Panasonic PT-AX200U Home Theater Projector Review
PT-AX200U Projector - Light Leakage
The PT-AX200U is very clean, when it comes to light leakage. There is no leakage worthy of note through the lens, and only very minor amounts from the vents. Bottom line: No issue here.
Panasonic PT-AX200U Audible Noise Levels
The Panasonic definitely isn’t the quietest projector around, and is noisier than most of the LCD competition (the Epson being an exception). Still, the Panasonic PT-AX200U is quieter than any of the competing DLP projectors. Overall noise levels are fine for almost everyone. Even full power mode should not bother any but the most fan noise intolerant folks. Panasonic claims 25 db in Eco-mode, which is very believable, and, based on that number I would put it just under 30 db with lamp on full. Most DLP projectors come in at a noisier 31-33 db in their full power modes.
PT-AX200U Projector Screen Recommendations
Thanks to all those lumens to spare, you have a lot of options when it comes to screens. The first decision will be screen size. The Panasonic can handle some rather large screens. The PT-AX200U filled my 128″ Firehawk in Cinema 1 mode without difficulty, and in Vivid Cinema, could handle a significantly larger screen if you are willing to compromise from “best picture quality”, and still have very respectable movie viewing.
No worries for smaller screens either. You’ve got the Lamp Eco-mode to dim Cinema 1 down, if needed. I would say, though, that 92″ diagonal might be a bit small, in a fully darkened room.
I really like the Firehawk, and could also recommend most High Contrast Gray surfaced screens. They will lower the black levels, taking respectable performance to still another level. These screens will also help out if you have side ambient lighting.
As I said, that works nicely, even at the 128″ size.
For those, however, with significant general ambient light, and/or a very large screen, a white surface with gain, may be your preference. I found the Carada Brilliant White surfaced screen (a claimed 1.4 gain) that I use in my testing room to be almost, but not quite, too bright at its 106″ screen size. But then, all that brightness was killer on sports, at that size, giving you that plasma display type of brightness. I could watch a pretty good looking image, washed out only a little, with four overhead recessed lights on full.
To clarify, in the middle sizes, say over 100″ and less than 130″ diagonal, you’ll have to consider your ambient lighting, and your quest for best black levels, and choose the screen for you, remembering that with the lower end of that range, the blacks are going to start being a medium dark gray, with a plus gain screen.
PT-AX200U Projector Measurements and Calibration
The Panasonic PT-AX200U was off the ideal target of 6500K temperature in all of its Cinema modes, but correcting the problem was simple.
|The Gray Points|
|80IRE (light gray)||6950K|
|50IRE (medium gray)||6890K|
|30IRE (dark gray)||7215K|
Cinema 1 mode, out of the box, was somewhat “cool” (bluish), with white measuring at 6999K. The gray points I measure looked like this:
Tuning Cinema 1.
As it turns out, for Cinema 1, all it took was going to the main Picture menu, and turning the Color Temp control down to -2. That yielded excellent numbers, very close to an ideal D65 setup:
Cinema 2 measured 7743K at white (100IRE), also too cool.
Vivid Cinema was more similar to Cinema 1 but with with a wider difference in color balance between brightest and lowest, in fact almost 1000K range:
Fortunately, the Panasonic has plenty of color management controls, and should be able to tighten that up quite a bit.
Moving to the non-movie modes:
Natural: 100IRE 7697K (very good!)
Normal: 100IRE 8427K (a bit cool, setting Color Temp to -1 works well) Normal is your primary Preset for TV/HDTV/Sports viewing.
Game: 100IRE 9056K. Not being a gamer, I’m not sure, but suspect that the default color temperature is too cool.
Dynamic: 100IRE 7091K. This was surprisingly warm, and would call for a minor adjustment such as moving color temp to +1. Remember though, this mode is all about brightness, not color accuracy. It is also very strong on greens, which, if you knock them down about halfway to where they should be, gives you a much more perfect picture quality, while only giving up a couple hundred lumens.
Overall, I found color saturation to be just a touch too much. However, that is easy to adjust, but then I do most of my watching on the Firehawk whose contrast does have that tendency.
PT-AX200U Image Noise
The Panasonic does fine here. I ran the Silicon Optix HQV 1080 disk on the Panasonic. In doing so, I was feeding a 1080p signal to the Panny, so it was converting to its native 720p. Motion artifacts tested very well, and response was pretty fast. There were no issues with jaggies. With the noise filter off (as I always have it when reviewing), general image noise levels were low, lower than the typical DLP projector.
I should note that the PT-AX200U, supports 1080p 24fps, so when it has such a source, as we are starting to see on Blu-ray discs, they do not need to use 3:2 pulldown, providing smoother motion on movies. While almost all new 1080p projectors are supporting 24fps, many 720p projectors do not.
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