Panasonic PT-AR100U Projector - Physical Tour
The Panasonic PT-AR100U projector, is in a larger box than its predecessors from the PT-AX series. The PT-AR100U starts with the larger case of the PT-AE7000, but is finished in off-white, not the black of the higher end Panasonic projector.
3/7/2012 - Art Feierman
Panasonic PT-AR100U Projector - Appearance
The PT-AR100U projector is pretty clean looking - off-white, rectangular, but with slightly sloping sides. It won't offend, it won't end up in a museum either.
The front of projector has the large 2:1 zoom mounted off center to the right (if facing the projector). To its left are the IR sensor for the remote control, and a large exhaust vent. The hot air blows out toward the front and right hand front at an angle. If you are using table top, you won't want to be sitting two feet forward, and one to the right, it could get a bit toasty.
The control panel is a small affair located on the side by the front, as seen here.
The top of the projector removes, when it's time to replace the lens, so that there's no need to have to unmount a ceiling mounted PT-AR100U, when it comes time to put in a new lamp. (Home theater projectors mount upside-down, when ceiling mounted.)
There's a large intake vent behind the control panel. All the inputs and connectors are found on the back panel.
Down below, you'll find two screw thread adjustable front feet, and a single fixed rear foot, for a stable 3 point stance.
PT-AR100U Control Panel
The Panasonic PT-AR100U control panel is on the side closest to the lens, and right behind the front of the projector. The buttons are reasonably spaced and have a good feel. While overall similar to the control panel on the Epson 3010, I prefer the feel of this Panasonic projector.
At the top left of the panel is the power switch (once for on, twice for off), and to its right, is the Input Select button which brings up your input choices.
The navigation controls are right below, the four arrows in a round formation with the Enter button in the center.
Slightly below to the outsides are the Menu and Return button (called back or escape on some other projectors).
PT-AR100U Projector - Input/Output
The PT-AR100U projector has the usual selection of inputs and other connectors. In this case, it starts off on the left, with a pair of HDMI inputs. Just to the right, are the traditional analog computer input (HD15 connector), and a serial port. Three color coded RCA jacks for component video input is further to the right.
Next comes the lower performance inputs - composite video and s-video. Finally, on the right, are a pair of 12 volt triggers, for those with need. The power receptacle, hard power switch, and kensington lock are below.
Panasonic's menus are similar to previous models. Overall a very reasonable layout. Some might prefer larger type, which might mean more sub-menus. Watch out for one or two menus which require scrolling down to get to the last couple of items.
Some of the more important menus:
Panasonic PT-AR100U Remote Control
This Panasonic PT-AR100U remote control is one of the more compact, yet full sized remotes (not credit card types). It feels and balances well in the hand. The remote control has nice large buttons of different shapes, and they all feel great. Everything is easily in reach of your fingers, including the back light button.
The one thing you give up when you get a smaller remote with large buttons, is a lot of direct access. Some remotes might offer another 10 or even 20 buttons, and have one for contrast, one for color, one for gamma, etc. The ones with lots of buttons also likely have separate buttons for each input. With the PT-AR100U remote control, you'll get an Input button that then lets you toggle through each of the inputs, and as for picture, there's only Picture Mode and Picture Adjustments, with Picture Mode toggling you between Cinema1, REC 709, Game, Sports, Normal and Dynamic. Picture adjustments toggles you through things like Brightness, Contrast, Color, etc.
Panasonic PT-AR100U Lens Throw
Panasonic's 2:1 zoom ratio is the same wide ratio found on the PT-AE7000, as well as the older PT-AX series. This gives you great range as to where you can place the projector, relative to distance to the screen.
For filling a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the projector - measured from the front of the lens to the screen - can be as close as 9.8 feet or as far back as 19.6 feet. You can calculate distances for other screen sizes by starting with those numbers.
Note: With 2:1 zoom lenses, we expect to see a significant loss of brightness going from the closest placement position (wide-angle) to the furthest (telephoto). In the case of the PT-AR100U, the drop in lumens is a bit more than with other projectors. This Panasonic projector lost just over 50% of its brightness. A 40% drop is more typical, and some have even less. Keep this in mind if you want to place the PT-AR100U on a rear shelf, where it's not at its brightest.
There's also a silver lining in that. While projecting to a larger screen means less brightness overall, if rear shelf mounting, choosing a larger screen means less the less telephoto the zoom lens, and therefore the brighter the projector is. Keep that all in mind as you make your decision on screen size, and projector placement!
PT-AR100U Lens Shift
This Panasonic has plenty of lens shift as well as lens flexibility ! For that same 100 inch screen, the PT-AR100U can be placed, (normal or inverted), anywhere from about 32 inches above the top of the screen surface, all the way down to 32 inches below the bottom of the screen surface. That is measured from the center of the lens. There is also a good amount of horizontal lens shift. Using horizontal lens shift will partially limit the range of the vertical lens shift (and vice versa).
The combination of the wide range zoom lens, plenty of lens shift, gives you the flexibility to ceiling mount or shelf mount the PT-AR100U in almost all room situations.
Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen
Panasonic reserves support for an anamorphic lens for their higher end PT-AE7000 projector. That projector also has Lens Memory as an alternative. This PT-AR100U though, is your basic family room, living room, projector. Panasonic likely figures that people buying this projector will be watching a mix of movies and other content. And, it really doesn't make much sense to spend more for an anamorphic lens, than for your projector.