Be Amazed: Using Panasonic Commercial Laser Projector For Higher Education and Houses Of Worship Applications. And See Imagery of Panasonic Projectors Doing Incredible Things

Size matters, so for many commercial applications including in education, laser projectors rule!  Panasonic is the first company that comes to mind to me when someone asks who’s most responsible for the shift to laser projectors from lamp-based models. As I’ve been reviewing projectors for more than 15 years (and a major dealer before that), the first lasers I remember hitting the market and “making a splash” were Panasonic ones. I can’t swear some company didn’t beat Panasonic to the very first practical laser projector, but I certainly remember them as the early leader, and now a decade later – a really dominant player!

Panasonic at Hiroshima U 250 inch screen
A long throw Panasonic laser projector setup in a real world, large lecture hall at Hiroshima City University

Our feature is going to focus on two primary uses of today’s projectors:

Higher Education, which is appropriate, because we’re in the primary buying season now for higher ed.

Houses of Worship, aka Churches, Synagogues, Mosques…  Note that Education itself is the single largest use for projectors, while Houses of Worship is considered another major use. Of course, houses of worship use projectors not only in their sanctuaries but in their classrooms.

And don’t forget:

Check out the photos of awesome light installations, most of which are found toward the bottom of this feature advertorial.

Greenville Redemption Church uses Panasonic Projectors
Greenville Redemption Church – a megachurch in South Carolina, uses all Panasonic laser projectors.

Today’s “commercial”:  Panasonic is our June 2020 sponsor, so, in the course of this paid “Custom Advertorial” (written by me), we will, of course, speak of and describe, a couple of very suitable Panasonic projectors for those applications. Over the years, we’ve reviewed a number of Panasonic commercial projectors

If you wish to learn even more, you’ll find links at the bottom of this article pointing to two recent Panasonic reviews done by Phil Jones, our “high end” commercial projector reviewer (and btw, projector AV engineer – formerly with Sony).

Our goal is to provide you with some very useful info and insights here, but also stripping out a lot of the hype that you would find, perhaps, in a manufacturer’s brochure! For more info still, you’ll find some appropriate links back to Panasonic’s projector site.

As all of these are relatively bright and high brightness projectors, I do want to pass on one piece of useful hype from Panasonic. Or rather, about Panasonic laser projectors from the folks at PMA Research, (our industry’s primary research and tracking firm, which we often quote):

Panasonic is #1 in terms of laser projector revenues in the US, for projectors producing 10,000 or more lumens! AKA “heavy metal” projectors, as I like to call them. That is recent data from PMA Research’s 2020 Q1 Census!

I promised some incredible images. Most would be classified as Digital Signage, in which I include Light Art. They make up a fast-growing segment of commercial projector space. Below, you’ll see some impressive samples of extremely creative digital signage with powerful projectors, to the point, that it is Art!

But, let’s take a look at projectors for Higher Education as our first topic.

Projectors and Higher Education

The higher education market is rapidly moving to solid state projectors. The larger classrooms and labs can now be equipped with very bright, large screen solutions that can be seen reasonably well almost anywhere in those large rooms. Consider these images from around the world, provided from Panasonic case studies.

Panasonic at Hiroshima U
Hiroshima City University – Large screen up front, additional screens half way back. (Lots of windows on left)

Lecture halls and other large rooms can effectively utilize multiple projectors to assure very good visibility – and readability – throughout the room. Today, relatively low-cost projectors with laser engines, such as the VMZ 60 Series featured below, can be networked together or controlled individually.

A new generation of screens – ALR – ambient light rejecting, are combining with brighter laser projectors to teach with much larger projected imagery, than was possible for anything near the price more than 5 years ago.

Yasuda Women’s University
Yasuda Women’s University (Japan). Fully usable even under full lighting.

In addition to traditional commercial projectors – the type that are typically found in auditoriums sporting whichever lens option, is needed for ideal placement – today’s laser projectors, are now the go-to choice for all types of classrooms in higher education.  That is in large part thanks to the falling costs of laser projectors, which results in prices now low enough to offer a better return on investment (and way less hassle) than lamp based models, (which require far more maintenance).

Speaking of such things, to give you a taste – the PT-RCQ10 projector featured below, under normal usage, requires no maintenance for 20,000 hours. That’s almost 2.5 years of continuous use with no maintenance, or, alternately, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for over 6 years!

Most such university and college classrooms can be handled by projectors in the 5,000 – 10,000 lumen range. Many of today’s laser projectors serving up around 5,000 lumen projectors, that have a zoom lens, but no additional lens options, we refer to as “affordable lasers.” These “affordable lasers” are suitable in many lecture halls, and labs, and smaller classrooms too.  Consider projectors such as the new Panasonic PT-VMZ60 Series (up to 6,000 lumens) described below, as excellent examples of these affordable laser projectors.

