PT-DW5000U Projector Review - General Performance
The PT-DW5000U offers a number of advanced features, some controllable, some part of the design, not found in less expensive projectors (and even some more expensive ones). Many of these have already been mentioned in the other sections.
Panasonic will not win any awards for good looking menus, but they are very functional. The menus themselves are translucent, that is, you can partially see through them, which is handy when you are dealing with a large menu, and you are trying to do something like make changes to color balance, where the menu is blocking a good portion of the screen. Still, I would have preferred that the menus be a little less translucent as I often found them a little hard to read if the content on the screen behind the menu is very "busy".
On the left is is an image of the Main Menu, which provides access to nine separate menus. The first menu to consider is the Picture menu which controls most of the color handling aspects of the projector.
First is the Picture mode that lets you choose from those previously mentioned Presets such as Dynamic, Graphics, Cinema, etc. The Color Temperature control allows choice of Default, High, Medium, and User settings. According to the manual, the High setting, as expected, increases color temperature, adding more blue to the color balance. As I mentioned previously, using this setting likely would add additional lumens in our brightness measurements. Selecting User, allows you to individually control the Red, Green, and Blue levels, there are two separate areas, one for lower ranges (darker) and one for the higher (brighter) ranges. There is also a separate control for White Gain which allows the increase or decrease in white intensity.
Brightness, Contrast and Sharpness functions are all pretty apparent. There is also OFF/ON controls for image Noise Reduction, and for Panasonic's AI control. Noise Reduction options are different for video sources vs. computer and digital (DVI).
AI (artificial intelligence) allows the projector to use its algorthyms to adjust images to maximize image quality, on a frame by frame basis.
The Position Menu (not shown) allows the image to be moved horizontally or vertically within the projected area. There is also Aspect ratio control, which has an Auto function, or you can select an aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9...) manually. There is also HVFit which will have the source fill the screen if it is different from the projector's aspect ratio (basically stretching horizontally or vertically as needed). The Position menu also allows you to digitally zoom in, with separate controls for horizontal and vertical. Keystone correction is also on this menu.
That takes us to the Advanced Menu: Digital Cinema Reality - a fancy name for (when engaged) automatically handles frame rate conversion from 24 frame video, a fairly standard feature. Blanking is interesting, it allows masking the edges of the screen to mask noise often associated with the edges of lower resolution video sources.
Clamp Position allows you to have the projector show you when black levels are being crushed by showing them in green, so you can make adjustments to compensate!
The Raster Position control I have seen on a few other projectors. It will allow you to "slide" a less than full screen image. The best way I can describe: You have a movie with letterboxing. You can use this control to move the top of the image up to the top of the screen surface, eliminating the letterbox there. (It would now be bigger at the bottom). And if you could controld the drop of the screen to a 2.35:1 instead of 16:9, you would now have the movie filling the entire visible screen, in it's correct widescreen format, with no letterboxing.
Option 1Menu: We're getting serious now. Color Correction allows you separate user control of RGB and CYM (Cyan, Yellow and Magenta). Next is Contrast, which is a simple control of standard, or High. High stops down the Iris, for less brightness and increased contrast. There are no middle settings.
Memory settings - I'll touch on that right after the Menu section is finished. Also on this menu, is a choice of two modes for working with DVI signals, based on what resolution the source is providing.
Option 2 Menu - a Setup menu, basically, it allows positioning Front/Rear/Floor/Ceiling (inverted). This menu also allows selecting Dual or Single lamp mode. In single lamp mode the projector will automatically use the lamp with the least hours on it, or you can select manually, which lamp you want to use.
This menu also allows you to select High or Low Power modes. (As noted in the Projector Brightness section, the Long Life lamps only operate in Low Power mode.)
Also on the Option 2 menu is control of the RS-232 serial port, a summary of system information, and full fan control, including standard or high altitude settings, as well as adjusting the fan output depending on the DW5000U's mounting angle.
A Function control (FUNC1) allows you to program in an operation for the matching FUNC1 button on the remote, such as lamp power or aspect ratio. Lastly, there is an auto power off option, if there is no input signal. It can be turned off, or set to power down this Panasonic projector at 45, 60, 75, or 90 minutes of no signal.
Lastly is the Password control for access to service menus (technicians only please).
I didn't intend to go over every menu option, they are all in the manual, which is available at Panasonic's site. I have skipped a number of items and even a couple of menus.
In fact there is the Test Pattern menus with 8 different test patterns, and also a Security menu that I won't get into here, designed to prevent theft, or at least, to prevent the thief from using the projector.
The last menu, is an important one for commercial installations, and that is the Network menu. The Panasonic can be controlled (power, settings, the whole enchilada, from a web browser, when hooked up to a network. In addition, the PT-DW5000U can send out an email over the network to advise technicians, or users of issues, such as lamp failures, or error problems. Note, from the best I can tell, the web browser must be running Windows. I do not know if it can be run from a Mac, although there wouldn't seem to be any reason why a new Mac with Intel, running windows, couldn't control the Panasonic. Bottom line, if you are a Mac user, check with Panasonic.
