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Panasonic PT-L500U User Reviews

Panasonic PT-L500U Projector

Panasonic PT-L500U

HD 720 (1280x720), 850 ANSI Lumens,
6.4 lbs, $2,499 (MSRP)
View Specs
4.8 out of 5
69 User Ratings
Image Quality 4.8
Features 4.7
Construction 4.8
Ease of Use 4.8
Reliability 4.7
Value for Money 4.8

User Reviews

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Review by vinyleater

I bought this projector used after a lot of research. I needed a projector for a small family room where the distance from the lens to the screen was under 10 feet. This projector is absolutely ideal for small rooms. It is a small, unobtrusive box that you can easily ceiling mount. It is very quiet. And it has a terrific lens that throws a wide image, almost filling a 100" screen in under 10 feet. With the lights out, the image is plenty bright and the color and sharpness are great coming off my Blu-ray player. I am using component cables and have not tried the DVI connection, which should be as good or better. This model can now be found in good used condition for about $150--an absolute steal!

Any Problems: None so far.

Review by eric peers

Overall I'm quite happy with this projector. I bought it 2 months ago. I'm projecting roughly a 96 x 52 inch image with this, with a throw distance of around 13 feet. I run it in a basement with the windows blacked out. It takes a few minutes to warmup - once warm, you need the lights out in the room to get a good picture. So lumens may be an issue in a lit-room. The keystone correction is nice, but it's still noticeably distorted from a near-flush ceiling mount projecting onto a 48" image, 1 ft from the ceiling. The distortion is roughly 1" between keystone of 4/5. The image also does not allow vertical up/down adjustment from the projector from DVI in. I believe this is possible from VGA in. Otherwise this is a great projector. Looks good for DVD's, color options are nice. Handles black and white well. Screendoor visible from upclose, but at moderate distance, no issue there. Picture sometimes looks a little soft on low res input (TV/4:3 DVD's). But what can you expect from a low-res on a big screen? Tripod mount on bottom and multiple mounting screws should make ceiling mounts easy. I'm using a homemade mount on the tripod mount. Noise is audible with the fan running, but not bad. Put it on lowpower mode and the fan isn't bad. high intensity output and the fan becomes bothersome. It would be nice if the remote would light up (hard to see buttons in a dark room).

Review by iseibert

I purchased this model after several months of research. I have used projectors professionally for several years now, and wanted one for home theater use. This model has excellent picture quality and many features found in more expensive models. For the price, this is the best projector on the market with the highest native resolution for 720p high definition viewing.

Any Problems: none

Review by VD

I received the Panny a few days ago and I'm astonished. Crystal clear and detailed. Wonderful colors. Screen door effect is not an issue at all. The Smoothscreen does an excellent job in that department.. I'm very satisfied so far and I'd amagine it even better after it's calibrated. The best part is it is now for $1449.00 shipped brand new! That's a great deal NOT to pass up. Highly recommended.

Any Problems: None so far.

Review by Manish Thaker

Excellent!!! I researched for about 3 months, 3 very long months!! For the money, there is no better picture on the market! Only had it for a couple of days, completely amazed with the initial picture. Fan noise not a factor. Be sure to set the lamp to low as it is not the default. Tried with xbox games and dvd's on the xbox. Great picture!! Definate best buy! Looking for optimal settings, could someone tell me what they have set all the paramaters on?

Any Problems: None so far.

Review by Bob Johnson

I have had the projector for about 6 months now and I am still most impressed with the picture quality and the ease of use. Combining it with a 120" DaLite screen and a Samsung 841 upconverter DVD connected to the DVI port (720p) - the quality is outstanding !

Any Problems: fan can be noticable.

