As Panasonic's most advanced 1DLP large-venue projector, the PT-RCQ10 offers surprisingly good image quality for its brightness, along with every imaginable bell and whistle to simplify set-up and day to-day operation. At its current offering price with standard zoom lens, it's also a tremendous value in the 10,000-lumen class.
- 4K-ready with enhanced resolution via pixel-shifting
- Exceptional color and image quality at high brightness
- Extensive setup, adjustment, and operational facilities
- Compact, lightweight chassis for its brightness class
- No integrated USB media player
- No HDR processing for 4K content
- No Full 3D compatibility
The Panasonic PT-RCQ10, rated at 10,000 ANSI lumens, sits right below the 12,000-lumen PT-RZ120 at the top of Panasonic's single-chip DLP family of installation projectors. With a typical street price around $14,850 before lens, or just a little more with a standard zoom lens at around $15,050, it competes very aggressively with other native WUXGA-resolution 1DLP laser projectors in this brightness class. That alone should make it attractive to the higher education, worship, conference presentation, rental/staging, and other large-venue markets the projector is targeted at. But as we'll see, the PT-RCQ10 is also loaded with advanced image technology, setup features, and operational conveniences. A sister model, the PT-RCQ80, offers the same features in the same chassis options with an 8,000 ANSI lumens rated brightness.
At approximately 19.6 x 7.9 x21.2 inches (WHD) without a lens, the PT-RCQ10 is among the more compact projectors in its class but also among the lightest at 51.6 pounds (excluding lens). There are menu options for front or rear projection from either a surface or ceiling mount, and it supports Portrait projection. It comes in either a black or white chassis, and as noted above, is shipped without a lens or equipped with the company's ET-DLE170 zoom. This lens, which we tested along with the projector, has a 1.71-2.41:1 throw ratio and offers motorized zoom, shift, and focus accessible from the remote. As an example, it throws a 100-inch, 16:10 aspect ratio image from about 12.1 to 16.3 feet, and a 200-inch 16:10 image from 24.2 to 34.1 feet. Panasonic offers a total of 11 lenses for the RCQ series ranging from an unusual ultra-short-throw zoom with a 0.280:1-0.299:1 throw ratio (the ET-DLE020) to a long zoom with a 5.36-8.58:1 throw. You can check the throw distance for your planned image size with any of the lenses at the ProjectorCentral Panasonic PT-RCQ10 throw calculator.
For additional flexibility, the projector's input selection is both thoughtful and expandable thanks to the inclusion of a slide-in port for a modular SLOT NX interface card. The connection panel (along with the main power switch and a control keypad) is on the right side panel as you face the screen. Out of the box the PT-RCQ10 provides one each of HDMI, DVI-D and SDI inputs, plus an RJ45 HDBaseT connector (which Panasonic calls DIGITAL LINK) for long-distance signal and control runs. Optional cards allow the addition of a pair of DisplayPort inputs, or additional HDMI, DVD-I, or 12G-SDI or 12G-SDI optical ports.
Also found on the connection panel are BNC Sync In and Out for multi-projector setups to allow synchronization of dynamic contrast and shutter functions; an RS-232C serial control port, a USB terminal for connecting an optional wireless module or supplying 5V DC 500ma power to an outboard device (there is no USB port for playback of stored media from a thumb drive), a 3.5 mm remote input that accepts an optional cable connection from the infrared remote (plus a Remote Out jack to daisy-chain a second projector), and a second RJ45 connector dedicated for LAN. The DIGITAL LINK connector can also be designated as a second LAN connection in the event you're not using the HDBaseT functionality. The projector is compatible with several common network protocols including PJ Link, Crestron Connected, and Art-Net.
Panasonic touts two key picture quality advances for the PT-RCQ10. The first is pixel-shifting that improves the apparent on-screen resolution of signals above and beyond the native resolution—an option only available previously as Quad Pixel Drive found on some of Panasonic's large-venue 3-chip models. In this case, Panasonic's Smooth Pixel Drive takes the pixels from a native 1920x1200 DMD and shifts them diagonally by one-half pixel to double the on-screen total to 4.6 million points of light; resolution with 4K signals is listed at 2715x1697. We'll discuss how it worked with 1080p and 4K signals in the Performance section below, but suffice to say it's an effective benefit for larger images. Detail is also enhanced with Panasonic's latest Detail Clarity image processing.