That concludes the longest writeup I have ever done of a projector's menus, and I skipped plenty. Time to move on, to a related area:
User Memory Settings
If I fully understand the capabilities, there are up to 8 different savable settings for each type of signal. I presume this to mean - 8 for S-video, 8 for component video, 8 for RGB, etc. Essentially, when you have adjusted to your desired settings for a particular device, such as an HD-DVD player, or a computer, you can go save the setting. Let's say the settings you are using are for a dark room environment, you might have it set for Standard, single lamp, low power, with adjusted colors and contrast. Bingo, you save that in Sub Memory 1. Now you adjust the projector for that device for a much brighter room - so you might have Dual lamp, high power, Dynamic Mode, etc. etc.... Save that in Sub Memory 2...
It does not appear that the PT-DW5000U can descriminate between two different physical devices, such as replacing a DVD player with another, both using component video. I don't think that will be an issue for anyone, especially with 8 different user settings available for each type of signal.
Got it? Good!
Ahh, something easy. The Panasonic's remote is a nice one. It's a compact affair, shown here.
Power off and on are located at the top, and right below the individual source buttons, so no need to have to advance from one source through several others to get to the one you want next.
To complete that third row, on the left, is the all important Menu button. The logic of the Panasonic menus, use the Menu button to open the main menu, and also to move back up one level of menu at a time, until the menus go off.
After that, a nice big disk pad/enter button, surrounded by four arrow keys, which, when not in menu mode, double as left and right mouse functions, and page up, page down functions.
Further down are 9 buttons in three rows, to control some of the Panasonic's features, including Freeze (frame) Shutter, the previously mentioned FUNCtion1 button, Digital zoom in and out, System and On Screen display.
Of exceptional importance is the Lens button, that controls zoom, focus and lens shift, you'll want to know where that button is. You can see from the picture that each of these buttons have a number as well, and down at the bottom you can change the remote from Projector to Numeric (computer) to use the numeric buttons for things like password functionality. When you are in the computer mode, you can use the left and right buttons mentioned to handle left and right mouse clicks!
The Panasonic remote is set up to do genuine computer remote mousing, only one thing is missing - a transmitter to plug directly into your computer. This is a low cost option. If you will be doing traditional presentations I would recommend getting it. If you can afford this projector, you can certainly afford that little IR box that plugs into your laptop or desktop's USB port to emulate a mouse. With it the disk pad lets you move the cursor, as a mouse would...
I should also mention the ID buttons. Each DW5000U or other D series projector can have a unique ID. Up to 65 (if I got that right) can be controlled from a single remote, or from the network. The Set button lets you put in the ID for one projector, or the ALL button lets you control all of them!
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As mentioned at the beginning, you can get this projector with, or without a standard lens. There are six different lenses to choose from. I normally give the minimum and maximum distances to a 100" diagonal (in this case 16:9) screen, but I wouldn't begin to attempt all seven lenses. So, I've come up with a better idea. I found Panasonic's lens chart, and have copied and pasted it here. The type is a bit small but should be readable.
Please note that the screen sizes are for a 16:9 ratio screen. The third lens from the left is labeled With supplied lens - that's the one that comes with the DW5000U (the DW5000UL comes without a lens). Distances are from front of lens to the screen surface.
As to variable lens shift, I have already covered that in the first section. In summary, the projector has manual +/- 10% horizontal lens shift, and +/- 50% power vertical lens shift, which allows the projector (center of lens) to be placed anywhere from bottom of the screen surface to the top.
Audible Noise Levels
This was a pleasant surprise, more often than not, high power commercial projectors seem to be extremely noisy. Perhaps the designers figure anyone buying a 4000, or 10,000 lumen projector is going to be using them in a large, loud room, and no one will notice. Instead the Panny is pretty quiet. Not as quiet as a typical home theater projector, but quiet enough to be barely noticeable in a small room, even in full power mode. It's not that the DW5000U is incredibly quiet, but in part, because the pitch of it's fan (and color wheel) noise is low, and less noticeable. In low power mode, the Panny is rated just 29 db in low power mode, and that is lower than some home theater models. I did not find a high power decibel rating but I would put it about 34-35 db, less noticeable than a lot of portable projectors that I have reviewed recently.
Lamp Life and Replacement
I've covered most aspects in the image quality section as it related to brightness. In summary, the standard lamps are rated 1300 hours at full power, and the Panasonic is designed to shut them down at 1500 hours of full power use. The manual leads me to believe that the Panasonic is dynamic, in that it knows low power from high power and will know when you have exceeded the true life of the lamp. 2000 hours is the low power rating.
Or choose optional long life lamps. They are rated 4000 hours, and only operate in low power mode according to the manual. BTW, the standard lamps list for $515, and the Long Life, for $555, but, get this, if you buy lamps in twin packs (logical for a dual lamp projector), they are less money. 2 standard lamps list for $875 and long life pairs for $915.
Good news, the lamps replace from the rear panel. No need to unmount a projector to get to the lamp door.
Not bad at all, not quite as good as a really good home theater projector, but close. The projector's noise on video is barely detectable at normal viewing distances, and mostly, only if you are looking for the noise. I viewed the noise with the NR (noise reduction both off and on, and found only a slight difference on basic noise. The DW5000U did pass the noise tests on my HQV test disk, but not by much to spare. On the motion noise it did have visible trouble with one type of noise artifcact on the tests, but I don't believe we have an issue here that would even eliminate it from a high power home theater application, let alone normal commercial use, be it in a theater (as previously mentioned, a church or a sports book).
Ok time for the warranty info.