Review by goblue96

I've had the projector for almost a month now, and I thought I'd post a review seeing as so many of the other ones on this site were so helpful during my unending search for a quality, cost effective product. Like some of the other people out there, I'm not an AV purist, so please take the following observations with a grain of salt: My Home Theater Environment: finished basement, with one section (roughly 13' by 13') dedicated to av stuff. Individual stereo components, powered by a Technics DTS digital receiver. DVD movies play through a Sony 5 disc progressive scan carousel, using 16:9 as the native format and dolby digital surround sound thru a toslink optical cable. Projector is "ceiling" mounted on a shelf I built, set up off the wood with some picture frame bump-ins. All the walls are a dark navy blue, with two small windows that have curtains in front to control ambient light. Screen is another of my creations, built from 2 x 2 pine, 8' wide x 4.5' tall. I bought a restaurant style white tablecloth and stretched it over the frame--cut tacks on the back side keep it nice and taught (no wrinkles) across the whole surface. Image Quality: this is hard to gauge for someone who has been watching TV on a 27" RCA analog model for the past decade. So my "excellent" rating might be overstated, but I couldn't be happier with the pictures. Colors are true to form and clarity is amazing. Even out of the box, with no tweaks, this produced movie theater style images, with no "screen door" effect or "vertical banding" that I am able to see. The "smoothing" technology that they put in this unit seems to really have made a difference (but again, I think you'd have to be pretty close to the actual image to really see the screen door effect on a LCD without it). I have since played with the settings a bit, opting to watch most movies on the Cinema2 setting, which makes the picture that much more crisp. I tried very hard to avoid keystone correction, based on some of the posts on this site. Because I tend to be a do-it-yourself-er, I came up with the shelf mount idea and replicated the "ceiling" mount orientation without spending a couple hundred dollars on a ceiling mount unit. I ended up with a huge picture, fit to the 8 footer screen that has ZERO keystoning and thus as clear a picture as I can reasonably expect. All in all, very happy with the images I see. Features: after pouring through the manual I decided to run it for awhile without adjusting anything, save the focus on the lens. After having watched several movies on it, I can say that the remote is easy to use and gets basically everything done that I need to adjust. The memory save feature on the picture option is great--that way you don't have to remember every change you made to get a certain format set just right... Simply load it up with the remote as you start watching and forget about it. Other than that (and since this is my first projector), I assume that all the other options you can play with are pretty much standard across product lines and this unit does the job nicely. I was also intrigued by the low lamp setting, which will hopefully extend bulb life. Since I have almost zero ambient light, I set that option on and could notice no discernable difference. Lastly, the multiple input source options was a must for me--I needed component video for DVD movies (which is worth the money), composite for old VCR stuff, and DVI for computer gaming. This model had all of them and the setup lends itself nicely to someone who is planning on having each source dedicated to one particular input (meaning comp. video is always DVD player, DVI is always computer, etc.). Construction: seems durable and well put together. The panasonic name was another reason for my purchase, so even though I bought some extra warranty, I'm hoping to never have to use it. Ease of Use: as I said in the features section, very easy to use and understand after reading the manual. Reliability: I haven't had it long enought to really judge reliability, so I'll just have to go with what I've seen thus far. No startup/shutdown problems; no cooling fan or overheating problems--hoping this is reflective of the panasonic brand from years past. My guess is that if you follow the suggestions in the manual (in terms of keeping the unit cool and free from objects that could block heat dissipation), you'll enjoy years of troublefree usage. Value: this was probably my most closely scrutinzed area. I had a definite budget (with my wife on board for X amount, which was a victory in itself), and wanted to try and find something that was a high quality product that wouldn't break the bank. I know that some may say the additional 2 years warranty was unnecessary, or that you could find it for free, but it didn't fall out that way for me. I'm not really sorry about the total cost (including the warranty), because it ended up being right around my initial budget. So had I gone without the extra protection, I would have been under budget! I've talked to some folks in the business, who have seen the evolution from LCD to DLP, and I'm certainly not sorry that I didn't opt for a lower end DLP machine. The images and resolution on this unit are stunning, and unless you have superman-like X-ray vision, would be hard pressed to discern a major difference between technologies. But again, that is a RCA layman's opinion. This opinion is already getting long, so I'll wrap it up and just wish anyone else out there trying to make the "pull the trigger" decision best of luck. Overall, I don't think you'd go wrong buying this projector.

