Panasonic PT-AX200U Home Theater Projector Review

Panasonic PT-AX200U Overall Picture Quality

The Panasonic just tends to look really good, and rather film-like on most normal scenes. The combination of the brightness, natural colors and smoothness of the image creates picture quality, which I believe, is greater than the sum of its parts. Personally, despite the slight softness, I consider the Panasonic PT-AX200U, the 720p projector to beat. Below the first batch of images, I’ve added a section with images from HDTV (football) under different lighting conditions. The Panasonic definitely can handle more ambient light than any of the competition, and significantly more than most.

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Below you’ll find a number of images from a college football game over HDTV.

There are two points to this section, first, you can get an idea of how sports look on the PT-AX200U, from HDTV, but more importantly, how the Panasonic projector handles different levels of ambient light.

You’ll see images with my blackout shades fully lowered (note, they lack channels so a tiny amount of light leaks in around the windows, but dramatically more around the glass doors, because of the bevels around the window frame of the doors.

The small image to the rightshows the door shades fully down. As you can see, more than a little light comes in. On the day I took these images, the sky was one of those hazy sunny/gray days, defiitely not as bright as a bright sunny day, but still pretty bright. Let’s call it filtered sunlight. While there is enough light in the room to read a newspaper, you normally wouldn’t want to, it’s definitely low lighting!

secode image taken with all shades, including the doors, fully down.

I then opened the doors shades part way, letting in far more light.

With this much lighting, I could easily sit in my chair and read a book or newspaper, without thinking about adding more light.

Directly below is the same frame from the game, taken with the brighter room conditions. Note that there is virtually no loss of picture quality. The exposures are, however slightly different. I tried to get them as close as possible. But this one is a slight bit darker.

Next, I opened the door shades all the way, bathing the back of the room in lots of ambient light. (image on right)

Even with the doors pouring in light, the Panasonic still performed brilliantly (pun intended), as you can see here:

There still isn’t any blatant washing out of the image, but there is some differences, you’ll note the yellow orange “post” on the left is losing some of its orange, while jerseys and pants are lighter as well. Still, an extremely watchable picture.

Here’s a shot of the room from a different angle, showing the doors’ shades open, and part of the screen, with the same image above:

Now for the real fun. With the Panasonic PT-AX200U, I tried something I’ve never before done in a photo shoot, and that is to check the abilities of a projector, with not just the door’s windows unshaded, but also fully opening the “picture window” next to the screen, as shown in this room shot:

As you can see, the screen is definitely taking a hit from the large closer window. However, as my screen is a Stewart Firehawk, it does help with side ambient lighting. In this case, however because of the angle where the picture was taken from, light coming in is reflected mostly to where the camera was. To better clarify, here’s the same shot, but straight back where the Firehawk really helps:

As you can see, shot from almost straight back, the further left you look on the screen, the more damage ambient light is doing. Still it’s a watchable but not great image!

Now for the best part. all the screen images in this section were taken with the PT-AX200U set for Living Room mode. This offers the best overall picture quality for HDTV, but it also is the dimmest of three modes one could chose for watching the game! The other two modes are Dynamic, which is noticeably brighter, yet still delivers good color fidelity, and Vivid, which is the brightest, but color handling leaves much to be desired, since the goal is to push everything to the limit for maximum brightness and dynamics. Generally most will be very satisfied with Dynamic mode if needed, but would prefer to avoid Vivid mode. That would be even more true watching other types of TV and HDTV, where color and picture accuracy is more critical, where you want really good skin tones, etc.

Let’s look at two images. Both are taken with the same exact exposure. The purpose is to give you an idea how much brighter Dynamic is to Living RoomAll were taken with the doors and the picture window’s shades open.

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Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light Slideshow

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Large

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Shades down

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Partial Large

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Partial Shades

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Open the door shades

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Open Large

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Room Open Large

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Window Open

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Windows Open Large

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Dynamic mode

Panasonic PT-AX200U - HDTV and Ambient Light

Panasonic PT-AX200U - Living Room

Regretfully, I did not take a shot in Vivid mode, my error. Again, it is a step up in brightness from Dynamic, although less realistic looking!

Enough!

Time to consider the PT-AX200U’s menus, remote control, brightness, measurements and adjustments, as well as projector screen recommendations. Click on the General Performance link.

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