Panasonic PT-AX100U Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
Panasonic has done it this time. They took a very good PT-AE900U projector - which they say, has been the best selling home theater in the US, and improved on it. Not just a little, but dramatically.
I'll get this over with now.
The Panasonic PT-AX100U is a phenomenal home theater projector for its price!
This is a breakthrough projector, in that it is the first (hopefully of several new projectors), that has raised the bar significantly.
First of all, it is bright, the brightest home theater projector I have measured yet, anywhere near its price (or even at 5 times its price).
Then, it has improved black levels, taking them to an acceptable level for at least 95% of the projector buyers out there. The black levels, which I described as very good, is one of the few things that the PT-AX100U does that isn't exceptional.
The PT-AX100U's improvement in sharpness over the older PT-AE900U, is significant, although the softness of the older Panasonic projector was one of its weaknesses. The new PT-AX100U isn't the sharpest projector out there. For example, my own more expensive BenQ PE8720 is visibly sharper (not drastically, just a little). Overall, sharpness is typical for a projector in this price range, and that's not a bad thing!
What is really significant about the improvement in sharpness, is that at the same time Panasonic dramatically improved their "Smooth Screen" technology which makes pixels less visible. They have gone so far with the technology, that the PT-AX100U has noticeably less visible pixels than even the DLP projectors, which normally are better than LCD projectors in this regard!
This is a big deal, because you can now sit significantly closer than with any other LCD projector, and also closer than any DLP projector, and not be bothered with seeing pixel structures, or the Screen Door Effect.
Overall, the Panasonic offers the maximum placement flexibility in your room, has plenty of control over image quality, feels like it's well built, and is certainly priced right considering its impressive performance!
Here's a pretty lopsided list:
PT-AX100U Home Theater Projector Summary
- Extremely bright, great for Sports and TV/HDTV, as well as movies, and can forgive low levels of ambient light when movie watching
- Excellent room placement flexibility due to 2:1 zoom and large lens shift
- Good out of the box color- though it can use some adjusting
- Best projector in terms of pixel visibility, not visible at any normal seating distance
- Full HDTV 1080p support - both 1080/24, and 1080/60 (not found on most older projectors, and some released recently)
- Excellent remote control
- Good manual
- Great overall price/performance
- Very good black levels and good shadow detail
- Overall ease of use
- Very, very quiet overall, even in high power mode
- 3 different bright mode presets, and 4 lower lighting modes
- Low power mode reduces brightness about 27%, extends lamp life
- Three user saveable "favorite" settings
- Under $2000
- Some unevenness in illumination, with a slight shift from red to blue (left side of screen to right). Note, the review unit was just barely pre-production (according to Panasonic)
- Only 3 user saveable settings
- Changing lamp requires unmounting the projector if ceiling mounted (that's the case for most HT projectors)
- Black levels and shadow detail (most projectors in this price range have very good blacks and shadow details,and some exceed the Panasonic)
- Lamp life
- Inputs (sources) very basic, would have liked to see a 2nd HDMI
- Styling (not bad, but definitely not an award winner), (at least its white)
- Out of the box color settings (good but not perfect)
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With the overall quality and performance of the PT-AX100U, combined with Panasonic's wide distribution, I have no trouble believing that this new Panasonic home theater projector will replace the older projector as the best selling home theater projector in the US. The peformance is sensational, the improvements, stunning.
True, this is the first of this fall's crop of new home theater projectors, with reviews to follow shortly of the $1495 Mitsubishi HD1000U (it's already here for review), The Sharp DT500, and (the not new) Samsung 710e. Then, of course there's the new Sanyo Z5 shipping in October, (Panasonic's closest competitor), the new Optoma HD73 (replacing the HD72), and several lower priced projectors, the BenQ W500 ($999), and the already shippiing Optoma HD70. We hope to have all of them reviewed by year end, along with several new 1080p resolution projectors from Optoma, Epson, Sony, BenQ, Mitsubishi and Sharp. Panasonic has definitely raised the bar - quite a bit, but if they could pull this off, there may yet, be serious competion for the PT-AX100U.
That said, the Panasonic PT-AX100U is the under $2000 standard that the others will have to measure up to. Time to break out your check books and credit cards. If $2000 is within your reach, as this is the projector virtually guaranteed to exceed your expectations!
And, (again), it's exceptionally bright, so that HDTV and sports fans won't have to turn off all the lights!
Actually, I really don't like raving about a projector like I have in this review, but the bottom line:
Just one word best describes the PT-AX100U: Awesome!