The bright, solid-state Panasonic PT-LRZ35U was originally designed for business use and is well suited to the task. But Panasonic is also marketing it for the home, where it earns more qualified praise. Less demanding users will count film and video quality as easily good enough, while video enthusiasts will bemoan the lack of controls needed for calibration.
- Discrete RGB, filter-free LED light source lasts life of the projector
- Unusually bright for an LED projector
- 1-chip DLP with no color wheel virtually eliminates rainbow artifacts
- Vertical lens shift
- Full HD 3D
- HDMI ports are CEC compatible
- Limited adjustments for color accuracy and grayscale
- Maximum input resolution is 1920x1200 (WUXGA); does not accept 4K for downconverting
- Maximum lumen rating of 3,500 lumens (and the higher measured brightness) is somewhat misleading since the projector's brightest mode tamps down brightness based on the image.
When Panasonic sent us the $1,699 street price PT-LRZ35U—a 1920x1200 (WUXGA) native resolution LED projector rated at 3,500 lumens—it was being pitched as a business projector. But before we finished the review, the company informed us they had decided to market it as a home projector as well—making it the first Panasonic model targeting the consumer audience in a very long time. After testing it for both applications, our key conclusions can be summed up in three sentences.
First, for conference rooms or classrooms, it delivers sharp text, vibrant graphics, and—if you choose the right picture mode—high quality photorealistic images for everything from photos to film. Second, it handles video and film unusually well for a business projector, which is presumably one reason why Panasonic decided to market it for home use as well. And third, although it lacks some must-have features for videophiles that would allow you to calibrate grayscale and color, it delivers good enough color accuracy, contrast, black level, and sense of three dimensionality to satisfy most less-demanding viewers.
As a bonus, it even offers a relatively low input lag for projectors at a measured 33.1 ms. Serious gamers will want a projector with half that lag or less, but it's easily fast enough for casual gaming. In short, the PT-LRZ35U is an excellent choice for business use, and although it doesn't deliver top-tier performance for home theater or gaming, it can potentially serve nicely for home use as well.
The PT-LRZ35U combines an RGB LED light source, rated at 20,000 hours in its full power mode, with a 0.67-inch, 1920x1200 DLP chip. The RGB light source and absence of a color wheel leads Panasonic to claim "virtually no rainbow effect" despite the single-chip design. It's rated at 3,500 lumens, using the ISO 21118 testing procedure, which is essentially the same as for ANSI lumens. I measured it at 3,646 ANSI lumens, but that's a little misleading.
As with many projectors, the brightest picture mode—the one that justifies the 3,500-lumen spec—is called Dynamic mode. But in this case it is not dynamic only in name; here it also adjusts brightness dynamically, changing it depending on the content of the image. So while a 100 percent white test image for ANSI measurements will be brighter in Dynamic mode than in Graphic mode—the mode with the second highest measured ANSI brightness—images with even just a single colored rectangle added to a white background will be brighter using Graphic mode. For practical purposes, in short, Graphic mode is the brightest, and I'll refer to it as the brightest mode through the rest of this review. I measured it at 2,528 ANSI lumens, which is still unusually bright for an LED projector. Keep in mind, too, that LED ANSI lumens are said to be perceived as subjectively brighter than lamp-based ANSI lumens.
Under the category of obvious strong points for any application is the LED light source, which is meant to last the life of the projector. It makes the PT-LRZ35U comparable in total cost of ownership to lamp-based projectors that cost less initially but need expensive replacement lamps over their lifetimes. Also in that category is the vertical lens shift, which makes installation a little easier.
Features of particular interest for home use include Full HD 3D support and CEC-compatibility for both HDMI ports. CEC allows video devices to control each other to some extent, so you can, for example, turn on a video source using its own remote, and let that device tell the projector to turn on or change its input source, without you having to reach for the projector's remote.
One feature missing from the PT-LRZ35U is the ability to accept 4K input and display it at the projector's native resolution. Also missing is support for HDR. Neither is a serious oversight, but with more and more 1080p and WUXGA projectors offering both, you should be aware that the PT-LRZ35U doesn't.
Panasonic lists the PT-LRZ35U on its website as a portable projector. But although it's small enough to carry from room to room or move to the backyard for a home movie night, it's of a size and weight that's more often permanently installed, at 4.9 x 14.75 x 12.4 inches (HWD) and 14.8 pounds.