Any Problems: The only down side to this unit was the standard one year warranty. Being a little on the over-cautious side, I opted to purchase 2 additional years to get up to what seems to be a standard of 3 industry wide. Also wish the remote had a way to adjust focus so that you wouldn't have to get up to the unit and mess with the lens.

Review by peoriaguy

after months of research i finally made the purchase dor replacing my sony vpl-w400q projector. the l500u is even better than i was hoping for. i am using a Momitsu DVD-V880 player and the dvi-d cable and the picture is unbelieveable. and i am very very picky and hard to please, but i have it ceiling mount 12' away from a 96" x 54" screen and the picture is breathtaking. even if you get as close as 4-5 feet there is no pixel affect and the picture is great. i have had no problems, and am kicking myself in the butt for taking so long to make the decision, because of researching everywhere for flaws in this projector. i will tell you now this projector is GREAT. Have no worry about buying it. P.S. i bought this projector for $1449(no sales tax) and in stock.

Review by DB

I just got this projector and it has by far exceed my expectations! Unbelievable.

Any Problems: The only negative is that for non-HDTV/non-DVD programing it is average at best.

Review by Spives

I have about 100 hours on it so far. Incredible value for the money. I researched this topic to death and narrowed it down. After talking with a couple consultants they recommended this projector over the others I had identified. It truly is THE best value under $2,000. Great color, very good contrast and very easy to set up and use. Very few things in life exceed my expectations, but this did. Do yourself a favor and buy one, put a screen up and have people come over and be blown away.

Any Problems: No real problems yet. When standing in back of the projector I've noticed a slight hissing sound out of the fan but it's so minimal and usually goes away quickly after it gets warmed up.

Review by Walter

Great projector, have had for 18 months with no problems. Use it mainly for watching DVDs. Excelent picture, great resolution.

Any Problems: Sometimes it could do with a higher resolution.

Review by Greg

Excellent projector. Very good contrast, colors and shades. Had this bad boy for about a week now and what can I say. The best resolution to watch with this type I found was 720p. If you have an hdtv upconverter such as DVDI HD+ or Zinwell 3000 you will be amazed how clear, bright and enjoyable the picture is.

Any Problems: None so far.

