LB30NTU - Overview
Panasonic's PT-LB30NTU and PT-LB30U Projector Review and Advice: These projectors offer just about everything you could want in a small projector plus networking (NTU only)!
Projector Overview and Physical Tour
Panasonic claims that these are the first two portable projectors with 3000 lumen projectors to weigh in at less than 6 pounds! And that means large audience horsepower in a truly small, light package.
First, These two data and video projectors are identical, except that the LB30NTU adds wireless networking. We received the NTU version for review, so the comments primarily apply to the LB30NTU. It's hard to decide where to start with Panasonic's newest and smallest high power projector. So I'll start by letting you know it has earned a Hot Product Award (which it will share with the non-networked LB30U.). Going forward, I will not mention the "U" version again, until the summary.
The Panasonic PT-LB30NTU, first of all, is a small, microportable sized, XGA resolution LCD projector, with 3000 lumens and weighing only 5.8 lbs. (The LB30U is slightly lighter, at 5.7 lbs.). That in its own right is impressive enough, but this Panasonic projector is loaded with features for such a small projector, including:
- Two computer inputs (one can be assigned to be a monitor out, instead).
- Component video can be brought in through either RGB (computer) inputs
- Wireless networking - high speed - supporting the newer 802.11g as well as 802.11b
- The ability to split the screen into 4 or 16 windows - depending on how many wireless computers you want to display at once
- Blackboard mode, for projecting on colored or dark surfaces
- Daylight mode (more on this - in depth - later)
- Fast power-on, power-off, only seconds to power up, and it can be immediately unplugged when you are done
- Auto setup, including auto keystone correction and image adjustment to lighting conditions
- Extensive audio inputs, and a stereo audio output
- An exceptional warranty
Projector Layout and Tour
The LB30NTU is an lcd projector that is physically slightly larger than its less powerful siblings - the LB20 series projectors. The LB30NTU measures in at 12.8" wide, 9.3 deep, and a mere 3.25 high. Although it is a little larger (not height, though) than the typical micro portable, it's footprint is still only slightly larger than a sheet of paper.
From the front: This projector features a resessed zoom lens for protection when moving it around. The Panasonic LB30NTU projector's zoom lens has a range of 1.2:1 - which doesn't give you much adjustment range, but - that amount is typical for the smaller projectors. You can focus and adjust the zoom lens from the recessed barrel accessable from the top. Two quick release drop down feet allow a quick setup. In full automatic mode, the projector will do a key. There is also an infra-red sensor on the front for the credit card remote.
On the top of the projector you will find only 3 buttons one sensor and 3 "idiot lights". The large button is the Power switch, and next to that, the input switch, and lastly, Auto Setup. Now the interesting thing is that in fully automatic mode, when you power up, it will automatically locate a signal source, and select it. If you have two or more sources hooked up and on, it will remember the last source used, and go to that one first. The Auto setup button simply does, at a push of the button, start from scratch: It will select a source, auto adjust the keystone correction, and make sure the source signal is correctly displayed. (In other words, you should rarely need it, as you can all that happen by default when you power up.)
The small sensor (above, to the left of the power button), is for the Daylight view mode which I will discuss later. The three indicator lights: The left most indicates if one of the RGB computer inputs, is in use, the center one is the lamp indicator, and the one of the right is a temperature light to warn if the projector is overheating (clean your filters).
One feature that seems to be missing is a menu button and control panel to navigate the menus. In reality the LB30NTU, relys on the credit card sized remote for that access, but don't worry about losing it. You can still access the menus, and navigate them from a tiny Menu button and matching, tiny joystick, on the back panel next to all the inputs.
Why there? Panasonic touts that this is as easy, and as automatic a projector as you will find, and that for normal operation all you really need to do, is turn it on and present. (And maybe switch your sources). Still all the manual capabilities are there, should you need them, but this is a "point and shoot" projector.
The rest of the Panasonic's projector back panel houses the following inputs:
Two RGB (computer) inputs - from the menu, you can set RGB 2 to be an output instead, if needed. There is also the usual S-video and composite video inputs. There is a pair of audio inputs (Left, Right) for the video sources, and another pair for the RGB inputs. An audio output allows you to support external powered speakers or other audio requirements. In addition, the output is variable, so if you do have external speakers, the LB30NTU projector's remote will control their volume as well. Lastly there is a serial (DIN plug) for RS-232 command and control, allowing remote monitoring and adjustment of the projector.
All in all, the feature set is surprisingly capable for such a small projector. In fact, with the exception of lacking interchangeable lenses (which normally mean projectors over 10 pounds and several times the size of the Panasonic LB30NTU projector,) it is about as versatile as most larger projectors that are typically ceiling mounted. Many businesses and schools will find this lcd projector ideal for permanent installation, and still others will mount it, but easily take it down for occasional portable use. Certainly, at only 5.8 lbs, it is a small enough, and light enough projector for presenters seeking a high power projector for in-house or fully portable usage.