The 1.3x manual zoom and small vertical lens shift offers flexibility for positioning. The shift range is designed to work best with the projector on a flat surface at roughly the same height as the bottom of the screen, on a somewhat higher bookshelf in back of the seating area, or inverted in a ceiling mount. With the projector sitting on a table, and the shift at its lowest point, the bottom of the image was below the centerline of the lens by roughly 11% of the image height. At the top of the shift, the bottom of the image was just a touch higher than the center of the lens, making the measured shift consistent with, but a little greater than, the 10% shift defined in the spec.
If you don't use the 3.5mm analog stereo output to connect to an external audio system—or use an A/V receiver that accepts audio signals directly from each source—the PT-LRZ35U includes an onboard 10-watt mono speaker. The audio quality is a bit tinny, but good enough to be usable, with high enough volume to fill a medium size conference room, classroom, or large family room.
Note too that thanks to the projector's support for 24/7/365 operation and its being filterless and virtually maintenance free for the 20,000-hour life of the light source, the PT-LRZ35U can be a good choice for digital signage and displays in museums and retail locations. It's also usable in at least some applications that require unusual orientations, with support for 360 degree orientation vertically or horzontally but not both at once. (Panasonic says it can be installed with yaw with no potential damage to the projector, but the lack of horizontal keystone adjustment prevents geometric correction with the projector's own controls.)
Here's a more complete list of the Panasonic PT-LRZ35U's key features:
- 1920x1200 native (and maximum) resolution with a 0.67-inch DLP chip
- 3,500 lumen ISO 21118 rating; measured at 3,636 ANSI lumens in Dynamic picture mode and 2,528 ANSI lumens in Graphic mode
- RGB LED light source with no color-wheel and virtually no rainbow artifacts
- Virtually maintenance free over the 20,000 hour rated life for the light source
- Supports 360 degree orientation in pitch or roll, but not for yaw
- Supports 24/7/365 operation
- 30,000:1 rated dynamic contrast ratio
- Both HDMI ports (1.4b w/ HDCP 1.4) support CEC
- 1.3x zoom lens
- Vertical lens shift; total shift rated at 10% of image height
- Full HD 3D with DLP-Link glasses
- Onboard 10-watt mono speaker; connects to external audio systems using 3.5mm stereo analog output
- Panasonic monitoring and control software free for downloading, complete with Early Warning functions that are free to try for 90 days before purchase required (price based on term and number of devices)
- Supports Crestron Connected, AMX, and PJ Link
- 3-year/20,000-hour warranty for both projector and light source
Color Modes. The PT-LRZ35U offers nine color preset modes plus one User mode and one 3D mode. Of the first nine color presets, one is DICOM SIM, which is intended for medical education or presentations, leaving eight modes to choose from for most purposes.
In my subjective testing I saw a noticeable color shift in every predefined mode, which I confirmed by measurements using Calman color calibration software from Portrait Displays, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 photospectrometer.
Graphic, Standard, and Whiteboard modes all showed a green bias.
However, even Graphic mode, which had the most obvious shift, delivered good enough color accuracy for graphics that few, if any, would hesitate to use it for presentations, particularly since it's the brightest of the three modes with any sort of real content. Graphic mode—along with Standard—also delivered better color saturation than Whiteboard mode. For photorealistic images, the green bias in all three was enough to make skin tones look just a bit off.
Dynamic mode showed a blue shift, which most people don't find as annoying as a green shift. Subjectively, however, colors in graphics in my test suite were similar in hue to the way they looked in Standard mode, and less saturated as well. With photorealistic images, the color shift was enough to move flesh tones outside of a realistic range.
The Natural, Cinema, and REC709 modes showed a yellow shift, or, to be technically precise, a noticeably higher level for red and green than for blue according to my RGB grayscale balance measurements. Natural had the best color accuracy of the three—and one of the best of any mode—but it added a yellowish cast to some graphic images and left brightly lit photorealistic images looking a touch washed out.
REC709 made some colors in graphics too vibrant and others a touch too dark. It also left some colors in photorealistic images—particularly skin tones—looking slightly off and verging on muddy. Cinema made some colors in graphics look even more vibrant than in REC709—verging on DayGlo colors. It also tended to deliver oversaturated color in photorealistic images and lose shadow detail.
