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Panasonic PT-AX100U Home Theater Projector Review - Overview 2

Posted on September 27, 2006 by Art Feierman

Panasonic PT-AX100U Home Theater Projector Review - Overview

We have another winner! I rarely get overly enthused reviewing another $2000 home theater projector, but it does happen.

Click to enlarge . So close

We have another winner! I rarely get overly enthused reviewing another $2000 home theater projector, but it does happen. The first projector of last year's crop of new models that I tested was Panasonic's PT-AE900U. It certainly was a great projector for the money, but it wasn't without some shortcomings (brightness, sharpness, and short warranty, of note). Still it was an excellent overall projector and picked up our Hot Product Award.

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Award. Early this year, I was even more impressed with Optoma's HD72, which was the brightest affordable home theater projector, and produced an extremely enjoyable image to view, but, a typical DLP, it is limited as to where you can place it in your room. There were also other really good projectors in the price range, each with its own strengths (Sanyo Z4 for example provided an exceptionally sharp image).

Fast forward to this year's new batch of under $2000 projectors. Once again, Panasonic's new entry, the PT-AX100U is the first in for review. This time, I'm seeing a projector that is not just a slightly improved version of the AE900U, but rather a major step up in overall performance. In addition, it has managed to cure just about all of the minor weaknesses of its predecessor.

I'll save the rest for the content and summary, but must say, right now, the Panasonic PT-AX100U earns our Hot Product Award, for being the best overall projector yet, under $2000 selling price. It's not perfect, and a competitor or two might outperform it in some aspects, and no doubt, for certain users and viewing environments there will be another projector that might be better. Overall, though, it's going to be tough to find another projector at this price that will truly amaze virtually everyone that buys one.

Let's get started!

PT-AX100U Physical Tour

Click to enlarge. So close

The first, and obvious thing about the PT-AX100U is that the projector is all white, except for the silver trim on its lens. Previous Panasonics including the PT-AE900U and PT-AE700U were silver. Most will appreciate the shift to white, it will simply work out better in most rooms!

Starting at the front of the projector, the PT-AX100U has its 2:1 ratio zoom lens mounted off center, toward the right side (when viewed from the front).

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Focus and zoom are handled manually by turning the outer and inner lens barrel. Further to the right is the same joystick control for vertical and horizontal lens shift, which allows the projector to be placed anywhere from slightly below the screen surface bottom, to slightly above the top of the surface. The more vertical lens shift you use, the less amount of horizontal shift you can use. In the center of the front is the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control. On the left is the fan exhaust. The PT-AX100U home theater projector pushes a hefty amount of hot air out, aimed forward and to the left, away from the lens. Believe me, if you set the projector low on a table, you won't want to be sitting near the flow of hot air, you'll probably want to be at least 4-5 feet away. Below are two screw thread adjustable front fee,t one each on the far front left and right. Having the hot air exhaust of the projector in the front allows you to shelf mount the projector, if so desired (and as many do). This layout is basically identical to the older PT-AE900U home theater projector.

Click to enlarge. So close

Moving to the top of this Panasonic home theater projector, you will find the projector's control panel. There's a large Power button, close to the lens, and behind it the source select button (labeled Input Select). Moving to the right (looking at the top from the rear), is the menu button and then the usual four (up, down, left, right) arrow keys with the Enter button in the center. Lastly, just to the right of the arrow keys is the Return button.

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On the right side (we're back to viewing the projector from the front) is the air intake for the PT-AX100U projector.

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