Review Contents
Limitations and Conclusion
Highly Rated Projectors
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Business
Panasonic PT-RW430UK Projector Panasonic PT-RW430UK
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Street Price: $2,999
MSRP:$5,499
3D: PC 3D Ready
Contrast:20,000:1
Lumens:3500
Weight: 22.1 lbs
Resolution:1280x800
Aspect Ratio:16:10
Technology:DLP
Lens:2x manual
Lens Shift:H + V
Lamp Life:20,000 Hrs
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:3 year
Connectors:  Composite, RGB, DVI Digital Input, HDMI, Network, RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60

Panasonic PT-RW430U
DLP Hybrid Projector Review

Bill Livolsi, July 9, 2013

Limitations

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Performance
Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Key Features Performance Limitations and Conclusion
 

Reader Comments(10 comments)

Posted Sep 28, 2013 10:35:15 AM

By Robert

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20,000 hours is a lot for home theater use. It's 2 years of solid running if you never turn it off. Never turning it off is unlikely in the home but that is not what it's for apparently. As the general view so far has been that there is no lamp replacement (I know lamp isn't the right word), then you assume that the projector gets replaced after that. For 24/7 digital signage, that kinda eats into the benefit if you have to buy a new $3000 every 2 years.

Pro installation projectors designed for 24/7 operation are normally expected to last a lot longer than 2 years with proper maintenance and bulb changes. Plus, 20,000 hours is meant to be when it reaches 50% of the brightness level on the day you bought it. It already isn't very bright for signage and with continuous operation, I would bet that it becomes unusable for anything other than nighttime use after less than 1 year.

Led/laser light sources make a lot of sense for home use or for rear projection display cubes. For commercial use, I can't help thinking we're not there yet. Real installation projectors are 7000 - 40,000 lumens because they have to battle bright light. 3500 lumens is in no mans land with a non-portable projector. If it was portable, it would be good for business presentations but those projectors get used for 2 hour a week so no need for led. Same is true for board room installation projectors.

Distinguishing between color and black and white is pointless. I don't watch much black and white tv and nobody else does either. May as well call it what it is - a 2000 lumen projector. I would be interested to know how it looks with one of the black screens in ambient light to see how it does as a home theater projector. I would buy one and throw my tv away with no bulb changes to worry about. Those 3000 hour bulbs last less than half of that when set up for bright conditions. As we are about to get hit with the new wave of oled tv's, now would be a good time to reintroduce the new generation of projectors and screens which challenge some of the traditional reasons not to get one instead of a tv. Plus, they don't dominate the room when you're not watching - it just disappears into the ceiling.

Posted Aug 27, 2013 11:27:13 AM

By Ben

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Only 8 comments? This is the pre-cursor to the product all htpj owners have been requesting. Here's my HALLELUYAH!! Can't afford it right now but by the time i burn through the last 2 bulbs on my Epson 8500UB, my wife should clear me for the next generation of this bad boy. Superbowl 2015 at my house, come to papa!

Posted Jul 16, 2013 12:46:46 AM

By Stunko

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Thanks for the heads-up on that, Evan. This is indeed a great new technology, Casio let the genie out of the bottle, and now this valiant effort from Panasonic.

I would be surprised if the 2 LED lamps and the green laser could not be replaced at all, but when I read that the DLP chip is sealed together with the 2 LED lamps and the tiny laser, I began to be concerned by that. Now, the light engine warranty is 10,000 hours from Panasonic, assuming the PJ should catastrophically fails after that and there is no light engine replacement available, then you had used the unit for 10K hours with no hope of extending that.

I watched the Panasonic demo of this machine on their Panasonic Projectors You Tube Channel, the demo is totally mute on how they came up with the 20,000 hours and whatever should happen after that. Also not clear to me is this: how can the expected life expectancy of an LED lamp be the same as that of a laser beam generator? In other words, will one age before the other, if yes, then the color composition of your image would have to be adjusted taking this into account.

Half brightness at 20,000 hours sounds great, however like I said I saw nothing stating this anywhere from Panasonic. Now, based on the review, the best looking images from this nominally rated 3500 ANSI lumen brightness PJ from Panasonic would be in the 700 to 1000 ANSI lumen range. Once this drops to say half at or around 20K hours, then we would be projecting an image with 350 to 500 lumen brightness, that is just not bright enough really for most apps, particularly if this is indeed intended mainly as a conference room projector where plenty of ambient light is anticipated.

This model and its sister models are touted as 24/7 capable projectors, well that would come to 8,760 hours per annum, so the 20,000 hour limit would be reached in less than 2.5 years if the unit is indeed being run continuously.

