Panasonic PT-AR100U Home Theater Projector Review
PT-AR100U Frame Interpolation - FI - not CFI
Like almost all of the lower cost 1080p home projectors, Panasonic’s PT-AR100U, lacks CFI for smooth motion, but does have basic FI (frame interpolation), which has its own advantages, but also when engaged, bothers some. (I’m one who can watch CFI no problem, but most 2:2 or 4:4 FI does affect me negatively, so I don’t use it on this Panasonic, the Epson 8350, and other projectors which offer it as an option). Other people I know, prefer to have it engaged, especially with 24 fps content. FI, therefore seems like RBE (rainbow effect) in that different people, different reactions (or in the case of RBE – rainbows, for most people, no reaction at all).
Viera-Link, which I believe started a few years ago, allowing Panasonic devices such as their Plasmas or earlier Panasonic projectors, to control other Panasonic devices, such as a Panasonic Blu-ray player, from the remote of the display.
Today’s Viera-Link, however, is Panasonic’s name for HDMI-Link, at least their Plasma displays, where it can apparently control functions from most HDMI devices. It seems so far, though, the AR100U’s Viera-link is still the same as on older Panasonic projectors, that is, only controlling other Panasonic products over HDMI.
PT-AR100U Lamp Life
Although many projectors these days sport lamps that claim 4000 or 5000 hours at full power (and even one with 6000 lumens in eco mode), a number of today’s new “brightest” home theater projectors, have sacrificed lamp life improvements for getting more lumens out.
This Panasonic PT-AR100U is one of those. It’s just dripping in lots of lumens, but the 280 watt lamp, is only rated by Panasonic at 3000 hours in eco-mode (typical of most projectors a few years ago). (Note: Most projectors with 3000 hour lamp life in their low power modes claim only 2000 hour at full power.) Panasonic, like many others, chooses not to “impress” us with a low full power number. So we guess it’s 2000 hours.
All is fair, if you need or want all those lumens! How hard you push the lamp gives you a trade-off between lamp life and brightness. Since this Panasonic PT-AR100U projector is about having plenty of brightness for a family room type environment (or a very, very, large screen), we consider its claimed lamp life to be a reasonable trade-off. If you are trying to save money on lamps – run in eco-mode. After all, if Panasonic had focused more on the lamp life, less on brightness, quite possibly 3000 hours would have been full power life, but we might have lost hundreds of lumens, so the current “eco-mode” might be brighter than “full-power” would have been. Ahh, trade-offs!
Bottom line on lamp life – Many will probably run in eco-mode, since most of the time they may not need all of the Panasonic’s brightest in class (excluding cross-over projectors) lumens. Others will favor eco-mode to bring down the overall fan noise, which is discussed later. From a cost standpoint, consider how many hours a week you expect to run your projector. Lamp prices have come down, but are still typically in the $250 – $300 range. Think sort of like this: I could buy this far brighter Panasonic for a couple hundred less than say another similar projector with barely half the brightness. That other projector has a longer life lamp, but the savings on the projector’s price likely will offset that lamp price difference for your first couple years, even if a fairly heavy viewer.
PT-AR100U Gaming Abilities
We will be sending this Panasonic to either Scott or Pete, our two hard core gamer bloggers (both own projectors), to let us know how the PT-AR100 performs as a gaming projector. The PT-AR100U does have a Picture mode called Game. I would assume (risky) that at least in that mode – if not others, that lag times are pretty fast. We shall see!
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