Panasonic LB10 Series - Summary, Pros, Cons
In the review, as noted, I worked only with an LB10NTU (extensively) and the entry level LB10SVU (briefly). I have already commented regarding compression technologies, etc. in the Performance area, so this section is intended to put the different models in perspective. Let's start at the entry level.
Panasonic LB10SVU LCD Projector
With 1600 lumens, and LCD powered, this Panasonic is definitely a step up from your $999 entry level projectors, and considering it sells for about $300 more, it walks the line between entry level, and "high performance SVGA projectors. First of all, it is a blend of power and portability. Anything smaller and lighter in an SVGA projector, simply can't match its power. Those mostly 1100 lumen DLP projectors (2 to 4 lbs.) don't even come close, and as pointed out elsewhere, the DLP's mostly have trouble with rich colors like bright red and yellow, putting them at a severe disadvantage. With monitor out, and an exceptional warranty, the LB10SVU should be highly coveted by education users, but it also will appeal to business users on the tightest of budgets, thanks to very good compression technology.
Panasonic LB10SU LCD Projector
This is the 2000 lumen version of the "SVU" above. If I have a problem with the value proposition of any of these LB10 projectors, this is the projector I'm most concerned with. On the plus side, if you need 2000 lumens, and are in an SVGA environment, its an excellent choice, especially if you need small, portable and light.
If, however, you are like most non-education users, and should be shopping for a true XGA projector, then, I have reservations. If you can't live without 2000 lumens, fine, but remembering that the difference between 1600 and 2000 lumens is slight at best, I would recommend anyone with an XGA resolution computer to instead, consider the next projector, the 1600 lumen XGA LB10VU. They sell for the same price (give or take), so do yourself a favor and go XGA. Your life will be simpler, and your presentations will look better.
Panasonic LB10VU LCD Projector
For the budget conscious, the LB10VU is tough to beat. 1600 lumens combined with a great price, and the best warranty of any major brand, would be enough, but when you also consider its very small size, all the extra features (split screen, fast powerup/setup and unplug, quiet operaton, monitor out, and “cut above” performance, I can’t think of a better small, affordable projector for the mobile presenter. From a value standpoint, the LB10VU is my favorite of the series, and overall, it can take on any of the 2000 lumen or under DLP's in terms of pure performance, and color.
Panasonic LB10U LCD Projector
The LB10U isn’t the first 2000 lumen projector under 5 pounds, but it is the first really small LCD projector to also combine very quiet operation, loads of features, and innovative ideas like a cooling fan that runs after the projector is unplugged. Best yet, the street price is under $2000. This is the standard bearer of the line, and likely the best seller. There's nothing out there that smaller, lighter and more powerful! The one or two real competitiors can't match the price. Panasonic gets a big win.
Panasonic LB10NTU LCD Projector
The LB10NTU’s wireless networking – works! I was able get the basic networking capabilities setup in a couple of minutes – simply by installing the provided software on my laptop, and plugging in the provided WiFi card. I was especially impressed with the fast throughput, with most Powerpoint “slides” being displayed by the Panasonic projector in well under 1 second.
True the next generation of wireless networking projectors will support 802.11g (instead of 802.11b), for faster throughput, but this Panasonic is plenty fast for all but video, which is, as expected, chunky and slow and small. It Infocomm I saw some demonstrations of 802.11g prototype projectors, and although their video was much faster, full frame wireless is still a dream far from realization (the best I saw was about 25-30% of the screen at full frame. (That's still pretty small!).
So back to the NTU: An excellent choice. The competition that comes to mind is Epson's 735c which received a Hot Product Award for Best Lightweight Projector, in December '03. (ed. note: the Epson 735c has been replaced by the brighter, more expensive 745c 9/04) The Panasonic stacks up nicely, only a few ounces heavier, but with more features, the same 2000 lumens, definitely quieter, an economy mode, and finally, several hundred dollars less!