Posted Jul 15, 2013 2:08:05 PM

By Evan Powell, Editor

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To Stunko, thanks for the comment and question. Keep in mind that the vast majority of consumers will never watch a projector for 20,000 hours before they upgrade it. (That is 10,000 two-hour movies obviously.)

The light source cannot be replaced. However, it does not stop at 20,000 hours. You can keep using it beyond that if it is bright enough for your application. The 20,000 hour limit is based on the point at which the lumen output degrades to 50% of its initial output (same thing is used to estimate UHP lamp life). The advantage to LED/Laser, at least in Panny's implementation, it that light output degrades on a straight line curve. UHP lamps degrade much faster than that in the early portion of their lives, then flatten out in the later portion of their lives.

Once the projector gets too dim to use it for the application you have, you just replace the projector. It will be cost prohibitive to replace the light engine, and it is not clear that the vendor would even offer that as an option.

Evan Powell, Editor

Posted Jul 15, 2013 12:08:01 PM

By Todd

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Bill, based on your review, I am now following the Panasonic SOlid Shine technology for home theater use. I have a couple of questions. First, how did the projector perform in 3D? You mentioned its compatibility, but did you test the 3D performance?

Second, how much noise and heat does it emit? You mentioned heat output is lower. I've got a moderate sized home theater with less than ideal ventilation. Would love to upgrade to a projector that outputs less heat. Same with noise, which I assume is very low with a solid state projector.

Third, do you think this projector would be bright enough for a larger screen in a darkened home theater? I am looking at upgrading my current 82" screen to a 100" screen. Would love for this or a future Panny Solid Shine projector to suffice.

THanks for the review. Very encouraging report.

Posted Jul 15, 2013 11:57:16 AM

By Frank

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I "love" the manufacturer's bold 3500 ANSI lumen rating of this thing -- seems that as soon as you drop under 1000 ANSI brightness, you begin to enjoy a much better picture.

I would have made it a little bigger point stating that this single-chip DLP PJ has NO SPINNING COLOR WHEEL. For some folks, that is worth the price of admission.

I just ordered the PT-RZ470 for HT use specifically because it does not have all that gazillions of superfluous stuff that weighs down the PT-AE8000 dedicated HTPJ.

Posted Jul 15, 2013 6:13:12 AM

By Stunko

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"I would love to see Panny refine the LED/Laser engine & chipset enough to deliver a knock you socks off dedicated home theatre projector. Ideally with a street price under $5,000. Does not seem like there are too far away......Hope so!"

Yes indeed, that one also came out last year, and it is called the "Solid Shine" PT-RZ470UK model. Full-HD 1080p all the time. Priced in the mid-$3,000 range as of 07/2013. So cool, really. Xenon and UHP halogen lamps need constant color balancing as their lamps burn, like after every 75-100 hours of use. Now, you really must calculate a cost of $400 for your home theater UHP lamps, they last anywhere from 2000 to 3000 hours before reaching half-brightness. So, during the 20,000 hour life of an LED+laser PJH, you would be burning up say 7 UHP lamps @ $400 = $2,800. With the LED+laser models, you have zero lamps costs during this period.

The question I would have from the author, since the DLP panel and the LED + laser light engine are sealed inside a single unit, you would have to replace both after 20K hours. How much will that cost? What did Panasonic say on this?

Posted Jul 13, 2013 11:32:31 AM

By Dave

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I would love to see Panny refine the LED/Laser engine & chipset enough to deliver a knock you socks off dedicated home theatre projector. Ideally with a street price under $5,000. Does not seem like there are too far away......Hope so!

Posted Jul 11, 2013 8:18:42 PM

By John

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The article doesn't explain how it works. It is DLP, but no color wheel. So, do the different LEDs and laser cycle on and off in conjunction with the DLP?

Posted Jul 10, 2013 4:03:30 PM

By PatB

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It seems to me that this projector - or rather a bunch of them - is the next step. Not the super expensive 4K projectors. It should be awesome for gamers (not me as it happens).

Even a $100K 4K projector is still just a picture on a wall. With edge blending you could easily construct a circular surround screen with you at the center. That would be real immersion. It would be a step beyond mere Home Theater. If you were driving a Grand Prix or flying a jet car you could look over your shoulder (check six) and see your opponent.

Some people have already done this but this machine might make it practical. It has no bulb replacement and short lag times. All you need is software (content). I went to the original Cinerama shows when I was a nipper. With digital video and 7.1 sound you could surpass that experience and that of Imax too.

I figure someone could make a package that would fit in any room that was at least 15' square for under $100K. Building a ring shaped screen is probably too difficult for DIY.

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