Review by Paul

Hands down this projector is the best decision I have made for my home entertainment center. I've broken my comments into 4 main blocks, Cost, Image Quality, Setup, and some final thoughts. Cost - About 4 months ago I convinced myself to buy my first big screen hd tv, my default action was to take a trip to best buy. I looked at all the flashy plasmas and rear projectors but was turned down by the cost. There is no way I could justify the cost of owning a TV that cost more then my car. A coworked introduced me to the idea of buying a projector. The simple idea of owning a 100" TV for under $2000 was excellent. I did some research on this site and the avforums and was blown away by some of the claims. It seemed some people just love projectors and some always got nailed by some funny effect that they claim is a defect and would never buy another projector. I decided to see how much the environment and setup affects image quality. I found that I could create effects like SDE, and vertical band just by changing various aspects in my setup. There are a lot of factors other then the projector that play into image quality, if you buy one expect to have a little fun tweeking and tinkering. I am kind of addicted to all forms tinkering. Anyway, here is the info I gathered. Screen Door Effect - This seemed mostly to be caused by spreading the image over too large a surface and then sitting too close to the screen. Certain glossy surfaces enhanced the effects making the SDE worse. SDE first became noticable when I made the image 120" diagonal and was sitting about 4 feet from the screen, the surface for this test was a white wall. For high gain screen it was noticable with a 100" diagonal at about 5 feet. Any image size around or less then 80" should have no visible SDE. Keystoning the projector also seemed to cause a little more SDE near the wide end of the image. Vertical Banding - This is so funny its unreal, the simple cause of this is the pixel clock, there are a few things that can cause a bad pixel clock, the device generating the video image, the cable or the refresh rate of signal. I found that even with the correct resolution and the right cable a wrong refresh rate would cause horrible vertical banding, in some cases the image became squashed and colors would shift slightly. For those of you in Europe there is a european version of this product, Do not buy the US version the difference in the 50 and 60Hz power might cause vertical banding that will not be correctable. I think the L500-U is the US version and the AE500-U is the European. (Can someone please confirm this) Image Quality - The bottom line is the image quality is only as good as the source of the image. Buy a bad dvd player or bad cable and it will horrible. With a digital signal traveling 6 feet or less at 1280x720 the image was better then any HDTV I had seen in best buy, and I mean better in brightness, contrast and overall image quality. I could walk right up to the screen and look at the pixels, and they were perfect. Absolutely focused and sharp. Brightness and Contrast - I went back to best buy and start looking more at the specs of their big screen tv's and noticed that a lot of the LCD TVs had contrasts between 400:1 to 800:1. The contrast on this unit is better then most LCDs and on par with other displays. There is a side note that contrast measures the difference between the darkest pixel and lightest pixel and does not give any comparison regarding how dark is the darkest dark. The brightness value only tells us how bright the screen as a whole can get in its full-on state. None of the statistics can describe what the black level truely is. When I turn on my 17" CRT I notice that there is a black border around the part of the screen that is "on" Even when the screen is all black. Turning the brightness down lessens the effect. The same is true for the projector, reducing the brightness gave the image a much better contrast and black level. I tend to not like my CRT or my pj at a high brightness anyway because it seems to give more eyestrain then keeping the brightness at a mid level. If you think the black level is too bright, and turning your brightness down washes out the screen this means you have too much ambient light in the room and need to make the screen size smaller. Keystoning - Excess keystoning seems to cause a little bit of screen door. The biggest difference in using the keystone option was the reduction in image size. I wanted a big screen and perfect image quality so I opted to rearrange the room before I'd even consider keystoning my pj. Optimally don't plan on keystoning more then about 10 degrees and definately not more then 25 degrees especially if you are planning on using analog inputs. Display surfaces: I viewed a screen made from the Digital Goo systems paint at a coworkers house, a white wall, abs opaque plastic and a white board. The white board was bad because it was so glossy. Noticable hot spots in the image where too much light was being reflected, bright circles and eyestrain made it rather annoying to watch. Also there is a trade off between contrast and brightness, the more you improve one, the worse the other seems to get. If you feel you need better brightness go for the high contrast grey stuff. Speaking of, that was something that was not available to me, which I wanted very much to compare but after being satisfied with my wall I just couldn't justify the additional cost. Presently I have it set up for a 110" diagonal image, no Visible SDE or banding from 8' away, with a 1280x720 VGA at 60Hz vertical refresh rate, and it looks pixel perfect and better then going to the movies because I get to sit in my couch and have drink while I watch my favorite movies and games.

Any Problems: See Above

Review by Ryan

I purchased the PT-L500U about a month ago, in large part due to it's strong reviews on this website, so I'd like to put something back into this forum. I'll start off by saying that overall I'm happy with my purchase. A 1280 X 720 rez at 850 lum at this price is a great deal. But there are several major issues that most of the other reviews on this site don't cover. The first is setup. I know that they've added the lens shift feature on the 700 and now I know why. It took a bit of creativity and several trips to Home Depot to rig my celing mount so that I could get the unit in the right spot. The 500 comes with keystone correction but it reduces the picture quality so positioning is important. The second issue is verical banding. It's beyond belief that the other reviews on this site don't cover the VB issue in more detail. Perhaps people are reluctant to discuss deficeincies after spending a considerable amount of money. I'll say this... VB is present...period. It doesn't matter where or when you bought it, it's there. Finding Nemo is particularly annoying because you can see the VB against the consistent light blue background. Outdoor scenes showing the sky, blue or cloudy, also bring out the VB. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to improve or fix the probelm. The first is the flicker tweak. This reduces the problem somewhat. In case you're wondering, I'm using a good quality component connection with a non-progressive scan dvd player. This leads me to the second fix, using a DVI connection. This will supposedly fix the vertical banding problem completely. Since I viewed this projector at two different stores using a DVI connection and saw no VB, I beleive it. The problem is that the purchase of a new dvd player and the DVI cable puts this projector in a different price bracket. I will admit however that I may have over researched this purchase. My wife, for example, thinks the picture is absolutely perfect. And it generates a huge wow factor from everyone we've shown it to. And at this price you will not find another projector with such great specs. So in summary, if you can deal with the setup and VB issues, or already have a DVI connection, this is a fantastic projector. If not, I'd suggest looking at a DLP model. Any by the way, the Sanyo PLV-Z2 and the new Panasonic 700 both suffer from the same VB issue.

