Panasonic PT-LB60U, PT-LB60NTU Projector Review - Image Quality
Panasonic LB60U, LB60NTU Projector Brightness
With a claimed 3200 lumens, and weighing in at only 5.5 lbs for the base PT-LB60U, or 5.7 lbs. for the wireless PT-LB60NTU, this Panasonic should be one of the brightest projectors available in its weight class. The Panasonic (we, as noted, tested the NTU version) has three modes that we tested, Dynamic - the brightest, and Natural and Standard, two modes less bright than Dynamic and similar to each other in lumens, but markedly different in color balance and gamma. How they measured:
Dynamic: 2231 lumens
Standard: 1647 lumens
In low power (eco-mode), dynamic measured 1619, about 27% less than full power. The same percentage drop off should apply to Natural and Standard modes in low power.
For most presentations Dynamic is the way to go. If video quality is important, you will find Natural and Standard to both do a slightly better job than Dynamic, at the expense of brightness, which, is exactly what we would expect.
The LB60NTU was also measured in low power mode. I only measured low power in Dynamic mode as I can expect the percentage drop to be roughly the same for each of the modes. The LB60NTU measured 27.5% lower in low power (eco-mode). Considering how bright this projector is, that's plenty of brightness for most conference and training room meetings and presentations, and it allows you go get more life out of your lamp.
The LB60 series projectors definitely have the power to perform very well in large room presentations on screens in the 15 to 25 foot diagonal size, with modest to moderate lighting. It was only 2-3 years ago, that the typical rental projector for handling presentations for 150 - 400 people, was only 2000 lumens.
If you set up the LB60 in a conference room with a typical 6 foot screen, I doubt that even a lot of sunlight pouring into the room will be able to really wash out the projected image.
LB60 Color Accuracy
As an LCD projector you would expect bright, rich saturated colors, and accurate ones to boot. This Panasonic projector does not dissapoint. Bright reds are truly bright, red, and fully saturated. Bright yellows come out bright yellow, and the rest of the other colors perform equally as well.
Although some of the recently reviewd DLP projectors that are included in the accompanying Six projector comparison, have overcome the tendency of DLP business portable projectors to do poorly on reds and yellows, even the best of them cannot match the colors the LB60NTU produces.
Absolutely no issues here, the LB60NTU produces extremely sharp small type. Sharpness is very good from edge to edge. A very close look shows that the LB60, when perfectly sharp in the center of the screen, is just a touch less sharp in the corners. Can you see this sitting in the first row of a presentation or close to the screen in a meeting? No!
As expected, the PT-LB60NTU did a very good job compressing SXGA+ (1400x1050) PC source material. Small type was a little soft and uneven, as would be expected, but overall, the Panasonic performed better than average compared with the other 4 XGA projectors in the Six projector comparison. We looked briefly at the LB60NTU with a UXGA (1600x1200) source. Small type degraded significantly, but remained fully readable. As with other projectors - compression technoloy does a good job handing the next level up in resolution, but there aren't enough pixels around to really move up two steps in resolution, and still get really good results on small type.
Overall, the Panasonic projector's compression technology performed very well.
Basic Video Performance
A classic LCD projector, the LB60NTU, handled typical business or education types of video beautifully. Rich vibrant colors, good color accuracy. With the projector's rich saturated colors, it holds up particularly well, when you have to deal with significant ambient light. (Don't expect miracles, of course.)
For watching movies, however, and as expected, the low contrast ratio, limits the projector's black levels and shadow detail. You can watch movies on it, if you need an extremely bright projector, but if that is your primary goal, you would be better off with a bright DLP projector.
Panasonic Daylight View
Last year we reviewed two Panasonic projectors (LB20U, and LB30NTU - the LB60NTU's predecessor). Both sported Panasonic's Daylight View. Although Panasonic makes huge claims for what Daylight view does - adjust the image automatically and dynamically to compensate as best possible for ambient light, - we found Daylight Wiew to perform well, and be of real benefit, but not live up to the full hype. The LB60 series now boasts second generation Daylight View, with slightly improved performance.
What does Daylight View do? First, the LB60NTU has a light sensor on the top of the projector, so that the projector is "aware" of the level of room lighting. Based on that, the projector's firmware, adjusts the image to compensate. Mind you, it can't make the projector any brighter, but what it does, is increase the color saturation, and it would seem, contrast, gamma, and other parameters that work well to keep colors, particulary softer, less saturated ones, from washing out.
The two images here, show the differences that Daylight View imparts. So that we could illustrate it, we left the room lighting the same, but in the first image we covered the sensor, simulating a dark room, and in the second image, we made sure plenty of light was hitting the sensor to get Daylight View to "do its thing".
You can notice several changes between the two. On the second image you will note that darker shades in the front (depth) of the slices are lighter and results in less contrast between the dark front, and the lighter top of the slices. This is most noticeable on the yellow and purple front slices and the light blue slice on the right of the pie. However, by making those dark shades lighter, they would stand up better to bright lights. Most unfortunately, the images above do not really show the difference, as well as when viewed "live".
Bottom line - Daylight View is a very nice touch. It works as suggested, but, it doesn't make the "night and day" kind of difference Panasonic alludes to. It does enhance an image to allow it to hold up better in ambient light. This is the same reason many other projectors offer multiple presets like "Bright" and "Dynamic", as well as brightness, contrast, and color saturation controls. In the case of the Panasonic, LB60NTU, this is all handled automatically. The projector senses the room lighting and digs into its bag of possible compensations, and picks out one that should do the best job.
Since few presenters will rarely try to tweak their projector's settings moments before their presentation begins, having Daylight View, should prove to be a plus.
So, overall, what can we say about the LB60NTU and its almost identical LB60U which should have identical image quality performance? The projector is very bright, especially for one under 6 pounds, and can handle presentations in almost any sized room from small to large, with full bright lighting in the smaller rooms, and a fair amount in even a hotel ballroom.
Colors are rich, and accurate, the image (including small text), is very sharp, and it handles higher resolution computer sources about as well as can be expected. Lastly Panasonic's Daylight View, may not change the world, but it is a nice, fully automatic touch that does improve the overall picture when the lights get turned up.