Panasonic LB60NTU (and LB60U) Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
It's getting to be a habit. Last year, we awarded the LB30NTU, the LB60NTU's predecessor, our Hot Product Award. The two projectors are very, very similar, with the newer 60 series being just a touch brighter, and sporting wireless networking with 802.11g speeds compared to the older 802.11b. This makes wireless more viable for doing video and audio.
Basically the Panasonic PT-LB60NTU and the less expensive PT-LB60U, are identical except for features associated with the wireless capabilities of the NTU version.
From a pricing standpoint, Panasonic sets the MAP (minimum advertised price) of the LB60NTU at $2199, however a quick search of the web finds the NTU selling for up to several hundred less. The LB60U's MAP is $1999, and street prices are also discounted and seem to stay about $200 less than the NTU. Not the cheapest projectors around, but their overall features and performance still makes them very good price/performers.
For a sub six pound projector, the LB60U series projectors are very bright. Although the projector came in about 30% below claim in brightness, this is not unusual for business projectors, most tend to measure at least 20% below claims. The bottom line, in terms of brightness, is that 2231 lumens is very bright. Only a few years ago, people rented 2000 lumen 30 pound projectors for presentations to 400+ in hotel ballrooms. The LB60 series has no trouble handling larger rooms even with significant ambient light. On small 5 and 6 foot screens, even a room with full florescents, and maybe some sunlight pouring in (but not hitting the screen directly), should be easy for this Panasonic projector to handle.
There may be a couple of other projectors under six pounds that can match or slightly outperform these Panasonic's, but they would be few and far between, especially if you consider two points: LCD projectors offer better color saturation, and as a result, handle ambient light better, and, secondly, the Panasonic projectors offer their Daylight II processing, which adjusts the image in several ways to compensate for high levels of ambient light, based on the projectors' own readings of the ambient light in the room, provided by it's light sensor.
From a phyical size standpoint, there are any number of under six pound DLP projectors that are physically smaller, although few claiming 3000 or more lumens are more than slightly smaller, and the DLP projectors tend to be taller. I should note that a year ago, Panasonic claimed that the LB30U and NTU were the lightest 3000 lumen projectors on the market. Whether or not someone else might be claiming that now, the Panasonic's would still have to be close to the best in terms of weight vs brightness, an important point for those needing lots of "horsepower" in a small, light package.
What makes the LB60NTU (and the LB60U) the winner of our Hot Product Award, is the combination of many advanced features, ease of use, brightness, and overall price performace, plus, in the case of the NTU, the nicest and most flexible wireless networking I have seen to date.
Let's look at the Panasonic LB60NTU's Pros and Cons
- Very bright under six pound projector, suitable for frequent travel, local use or ceiling mounting in conference rooms, training rooms, classrooms and small auditoriums/school multi-purpose rooms
- Excellent color - bright reds and yellows that portable DLP projectors just can't match, very saturated
- Plug and play setup
- 2 second start up
- Ability to immediately unplug it without waiting for cool-down
- Daylight view enhances image performance in bright rooms
- Two computer inputs (or user selectable to one input, and one monitor output)
- Exceptional warranty - 3 years with a 3 year loaner program
- Good, compact remote, including pointer system for presentations
- Price performance
- Wireless capabilities (NTU version only) including
- High speed 802.11g performance
- Partial screen, full frame rate (smooth) video
- Wireless transmits audio, in addition to video (a rare feature)
- Ability to projector 4 windows with four separate wireless sources, or even up to 16 thumbnail images if you have lots of computers sharing the projector for a meeting
- Page Up/Page down control of presentations
- Variable audio output, allows projector remote to control external powered speakers hooked up to the projector for larger rooms
- Documentation is definitely above average
- Although plenty bright, measured brightness well below claim
- No DVI or HDMI digital input (although very, very few need this)
- Zoom has limited 1.2:1 zoom range (that, however is typical for projectors of this size and weight
- Contrast ratio - LCD projectors have much lower contrast ratios than DLP's - not a problem for business presentations, but the Panasonic's claimed contrast is a bit lower than many competing LCD models as well.
- Menus - well laid out, but text is small
- Shoulder case
- Audio performance (sound quality)
Panasonic PT-LB60U and PT-LB60NTU Summary
Not the smallest portable around, but one of the very brightest, the LB60U and NTU models offer exceptional image quality, with rich, vibrant colors, further enhanced by their "Daylight View" processing. Combine that with a warranty better than 90% of the competition, instant start, and real ease of setup and use, and the LB60U deserves our award. The NTU version however, is better still, not only does it offer wireless networking, but it offers a host of related features that go beyond the wireless competition. There's not much Panasonic can do to further improve these models, except, perhaps, drop the price. The price however is extremely reasonable for either of these Panasonic projectors. Impressive job, Panasonic!