Any Problems: difficult setup vertical banding

Review by Mike Smith

Let me start by saying I did many many months of research before buying the Pana. I have spent a long time looking at DLP's (which initially i was looking at several BenQ models and the Mitsibushi XD300U). At first, I never thought I would go to a LCD model. It seemed old or outdated. But man was I wrong. This projector is phat! Awesome. I am very glad that I did not shell out a couple extra hundred or even a thousand dollars more to get the BenQ's or Mitsubishi's. this one simply rocks. I've owned it now for about 4 days, and have barely tweaked a thing. Right out of the box it projected images that were beautiful and crisp. and handled some ambient light fairly well. Though in complete darkness is the best place to get the best picture. Its outputs are perfect, you simply don't need anything else. DVI, Component and VGA, S-Video is all there. I experienced no dead pixels, and the screen door effect is barely there. you have to get super close to even begin to see it, one thing i was honesty worried about. it handled bright scenes and dark scenes beautifully. there is a lot of pickiness and discussion about LCD's and their ability to project true black images. but let me tell you, this one did fantastic job. black was black. i tested movies like Matrix, Batman, and LOTR, and it looked great. Progressive scan DVD player does help the image even more, but so far everything I have seen looked fantastic. Star Wars should just look spectacular. I am projecting currently on a white wall and its great, my screen is coming in next week, and will project at 58x104 High Contrast Matte-White screen. I marked those dimensions on my wall and it filled the area perfectly, from only about 10 ft away and colors were crisp throughout the entire scene. the computer looks great, games look great and DVDs are wonderful. i demoed the Sanyo PLZ-2 (probably have the acronymns wrong, but its the direct competitor of the Pana) and have discovered the Pana does a better job, has a better set up and its remote options are great. having the ability to tweak the picture to perfection is priceless. and the remote layout is good and easy to use, all major commands are actual "buttons" not buried in a menu somewhere, so it has a nice layout and its backlit. I gave Reliability a "Good" simply because I havn't owned it long enough, but every day i keep testing it out to see what it can handle. look, get it. you don't need DLP. yes its the next "big" thing, but it still isn't perfected yet. LCD has been around a long time. If you have a dark theater enviroment and want a great projector. . BAM. . .this is it.

Any Problems: None yet. The one problem I see initially (which almost forced me to buy the Sanyo) was its warranty. Only 1 year. However, it depends on wher you buy it. I just purchased mine and got the 2nd and 3rd year warranty free. so that solved that problem right there. Keep searching, there are lots of deals with this particular model. If u have any questions about my experience with this model in the future here is my e-mail. just put "panasonic" in the subject line. later! mike smith tobiasdad@hotmail.com

