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Panasonic PT-D3500U Review

Posted on July 24, 2005 by Art Feierman

Specs Preview

Panasonic PT-D3500U Specs
Technology DLP
Native Resolution XGA (1024x768)
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 1400
Contrast 1600:1
Zoom Lens Ratio
Lens Shift No
Lamp Life
Weight 17.4
Warranty 2 years

Panasonic PT-D3500U Projector Review: A High Power DLP projector with Commerical Features and Superb Image Performance

DLP projectors have dominated the lightest catagory of business projectors - under 4 pounds. However, few single DLP projectors offer more than 2500 lumens, without getting into commerical grade projectors - big, heavy, optional lenses, 5000+ lumens, and price tags near $10,000 or even more.

Panasonic introduced last year, their impressive PT-D5500U single chip DLP projector. With advanced features (including dual lamps for 0 down time reliability, a liquid cooled system to keep it running cool, and multiple optional lenses), the Panasonic PT-D5500U has been extremely successful, in no small part due to image quality - on data, and equally so, on video.

Panasonic is now shipping their new, lower cost single chip DLP projector the PT-D3500U, and we are pleased to be able to review the product just as the first shipments are about to go out to dealers. A significantly less expensive projector than the D5500U, it offers 3500 lumens, a single lamp system, quick change bayonet lock interchangeable lenses, and a list price of $6999. (It's big brother lists for $12,000 without lens).

Physically much smaller than the large Panasonic PT-D5500U projector, this is still no micro-portable projector, but is easily moveable from room to room or to events. It's just not what you want to carry with you on an airplane on a regular basis. It weighs in at 17.4 pounds, and measures 13.1" (W) x 16.7" (D) x 6.6" (H).

Physical Tour of the Panasonic PT-D3500U DLP Projector

Starting at the front left is an infra-red sensor for the remote. The lens (or choice of lenses) mounts in the center - simplifying mounting placement calculations.

This Panasonic projector has motorized zoom, focus and vertical lens shift. That said, to the right of the lens (facing the projector) is a manual horizontal lens shift (a less frequently used feature), There are two screw thread adjustable feet on the front bottom, and they offer significant adjustment range.

The top of this Panasonic projector features the control panel, with widely spaced buttons. The button names are all readable on the image on the left, and most are quite obvious. Some comments on those that aren't necessarily that obvious.

Auto Setup, will simply look at the current source and adjust any settings needed to optimize the lock on the signal and the best image.

The RGB button toggles you through the RGB sources, while the Video button does the same for the multiple video sources.

Lens (bottom left) toggles you through three menu choices - power focus, power zoom and power vertical lens shift.

Lastly, the Shutter button is rather unique. Instead of the typical video (and possibly audio) blanking found on other projectors, which still allow light to hit the screen, the shutter on the Panasonic PT-D3500u, is a physical shutter, it closes down the lens, and no light will pass onto the screen. This is a plus, since normally a small amount of gray light still hits the screen with most projectors (a bigger problem with LCD projectors than DLP projectors), and this could be an issue for certain users (screening rooms come to mind, as well as any environment with multiple devices projecting on to the same screen.

An interesting feature of the Panasonic PT-D3500u projector is its top cover. As you can see from the first image, it is a white finish, actually an acryllic. You can have the Panasonic name removed from it, and have your company logo, etc. placed on there instead. In fact you can have a different color top piece, etc. Is your logo yellow and white, on a blue background - no problem. And that is very cool for boardrooms and training rooms, as well as public events.

The input panel is on the left side (looking from the back). It is immediately obvious that this Panasonic projector has plenty of inputs and capabilities.

There is standard jack for your network, a DVI-D for digital input (data or video), and an analog computer input (RGB2) which can also handle component video. An additional computer or component video source can be brought in from the 5 BNC jacks (RGB1). Like virtually all projectors it also offers composite video and S-video. Rounding out the jacks are a monitor out, and RS232c port and a hard wire remote control (for those mounting the projector in large rooms too far for the infra-red remote to reach).

Lastly, there is plenty of audio capability, 5 sets of stereo audio inputs, and an audio output. Below the input panel is the connector for the powercord, and the hardwire power switch (which must be turned on, so that you can power the projector on and off from the remote control.

The Panasonic PT-D3500U projector also has two adjustable rear feet. The overall case is a medium gray except for the white top of the projector.

OK, you now have a good feel for what this Panasonic projector looks like and what you can hook up to it. Let's look at the projector's performance and image quality.

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