One capability that should be on most higher ed checklists when hunting for the right projector:  HDBaseT built-in, (or at least compatibility) as long cable runs are the rule, not the exception.

Laser projectors are ideal for edge blending applications.

Another trending capability is projectors that will directly speak with each other to create a single continuous image.  This often doesn’t need the precision of true edge blending with color matching but can be very effective in the lecture hall to put two or three 60” high x 105” wide screens side by side with a single image projected on them. If you can have whiteboards almost the width of the room, why not projected images?

Panasonic’s extensive line-up provides many options, and that brings me to one area of discussion that I would like to address, which relates to what projector technologies are behind their laser projectors. Right off the bat, Panasonic is fairly unusual, in that they offer both DLP and 3LCD “powered” commercial projectors. They aren’t the only ones, of course, but most companies are 100% DLP.

On the other hand, Panasonic has long offered both DLP and 3LCD in their product mix. With an extensive lineup of single-chip DLP’s 3 panel 3LCD’s and 3 chip DLPs, you can find the right technology for your installation. So, let’s take a few paragraphs to summarize when to go with a DLP, and when to go with 3LCD.  If you are familiar, skip down a few paragraphs, to the section on the need to be able to handle 4K content.

DLP vs LCD – One more time!

Let me talk DLP vs 3LCD tech for a few paragraphs, then I’ll return to more regarding using projectors in Higher Education.  When I normally write about these two techs, I tend to ignore the high end of DLP – which are the 3-chip designs that really established DLP technology as leading technology. For more than a decade, we’ve all watched the Academy Awards, AKA “the Oscars,” with Texas Instruments (the inventor and supplier of DLP chips) proudly promoting that the show uses 3 chip DLP projectors!

3-Chip DLP’s are the real high-end folks. The chips themselves (and the projectors) are available in resolutions up to native 4K. 3-chippers are well known for the richest colors, high native contrast and no rainbow effects. They are physically large, and sometimes even liquid-cooled.  Every time you go into a typical movie theater, you are watching on a 3-chip DLP projector.  Impressive. Interchangeable lenses is a standard option on virtually every 3-chipper out there.  We’re not going to focus on those 3-chippers here, as price-wise, they are above our pay grade.  But they are at the top of the food chain, even if single-chip DLPs and 3LCD projectors are nipping at their heels in terms of features and performance.

Suffice to say that Panasonic has a really large lineup of 24 DLP laser models starting at 10,000 lumens and going up to 50,000 lumens. Stack two of those big ones for 100,000 lumens! Do check out the building images – those are mostly arrays of 3-chip Panny projectors.

3LCD projectors use 3 LCD panels (also called chips by some), and typically offer far lower prices than 3 chip DLPs, drastically lower, is probably more accurate. As a result, we are seeing more and more 3LCD activity especially in the lower brightness ranges of laser projectors – from about 5,000 lumens up to about 15,000 lumens. 3LCD models go brighter still, but only recently, as they are now competing more with the “heavy metal” DLPs.

Commercial laser 3LCD projectors include “affordable lasers” as well as many installation types with large choices of interchangeable lenses. One advantage of 3LCD is that they draw less power per lumen of output. As a result, for some installations, you can get, say, a 15K 3LCD projector that runs on 110 volts, while anything that bright with DLP is normally 220 volts. Running on 110 can be a real plus especially in equipping classrooms in ancient classrooms in older universities (like the Ivy League schools). Of course, there are real dollar savings too, if you are talking about a school district’s entire fleet of projectors and the electric bills they run up. No color wheels in 3LCD projectors means no seeing rainbows – the rainbow effect – which affects a small percentage people when viewing single chip DLP projectors.  Finally, 3LCD projectors are known for producing as many color lumens as white ones, while most single-chip DLPs have significantly less color lumens.

Below, I take a few paragraphs to describe Panasonic’s new PT-VMZ60 Series projectors (named after its flagship model). There are Panasonic’s five new 3LCD laser projectors in this series of affordable lasers, including the VMZ50 we recently reviewed and won, not one, but two awards from us!

Single-chip DLP projectors consist of almost half of the affordable projectors sold, but are even more widely used in commercial projectors including laser projectors. We’re just starting, however, to see 3LCD commercial laser projectors over 15,000 lumens. (More announcements, than shipping models, so far!) By comparison, there plenty of extremely bright single-chip DLPs out there, and have been for more than a decade.

Panasonic currently offers 14 single chip laser projectors with at least 6,500 lumens (up to 12,000 lumens) all with interchangeable lens options! And 6 more single-chip laser projectors with zoom lenses, but no alternative lenses. (That does include a four announced but not shipping yet, as of this article’s publication.) Point is, if you need a laser projector – or fifty, for a particular job, they should have you covered. (And, that’s not even counting the big 3-chip DLPs!)

