for sure if this projector completely eliminates them. So if rainbows are an issue for you this model, or any other DLP projector for that matter, might not be appropriate and you should definitely demo to check for rainbows before buying.
Now that I’ve got the negatives out of the way, it’s time to move on to the positives, and along with the image being pin sharp, the other big strong-point of DLP is motion. Here the LG really delivers the goods, and despite a number of TruMotion settings you shouldn't need them, even with fast paced sports content. The motion on the HU70 is smooth, clean and free of judder, with movies looking suitably film-like. It's also great for gaming, although even in the game mode the lag is a bit high at 52ms.
I often use the Blu-ray of Samsara for testing, partly due to familiarity and partly because it's a beautifully transferred disc. It looked stunning through the HU70LS, and while the blacks could have been deeper and the shadows more detailed, the colours popped and the level of detail was genuinely impressive. The image processing and upscaling is also excellent, resulting in some really lovely pictures with 1080p content.
The motion handling is impressive, the colour palette is saturated, and the tone mapping is excellent
The built-in apps also worked well, and watching Warrior Nun on Netflix resulted in some impressively detailed HDR images. The HU70LS also did a great job with the HDR test patterns and demo material on the Spears and Munsil 4K disc, while watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 revealed a saturated colour palette. The tone mapping was generally very good, with the LG handling the brighter parts of the image without clipping the highlights. The projector did a great job of mapping HDR within its limitations, and the dynamic tone mapping is definitely a worthwhile feature.
- Good picture overall
- Very accurate after calibration
- LED light source
- Long life and instant on/off
- Great motion handling
- Lack of rainbow effect
- Built-in smart platform
- Easy to setup
- Quiet in operation
- Poor out-of-the-box accuracy
- Mediocre blacks and shadow detail
- Not that bright
- No 3D support
- No lens shift
LG HU70LS CineBeam LED 4K Projector Review
Should I buy one?
The LG HU70LS is an impressive effort from a company that you don't normally associate with projectors. The LED light source certainly makes for a convenient beamer, with near-instant on and off, a very long lifespan and greater consistency when compared to a bulb-based projector. Setup is also a piece of cake, although the lack of any lens shift controls limits your installation options.
There's an excellent array of features, headlined by the built-in webOS 4.5 smart platform that allows you to access streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime internally. There are some decent connections, a remote app, calibration controls, and it's quiet in operation, but the input lag is a bit high at 52ms, and the built-in speakers are best avoided.
The 4K images might not be genuinely native, but they certainly look detailed and, as you'd expect from a DLP projector, the motion handling is excellent. This isn't the brightest beamer, you need darkness to get the best out of it, and the black levels and shadow details are poor, but overall the picture quality is likely to please with some vibrant colours and excellent image processing.
The out-of-the-box measurements were disappointing, but the included calibration controls allow for a near-reference level of accuracy. The SDR performance was generally excellent and, despite the inherent limitations of being a projector, the HDR images also looked good. Ultimately, the LG HU70LS is a decent budget projector with above average smarts that comes recommended.
What are my alternatives?
The are any number of projectors in this price range, but of the models we've reviewed recently the Optoma UHL55 is the obvious alternative at £1,449. This 4K beamer also uses an LED light source, and boasts all the usual strengths and weaknesses of a DLP projector. It's a bit noisy, has a boxy design, and the HDR performance isn't great, but the colour accuracy is good and unlike the HU70LS, it supports 3D.
Another excellent 4K DLP projector is the BenQ TK850. This model uses a more traditional bulb as the light source, but it delivers a surprisingly good SDR performance for the price point. Once again it has all the usual DLP strengths and weaknesses, and its HDR performance is very limited, but like the Optoma there is support for 3D if you're still interested in watching films in the third dimension.
However, if you want an alternative to DLP and you don't mind a bulb-based projector then you should really be looking at the Epson EH-TW7400. This superb 3-chip LCD projector costs £1,799 and while it's not native 4K, it produces vastly superior levels of SDR and HDR accuracy, boasts a ton of useful features and supports 3D. It's much bigger than the HU70LS, but it delivers a genuine home cinema experience and is a bargain at this price.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.