Panasonic PT-F100NTU Business Projector Review - General Performance
Panasonic PT-F100NTU Projector - Wireless Networking
I've worked extensively with Panasonic's wireless networking scheme, in previous reviews, including the PT-LB60NTU and PT-LB20NTU. The PT-F100NTU offers basically the same capabilities, with the minor improvments one would expect over time.
One of the most intregueing capabilities of the PT-F100NTU is the ability to connect with up to 16 wireless computers at a time. In fact, the projector can display thumbnails of all 16 images simultaneously. Panasonic also makes it very easy to switch from the computer currently used to present over the projector, to any of the other computers that are tied to the networking.
I don't know how often this occurs, but imagine a half dozen people in a conference room meeting, all with wireless capable laptops. As the meeting progresses, no need for the next presenter to get up, disconnect a cable from the previous presenter, hook up their laptop, and start presenting. With the F100NTU, a couple of clicks and, bingo, the next person's computer is now on the projector's screen.
It's almost too easy. Of course first everyone has to set up their computer to work wirelessly with the projector, but that is normal, and unavoidable. In addition, I should point out that the F100NTU's wireless networking is very easy to setup. In-depth documentation is provided on the included CD-ROM.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Menus
The menu system of the F100 series looks very similar to other Panasonic projectors of the last couple of years. Overall, it's a good menu layout. Type is a little small, possibly making it a bit hard to read if the person controlling the projector is a ways from the screen. The primary menu for controlling the image is the Picture menu shown here. It has all the usual; a choice of preset modes (dynamic, standard...), contrast, brightness, sharpness, color temperature, etc.
In addition, there are two items of note. Daylight View, and Detailed Setup. Detailed setup, as shown here, allows the user to fine tune color balance, with separate Red, Green, and Blue controls.
Daylight View will take a bit more explaining. First of all, this is something that Panasonic has been incorporating into a number of their projectors for at least 3 years. The whole idea with Daylight View, is that it allows the projector to automatically adjust the image in order to produce the best projected image, based on the ambient light in the room.
A small light sensor mounted (recessed) on the top of the F100 projectors looks upward. It senses the brightness in the room. If the lights are bright, Daylight View increases the color saturation, and adjusts other aspects of the picture to create an image that can better handle the ambient light. Daylight View cannot make the projector brighter (white remains unchanged), but definitely helps. If you start with a bright room and dim it partially (or partially or fully cover the sensor), you can see significant changes in the picture, as it compensates. It's not magic, and it can't really do anything greatly different than if you were to manually adjust the various controls to better deal with the ambient light.
The whole idea, though is that it is automatic, nothing to think about. Overall, Daylight view is a definite plus, even if it can't really make a night and day difference, it does make a very visible difference and improves the projected image.
The next major menu is the Position menu shown here. It gives you control of keystone correction and manual "tuning" capability for getting a solid image from a computer - not that the automatic capabilities of the Panasonic aren't just fine. There is also manual control of the aspect ratio.
There is a Language (not shown) menu, with plenty of choices for the menu language.
Then comes the Options menu (shown here).
The Input Guide, offers you a choice (when selecting the input) , of a basic text message (as you toggle between sources), which stays displayed for 5 seconds, or, set to detail, it brings up a graphics array showing all the inputs (stays up for 10 seconds). The Panasonic projector allows you to program in a logo, which can be selected from here. Since the F100 series has two HD15 computer connectors, and the second one can be either an input, or a monitor out, from this menu, you can choose between those two options. The next couple of items (pictured here) on the menu relate to the ARF filter system. You can choose the correct number for type of filtering, small room, large room..., and it shows you how much time is left on the filter. There is also a Lamp hour counter, a timer to shut the projector down (select from 15 to 60 minutes without a signal), and a Direct Power option (when ON, the projector can be turned on from a wall switch controlling the power, intead of having to use the remote, or power button on the projector. There are additional options not visible in the menu shot above, as you have to scroll down. They include Auto Signal Search (the projector scans all inputs for a "live" one. There is also the Installation setup, to choose Front/Desk, Front/Ceiling, Rear/Desk, Rear/Ceiling. Lastly, there is a high altitude fan option oddly named "Highland".
More capabilities on this menu, include one of great interest to many schools and others, which is to activate the PT-F100U/NTU's Closed Caption capability. Few projectors have this, although more are adding it, and it may actually be required in the next couple of years. You can choose from Close Captions or Text Channels. Very nice!
There's also placement of the menus, and how they look (black, blue, semi-transparent), background color (when no signal), SXGA and XGA mode options, Blackboard option (yep, for projecting onto darker surfaces), Volume, and Audio balance. And there is a master reset (almost - it, of course does not reset lamp hours, filter hours, or Network settings.
The Security menu let's you set a password, to keep unauthorized people (including thieves) from using the projector.
