Thursday, September 21, 2023

LG’s latest ultra-short-throw CineBeam projector is a dream – if you can afford it

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While my setup wasn’t ideal, the CineBeam HU915QE still delivered most of what I wanted: a big and lavish dose of cinema in my basement room. Almost immediately I noticed it produced richer and more vibrant colors than the CineBeam HU85L. Colorful movies like Thor Ragnarok looked fine on the previous projector, but the new model delivered a much bolder dose of cosmic psychedelics. The improved contrast also made the HU915QE more suitable for dark scenes, such as the spooky night scenes in no where you are trying to get out something floating through the clouds.

The HU915QE is a triple laser projector, relying on red and blue lasers for their respective primary colours, as well as another blue laser shining through a phosphor to create green. That setup works well, but can only reach 94 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Newer UST projectors with three different RGB lasers, such as the HiSense PX1-Pro, can achieve an extended range of 107 percent of the BT.2020 gamut. Like many other UST units, the HU915QE relies on pixel shifting to achieve a viewable 4K resolution. It has a native resolution of 2,716 x 1,528, which is shifted twice to achieve 4K. The result is a sharper image than cheaper projectors, which typically have native resolutions of 1080p with four-phase shift.

After a few hundred hours of watching everything from streaming shows like Midnight Massto blockbuster action movies like Top gun: Maverick, I found myself preferring the experience of using the HU915QE rather than going to the theater for a lot of movies. And to be clear, that’s quite a bit for a movie buff like me. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the viability of theaters, I have hope for a comeback. The strong box office performance of the Top gun continued and Avatar: the way of the water makes me think there’s still room for the real movie experience (although as I write this, Regal is closing more locations in the US after the parent company Cineworld went bankrupt last September). Those movies, as well as the recent Dune amendment, are so big and bombastic that not even a 120-inch home projector can fully capture their grandeur. But the HU915QE certainly comes close.

Devindra Hardawar/cafe-madrid

Like most projectors, the CineBeam HU915QE isn’t ideal for gaming thanks to noticeable input lag. Still, I had a great time playing PS5 titles like War god Ragnarok, Ratchet and Clank: Rift apart and even the fast ones Return on my giant screen. LG has not released latency figures, but some reviews link the projector’s input lag between 50 ms and 67 ms. There’s an automatic low-latency mode that cuts off extra processing to speed things up, but you clearly won’t be using this thing for high-speed competitive gaming. However, based on my experience with the 55-inch Samsung Odyssey Ark, that’s not something you’d want to do on a giant screen. Twitch gaming requires smaller screens so you can really focus on all the high-speed action.

When it comes to sound, I can’t imagine anyone buying a $5,000 projector would rely on built-in speakers, but it might make sense if you just want to avoid extra clutter in your living room. The CineBeam’s 40-watt 2.2 speaker setup sounds good enough for casual viewing – it’s certainly much better than what you’d get on modern TVs. It’s actually a fairly basic soundbar that sits below the projector, but it delivers clear dialogue and surprisingly thumping bass. But seriously, look into surround sound systems if you actually buy this thing. You deserve it.

LG CineBeam HU915QE with Apple TV 4K home screen

Devindra Hardawar/cafe-madrid

While I used an Apple TV 4K for most of my time, the HU915QE is also powered by LG’s WebOS platform, which offers all the smart TV apps you’d expect. That’s nice to have, especially if you don’t want to juggle multiple remotes, but I bet most home theater fans will stick with their set-top box platform of choice. If you’re used to the WebOS of LG’s OLED TVs, you’ll feel right at home with this beamer. It even uses the same Magic Remote found on LG’s TVs, which has voice control and (so-so) motion controls.

As much as I loved the CineBeam HU915QE, it’s not exactly priced competitively against newer entries like the $3,000 Formovie Theater. Sure, that’s not quite as bright, but for half the price of the CineBeam, that projector delivers Dolby Vision, great sound and excellent picture quality thanks to a modern three-laser setup. You can easily add an excellent $2,000 surround sound system to match CineBeam’s price. As for other high-end competitors, the HU915QE competes directly with Hisense’s acclaimed L9G, which currently sells for $4,500 to $5,000 depending on the screen you get. Samsung’s Premiere LSP9T triple-laser UST also cost $6,500 when it debuted, though it can now be found for around $3,500 from online retailers.

If you’re an LG loyalist, the CineBeam HU915QE is still a very attractive UST projector. It offers enough brightness for daytime use, and it’s vibrant enough in dark rooms to provide a true cinematic experience. But it will be an even better buy once it drops in price.

All products recommended by cafe-madrid are selected by our editorial team, independent from our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at time of publication.

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