Posted on July 26, 2007 Art Feierman
If your requirements are for an advanced, very bright XGA projector, with wireless networking, the F100NTU LCD projector should be on your short list. The almost identical, and slightly less expensive F100U, is virtually identical, but lacks the wireless networking capabilities. There is also a third projector in the F100 series, which is a widescreen projector, The Panasonic PT-FW100NTU. I won’t cover that one here, although it has the same basic feature set. If you like what you read here, but need a widescreen projector, you’ll know where to look (yes, it too has the wireless/wired networking features).
With a current typical street price over $3000 (for the NTU), the F100NTU isn’t for those with weak budgets. It is, however, a 3200 lumen LCD projector, and that’s enough horsepower for bright conference rooms, training rooms, etc., and has plenty of power for large multi-purpose rooms, hotel ballrooms, and small auditoriums, with sufficient lighting control to keep ambient light to “moderate”.
The F100 series projectors are a bit too large to be considered portable (and too heavy at almost 14 pounds), unlike the similarly bright, but smaller Epson Powerlite 1815 projector recently reviewed.
On the other hand, the F100’s have some extra features that give them a big advantage over the Epson’s for fixed installations, notably, full lens shift, and an automatic filter system, that drastically cuts down on maintenance, and the associated labor costs of frequently cleaning filters. Panasonic calls their system ARF – Automatic Rolling Filter. I works like it sounds. I’ll discuss this in greater detail below.
What the PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U really are, are lower cost, alternative projectors to larger projectors that can accept different lenses. The F100 series does not offer lens options, but thanks to its 2:1 zoom lens, it should position easily in the majority of fixed installations. While some facilities will call very extremely short throw lenses (ie. for rear projection), or extremely long throw, that the F100’s can’t do, the F100’s should work well in all the rest.
The PT-F100NTU, may well have the most feature laden wireless networking of any projector near or below its price, and that can be a huge plus for some corporations and educational facilities. For example, it can hook up, at the same time, to as many as 16 computers (laptops or desktops) equipped with wireless capabilities, while allowing quick switching from one computer to another. Imagine a half dozen or more people in a conference room. Click, you are looking at the output of “computer 1”. Then you can toggle to see thumbnails of the screens of all the computers at one time, then choose and click, and amazing, “computer 5” is now controlling the projector, and projecting its presentation. Pretty impressive!
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