Panasonic PT-AR100U Home Theater Projector Review

Panasonic PT-AR100U: Bottom Line Sharpness

Good sharpness and clarity: Bottom line, sharpness of the PT-AR100U should please almost everyone, for a projector in this class and price. If you can find one visibly, signiicantly sharper for under $1000, good for you, but I’d be surprised. At the most, I wouldn’t think any other projector under $1000 is enough sharper, to really make any difference.

 

Light Leakage

Pretty clean through the lens, and almost no ambient escaping from the vents. No light leakage issues. I should note, when projecting a black image, I can make out (fully darkened room) a dust blob.

 

Image Noise

Whoa! My first impression of this PT-AR100U home entertainment projector was: Where did all that image noise come from? I mean it was almost shocking. No worries though, as it turns out, when I powered up, the projector was in Dynamic mode. I think I then switched to Normal (or one other mode) and was again dazzled by too much image noise. I mean more than a DLP projector and those are almost always slightly worse than projectors using 3LCD.

Well, as it turns out, the problem was one of those pesky special features of the PT-AR100 projector. The PT-AR100U has a feature called Digital Clarity. And in those first two modes, it was set for one of the higher settings. (This was not a brand new AR100U when it arrived). I assumed it had been reset to defaults, but haven’t looked to make sure what the Detail Enhancement defaults to in the brighter modes.

Well, turns out that control is a powerful dynamic feature for “sharpening” the projected image. It does make everything look super sharp when set to 3, but, at the same time, that also magnifies the visible noise levels.

Bottom line, turn off that feature or keep it to its lowest setting, and image noise is back where one would expect it to be, barely, if ever noticeable, unless you are looking for it.

Audible Noise

Noisy! Not surprising, all the exceptionally bright home projectors tend to be these days, when running at full power. Panasonic, like some others, chicken out, and don’t provide an audio noise rating for lamp at full power, but they do claim 29 db in eco mode.

How does that translate? Well, the quietest projectors around can break below 20 db in their eco-modes. Most average projectors try to be under 30 db at full and in the low 20′s in eco. Other bright projectors though tend to be in the low 30′s at full power, and you can count the two closest priced Epson projectors, the Acer H9500BD, and for that matter, most of the under $1000 DLP projectors. If the new Epson 5010 (2400 lumens claimed) is noticeably quieter than the Panasonic, when both are at full power, I’d be surprised. On the other hand, that same Epson, and several other projectors similar in noise at full power, are likely still a bit quieter than the PT-AR100U in eco. 29 db in Eco-mode is not a spec to be proud of in your basic home entertainment projector.

On the “bright” side, this is, (again), a family room, bonus room type projector first. More family oriented environments tend to be noisier, than a dedicated theater, so most of you won’t think twice about the fan noise, at least in eco-mode, where this Panasonic is still brighter than just about all the competition at full power.

 

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