DLP Hybrid Projector Review
July 9, 2013
The new Panasonic PT-RW430UK is a 1280x800 (WXGA) installation projector equipped with Panasonic's new Solid Shine hybrid LED/laser light source instead of the traditional high-pressure lamp found in most projectors. This 20,000-hour light engine does not require an air filter, so the design provides maintenance-free long-term operation. It currently sells for $2,999 in both black (UK) and white (UW) case designs.
The RW430U is a highly capable installation projector that is ideal for conference room or extended duty cycle use even without its hybrid light source. It is capable of 24/7 operation, and its heat pipe cooling system keeps the internal components from degrading prematurely. One operating mode enables the unit to be installed in vertical orientation, allowing for portrait projection in digital signage applications. HDBaseT compatibility, a 2:1 zoom lens and manual H/V lens shift make the RW430U easy to set up in most venues, while edge blending and color matching features make the projector appropriate for large-scale multi-projector image walls. When you tack on the hybrid 20,000-hour light source and filter-free design, the RW430U starts to look like a sure bet.
The new Solid Shine series of projectors includes several models, including the 1920x1080 resolution PT-RZ470UW. This review covers just the 1280x800 resolution PT-RW430U, but many features of this projector are available on the other Solid Shine models as well.
The Viewing Experience
The RW430U comes in both white and black versions to assist in unobtrusive mounting in any situation. At a touch over 22 pounds, it is not portable, but the added size and weight dampen the sound of the cooling system. The projector's lens is center mounted, making installation less complicated. The RW430U has a 2.0:1 manual zoom lens which allows it to produce a 100" diagonal image from anywhere between 10' 10" and 21' 10". It also has a total H/V lens shift range of 2.15 image heights and 1.65 total image widths, so you can place the projected image completely above or below the centerline of the lens or shift it 30% of the image width in either direction.
The RW430U is rated at 3500 ANSI lumens, and upon startup our test sample measured 3536 lumens in Dynamic mode. Solid state projectors reach their maximum brightness immediately upon startup, but then lose a bit of light output over the next 5-10 minutes. In the RW430U's case, it loses about 5% of its light output during warm-up, so maximum sustained light output after warm-up stabilization was 3359 lumens on our test unit.
The feeling you get from the RW430U overall is that the projector is slick -- the physical controls are effortless and easy to use, the menu system is logical, and the remote control is responsive and well laid out. The projector is not only easy to use, but also easy to install, easy to integrate, and easy to maintain.
While home entertainment is not the RW430U's intended use, it can serve double-duty as a home entertainment projector should the need arise. The projector's excellent color saturation, lack of digital noise, and comprehensive 3D compatibility make it a strong performer in the living room, though it is more expensive than consumer projectors built for this application due to its complexity and bevy of features. In a home entertainment setting, we used the RW430U on an 80" diagonal screen and sat about 8 feet from the screen (about 1.5x the screen width). At this size and viewing distance all visible pixelation disappears and the image from the RW430U looks terrific, like a very large television -- bright, high in saturation and contrast, low in noise, and sharply detailed. However, if you increase the screen size or reduce the viewing distance, the 1280x800 pixel structure becomes a visible artifact in video and film viewing, so this projector is not designed or recommended for large screen home theater. Panasonic does make the RZ470U, a 1080p solid-state projector with the same feature set as the RW430U, but it is more expensive.