Panasonic PT-AR100EA review: Panasonic PT-AR100EA

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The Good Good value for money. Easy and flexible set-up. Plenty of brightness for large screens. Two triggers for system integration.

The Bad No 3D. Can't clamp down brightness enough for smaller screens in well-darkened rooms. Mediocre progressive scan conversion.

The Bottom Line If you're uninterested in 3D, then the Panasonic PT-AR100EA home-theatre projector is worth a close look — as long as you have a large projection screen and a quality Blu-ray player.

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6.4 Overall

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Obviously, 3D projectors are the hot products right now, but you'll note that this is a 2D-only projector. If you're in the market for 3D and looking to add Panasonic to your comparisons, check out the PT-AE7000E (RRP is AU$1100 more).

Panasonic's entry-level projectors have earned our esteem over the years, whatever year we happen to be in. Ever since the company introduced the dynamic iris in the early years of the last decade, it has allowed affordable projectors to produce decent image quality.

Panasonic has long been an LCD house when it comes to projectors, so the engine of this one uses three full HD LCD panels. It scores a high-powered (280 watt) lamp, which Panasonic says is capable of delivering 2800 lumens, which is pretty bright. It also offers a lower output "Eco" setting.

The projector has a wide zoom range of 2:1 and a lens-shift feature, which is manipulated by means of a joystick on the unit's front. This worked smoothly, so it was quite easy to get the image properly aligned with the projection screen.

A full set of inputs are provided, covering all standard analog-style connections, plus two HDMI sockets. There are two triggers for system control, and these can be set to either start other equipment or respond to an external trigger signal by switching on.

2D Performance

The projector had been used by others before me (the lamp indicator showed 8 hours), and we couldn't find a factory reset, so we cannot be certain how it comes new in the box, or comment on the default settings.

During set-up one thing soon became clear: the panel alignment of this projector was absolutely perfect. Having adjusted the focus, I went up to the screen to check that the pixels were well defined, and found that they were perfectly defined. Usually, there is a very slight variation between the red, green and blue panels. Not enough to produce fringes on one of the primary colours, but enough to soften the edges of the pixels. But this projector could just as well have been a single-chip DLP with high-quality optics, with each pixel precisely square.

Of course, sitting back down 2.7 metres from the screen (obviously, a bit closer than would normally be recommended, but we have to push the limits of things in this job), those edges had softened into creating a smooth image.

The image was really very bright with the normal lamp power setting. Even under the full blare of my twin fluorescent tube office light, the picture was fully detailed, except in the darkest sections. The fan noise was also a bit obtrusive.

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