There is also Panasonic's Text feature for security. A text message can be placed into the computer (password protected) so that it always shows. Such as "This projector is the property of XYZ school district." That should drive thieves nuts.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U User Memory Settings
These Panasonic projectors do not seem to offer any User savable memory settings, although, of course the projector remembers any adjustments you have made. Bottom line, you can set the projector the way you want it, but cannot choose from multiple saved settings for different requirements.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U Remote Control
Panasonic provides a good, uncluttered, and easy to use remote control. At the top, a large red power button (press once for On, twice to power down. Across from it, the Auto Setup, for locking on to a computer signal. The next row has Computer and Video source buttons, and a Network button i the middle. Unlike most projector remotes, the F100 series offers a laser pointer. There are also Page Up and Page Down buttons. Below all that, is the usual Menu button, Return button, and four arrow keys, with a center Enter button. Special note, the laser can be deactivated for safety concerns via a switch inside the remote control's battery compartment.
After that, some special features - Freeze frame, a Shutter (mute), which, nicely, in this case turns off the lamp to save usage, a Default button (a reset), a Computer Search button, and Index-Window, a very cool feature. With it, you can grab a frame, and store it in memory. You can then recall it, and split the screen to project it, and "live" content. For example, you could freeze a spreadsheet, or, perhaps a table of contents, to display along side a slide from Powerpoint, or anything else.
The Multi-Live button, lets you connect to multiple computers at the same time, as mentioned in the networking section at the beginning of this page.
That leaves two more rocker switches, Digital Zoom, which lets you zoom in on any portion of the screen (navigate with the arrow keys), and volume up and down.
All-in-all, the remote is nice sized, has good range, fits well in (my) hand (and most others), and overall, is easy to navigate. Good job.
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Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As noted in the Overview, these Panasonic projectors have a 2:1 zoom lens, for plenty of placement flexibility. This allows all but a small percentage of users, those needing very short throw, or long throw lenses. To fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the front of the Panasonic projector can be as close as 9 feet 10 inches, or as far back as 19 feet 8 inches!
A joystick controls lens shift - both horizontal and vertical. As is typical, if you are using maximum vertical lens shift, there is no horizontal shift available, and the opposite it true if using full horizontal shift. Using just vertical lens shift, the projector image can be raised or lowered 50% of screen height. can be as low as a half screen height. Translated, the center of the lens an be as low as even with the bottom of the screen, or as high, as the top.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U - SDE and Rainbow Effect
These Panasonic projectors are LCD based, thus, no spinning color wheel, and along with that, no rainbow effect is possible. Some people are sensitive and can see a rainbow of colors (red, green, blue), caused by a color wheel. When it comes to SDE - screen door effect, the Panasonic's are typical XGA resolution LCD projectors. Pixels are slightly visible when viewing close to the screen. On fine objects, sometimes it may appear as if looking through a screen door, as the fixed pixel structure, and fine detail, (ie looking at a grassy field), may cause a pattern distortion. This is not normally considered a major issue with XGA resolution projectors.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Audible Noise Levels
These Panasonic projectors are rated 33db noise levels. This is very respectable, in fact as quiet as the noisier home theater projectors, and quieter than most projectors in this size/weight/brightness class.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U - Projector Brightness
The F100NTU's brightest mode is Dynamic, which measured 3274 lumens. Standard mode, drops brightness to 2736, while Blackboard mode puts out 2184. The least bright mode is natural (great for videos), with 1629 lumens.
The color temperature for each of these modes is pretty consistant, with Dynamic offering the warmest (shift towards red) color balance at 6629K color temperature. Not surprising, Dynamic also has especially strong green output (the trick to getting out maximum lumens). The other three modes all measured between 7124K and 7295K (for all purposes, identical, in terms of color temperature. I should note that Natural is almost the opposite from Dynamic, in that it is a little low on greens (but not anywhere as much as Dynamic is strong on greens).
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Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Lamp Life and Replacement
Although Panasonic doesn't clearly state lamp life, within the manual, it does mention that the lamp indicator warning light comes on at 2800 hours, telling you it's almost time to replace the lamp. Our assumption is that the lamp life, therefore, is 3000 hours.
The Panasonic projectors have a 3 watt speaker system. It throws a decent amount of sound, plenty for smaller rooms. Three watt speakers don't make for "hi-fi" quality, but it is adequate for typical business presentations. If you are working a larger room, and use audio, you'll want some additional speakers (as is true for most projectors).
On using the Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U for Home Theater
These are definitely not home theater projectors. First of all, they are 4:3 aspect ratio. Note: Panasonic also offers the PT-FW100U, a widescreen version of these projectors that we hope to review in the not to distant future. Color accuracy for home theater, is so-so, as we would expect. Thereal downside is the low contrast ratio typical of all business LCD projectors.
The image above is from Lord of the Rings, and photographed with the PT-F100NTU set to the Standard mode.
As a result, black levels are high, and a lot of shadow detail is lost in dark scenes. This projector may work if you really need all that sheer horsepower, because you can't darken your room enough for a typical home theater projector (most are 300 - 800 lumens in their better modes. Only a couple of home theater projectors can even muster 2000 lumens in their worst (green pushed) modes, so the Panasonic's are significantly brighter.
Bottom line, it might make sense for a sports bar, but rarely would find a home, in someone's home. Because of the black level issue, most needing a bright projector for their home theater would choose a bright DLP instead, with their much better black levels.
Since I mentioned sports bars, if your home projection needs are primarily for sports - which call for bright and dynamic, the F100's might just work for you, but if movies are your thing, look elsewhere.