Review by Michael Pelosi

I did my research and found that for the money this projector is what I really needed: DVI input plus lots of pixels and plenty of contrast. Combine this projector with the Bravo D2 DVI DVD player and you will have something really special. The D2 DVD player scales the DVD output to 720p very well for an incredible picture. Not only is DVI output more color accurate, it prevents some of the picture edge clipping that occurs in analog signals. This projector has absolutely no problem throwing up a 9 foot wide picture in a dark room. My seating is only about 6 feet from the wall—try that for a whole movie and you will never go back to viewing at longer distances than the picture is wide. It is immersive and you will find your mind in the moview like never before. I suspect most other projector/DVD player combos would leave you disappointed with the picture quality at that extremely short viewing distance and wide picture width. I tried a Da-Lite cinema vision screen and noticed the “contrast” enhancing features are not for me, it is like sacrificing every other color in the rainbow to make black blacker. Pardon me but white is a lot more important to me that black, as well as the sky being bright blue and other colors “popping” off the screen. So I tried a matte white screen as well and guess what, you a really not much better off that with a white wall. I just watch on a matte white wall for now, until I find a screen material that really does it for me. The picture quality is great right now. After a lot of experimentation, I found that surround speakers were best directly left and right of the listening position, and of the same speaker model as the front speakers. This means your surround speakers that came with your speaker package, you can use them as the back speakers and buy two more front speakers to use as surrounds. I bought a second subwoffer and placed the two subwoofers screen side of the surround speakers facing directly to the listening position—being sandwiched by two powerful subwoofers is a great sound solution. I had the Yamaha HTR-5760 but found the output was not quite enough (95W per channel), and returned it for the Yamaha HTR-5790 (110W per channel) and that really did it! I have Athena speaker system bought at Best Buy, and cannot imagine needing more sound power or quality. I have experienced more satisfaction with this projector and good times wathcing movies that with nmost other purchases involving this kind of money. Home theater is a great hobby and I am still surprised you can rent a DVD for only $4. mpelosi@maui.net

Any Problems: none.

Review by markf

We installed this projector in minutes. It provides an outstanding clear picture, with a minimum of adjustment. We use it for both DVDs and PPTs.

Review by D.J. Sal

This projector, once set up properly, produces a truly spectacular image. I tweaked it using Digital Video Essentials and was admiring the picture quality of DVD when the cable guy showed up to install a hi-def box. The resulting hi-def image is utterly crystal clear and can be described as "like looking out a window". The only weak point, as with all LCD projectors at this point, is the black levels. During dark scenes, the detail in the dark areas gets lost. That's a minor issue for me, and does not detract from the viewing experience. The usual concerns such as vertical banding, screendoor effect and stuck pixels are all non-existent on my unit. I love this projector and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a spectacular viewing experience at an affordable price!

Any Problems: None

Review by ad mcmlx

You will find yourself wondering if it was possible for this little projector to have such a good image including how well it shows black. Panasonics own screendoor effect reduction works miracles in comparison with 10k $ competition. With proper tweaks and good source (very important factor) this projector will beat hands down any DLP in "blind" testing up to 20 grand. The only thing that comes close is JVC DILA line. If you get the chance visit as many dealers as you can with your own material test them all and see for yourself. OSD is very DOS like and remote is quite pathetic and those would be the only shortcomings I witnessed til now. I would not recommend this projector on a high gain screen but rather something darker. Enjoy.....

Review by carl

Thanks to this site and other users for their accurate reviews of this unit. I just received mine yesterday and ceiling mounted it last night. Since I am still in the final stages of completing the dedicated media room, I still have only a beige painted textured wall. Even with this terrible surface and a 4 year old non-progressive DVD player, the picture was impressive with component input. I was somewhat concerned about lumen output at "only" 850, but even with the lamp at the low setting, the picture was still enjoyable on a non-white wall and with ambient light present. Unless you have no control at all of lighting, have no concerns here. Setup was easy, and the only issue is that the auto aspect feature does not seem to work. I suspect this is due to my old DVD not providing the signal. So I just run in the zoom mode and I get full screen in 16:9 with a great image. Overall, an excellent value. I cannot see why anyone would want to place a huge rear-projection set or plasma in their house and spend 2-3X to do it. Well, off to start sanding and prepping the wall for the goo systems coating. Cant wait to get my Denon 2200 next week, should be a much improved picture. Oh, and by the way, this unit is quiet, very quiet. In low power mode, it is virtually silent.

Any Problems: None