Projector Reviews

Panasonic PT-LRZ35U RGB LED DLP Projector Review – Performance

Panasonic PT-LRZ35U RGB LED DLP Projector – Performance: Color Modes, Video Quality, Black Levels, Text Readability, Audio Quality

COLOR MODES

The screen shots in the player above are designed to give you an idea of the color performance of each of the manufacturer provided picture modes. However, when viewed in person the color accuracy will generally look better than what is shown in these photos unless I specifically indicate otherwise.

There are ten factory color presets including one for a user-generated preset. The point of this review is to provide my perception of the quality and accuracy of the factor presets and in addition provide my feedback on what basic adjustments could make your picture look better, at least to my eye. I was lucky enough to be in a room with our Technical Editor while doing these preset mode tests so, lucky you, I’ll be providing some of his opinions as well as mine.

Standard Picture Mode: This is normally one of the most accurate modes out-of-the-box. This was not the case with this projector. Color temperature was just too cool providing a bluish cast with our test video and images.

Cinema Picture Mode: Where Standard was a little too blue for my taste, the Cinema mode was dramatically warmer and darker. In general, Cinema is usually tuned for movies, but not so much with the PT-LRZ35U. The colors were too yellow for my taste. Also, aside from a dim image which made many movies unwatchable, the blacks are unnecessarily crushed. This performance is not indicative of what this projector can do, it’s just poor tuning in my opinion.

Natural Picture Mode: This mode was ultimately the second choice for best out of the box performance. My editor and I kept going back and forth on this point. Colors are vibrant without being overblown. The details in the darker areas are much more visible and the picture just looks better when displaying movies, sports broadcasts, and for displaying presentation materials. This mode is also useful to select if the room has a lot of uncontrolled ambient light.

REC709 Picture Mode: This mode was my editor’s choice for the best “sort of” out-of-the-box mode and with some mild arm twisting became mine. Let me tell you why – this mode is a good compromise between the Natural Mode and Cinema Mode. On its own REC709 makes a better Cinema mode than cinema does. Colors are warm without being too yellow and they are dynamic without being overly saturated. Here’s why my editor and I think it’s the best mode, with a simple four-point adjustment in brightness, the image went from good to excellent. I know this is not a strictly out-of-the-box mode, but the adjustment is so simple and adds so much to an already good OTB preset that we felt it was the best.

DICOM Sim Picture Mode: DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting medical imaging information. The projector’s DICOM Simulation Mode enables users to reproduce images with an advanced grayscale level that simulates DICOM.

Dynamic Picture Mode: This is the brightest mode. This mode would be most appropriate for displaying presentation materials where color accuracy was not of great concern. This mode could prove useful if the room has a lot of ambient light to deal with.

BlackBoard Picture Mode: Designed for projecting onto a classroom blackboard.

White Board Picture Mode: Designed for projecting onto a whiteboard in a meeting room so the contrast is heavily boosted.

User Picture Mode: For those who want to further finetune the PT-LRZ35U color reproduction, there are additional advanced color adjustments including color temperature and RGB balance (contrast, brightness).

3D Mode: DLP-Link provides an immersive 3D experience when combined with compatible active-shutter glasses and 3D content via HDMI, such as 3D Blu-ray™ video. A variety of image formats are supported, including frame-sequential, frame-packing, side-by-side, and top-and-bottom. Invite immersive high-color AR projections into smaller event and exhibition spaces.

VIDEO QUALITY

The PT-LRZ35U exceeded my expectations and its color performance just blew me away. It looked better than many Laser DLP, and 3LCD projectors I’ve seen at, or slightly above, its street price.

Although the PT-LRZ35U is designed for education and corporate applications, it also easily fit into the home environment. The PT-LRZ35U should be considered for spaces like a museum or art school where color performance needs to be better than typical projectors at this price point.

Looking at the images on the player above, the first is our test images of color and skin tones, for the different Preset modes. Next are images captured from a variety of movie and television sources. Like all our photos, they remain unadjusted for color, so they do not look as good as what the projector produced unless otherwise noted.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

Panasonic lists the dynamic contrast of the PT-LRZ35U at 30,000:1. And while I don’t doubt the numbers they provide are accurate, I would say that this is a good example of how much wiggle room there is in the way that companies calculate specifications like contrast. I’ve reviewed projectors claiming contrast ratios in the millions:1 and I can tell you that to my eyes the performance of this Panasonic looks better than many of them. I don’t write this to knock the way other companies calculate for contrast, but to let those of you who depend primarily on numbers to make a purchase decision know that this Panasonic projector offers a black level and shadow detail performance that the rated contrast ratio does not do justice. The picture looks good in both totally dark rooms as well as rooms that have uncontrolled ambient light.

The high brightness and rich color performance combined with really good contrast made video images pop, even in rooms with ambient light. Dark area details were especially noticeable in Natural mode, my second choice of the out of the box modes. If you go beyond the OTB modes and just tweak the projector’s brightness and/or gamma settings you can quickly dial in even more impressive results. My editor and I were often amazed at the images this little beauty produced. At an average price of $1,699, neither one of us had an issue recommending it as a good business solution or as part of a home entertainment system.

AUDIO QUALITY

PT-LRZ35-Lft-Side

The PT-LRZ35U has a single, 10-watt built-in speaker that does play loud. While the sound is ok for voice narrations, it is less than ideal for playback of video tracks where music is important. Overall, the sound quality is compressed or hollow. Compared to other business/installation projectors with built-in speaker(s), it will compete. I would strongly recommend connecting the projector to an external sound system through its variable level 3.5mm output jack.