Panasonic Digital Signage Scotch
Multiple laser projectors from Panasonic produce this unusual digital signage display/advertisement on a house.

Regarding the image above: Hard to believe, but, thinking back, we were all impressed when the first digital billboards came out, but ran the same old billboard style ads for cars and other products. This is a whole different level! Huge and creative Digital Signage displays can make a massive impression! And a lot of buzz!

Some Background:

Based on my best recollections, Panasonic was the first major projector manufacturer to build out a line of commercial laser projectors. What came before laser projectors…

Most commercial projectors going back 10+ years ago were dual, or quad lamp powered, designed for reliability so that if a lamp failed (most lamps lasted only 500 – 1000 hours in the old days), there was another lamp or more to back it up. Basically in a dual lamp design if one lamp fails, you run at half brightness, instead of “being down!”  While tons of those multi-lamp projectors and their descendants are still running today, most have been relegated to the dust bins of history thanks to projectors sporting laser light engines.

The days of needing significantly darkened classrooms and lecture halls will be with us in older installations. Expect today’s extremely bright projectors to conquer the ambient.
The days of needing significantly darkened classrooms and lecture halls will be with us in older installations. Expect today’s extremely bright projectors to conquer the ambient.

As to other uses of laser projectors, there’s no contest, laser projectors are about the only way to tackle most large digital signage, a huge market for Panasonic.

The Need For 4K Capable Projectors

Panasonic not only offers a number of native 4K projectors, but many additional projectors that can accept 4K content. Some of these “4K capable” projectors (such as the new PT-RCQ10), as we call them, are WUXGA (1920 x 1080p) but use pixel shifting to produce sharper, more detailed images. Others, like the VMZ60 Series, accept 4K/30fps content and scale it down to WUXGA, in the case of the VMZ models, but even the lower WXGA resolution models will accept and scale 4K. There may not be a large amount of 4K content out now, but there will be, and all of these will be able to accept it (up to 4K/30fps).

It is rather amazing that Panasonic offers so many 4K capable projectors of different abilities…a mix of native 4K projectors, as well as lower resolution models using pixel shifting, aka in Panasonic’s case:   Turns out, that Panasonic has a total of 22 commercial projectors that are either native 4K, pixel shifters, or WUXGA or lower resolution that can accept and downscale 4K content!

Meet Panasonic’s newest 10,000 lumen projector:

The PT-RCQ10 and RCQ10L, 4K Capable, Pixel Shifting Laser

Panasonic has launched the RCQ lineup with two models, the RCQ10 and the 8000 lumen RCQ80/RCQ80L. They are truly impressive, and 4K capable!  Please note: The L versions come without the standard zoom lens, but there are 11 lens options to choose from.

PT-RCQ10 projector

 

  • 10,000 lumens
  • Single-Chip DLP design with Pixel shifting
    • Native 1920x1200x2 puts approximately 4.5 million pixels on the screen
  • 4K Capable – Accepts 4K content
  • Dynamic Dimming of laser engine for improved contrast, dark handling
  • Edge Blending, and Projection Mapping
  • Advanced networking
    • Including Panasonic’s Digital Link (enhanced HDMI-link)
      • Can clone or control up to 99 projectors for massive arrays
    • HDBaseT
  • Extensive lens shift, projectors are “stackable”
  • 20,000 hour Solid Shine* laser light engine
  • 9 zoom lenses available. Plus two fixed lenses: Short throw and Ultra short throw
  • Small and lightweight (<53 lbs)
  • Warranty is 3 years parts/labor on projector, 3 years or 12K, whichever comes first on laser engine
    • No maintenance for 20,000 hours under normal use

Need less brightness or have a slightly smaller budget? – the also new PT-RCQ80 and RCQ80L projectors offer 8,000 lumens!

* Solid Shine is Panasonic’s trademark for its laser projectors.

inputs
The RCQ series is very versatile. Note the area for additional NX compatible interface boards.

The PT-RCQ10 and PT-RCQ10L (with or without a standard zoom lens), is brand new. Its compact design and the ability to run on 110 – 120 volts are pluses. The interfacing is truly extensive, and it has the usual edge blending and projection mapping that are becoming more and more standard on projectors in this brightness range.

This single-chip commercial DLP relies on pixel shifting to produce detail and sharpness superior to standard WUXGA. As more use of 4K content continues, the RCQ10 provides a far lower entry cost than native 4K projectors, including, of course, Panasonic’s own.

The RCQ10 possesses some real versatility. Consider this: It will operate up to almost 14,000 ft, just in case you want to light up the Rocky Mountains with a huge array of them. (The highest road in the Rockies is Pikes Peak Highway which reaches the 14,115 peak.) Why not!

