Panasonic PT-D3500U Review

This is the first single chip DLP projector that I am aware of that has been seriously designed to compete against the bulk of the LCD projectors designed for installation. Like it’s LCD competitors, the Panasonic offers a host of features and capabilities, and in most cases is more flexible than the bulk of the competition.

First and foremost is that this Panasonic projector produces excellent picture quality on both data and video. It has the big advantage of higher contrast than that which is found on price competitive LCD projectors, and that translates to better video where black levels and contrast are critical.

Quick change bayonet lens mounts make this projector particularly satisfying for “rental/staging” where in different rooms, different lenses might be needed. Even more to the point 6 lens options and vertical and horizontal lens shift give this projector at least the flexibility of placement and use of any projector near its price, including the ability to “stack” multiple projectors vertically or horizontally.

Pros

  • Superior image quality on video, excellent overall image quality on data
  • Impressive compression technology on SXGA+, UXGA, WXGA produced much better than typical text quality on small type.
  • 6 lens options for maximum placement versatility
  • Vertical and Horizontal lens shift
  • Projectors are stackable – vertically or horizontally for higher brightness, and redundancy
  • Mechanical shutter completely eliminates light leaks when total image muting is needed
  • Remote control and monitoring of the projector, from a web browser
  • Optional long life lamp
  • Digital input with HDCP compatibility
  • Lots of control of the image, and the projector
  • Less visible pixels than the competition, thanks to DLP technology instead of LCD
  • Wired networking
  • High contrast of 1600:1 provides superior performance where contrast, and shadow detail are critical
  • Changeable cover with ability to change color, add logos
  • Plenty of security features, including password access
  • Individual ID’s for each projector allowing multiple projectors to be run in the same venue, and allowing a single remote to control all of them, or one at a time.
  • Daylight View – enhances color performance in bright environments
  • Lots in inputs and outputs – more than enough for almost any application
  • Quiet for a projector in its class

Cons

  • Menu look and layout could use some improvement
  • Remote control not back lit, many small buttons
  • No replacement or loaner program- but in all fairness, those programs are normally just provided with lighter weight, more portable projectors. Few projectors selling for over $6000 have such programs.
  • For 3500 lumens this projector is more expensive than many LCD projectors that also offer interchangeable lenses, and lens shift.

Typical

  • 2 year parts and labor warranty
  • Size and weight for a 3500 lumen projector that offers lens options

Bottom Line – This projector is a truly impressive achievement. Although only 3500 lumens compared to its big brother’s (PT-D5500u) 5000 lumens, and lacking the dual amp design, it costs half as much, and is priced to compete with the better LCD projectors out there. Of course as a DLP projector pixels are far less visible, a plus for some applications. Certainly there are much less expensive projectors in the 3500 – 4500 lumen catagory that also offer interchangeable lenses.

Few of those however can match the versatility of this Panasonic. The advantages of a DLP powered projector may be what sets the PT-D3500u projector apart. While it rivals LCD projectors in terms of color handling and sharpness on data, it does outperform the LCD projectors as a class, on video.

I would say that this Panasonic projector is ideal for command and control, scientific, medical imaging, engineering, and any other applications that are image quality and detail critical, and that can be handled by an XGA resolution projector. The compression technology Panasonic has built in lets it handle higher resolution sources almost effortlessly, so that despite being “only” XGA native, it might prove to be an excellent lower cost solution for some applications normally demanding an SXGA or SXGA+ projector.

Last comment. I watched parts of several movies, and some Hi-Def content, and this projector is that good. While it won’t match the best of the dedicated single chip DLP Home Theater projectors, it is several times as bright, and would double very nicely in a family room environment, where the room has moderate to low (instead of near pitch black) lighting.

This projector earns its Hot Product Award for basically, being good at just about everything, and great at image quality.

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