DLP Hybrid Projector Review
July 9, 2013
Brightness. When viewing color photographs, data graphics, or other content that isn't primarily black and white, the RW430U cannot produce more than about 2000 lumens. While the RW430U's Dynamic mode measured over 3500 lumens with black/white subject matter, light output decreases when viewing content with significant color and shadow information. So, while the RW430U is a solid projector with a vibrant, high-contrast image, for any display of color-rich subject matter it is not as bright as the 3500 ANSI lumen specification would indicate. So depending on your intended use, more ambient light control may be desirable than you'd need with conventional projectors rated at 3500 lumens.
Both academic papers and industry press report that LED projectors are often perceived as being brighter than their counterparts using traditional arc lamps. Specifically, the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch (HK) phenomenon states that humans perceive intense color saturation as a component of brightness, so a highly-saturated red, for example, will appear brighter than white of the same luminance value.
Our testing shows that a pure color image from an LED projector will appear brighter than a pure color image from a projector using an arc lamp when those two images have the same luminance value. However, this effect is most pronounced in images with large solid areas of highly-saturated color, and is either much less visible or absent when viewing video and film. There are many factors that can make two projectors look different from one another, and the HK phenomenon is only a practical concern in some circumstances. This is something we will be investigating more in the future, as our results are by no means definitive or final.
Green push. While not entirely inappropriate for conference room use, the RW430U's precalibrated image modes tend to emphasize green. This has the effect of boosting light output at the expense of color balance. While it does not unbalance the image in the same way that a white color wheel segment would, some adjustment is needed if a balanced grayscale is desired. The net result of calibration in most image modes is a 10% drop in light output.
Buyers shopping for solid state projectors have several options these days, but not all of those options are created equal. It is possible to find a projector that does some of what the RW430U can do, but it is the only hybrid projector with its specific combination of features, making it a very strong contender for a number of applications including 24/7 digital signage, conference rooms, and even home video and gaming. The RW430U also has a number of first-in-class options, like lens shift, a 2.0:1 zoom lens, and full 3D compatibility. These features are not found on any other solid state projector to date -- except, of course, for several other models made by Panasonic.
The Panasonic RW430U is a truly unique product, and as such it is difficult to judge its value relative to the competition. If you can benefit from the wide array of features provided by the RW430U, it is quite simply the only viable option. The fact that it has a sparkling high-contrast image with great color balance does not hurt its case, either. And while it is not intended for home use, its accurate color, high contrast, and minimal 17ms input lag mean that it is certainly capable of delivering a superb 80" diagonal picture for home entertainment and video gaming.