Although the MSRP is $29,999 let’s just say that Panasonic’s street prices are dramatically lower, for those who look to MSRPs to get a relative idea of price. I find pricing strategies vary widely in our industry, making MSRP an unreliable guide. If you would like more info on this rather impressive projector that we plan to review, there’s are links at the bottom – one for the RCQ100, and one if you would like the professional team at Panasonic to reach out to you.   (We’re happy to review the RCQ10 or the RCQ80, whichever is available first).

Houses of Worship

Those of you involved in AV in the “houses of worship” segment are well aware of the scope of the market and usage of projectors, but for the rest, it is huge. Houses of worship of all faiths rely on projectors to communicate their message and involve and help inspire their congregations.

Usage in houses of worship can start with a sub-$1000 projector and screen for a small church, or go all the way up to mega million dollar installations in today’s mega-churches. Many of these mega churches have production capabilities that would make the AV for a Broadway show look simple. Mega churches alone (2,000 average weekly attendance or larger) number over 3,000 in the US, with the top 50 claiming attendance from 10,000 to 47,000 people! (per Wikipedia).

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 4.03.11 PM

PT-VMZ60 Series

Allow me to introduce you to the new PT-VMZ 60 Series named after its flagship, the PT-VMZ60 an “affordable laser” boasting 6,000 color and white lumens, WUXGA resolution, and excellent connectivity.

Panasonic Ceiling Mounted
Model Lumens Resolution Accepts 4K Content
PT-VMZ60 6,000 WUXGA Yes
PT-VMZ50 5,000 WUXGA Yes
PT-VMZ40 4,500 WUXGA Yes
PT-VMW60 6,000 WXGA Yes
PT-VMW50 5,000 WXGA Yes

These can be considered portable or small fixed install projectors, but have the connectivity to play in large fleets such as in a university. There are WUXGA and WXGA 6,000 and 5,000 lumen models, and a “budget” 4,500 lumen WUXGA as well, the value VMZ40, which lacks most of the advanced connectivity of the others. After all, not every school, district, or business, needs enterprise-level networking.

What is impressive is that all five accept 4K/30p content and downscale it to their respective resolutions. That’s still not a very common capability even on WUXGA projectors, let alone WXGA! That makes these new models excellent examples of future-proofing, which makes sense with projectors sporting 20,000 hour laser engines. Good thinking Panasonic!

Four of the five offer advanced networking compatibility, including HDBaseT compliant, 100BaseT, Crestron, AMX,, and PJ-Link compatible. Wireless is optional as is common in this class of projectors. 1.6:1 zoom lenses, and the ability to be mounted at almost any angle make for plenty of placement flexibility.

Digital Signage and Light Art

High powered DLP laser projectors used at the Lightpool Festival, Empress Ballroom (24 RZ31 3 chip DLP projectors!)

While not the focus of this Advertorial, I just couldn’t resist sharing a number of Panasonic photos of some amazing art installations and other digital signage! Wow level stuff!

The Bottom Line

Higher Education, Houses of Worship, Digital Signage and more, are areas of fast growth for use of projectors to improve communications.  Panasonic is a major player in each of these segments (and others, of course). Overall, consider Panasonic offers one of the most extensive line-ups of laser projectors, with serious, and with advanced capabilities.

Update – hot off the presses.  PMA Research just released their projector tracking numbers for the month of April 2020, for their top 5 commercial projectors (tracked from the industry distributors).  When I told you Panasonic tends to dominate when it comes to laser projectors, consider PMA’s findings:  Three of the top five sellers for April sales, were Panasonic laser projectors, including – yes, the VMZ50 we reviewed, which came in 5th in sales, while the flagship of the series – the VMZ60, came in 3rd, and another laser we haven’t mentioned today, the 5400 lumen RZ570, came in first in sales.

Hey, with almost 70 companies making projectors, finishing 1st, 3rd and 5th in commercial projectors is something Panasonic can be very proud of.

If you have a need, in your church, synagogue, college, or high school, art exhibit. auditorium, or museum, for projectors to help make a difference, you will. of course, be hard-pressed to find another brand, with the experience, support, and depth of product line, that Panasonic can bring you.  Below are links to our reviews, and more info from Panasonic’s site.

Thanks for listening! -art

Learn more!

To learn far more information, have Panasonic contact you directly by:

Requesting a demo. (A short form to fill out, to help you get your process started.)

Panasonic PT-RCQ10U 1-Chip DLP Fixed Installation Laser Projector

Check out our newest reviews of Panasonic’s commercial lasers, reviewed by Phil Jones:

Panasonic PT-VMZ50 Laser Projector Review

Panasonic PT-MZ16KL Laser Projector Review

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