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Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Projectors: Physical Tour

Posted on October 3, 2013 by Art Feierman

Panasonic PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U Projectors: Physical Tour

As always, we start facing the front of the projector. The first thing different about the PT-F100 projectors is the hinged door in the front. Under normal operation, the door is closed, protecting the lens, and also covering the control panel, which is next to the lens on the left, in the front. To the right of the lens, you'll find a joystick controller for adjusting the vertical and horizontal lens shift, very similar o the one on most of Panasonic's home theater projectors like the PT-AX100U. The lens itself, has manual focus and zoom, which you can adjust from the trim rings around the lens. As noted, these Panasonic projectors have a 2:1 zoom range.

To fill a 100" (4:3 aspect ratio) diagonal screen, the front of the F100NTU (or F100U) projector can be placed as close as 9 feet 10 inches, or as far back as 19 feet 8 inches.

The control panel, as mentioned, is inside that fold down door, in the front. Starting from the left side, first is a large Power button, followed by Input (source) select, the Menu button, and a traditional four arrow key layout, with the Enter button in the center. Lastly, closest to the lens, is the Return button (which returns you to the previous menu). Between the Return button and the lens, is the front IR sensor. Closing the door hides the controls but there is a clear area (glass) so the light can shine through, while keeping dust out of the system. Panasonic states in their manual that the door should be kept closed, except when using the control panel.

There are two screw thread adjustable front feet below the front right and left of the F100 series projectors, (and a single rear foot).

Normally, next we go to the top of the projector where most projectors have their control panels. These Panasonic projectors, however, have nothing on the top, but the Panasonic name, and, along the front edge (above the control panel) are four indicator lights that can be seen from the top or front. Not surprisingly, the four indicators are Power, Lamp, Temperature, and Filter.

OK then. Next, let's go to the back and look at the PT-F100NTU's inputs and outputs.

Starting from the top left, the first connector is a standard Network connector wired networks (only on the F100NTU). Next comes the Computer 1 input, and to its right Computer 2/Out. This connector can be used for a 2nd computer input, or can be menu switched, to instead be a monitor output if needed. Continuing our quest for knowledge, next comes an S-video input and a composite video (RCA jack) below it. Then, setup vertically are 3 RCA jacks for the component video input. Lastly, comes the stereo inputs (2 RCA's) for audio supporting the video inputs.

That takes us to the second row, and back on the left. A serial connector for "command and control" to monitor or run the projector from a computer or control system. Next is a hard wire option for the remote control, for those large rooms where the projector may be more than 25-30 feet from the remote.

We're almost done here. Next comes another pair of audio inputs, for the computer's audio, and lastly, a stereo mini jack for variable audio out. This allows you to hook powered speakers to the output, and control the sound levels to those speakers (and there is an internal 3 watt speaker) with the projector's remote (or control panel). That's always a nice touch and can save some wiring costs, in an installation.

To the right of the input panel is the lamp door for replacing the lamp.

A single rear foot (in conjunction with the two adjustable front feet) gives the PT-F100NTU and PT-F100U a three point stance for stability.

The projectors also have the usual kennington lock, for security, and also a more "robust" security bar, on the bottom rear of the projector, shown here:

As with many other Panasonic projectors, the F100 series can be powered down completely, immediately. That means it can be unplugged from its power source, without having to worry about damaging the lamp. Even with all power cut to the projector, the fan will continue to run, until the projector has sufficiently cooled down. This makes their Direct Power On/Off feature viable.

We're almost done with the physical tour. The last thing to cover is the ARF filter system, an innovative design, that I expect we will see a lot more of.

The system, as mentioned above, is basically a filter on a roll, one reel feeds out the filter, another collects the "used" filter. Why bother? This is an "LCD projector thing". In the ongoing battle between DLP and LCD projectors, one item that the DLP proponents have made much noise about, is the cost of ongoing maintanence. Not breakage and warranties, but what it takes to keep a projector running.

DLP projectors typically have a "sealed lightpath" which prevents dust from getting into the system and mucking up the image. Not so LCD projectors. As a result most DLP projectors have no filters, or have a basic filter that doesn't need to be changed often at all.

Everyone knows that the lamps have to be replaced every so often, but in all but the heaviest use environment that is measured in a couple or more years. These projectors for example, used 20 hours a week, need a new lamp about every 3 years, but might need a filter cleaning or change every few months if not for the ARF system.

Imagine managing a fleet of 10 or even 50+ projectors, all ceiling mounted, all being used different amounts, for the AV or IT person responsible it would likely seem like they have to get out their ladders on a regular basis for cleaning or replacing filters in LCD projectors.

NOT with the F100 series, thanks to the rolling filter system. There are three different settings, depending on your environment (how clean the air is). As a result, depending on the setting will determine how long the ARF filter will work before it needs to be replaced. I shouldn't do this, but I assume that it should last as long as the lamp or longer, at least in the "cleanest air" setting. Afterall, if it doesnt take you from a couple months between cleanings to a couple of years, what's the point. Panasonic does not publish any numbers in their manual as to the life of one ARF unit. If I learn more, I'll update the info here.

Ultimately, it's a great idea. Anything that can eliminate a significant number of maintenance calls, has to be a major plus.

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