Serious Home Theater
If you are looking for higher picture quality performance – especially great black levels, one pari of options you’ll be looking at are Epson’s 5040UB and 6040UB (or their expected replacements in a few months), for less money, but lamp based. The LG will seem a touch sharper at best, and super smart, but black levels, and more accurate color, plus lots of placement flexibility, and support for wide screens (lens memory) are in Epson's favor. The Epson’s will even be brighter. At the same list price as the LG, is another lamp based projector – JVC’s RS540 (and X790 version), are now $4000 ($1000 more than the LG), and like the Epsons is a 1920x1080x2 pixel shifter, not as inherently sharp, but even better at black levels, and similar in other ways to the Epson.
Of course the LG blows these others away with its smarts, which I think all projectors should have. And it can do cool things like project onto a ceiling. And, being more home entertainment, it has an especially respectable built in sound system. Still, that’s no substitute for a really good external system, but hey, better than other projectors offering even less sound quality – about everyone with a speaker. The mentioned Epsons and JVCs being more home theater, don’t offer speakers. They assume a good sound system.
Also add to this group, the Acer laser, which is, like the LG, another 4K UHD DLP projector (using the better DLP chip though). It’s $1000 more (like the JVC) but offers far better black levels than the HU80KA. That’s the way I would go, if I wanted the sharpness and a laser, and could afford the extra money. (The Acer’s a bit brighter too). But, the Acer’s like all the others, smarts wise, not to bright, no apps, etc.
I’ll through in one more into this group, sort of. Epson just launched their new HC4010 and PC4050. Those are similar to the other Epsons, but lack the excellent black levels, but are at $1999 and $2399 respectively. I always favor spending the extra few hundred, though, for those UBs, if you are serious.
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Home Entertainment competition.
There sure are plenty, starting with some laser 4K UHD projectors – There’s the Dell, which is the most money, and really not geared for home anyway. I don’t really see that as serious competition, but the Optoma UHZ65 is. The Optoma is also more expensive, but a bit brighter. It even offers better black levels, but not drastically better, definitely closer to the LG, than say, the Epsons.
The Optoma laser projector for the extra money, of course isn’t very smart.
That leaves lamp based 4K UHD lamp based projectors from just over $1000 to $2500. (There are far more expensive ones from “premium brands” but their not in the same value proposition range – most over $10K).
Of those you can have some basic smarts: Alexa, Google Home, etc. (but no Apps yet, as of this time – but I expect they will have some), with Optoma UHD51A, at $1699. So, more than $1000 less, slightly better color, slightly better blacks. BenQ’s HT2550 and TK800, Optoma’s UHD50 Viewsonic’s PX727-4K and PX747-4K are all 4K UHDs that sell between $1000 and $1500, and are typically dumb, but other than the laser, are comparable in picture performance. Some do an even better job on wide color spaces, despite being lamp based. Know that if you are willing to give up on all the cool LG aspects, you can go lamp, and save a good $1000.
Then, of course there are 1080p projectors that can’t handle 4K at all. Some of those offer comparable or even better color and black level performance, but, folks, 4K is here to stay. With 4K projectors starting well below $1500, if budget allows get something that will handle 4K (with HDR, preferably).
That’s pretty much it. For more detail on how the HU80KA compares, there’s other commentary in our recently published 2018 Best Home Theater Projectors report , and look for a post CEDIA update, factoring in new projector announcements.
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