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Panasonic PT-AX100E review: Panasonic PT-AX100E

Panasonic's PT-AX100E is an HD projector that offers the best picture quality we've seen at this price -- whether you're watching in bright light or a dark room it puts in a stunning performance, and you can find it online for under £1,000

4 min read

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Panasonic claims its PT-AX100E boasts class-leading brightness for a home cinema projector. This means it's just as comfortable displaying images when it's light as in dim environments, which is ideal if you have a bright living room or want to watch sporting events during the day.

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8.3

Panasonic PT-AX100E

The Good

High brightness; inconspicuous design; simple setup and operation; outstanding picture.

The Bad

No vertical keystone correction; cumbersome design.

The Bottom Line

Panasonic's PT-AX100E is the best projector we've seen at this price. It's fully featured, easy to use and capable of excellent performance in practically any lighting conditions

The feature list also includes high-definition compatibility, all-inclusive video connectivity and exceptionally simple installation and operation. For less than the price of a 42-inch flat-screen TV (you can find it for under £1,000 online) you could be watching equally impressive pictures at least twice the size -- maybe it's time to take a look at the bigger picture.

Design
The design isn't especially compact but it is surprisingly lightweight and easy to carry around. An off-white colour scheme has been used to match typical room interiors, especially if you want to inconspicuously wall- or ceiling-mount the projector.

There are several primary controls arranged at the top that correspond to the layout of the small remote, which means you can get used to the controls quickly. From the projector you can turn the power on, select different input sources and navigate the main menu system.

The silver-styled remote carries only a few more controls including quick-access keys for selecting various picture modes and entering picture, colour and aspect ratio menus. The small number of spaciously arranged keys and a backlight function make it extremely easy to use, even in the dark.

At the front, the lens is set on the right-hand side and accompanied by a clever joystick control that can flexibly adjust the position of the image, while you can alter the height using two adjustable feet at the front.

Single input options for all video connections are tightly arranged across the rear panel. These include all standard AV inputs except Scart, while high-definition signals are supported by both component connections and an HDMI digital input. There's also a standard VGA input that can be used to display images directly from your PC.

Features
The PT-AX100E features 3LCD technology, which can outperform its DLP counterparts, especially ones in this price range.

The 1,280x720-pixel resolution will display 720p and 1080i high-definition images as well as accepting 1080p signals (via HDMI only), although these are downscaled to fit.

The unusually high brightness rating (2,000 ANSI lumens) means it's versatile enough to use during the day and at night. This is supported by so-called 'Light Harmoniser' technology, which automatically detects ambient light and adjusts brightness and black levels accordingly.


Setting up the system is a breeze. The relatively short-throw lens lets you display large-scale images (50-200 inches) from between around 2 and 6m away, so it's good for both small and large rooms. The front joystick controls horizontal and vertical lens shift as you move it and it only takes a few minutes to size, centre and focus the image.

There's also a 2x optical zoom and horizontal keystone correction, but no vertical correction. This means the projector has to be placed either in front or behind the screen to get a straight-cut image, which doesn't suit irregular shaped rooms.

The menu system is beautifully presented using crisp graphics and an uncomplicated navigation system. There are several preset picture modes dedicated to either light or dark conditions as well as a complete range of standard and advanced customised settings, which can be stored and easily accessed.

Performance
This is the best picture quality we've seen from an LCD projector so far. Images are brightly coloured and precisely detailed with impressive contrast and cohesive movement, no matter what source you use.

Although you can still see the picture in fairly high light levels, images struggle in extreme daylight. But reducing contrast levels accordingly allows you to watch solidly defined images with the lights on or off. It helps if you're using a dedicated projector screen, but even against a white wall, the distinct black levels carry enough contrast to produce realistic images.

Playing the opening scene of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring offers a fine example of the projector's insightful detail -- you can distinguish the bark patterns of the surrounding trees and separate individual strands of hair in Gandalf's beard. Colours are equally adept at displaying the earthy tones of the Hobbit's landscape and the vibrant special effects that explode during the fireworks display. And there's no loss of detail or perspective in dark scenes such as the cave troll battle in the Mines of Moria.

Earlier LCD projector designs have been afflicted by staggered movement but action-fuelled fight scenes against the Crazy 88 gang during Kill Bill are beautifully smooth and smear-free, although slow scrolling text does stutter.

Images are consistently clean and even the so-called 'chickenwire effect' -- a superimposed lattice mesh created by the gaps between pixels -- is virtually indistinguishable. If you sit close enough you can occasionally notice it in the backgrounds of bright scenes using the same colour, such as the blue sky in Superman Returns, but it never distracts from the sensational image quality elsewhere.

Conclusion
Whether you're watching in a bright or dark room, Panasonic's PT-AX100E puts in a stunning performance. Its flexibility is supported by a decent high-definition specification and user-friendly functionality.

If you enjoy films then nothing comes closer to a cinematic experience than watching them on a big screen -- and that option is more affordable than ever.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield