Best Home Theater Projectors
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
Panasonic PT-AR100U Projector Panasonic PT-AR100U
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Street Price: $1,292
MSRP:$1,749
Contrast:50,000:1
Lumens:2800
Weight: 19.0 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:3 LCD
Lens:2x manual
Lens Shift:H + V
Lamp Life:3,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:1 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, Component, RGB, HDMI (x2), RS232, 12Volt Out (x2),
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/24, 1080p/50, 525i, 575i, 575p, 576i, 576p, 625i, 625p, 1125i

Panasonic PT-AR100U
1080p Home Entertainment Projector

Bill Livolsi, November 1, 2011

Conclusion

The Panasonic PT-AR100U is a strong multi-purpose projector that's ideal for the ambient light of a typical living room. Following in the tradition of the AX100 and AX200 models from several years ago, the AR100U makes some improvements to the Light Harmonizer feature that sets these projectors apart from other home entertainment models. With the Light Harmonizer, you won't even need to change image modes, especially if you're using a preset like Vivid Cinema, which combines high brightness with accurate color.

In a classic home theater situation, where ambient light is not a factor, the projector's less than solid black level becomes more noticeable and digital noise can be distracting. When compared to the Epson Home Cinema 8350, it becomes clear that Panasonic made some compromises in order to design a better home entertainment projector, and these compromises make it less effective as a home theater projector--though not by much.

The bottom line is this: if you want a projector that performs in the living room, whether that be for games, or sports, or just television, the AR100U is about as good as it gets. The fact that it can multi-task as a home theater projector is a bonus, and a good one, but its faults in that area in no way take away from its performance in its intended niche.


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Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Key Features Advantages Limitations
  Shootout vs Epson 8350 Conclusion

Reader Comments(59 comments)

Posted Sep 30, 2014 9:54:21 PM

By Kurt

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I really enjoy my model, purchased in April. I'm projecting onto a 106' screen. My ONLY complaint is that I'm seeing, what I'm guessing, is digital noise in the whites or brightest part of the image. It looks like tiny,wavy, almost rainbow-ish lines. Has anyone seen this in their model? Is there a setting I should use to adjust to eliminate this?

Posted Feb 27, 2014 12:06:58 AM

By gill

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Frustrating!! for no reason the sound doesn't come on when we turn the system on? Then after a week or a month or more it does? Unpredictable. The installer Harvey Norman Australia, who insisted that my media room required a $2000 remote control, are not helpful. Grrr...

Posted Dec 17, 2012 9:02:26 AM

By techguru

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I am interested in the experience in the first hand of someone who has Panasonic ptax200 and Panny ptar100,namely the difference in display quality,especially in dynamic contrast performance and light intensity! Will i be impressed with this upgrade or not?

Posted Jun 25, 2012 2:57:24 PM

By Larry Kalina

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Update: Panasonic did honor the rebate on PT-AR100, only after I contacted Panasonic North American Sales and complained. After weeks of emails, phone calls and other red tape, they informed me that they would honor rebate. All I have to do is wait up to 14 weeks to get the check.

Posted May 25, 2012 7:22:41 AM

By Larry Kalina

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Panasonic did not honor rebate on PT-AR100U. They cancelled the rebate early. The person I talked to at Panasonic told me to read the fine print in the offer. They suck. I'm returning it to B&H. I'll buy Epson instead.

Posted May 13, 2012 4:37:34 AM

By Paul

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does anyone know if you can plug the Panasonic PT-AR100 bought in the US straight in at 220V? Also I have a sloping ceiling - grateful for any tips for a ceiling mount bracket? How far down does the prjector need to be mounted?

Posted May 7, 2012 9:05:54 AM

By Gpughcoastal

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I have the same question, why is this projector underrated with a large screen?

Posted Apr 30, 2012 9:41:26 AM

By Bruce West

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Bill, I am wondering about an odd discrepancy with your Projector Calculator using this AR100U Model. When using a screen width of 138", your calculator recommends a different projector with more lumens, however when compared to 2000L - 2500L similar models, they are shown as sufficient. Am I missing another reason why this 2800L model is being listed as insufficient brightness?? Would love to speak with you about your testing and review of this model, give me a call if you can, I need to buy today!! 931-217-4579 THANKS!!

Posted Apr 1, 2012 11:30:30 AM

By Javier

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Here is another link for the rebate from B&H http://www.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/Rebates_Promos/033112_PANASONIC_AR100U.pdf

Posted Mar 29, 2012 11:10:04 AM

By Dan Cincinnati

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http://www.pricegrabber.com/info_rebate.php/masterid=919699933

Posted Mar 29, 2012 8:06:44 AM

By Dan Cincinnati

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Trying to find out how to get the rebate. Everyone is saying they wont honor it. Any siggestions?

Posted Mar 29, 2012 7:23:56 AM

By Dan Cincinnnatri

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Larry:

Was the rebate and extra warranty posted on the website, or did you have to do antyhing special? I would like to get in on this deal!

Posted Mar 28, 2012 10:18:02 PM

By ARM

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Anyone have any idea where I can find a rebate form for the AR 100U? Will buy one if I can get my hands on the rebate form! Please let me know!

Cheers, Al

Posted Mar 28, 2012 2:07:37 PM

By TWJ

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Has anyone tried this projector with a grey screen? If so, what were the results?

Posted Mar 28, 2012 10:39:01 AM

By Larry Kalina

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Just purchased PT-AR100U from B&H Photo Video for $999.00. Good deal with rebate for final price of $699.00. The image quality and brightness is just too good to pass up.

I am now shopping for 120" - 150" motorized screen. Any good deals out there?

Please post your experiences with this projector. SO far, I have only heard of limited failures.

Posted Mar 22, 2012 3:01:19 AM

By ChaZ

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OK!.... Panasonic honored the $300 rebate! As well, the 3 year warrenty (or 2000 hours, whichever comes first)

B&H credited my card. So yea, pretty lucky to get it for $699.

I'm also very happy with the product!

Posted Mar 20, 2012 4:09:15 AM

By Rihard

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I would like to know is this a fact!

becasuse i want to do same as you, i thought to sell my ptax200, and go for upgrade to ptar 100u.

My {edited}(girlfriend) thinks i would be disappointed as you well!

PLEASE REPLY ME IF YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND?(because i have the same expectations as you!

Richie from Croatia.Kind regards.

Posted Mar 16, 2012 12:14:45 AM

By Matt Sehgal

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Hello All,

I also can't believe that Panasonic could just take there rebate back for $300. However, with a price of $999 it's still a pretty good deal.

The three main projectors in my opinion are the Epson 3010,8310 and the Panasonic AR100U.

If you had a 135" Elite Tension Screen in a great room (living room and an open kitchen in the back) what projector will you chose?

Posted Mar 13, 2012 8:18:38 PM

By Javier

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I can't believe Panasonic cancel the rebate...they shouldn't be allowed to do whatever they want....well now the Epson 8350 for $1099(visualapex.com) and with a two year warranty looks a better deal than the Panasonic PT-AR 100! Anyone with me on this?

Posted Mar 11, 2012 3:10:21 PM

By ChaZ

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Reading another blog about Panasonic AR100 and the $300 rebate. Apparently Panasonic has pulled its rebate that was stated to be on purchases between Feb. 10, 2012 and March 31, 2012. No rebate forms are to be found on the Panny web site nor the previous retailers that carried Panny. I printed two. I sent one, with the required documentation, Purchase receipt Feb. 26. for $1,499.

Yep, still getting a refund for $500 from BH Yep, total cost to me should be $699....AS Advertized!

The Panny web site for rebates lists up to 18 weeks before getting a check. Although, on their web site you can apparently SEE if your rebate is being processed....after about FOUR weeks!

AND, the Panasonic AR 100 projctor is not listed in their drop down boxes so it is doubtfull that one will actually be able to check there......after the stated FOUR weeks!

Panny Customer rebates web site gives Phone 866-795- 3383 Only available on MONDAYS between 8 and 4:15 CST.

GET REAL!

E-mail panasonicrebates@acbcoop.com stating they will respond within 24 hrs.

Snail mail address is in Memphis.

Not complaining about the projector. It's worth the $1499 previous price. And, a steal at $999. But hey, a deal is a deal and I made my purchase based upon sales price and advertised incenives....like a rebate. If I get the rebate, I'll be on of the lucky few to get it based upon the $999 price paid. And probably only a fluke because I initially paid $1499, then got the lower advertised price refund, with a receipt that shows I paid the $1499. We'll see... ChaZ

Posted Mar 10, 2012 9:36:33 PM

By John

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I NEVER USUALLY POST REVIEWS BUT I MUST AFTER THIS PURCHASE- AR100 THE BEST PROJECTOR FOR THE MONEY! PAYED 1000 AND MIGHT GET 300 IN REBATE AS WELL- HAD OPTIMA HD66 AND RAINBOWS JUST [censored] ME OFF. OPTIMA HD33 WAS OK BUT STILL NOT AS CLEAR PICTURE AS AR100. THIS PUPPY AR100 BEATS OPTIMA 66 AND HD33 HANDS DOWN FROM ANY ANGLE! PICTURE QUALITY IS SO CLEAR AND BRIGHT WHITES AND PITCH BLACKS- 1080/24P BLURAYS LOOK AMAZING - I CANT STOP WATCHING IT! THE BEST PROJECTOR FOR THE MONEY, EVEN BETTER THEN 2000 DOLLAR PROJECTORS. JUST TO BAD NO 3D BUT IF U DONT CARE ABOUT 3D THIS PROJECTOR IS MUST TO HAVE. PROJECTOR ITSELF LOOKS VERY WELL BUILD AND ITS PRETTY QUIET AS WELL. JUST ONLY THING IS SIZE- ITS PRETTY BIG AND WEIGHT 20LBS- BUT ITS OK. LENS LOOK TOP NOCH. U CAN TURN LENS UP DOWN LEFT RIGHT WITH OUT GOING INTO SETTINGS THAT WILL BRING DOWN PICTURE QUALITY. LOOKED AT ALL PROJECTOR IN BH PHOTO AND THIS IS THE BEST PROJECTOR OF ALL- TRUST ME! GO LOOK FOR YOURSELF- PICTURE QUALITY IS JUST AMAZING! COLORS AND CLEARNESS IS JUST OFF THE CHAIN!!!!!!!!!!

Posted Mar 5, 2012 3:52:12 PM

By ChaZ

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Prices have dropped dramatically! MSRP was $1999 Street price was $1499

Now, dropped 30% to $999 PLUS a $300 rebate and added 3 year warrenty from Panasonic (rebate good till end of March 2012)

That brings this puppy in at $699 with Free Shipping and no tax when bought on-line. I paid $1499 six days ago. B & H credited and will send a refund of $500 just for me asking!

What a deal!

Wonder why the Price drop on this relativly new PJ (out in Oct 2011) as compared with the Epson 8350 (that I almost bought)that is nearly 2 years old and still remains at about $1200......with all it's complaints of short lamp life....

This is a pretty killer deal...for a very awesome projector.

Posted Mar 5, 2012 7:29:22 AM

By Craig

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An option for a 3D-ready projector (which I understand this is not) is the Mitsubishi EW270u, which is a 720 HD projector, but one which I recommend without hesitation or reservation, and I will tell you why.

Let me first say that the Mitsubishi is, quite simply, a Mitsubishi. That means this is a beautifully engineered, built, performing, and customer-supported machine. It also gets absolute top ratings and recommendation here at projectorcentral.com which is certainly higher praise than mine. It also is a DLP projector, so there is NEVER ANY CHANCE OF:

1) Convergence/Panel Alignment issues 2) screen door effect 3) vulnerability to vibration 4) loss of a primary color due to the liquid panel literally being baked to death by extended exposure to the heat and light of the lamp, resulting in total/irreversible/irreparable panel destruction. 5) extreme sensitivity to humidity As far as the resolution, virtually all TV broadcasts are in 720P or 1080i, which are effectively equivalent, and that means the EW270u will look about as good when watching TV in a room with a good amount of ambient light.

The EW270u also has a long life (4000 hours!) lamp, so cost of ownership is low.

Finally, at today's prices (March 5, 2012), one can get an EW270u for just under $700 USD.

Because of the amount of light in my theater/entertaining room, I got one of these for their exceptional brightness. Also, I watch HD on TV, plus I set my blu-ray for 720 output, and the difference is hardly noticeable.

Give one a try. You'll be very impressed.

Posted Mar 4, 2012 7:12:53 AM

By Emmanuel

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Please can someone tell me the best projector(2D and 3D compartable) that i can use in football veiwing center screen dia 150"- 200"

Posted Mar 3, 2012 6:54:00 PM

By ChaZ Scrivner

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Oh, and not to worry. This thing quiet. There should be no concerns there.

Posted Mar 3, 2012 6:51:25 PM

By ChaZ

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Wow, outstanding. 13ft back, 8ft ceiling mount, dropped 4/2 inches to a 133" diag 1.1 gain Antra electric. Windows on either side of screen and at rear of room. Mid day a very useful and enjoyable picture. Well, like watching any plazma or LED in the living room at noon. Hey, get a job!

Night, 7 overhead 65Watt lights on 50% dim, Great picture....better than noon. Lights out.....Killer!

With Panasonics additional 3 year warranty and 3 hundred bucks back rebate...AND, with all that LIGHT...it was a great purchase!

Posted Jan 29, 2012 10:34:33 AM

By Chris

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Hi Bill,

I purchased an Epson 3010 this weekend, but the lag and iris noise are proving to be too much to ignore. This Panasonic is the next potential replacement, but your comments about fan noise have me concerned. Is there any workaround for this. I usually run my PJ's in low or eco mode to keep the fan noise down. Does this PJ still have a fan noise issue in eco mode? There's no picture mode that will eliminate this problem?

Thanks! Chris

Posted Jan 6, 2012 11:26:36 PM

By Ike

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Hi Bill Without the smooth screen technology how concerning is the screen door effect when projected on a 250 feet diagonal screen (seated 22 feet away)

Thanks

Posted Jan 3, 2012 5:07:40 PM

By ToeCutter

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Anyone considering an Epson projector needs to read up on their lamp issues. I've owned both Epson and Panasonic, and have woefully disappointed with Epson's constant lamp issues. I have an Epson HC 8500 and I'm on my 8th lamp. They barely last 500 hours, yet they continue to use the very same lamps in their newest projectors. Sometimes they severely dim, other times they fail completely with a loud POP.

In consideration of fairness, Epson has sent out replacement lamps with minimal hassle. I'm simply concerned with how long lamp replacement will continue after warranties expire? My Panasonic AX100 still throws a bright image with its second lamp, with over 1500 hours on it. I'm still very pleased with the VQ of the Epson, but the lamp issue has left me w/o a 1080p projector on several occasions while waiting for the replacement lamp to arrive.

Posted Dec 24, 2011 3:11:15 PM

By Stunko

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"With the lens shift, you can place the image 15% of the image's height above or below the centerline of the lens, which makes both ceiling mounting and coffee table mounting a possibility."

That would be incorrect information from PJCentral. Maybe 15% from the top/bottom of the projected image? that would make it 50% + 15% = 65%.

Posted Dec 14, 2011 8:51:16 AM

By pj rathburn

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Guys if anyone can help me out. i'm buying my first projector. I will be putting it n my living room. the room is approximately 22' long by 14 feet wide. what projector is the best bang for my buck for my situation (budget is $ 1k). what size screen do i buy?8729

Posted Nov 17, 2011 12:18:45 PM

By Alex

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Ok. I see that now. I'ts about the same as the Panny I have now. Thanks. Must have been a typo in the review...?

Posted Nov 17, 2011 12:45:13 AM

By Olle

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Regarding lens shift: The AR100U only has 65% vertical lens shift according to the manual and specification sheet.

Epson 8350 has 96%.

Posted Nov 16, 2011 9:06:05 AM

By Alex

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I am a bit confused about the lense shift. Right now I have a Panny AE700U projecting on a 120" screen from 22' away horizontally on center and vertically even with the top edge of the screen. I would like to replace it with this AR100U model but the vertical lense shift says 15%. Does that mean it can only be 15% above/below the vert center line? Will this work for my set up? Thanks.

Posted Nov 10, 2011 10:39:50 AM

By Mike

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Bill / anyone - I'm looking for a sub $2000 projector on 200-220" diagonal screen, placed 20' back; this one looks like it might have the brightness to handle it better compared to my other leading candidates - Epson 3010 and LG CF181D. How does this unit stack up to those (don't care about 3D)? Or will this not even be good enough and do I need to jump up to Panny 7000 or something? primary purpose is video gaming (golf simulator), but also TV/movies

Posted Nov 8, 2011 2:42:31 AM

By Reuben

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1080p is a marked improvement over 720p, DEPENDING on image size and seating distance.

I have not see the AR200u so I can't comment. But I see a major difference between my sister's AX200u 720p in light controlled 130" vs my Sim2 1080p 180" light controlled image. The clarity is missing from 720p at larger sizes.

Resolution is meant for larger sizes, seating closer. How close are you sitting, is it the same size image, if you had gone back to back you would have seen a difference I imagine - but maybe the new panels are mucking around with perceived image quality.

The AX200u was a killer projector in its price range, as is the Epson 8100/8350.

Posted Nov 7, 2011 7:32:01 PM

By dave

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First and foremost, I always appreciate the reviews here, its among the best on the Internet. Second, I understand there is only a finite amount of time can be spent on each review. Third, I like how lighting has been standardized in the reviews here, it really helps a lot.

With all this said, there appears to be a large fail in this particular (type of?) review: Wouldn't people use a screen with a .7/.8 gain wit the AR100U, helping contrast and further battling ambient light...? It seems that this would go hand-in-hand with this projector and I would really like to see how this projector THEN stacks up against other projectors, in the living room, and in the "dark room."

Posted Nov 7, 2011 7:09:05 PM

By tjm32

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@fastoil & Guest: my assumption is that fastoil is watching sports content. I believe that the providers only broadcast in 720 or 1080i. He shouldn't expect blue ray quality from his content.

Posted Nov 7, 2011 3:06:11 PM

By Guest

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Interesting comment from Fastoil. Bill, should one expect a better image in 1080 than 720 on a 135" screen? AX200U is a pretty good projector, but the expectation is that the AR100 would be a substantial improvement.

Posted Nov 5, 2011 5:07:48 AM

By fastoil

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I've had one up since Tuesday. I'm projecting onto a 135" from 16' Room has some ambient light. My main interest is sports. I replaced a ptax200u with about half lamp life. I'm no expert, but at this point it has NOT met my expectations. Going from a 720 to a new 1080 I expected a much better & brighter picture. I've tried every mode. I see little difference from my old projector. I'm thinking about returning it next week.

Posted Nov 4, 2011 7:07:21 PM

By The Dude

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Looks like it is time for me to buy an 8350. I had hoped the new panels would create a new quality class.

Posted Nov 3, 2011 2:12:51 PM

By Stephen Hulsey

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The 16 foot lambert ideal mentioned is actually the SMPTE standard for film projection in theaters measured with no film in the projector. This is equivalent to about 12 foot lamberts for digital projection since fully exposed film reduces the maximum screen brightness of film projection. I have heard of a 14 foot lambert standard for digital projection.

Posted Nov 3, 2011 1:54:38 AM

By Dave

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Bill, how does the AR100u compare to the 8350 in terms of fast motion such as sports?

Posted Nov 2, 2011 1:42:49 PM

By Rockermann

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Man, I'm dying to pull the trigger on this one. I have a Panny AX200 now and I think the upgrade to 1080p and the additional lumens makes this a great upgrade for me. I'm throwing from 21' away on a 126" Carada BW screen in a completely light controlled room. Does this sound like a workable solution?

Posted Nov 2, 2011 1:41:37 PM

By EeeCeeTee

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Bill, Are you sure that the Epson 8350 has less vertical lens shift?

In your review of the 8350 last year, you state that the Epson has just under two picture heights, which is about 50% vertical shift as I understand it, which is quite a bit more than the 15% vertical shift you state for the PT-AR100U. Am I missing something?

Also, the Epson is selling for $400 (27%) less than the Panasonic from at least one of your advertisers, which is also quite significant in comparing the two.

Posted Nov 2, 2011 7:10:56 AM

By Gopal Agrawal Indore

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Good specs

Posted Nov 2, 2011 6:34:41 AM

By Reuben

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Bill,

I read about software you can use to detect amount of input lag/delay, specifically useful for projectors and gaming.

Posted Nov 2, 2011 6:20:43 AM

By Jason

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I have the AX100u now and use it in my living room. I also have a 145" screen so it sounds like this new panasonic would be beneficial for my needs. That said, i've run my current projector in Eco mode since I got it in 2006, it's my primary TV, and I have yet to change the bulb. I've had to reset the hour counter twice to get the warning to go away. Puts it somewhere over 6000 hours on the same bulb.

Posted Nov 2, 2011 6:11:38 AM

By Jason

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I do use my projector in a living room and have a 145" screen so it sounds like this would be a great upgrade for me. I wish it had 3D though. Where are the LED projectors?

Posted Nov 2, 2011 3:25:16 AM

By kevinp

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Intended Use: DIY Home Theater

Considering this doesn't do 3d 5 stars for features ?

and comparing with lack stars for the epson 3010 Its does seem a tad generous

Posted Nov 2, 2011 3:23:15 AM

By Reuben

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My brother in law has an old ax200u, and we gamed on that with no problem at all. We played through the japanese version of Super mario Brothers 2 - which requires very detailed control.

I'm hoping this AR100U is as good in game mode.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 8:27:15 PM

By sven

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The whole concept of stars is pretty arbitrary anyhow. What is a five-star projector for one person might be a disaster for another. Much more important is a sense of what the projector does and doesn't do and how it compares to other projectors with similar features. In that sense, this review does an excellent job.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 5:45:17 PM

By M911

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I had a W6000 and the digital noise was too much to handle I returned and took a restocking terrible project.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 3:23:22 PM

By Bill Livolsi

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M_B: I don't think I was overly generous with the stars. The AR100U is a great home entertainment projector, and its star ratings reflect its performance as a home entertainment projector. If we were to rate the AR100 as a home theater projector, it would have a different score.

Alex: Unfortunately, I don't have a W6000 in-house, so I can't do a direct test.

Roger: I am still investigating ways to measure input lag that are consistent and repeatable. It is an ongoing project for me. Rest assured that it's on the agenda, though I'm sorry it's not here yet. The AR100U does have Game mode, which lowers input lag vs. the other image modes. Until I have a good way to measure this, I can't say by how much.

Paul: the AR100U has no Smooth Screen filter according to Panasonic.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 2:32:21 PM

By borromini

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M_B, I think you're misunderstanding one aspect of the review regarding the star ratings. The most significant criticism of this projector had to do with situations when it was used as a dark-room home theater. But Bill's already pointed out more than once that this was never the primary intent of the AR100U.

The stars you see are for the projector's rating as a home entertainment projector used in a living room with ambient light. That's the intended use of this projector. Using it for home theater scenarios is more of a bonus and therefore, not critiqued in the same manner.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 2:08:46 PM

By paul

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What about smooth screen technology?

Posted Nov 1, 2011 2:07:24 PM

By Roger

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Did you do any tests of input lag for gaming? I am looking for a projector with very low input lag.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 2:02:55 PM

By alex

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thanks so much for the review! been waiting for it for weeks :-)

any chance of a comparison to the benq w6000? they're both priced at 1499 now, and many are finding it tough to separate them.

Posted Nov 1, 2011 1:44:29 PM

By M_B

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Based on the review content I think the star ratings were handed out rather generously.

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