Business Installation Projector Review:
Panasonic PT-F100NTU Wireless Networking Projector:
Summary, Pros, Cons
When it comes to full featured, and affordable "fixed installation" projectors, the Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U are going to be tough to beat. If you need I widescreen model, I suspect that the PT-FW100 is also going to be top choice.
While overall performance for an LCD projector is, as noted, extremely good, the F100 series has two really great advantages: Daylight View, and the ARF filter system.
For many companies, schools, and government installations, the ARF solution drastically reduces maintenance time and effort, a huge plus. Finally, an LCD projector that offers the lower level of maintenance that has been the domain of DLP projectors (thanks to their "sealed light path" which in most cases, means no filters to clean/change).
While the ARF system provides parity with DLP's in terms of maintenance, the Panasonic projectors have the LCD advantages, of more accurate colors, and excellent dynamic range. (Traditionally we have always said that to cut through ambient light as well as an LCD projector, you typically need a DLP projector with 30-40% more brightness - thus, in this case more than 4000 lumens.
Daylight View, is simply a nice, automatic touch, that adjusts the projector to compensate for room ambient light. It's no magic cure, but automates what normally would require adjusting several settings, and it does it well. It doesn't increase overall brightness, but does result in an image that does better in medium to bright rooms, than an average projector of the same lumens.
The wireless networking works well, and offers some great features, especially Mult-Live, for working with more than one wireless computer. A real plus!
And, as noted, the F100NTU actually exceeded claimed brightness, if only by about 3%, but then, most of the competition doesn't even meet their brightness claims.
OK, let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of the PT-F100NTU and its siblings:
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U: Pros
- Overall an excellent "install" projector for those not needing extreme long or short throw mounting
- Excellent overall image quality with dynamic, saturated and accurate colors
- Easy setup of wireless networking - PT-F100NTU, PT-FW100NTU only
- Extremely sharp image when fed XGA resolution sources
- Excellent compression technology for easily readable smaller type, and almost flawless larger type
- No problem handling resolutions up to UXGA (1600x1200)
- Extremely bright, suitable for all but very large room (ballroom and large auditorium) use, even with moderate lighting.
- Top of the line warranty - 3 years parts and labor, with overnight loaner program
- Lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector
- Quieter than most projectors in this brightness range, and size
- Built in laser pointer (which can be disabled for safety)
- Good menu design and functionality
- Protective door over lens and control panel
- Lens shift with good (not exceptional) range
- Very good documentation
- Advanced networking (PT-F100NTU and PT-FW100NTU only), including Multi-Live, which allows the Panasonic to interface with multiple (16 maximum) wireless computers at the same time, and quickly switch betwen them
- Quick powerdown, can be unplugged immediately without damaging lamp
- Very good price/performance
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U: Cons
- A bit larger for a 3200 lumen projector than most (without interchangeable lens options) But for fixed installation, who really cares that much about a slight difference in size
- No HDMI or DVI (digital) inputs
- Having both a 2nd computer input and a monitor out would be better for some, than the choice of computer 2 or monitor out
- No interchangeable lenses for those that require extreme long or short throw capabilities
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U: Typical Capabilities
- Overall color handling for an LCD projector (very, very good, better than almost any DLP projector
- Adequate sound quality for a projector in this class
- Brightness (for an LCD projector at this price point)
- Contrast (for an LCD projector)
- Control panel functionality
Review continues below this advertisement.
Panasonic PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U and PT-FW100NTU: Summary
Ca-ching! It certainly looks like Panasonic has a money maker, and a marketshare grabber, in the form of the F100 projectors. True, on a pure dollar per lumen basis, these Panasonic projectors are by no means the least expensive out there. What they do offer instead, is a solution that delivers an excellent feature set, and more placement flexibility than found in other projectors (lacking optional lenses).
The wireless and wired networking (NTU projectors only) is very good, with some very interesting capabilities (Mult-Live, for example), picture quality is excellent, and maintenance is minimal. The overall physical design works well, including the protective door in front. There are plenty of security options, including password protection, and screen text, then there's the security bar, which appears far more robust than the typical Kennsington lock notch on the competition (the Panasonic's have one too).
The ARF filter system, which I seem to keep coming back to, is an effective solution to the challenge of those filter free DLP projectors, and it looks like it will take the steam out of the DLP crowds claim of lower maintence. (Expect to see lots of brands of LCD projectors going to similar systems, now that such a solution is out there.)
All considered, Panasonic has created an affordable alternative to more expensive fixed install projectors that offer interchangeable lenses, or from the other perspective, a more feature laden projector than smaller lighter projectors designed as true portables, which often find themselves permanently mounted.
A last note. As of this writing (7/2007), Panasonic is offering a free spare lamp via a mail-in program, to further reduce cost of ownership. The value of the lamp brings the overall pricing of the PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U, close to similarly bright but less feature laden portable projectors. The free spare lamp is not offered at this time with the PT-FW100NTU
Review continues below this advertisement.
The F100 series - PT-F100NTU, PT-F100U, PT-FW100NTU - is brand new for Panasonic. Looks like they really did their homework, and have major league contenders on their hands.
Speaking of which, I can't wait to get my hands on the widescreen version, the PT-FW100NTU. Since it shares the features of the F100NTU, a brief review is planned, primarily to do measurements, and look at it from the perspective of those needing a widescreen projector. Stay tuned!
From ProjectorReviews.com to Panasonic - a "Well done" plus our Hot Product Award, to be shared by the PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U for being an extremely capable and flexible projector solutions.