Blackboard, finally, was a little red-shifted. This worked in its favor, since it helped give skin tones a far more realistic look than any other mode. There were a few photos in my test suite that Natural mode handled better—most notably a fruit bowl photo that includes oranges, which Blackboard mode rendered as a little too red. But in the overwhelming majority of the test images, the color in Blackboard mode was closest to accurate.
Most people would consider any of these eight color modes at least acceptable for presentations that don't include photorealistic images. That makes Graphics, the brightest mode with live content, our preferred choice for presentations that don't include photos, video, or film. When any of those are included—whether for business presentations, showing photos, or watching a movie—the preferred choice is Blackboard. It's the brightest mode without a noticeable green shift, and it offers the most natural looking skin tones of any mode.
Given the lack of a color management system or any way to adjust grayscale other than Brightness, Contrast, and Gamma, there isn't much you can do to calibrate the projector. After choosing Blackboard as the preferred mode for video and movies, I adjusted Brightness and Contrast using appropriate test images, then used Calman to take measurements with each variation of the Color Temperature setting—Low, Std, and High—both with the two-position Brilliant Color set to On and Off.
With either Brilliant Color setting, RGB balance, grayscale errors, and—to a lesser extent—color errors for primary and secondary colors improved at each step in Color Temperature setting from Low, to Std, to High, making High the obvious choice. Choosing the setting for Brilliant Color is less straightforward. Leaving it on yielded better results for RGB balance and grayscale, but turning it off improved color accuracy for primary and secondary colors, and made luminance readings closer to their target as well.
Some additional subjective testing showed that although the On setting increased brightness as expected and also improved contrast and shadow detail in dark scenes—thanks to the higher contrast ratio between light and dark areas—it also made brightly lit scenes look washed out. Changing the setting to Off moved colors in scenes that I'm familiar with closer to what I know they should look like and added far better contrast to brightly lit scenes. And despite the lower contrast and loss of shadow detail in dark scenes compared with having Brilliant Color on, the Off setting also handled dark scenes reasonably well. All of which led me to turning Brilliant Color off for the final viewing tests.
Using the Normal power setting (full power), the PT-LRZ35U's 2,528 lumens in Graphic mode—our preferred choice for presentations—is bright enough to light up a 120-inch diagonal, 16:10, 1.0-gain screen in moderate ambient light, producing an image brightness of 51 foot-lamberts (ft-L). Using 2,111 lumens in Blackboard mode—our preferred choice for movies and video—it can throw a similarly bright image at 16:9 using a 115-inch diagonal screen.
1080p/SDR Viewing. For movies, the color accuracy, contrast, black level, shadow detail, and sense of three-dimensionality are all best described as good enough so most users won't notice anything to complain about, but not good enough to satisfy video enthusiasts. In scenes I'm familiar with, I could spot colors that weren't quite what I know they should be—like slightly off hues for ocean, sky, and flesh tones when James Bond's plane lands in the Bahamas in Casino Royale and he later drives along the beach, or slightly too vibrant reds, blues, and yellows in the opening dance scene in La La Land. But none were out of the realm of realistic.
Similarly, in my go-to dark scene in Batman v Superman—when Bruce Wayne as a boy first sees the colony of bats in what will become the batcave—black level wasn't as dark as it ideally should be and some shadow detail was lost, but neither issue was obvious enough for most people to notice if they're not already familiar with the scene.
The image also held up well on my 90-inch, 1.0-gain white screen when I turned on a floor lamp in the room. And—except for the scene in the cave—it even held up with somewhat brighter ambient light, delivering only slightly washed out color when I pointed the floor lamp at the screen and turned on the high-hat ceiling lights. With that level of light, the dark batcave scene was completely washed out, but keep in mind that few scenes in movies are that dark.
Note too that when I switched to my Screen Innovations Slate 1.2 ALR screen, the gray screen material improved black levels and boosted contrast noticeably both in a dark room and with ambient light. When I turned on the floor lamp and ceiling lights, the ALR screen also kept color in bright scenes from looking washed out, and even made the batcave scene watchable.
