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LG's new 4K projector impressed me, and a free $200 speaker deal makes it even better

The LG CineBeam Q Projector looks bold and performs well, and right now comes with a $200 bluetooth speaker for preorders.
Written by Kyle Kucharski, Editor
LG CineBeam Q Projector
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

What's the deal?

If you preorder the CineBeam Q projector before April 7th, you'll also get a free XBOOM 360 Wireless Speaker (a $200 value) as well as a free leather case and claim a $200 prepaid card.

Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended

LG's new CineBeam Q Projector embodies niche usability: it's a portable, high-end 4K projector with practical features and a clever design, and right now, there's an unbeatable deal to help you make up your mind, if you've been on the fence.

Also: The best outdoor projectors you can buy: Expert tested

The CineBeam Q projector is essentially a solid cube with a metal arm that fully rotates around the device, allowing you to position it however you want, or be used as a carrying handle. I recently had a chance to go hands-on with the Q at LG's headquarters and was impressed with how easy the projector was to set up, its image quality, and its responsiveness as I moved it around the room. 

Unlike other projectors I've seen, which are always bulky and awkward, the Q is designed to be moved around and placed on your coffee table, bookshelf, or any other piece of furniture that offers a good vantage point.

View at Lg

Once it's set up, you can point the Q projector anywhere (even at the ceiling, if you want) and there's no noticeable lag or wait period; the image adjusts, focuses, and straightens in near real-time. This auto keystone capability -- being able to resize and auto-adjust anywhere you can point it -- is what makes the Q truly portable.

Also: The 5 best portable projectors: Entertainment anywhere

In terms of image quality, the Q projects a crisp, clear image at 4K (UHD) resolution (3,840 x 2,160) and a 3-channel laser RGB light source. It's not as bright as a TV, obviously, but the ability to adjust the picture size and have a viewing party on your patio or rooftop is the tradeoff here, as with any projector. Do keep in mind, though, that the more light you have in your surroundings, the less vivid the projector's image is going to look.

LG CineBeam Q Projector
Kyle Kucharski/ZDNET

Regarding the picture size, the Q can expand to a maximum screen size of 120 inches, or a projection distance of around 10 feet. A screen size this big along with an impressive 4K resolution is what mimics that home theater experience, with one major caveat: the sound quality. The Q comes with a built-in speaker that leaves something to be desired.

LG CineBeam Q Projector
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

In my hands-on demo with the product, I hooked up the Q to a Bluetooth speaker (which was very easy to do, by the way), and this instantly transformed the sound experience from lackluster to something that felt actually cinematic. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the projector really needs some kind of speaker or soundbar companion to really be worth it. Its built-in speaker just doesn't cut it.

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Another thing I would have liked to see in the Q would be the ability to go cordless with a chargeable battery. Part of using a projector is taking the experience to places you can't bring a TV, and being tethered to a power outlet does make the Q significantly less portable. The tradeoff, compared to other projectors, however, is the better image quality.

Finally, the Q's on-board UI, which is essentially the same as any LG smart TV, is fairly intuitive. Connecting to Bluetooth devices or navigating to your different apps such as Hulu, YouTube, or Netflix is as easy as firing up the remote (just make sure you point the remote at the device, not the projected image -- that's a wall).

LG CineBeam Q Projector
Kerry Wan/ZDNET

ZDNET's buying advice

LG's CineBeam Q Projector is not trying to compete with the other $500 projectors on the market right now, firmly occupying the niche of a high-end projector with 4K image quality and a superior screen auto-adjustment feature. If you're looking for a projector that offers excellent image quality and embraces portability (and you're not using it for camping), the Q is a premium choice.

The CineBeam Q is not yet available, but it will be on preorder soon. According to LG's website, you can get $100 off during the preorder phase if you sign up ahead of time. My advice is to hold off until preorders actually begin, so you can see exactly what offers and promotions LG is packaging with the projector. Other retailers may match or compete with their own deals, too.

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