Panasonic PT-DW5000U DLP Projector Review - Overview
8/15/2006 - Art Feierman
This is my second review of a "D" series Panasonic single chip DLP projector. We reviewed their least expensive projector in the group just about a year ago, the PT-D3500U. The D3500U is their basic commercial projector, and junior to the D5500U, which was recently replaced by the D5600U.
We awarded the D3500U our Hot Product Award last year, and are equally pleased that the DW5000U easily earns this reward.
The PT-DW5000U is essentially a widescreen version of the D5600U. Like it's 4:3 ratio sibling, the DW5000U offers interchangeable bayonet mount lenses, dual lamps, and a liquid cooling system that makes the projector less sensitive to overly warm room conditions. Thanks to the liquid cooling system, the Panasonic is rated to be able to work in temperatures up to 110 degrees fahrenheit!
Unlike a few new widescreen DLP's just now reaching the market, from the likes of Mitsubishi (we just reviewed the HD4000U) and Optoma EP1690 (review follows this one), the Panasonic PT-DW5000U is a true commercial projector, built for heavy duty cycle operation, if need be. And even if you aren't running it 8 or even 24 hours a day, it still has far more brightness and more features than those much smaller portable widescreen projectors. In addition it even offers two types of lamps, the standard ones and extremely long life lamps. The list of other enhancements goes on, and on. I'll try to touch on as many as possible in this review. Despite the power, and big time features like dual lamps, the PT-DW5000U is surprisingly light, weighing in at only 32 pounds. Most dual lamp projectors start at about 50 pounds. That combined with a sealed light path that keeps dust from interfering with the projected image, should make this the darling of the commercial rental community.
The PT-DW5000U should be popular in a wide range of locations and applications. These should include: auditoriums, sports books and bars, churches, digital signage, general "rental and staging" applications, universities, high end boardrooms, and also, it should be especially desirable in movie theaters to project movie trailers and advertising before a movie.
There are two versions of the DW5000: The PT-DW5000U, which comes with a standard zoom lens, or, for those needing a different lens, the PT-DW5000UL, which comes without a lens.
Time to get started!
Panasonic PT-DW5000U Projector: Basic Specs
MSRP: $12,000 (Currently Includes a pair of spare lamps)
Technology: Darkchip2 DLP front projector
Native Resolution: WXGA 1280x720
Brightness: 4500 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: N/A - 6 lenses (5 are zoom) to choose from
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 1300 hours full power, 2000 lumens low power, up to 4000 hours
with optional long life lamps
Weight: 32 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years with Zip-it overnight loaner program
Starting from the front, the DW5000U widescreen projector has a centered lens. There are a total of seven lenses to choose from, from a 0.8:1 fixed lens ($2900 list price) for rear screen applications, to an extra long throw 4.5 - 8.4:1 zoom lens. All lenses but the fixed lens are $2500 list price.
Immediately to the left (facing the projector) is the release button for the bayonet style interchangeable lenses. Immediately to the right is a dial that controls horizontal lens shift of 10% in either direction. The Panasonic's vertical lens shift is powered, and controlled from the remote, or the control panel. Vertical lens shift is an impressive 50%, allowing the center of the lens to be placed anywhere from even with the bottom of the screen surface, to even with the top of the screen surface.
There are also four indicator lights, one for power, one for temperature, and one each each of the two lamps.
Also on the front, is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control. Two large, screw style adjustable feet are located at the bottom front left, and right, respectively.
Moving to the top of the projector, you will find no controls, however the top panel is removable, if desired, and can be replaced with one with a customized look, allowing businesses to place their name and logo on it, or a rental and staging company to place their name and contact information, whatever is desired by the customer. It's a nice touch, that has been available on the D3500 we previously reviewed, and the D5600U as well.
The back of the Panasonic projector houses (on the right side if you are facing the rear of the projector), the control panel, shown here. The two buttons highlighted in red are power off and on. There is an auto setup button, for the projector to automatically adjust to the input signal (in case it didn't get it 100% right the first time).
Immediately below those buttons are five buttons for direct selection of your sources, including RGB1 and 2, DVI (digital), composite Video, and S-Video. There is also a shutter button which, when pressed, uses a physical shutter to block off 100% of the light coming from the lens.
The lower half of the control panel houses the Menu button, four arrow keys and the usual Enter. Lastly is the Lens button which allows you to select and adjust: Focus, Zoom, and Vertical Lens Shift. Just below the Enter button is the rear Infra-red sensor.
At the very bottom is the hard power off/on switch, which must be in the on position for the control panel, or remote, to turn on the projector.
That takes us to the right side (if you are looking from the rear, which houses all the inputs and outputs. As you would expect from a commercial, feature laden, projector, the PT-DW500U, has plenty of flexibility.
Let's start with the main inputs. There is a DVI-D connector for digital sources. There is also a standard HD15 connector labeled RGB2 for a computer input, or a component video input. The five BNC connectors (RGB1) suppor an additional analog computer input, or component video input, or full RGBHV source (like many workstations out there have). There is also the standard DIN connector for S-Video. Of course the PT-DW5000U supports composite video too, but instead of a standard RCA connector, it has a locking BNC connector, more in line with commmercial usage. (Adapters are easily available at Radio Shack, etc.)
On the far right of that row is an ethernet connection for the Panasonic's networking capabilities. (More on that in the General Performance section).
Moving to the bottom row, you'll find in and out connectors for hard wiring the remote control, which solves the problem of the limited range of IR remote controls, if you are installing the projector far back from where the user might be working from. There is also a serial connector for computer control of the remote features. Lastly you'll find Serial In and Out connectors, for more command and control capability.
Just forward of the Input panel is the removeable air filter (shown here, partially extended). It easily slides out for cleaning, without the need for any tools. A few seconds and a Dustbuster, and you are back in business with a clean filter. There is a matching air filter on the other side of the projector.
Also on the side, near the back, is the power receptacle.
This Panasonic primarily vents hot air out the back. Interestingly the Panasonic was designed to work well in positions other than the traditional horizontal. It can be tilted on either access. For this reason, the projector has a main fan system, but also a control for horizontal or vertical fan venting.
That pretty much covers the physical attributes of the PT-DW5000U. Time to look at how it performs from an image quality standpoint!