Very much on the plus side, the PT-LRZ35U did an excellent job of avoiding rainbow artifacts and essentially living up to Panasonic's claim. I see these easily, but over the entire time I spent testing, I saw only two fleeting hints of rainbows. Even so, our standard caution for any single-chip DLP projector applies. If you are bothered by rainbow artifacts, or don't know if you are, be sure to buy from a vendor who allows easy returns, so you can judge the issue yourself. On the other hand, even in the projector's Quiet mode, fan noise was obvious in quiet moments from anywhere in a large family room, and of a quality that tends to stand out.
3D Viewing. The PT-LRZ35U supports Full HD 3D using DLP-Link glasses. Its one 3D mode was suitably bright for comfortable viewing on my 90-inch, 1.0-gain white screen in a dark room, and still watchable, if somewhat washed out, at low to moderate levels of ambient light. I saw no crosstalk in my tests, and 3D-related motion artifacts were at only the typical level for current generation 3D projectors. Note that you can't change the Brilliant Color setting in 3D mode, but you can adjust the Color (saturation) and Tint controls as well as Brightness and Contrast.
As a conference room or classroom projector, the Panasonic PT-LRZ35U is a strong contender. Its 1920x1200 resolution and sharp focus deliver highly readable text, and it offers saturated color for graphics along with good color accuracy and contrast for photorealistic images from photos to video and film. It's also bright enough to light up a 120-inch diagonal, 16:10, 1.0-gain screen in moderate ambient light in our preferred mode for presentations, as well as throw an equally bright 115-inch 16:9 diagonal image in our preferred mode for video and movies.
Beyond that, it has all the advantages of a solid-state light source meant to last the life of the projector, including being virtually maintenance free over its 20,000-hour lifetime, and eliminating the cost of replacement lamps—two features that anyone will welcome, and are particularly important for applications like retail and museum signage and displays.
The case for home use isn't as strong, but it's still reasonable. Color accuracy, contrast, shadow detail and black level are all good enough to satisfy most casual users; the brightness is high enough to stand up to ambient light; and input lag is more than fast enough for casual gaming.
The projector's one major shortcoming—which is likely to frustrate video enthusiasts—is that it doesn't come out of the box with a well-calibrated color mode based on the Rec.709 HDTV standard (despite having a mode labeled for that), and it doesn't offer the menu controls needed for calibration. That said, most casual users will consider the image quality good enough for viewing even in a dark room home theater setting. And note that this shortcoming takes nothing away from the PT-LRZ35U's strengths for business and education. For those applications, it's easy to recommend for a spot on your short list.
Brightness. With the 1.3x zoom lens set to its widest angle setting, the brightness measurements for each picture mode in Normal, Eco, and Quiet power modes were as follows:
Zoom Lens Light Loss: Setting the 1.3x zoom lens to its full telephoto setting reduces brightness by only 5 percent—too little to notice or be an issue when choosing how far to position the projector from the screen.
Brightness Uniformity (Maximum Wide Angle): 91%
Brightness Uniformity (Maximum Telephoto): 90%
Lowest Measured Input Lag (1080p): 33.1 ms at 60 Hz
Fan Noise: Panasonic rates the PT-LRZ35U at 35 dB in Normal mode, 27 dB in Eco, and 24 dB in Quiet mode. There are also two High Altitude modes, High 1, recommended starting at 4,593 feet, and High 2, recommended at 6,890 and above, with a maximum altitude of 8,858 feet in Normal power mode or 13,780 feet in Eco or Quiet modes.
Even in Quiet mode, you can hear the fan in quiet moments from anywhere in a large family room or small to medium size conference room, and the noise quality is such that it tends to stand out rather than fade into the background. Even those who aren't usually bothered by fan noise may want to consider some sort of acoustic isolation in Quiet, Eco, and Normal modes, and almost anyone will need to consider it with either High Altitude mode.
- HDMI 1.4b (HDCP 1.4) with CEC support (x2)
- VGA/component in (x2)
- VGA/component out
- Composite video in
- 3.5mm stereo in (x2)
- 3.5mm stereo out
- Micro USB (for service only)
- USB 2.0 Type A (for power only)
- RS-232 (control)
- RJ45 LAN (for control over network)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Panasonic PT-LRZ35U projector page.
The Panasonic PT-LRZ35U is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Panasonic PT-LRZ35E. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Panasonic for complete specifications.