Panasonic PT-LB60U and PT-LB60NTU Projector Review - Overview
8/2/2006 - Art Feierman
Panasonic offers two versions of the LB60 series. For this review and our accompanying seven projector comparison, Panasonic sent me the LB60NTU. The LB60NTU is identical to the less expensive LB60U, except for the addition (on the "NTU") of wireless networking, and the other features that come along with that networking. As a result, I'm writing this as a review of both versions, and will comment more regarding the pricing vs. extra features in the Summary section.
Both versions boast Panasonic's Daylight View II processing. Briefly, how it works: The LB60 projectors have a light sensor that measures room ambient lighting and adjusts color saturation and other parameters to allow the projected image to do it's best in the room environment it faces, such as boosting color saturation so colors show up better under bright lights. We found that to be pretty effective when we reviewed the LB20 and LB30 series last year.
The PT-LB60NTU is an LCD portable projector. Being LCD, lumen for lumen, it holds up better under ambient light than DLP projectors do.
The 3000 lumen LB60NTU is not surprisingly more expensive than most comparably lumen rated DLP projectors, but then, in addition to the LCD advantage under ambient light, it is loaded with wireless networking. Typical street pricing for the LB60NTU varies a lot, but is typically $2000 to a few hundred less. The basic LB60U sells for about $200 and change less, making it pretty agressively priced for those not needing the wireless networking.
Panasonic PT-LB60U and PT-LB60NTU Projector Basic Specs:
MSRP: $2999 (LB60U), $3399 (LB60NTU) (In this case list prices are rather meaningless, since they have little to do with selling prices.
Technology: LCD front projector
Native Resolution: XGA 1024x768
Brightness: 3200 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.2:1
Lens shift: No
Lamp life: 2000 hours (full power) 3900 hours (eco-mode)
Weight: 5.5 lbs. (LB60U), 5.7 lbs. (LB60NTU)
Warranty: 3 year parts/labor, with 3 year Zip-it overnight loaner program
Panasonic LB60U and LB60 NTU Physical Tour
These Panasonic portable projectors have a recessed zoom lens with a 1.2:1 zoom ratio, pretty typical for small portable models. Next to the lens is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control. There are two drop down front adjustable feet, with their releases actually on the left and right side right by the front. An almost clear lens cap is tethered to the projector.
On the top, focus and zoom of the LB60 projectors are adjusted by recessed focus and zoom rings. Looking at the top, from the rear of the projector, the control panel is to the right of the lens. Moving from left to right, are, first, three indicator LED lights (for PC input, Lamp, and Temperature).
Next comes a large power button, however just above it, and a bit closer to the LED indicators is the Daylight View light sensor.
Panasonic has always touted the LB series as very plug and play, and as such, there are few controls on the LB60 control panel. In fact, the only other two buttons are the source select button, and an Auto Setup button. That's right, no menu or arrow keys, but wait, the LB60 projectors are not without.
Moving to the input panel on the back, I'll start on the right, where you find a tiny Menu button, and almost below it a minature joystick for navigating the menus. The joystick handles the usual up/down/left/right arrow functions, and pressing it in provides the Select (or enter) function. Of course most projector manufacturers put their menu button and arrow keys on the control panel, but Panasonic is making a point that their projector is so easy to setup, that they have relegated their menu control functions to these tiny devices on the back.
Moving to the left are a pair of audio inputs (standard left and right RCA jacks). Next comes the standard composite video, and S-video inputs.
The LB60U and LB60NTU have a Computer 1 input (standard HD15 connector), and Computer 2. Of special note, the Computer 2 input can alternately function as a computer (monitor) output. The choice is menu selectable. Below them are two sets of stereo audio inputs (each is a stereo mini-plug), and a variable, stereo audio out. Last is a serial port for computer control, and the AC power input. Surprisingly, for a projector in this class, the LB60 series projectors lack a rear Infra-red sensor.
Interestingly, there is no way to tell at a quick glance, the basic LB60U from the wireless networking LB60NTU, except by the model number, the word Wireless on the control panel, and fewer buttons on the LB60U's remote control.
Time to consider the image quality aspects of the PT-LB60U and PT-LB60NTU LCD portable projectors.