Also on board is Panasonic's Rich Color Harmonizer, which is the marketing term used to describe a redesigned filter scheme on the color wheel that increases the ratio of red light coming to the imaging chip compared with previous designs. Using a larger segment for red boosts the vividness of red objects and while also improving the white balance and skin tones. What I can say from observation is that, as described below, the PT-RCQ10 was remarkable for its general color accuracy and image quality even at full brightness. Picture quality is further aided by the projector's dynamic contrast circuitry that modulates the laser output in realtime to better accommodate bright or dark scenes.
The laser engine uses a pair of blue laser diode modules combined with a phosphor wheel and color wheel. It's a sealed design with no requirement to clean or replace a filter over the 20,000-hour rated lifetime, making this a true maintenance-free projector under normal conditions. If you don't need the full brightness, the expected lifetime can be extended to 24,000 hours with the ECO Operating Mode, or even longer by selecting lower brightness with the variable Light Output slider. (Measured lumen output for each of the modes and power settings is found in the Measurements appendix at the end of the review.) The laser engine allows for full 360-degree orientation in any axis, and the projector is rated for demanding 24/7 operation to accommodate signage or surveillance monitoring installations.
Furthermore, for these or other types of mission-critical applications, such as large-venue entertainment events and theme park installs, Panasonic has built in a redundancy circuit that takes advantage of the dual-module laser design—if one should fail, the other helps to pick up the slack and minimize the loss of brightness and color uniformity. Beyond this, a Backup Input setting allows users to run a secondary backup source to which the projector will be switched automatically and quickly in the event the primary source goes dark. This is especially comforting for multi-projector blended images where image loss would leave an obvious gap.
As if all of this isn't enough, Panasonic has developed a slew of software-enabled features for setting-up and operating the PT-RCQ10 that can be accessed from computers or mobile devices on the same network. Along with the usual LAN control, they include a Smart Projector Control app for iOS and Android devices that allows a range of adjustments and can be used to autofocus the projector in association with the mobile device's camera. The projector is also compatible with smart device NFC functions that allow connection to the projector with a tap on its top-panel sensor to permit the reading or writing settings to the machine. Panasonic's MultiMonitoring & Control PC software lets you manage and monitor up to 2,048 projectors simultaneously, and Early Warning software provides device warning and error notifications among other information. Geometry Manager Pro software assists with geometry correction and blending in multi-screen setups, and offers upgrades for advanced masking and camera-assisted setups. There's also Logo Transfer Software so the projector will automatically boot-up to a company or event graphic.
Thanks to its laser engine, the PT-RCQ10 offers rapid boot-up, going from full off to a live connected source appearing on screen in about 14 seconds. It shuts down the image instantly when Standby is activated, and the fan typically stopped running in our tests about 10 seconds later. A Quick Startup menu option keeps the projector running and ready to respond for instant restart for a user adjustable time period of up to 90 minutes.
Here's a list of some PT-RCQ10 key features:
- 10,000 ANSI lumens rated brightness
- Solid Shine sealed laser engine with 20,000 hours maintenance-free use
- Single-chip DLP design with WUXGA native DMD
- 4K signal-compatible
- 1080p/120 Hz signal-compatible
- Smooth Pixel Drive doubles on-screen pixel count to 2715x1697
- Rich Color Harmonizer for improved skin tones and color balance
- Dynamic Light Control contrast processing
- Slot NX interface board expandability for HDMI, 12G-SDI, 12G-SDI optical fiber, DisplayPort and DVI-D
- DIGITAL LINK HDBaseT input
- Smart Projector Control app with NFC connection and auto-focus utilizing smartphone camera
- Compatibility with MultiMonitoring & Control PC, Geometry Manager Pro, and Logo Transfer software
- Multi-Screen support for edge blending, color matching, and digital enlargement
- 360-degree installation in all axes
- 24/7 operation
- Fail-safe redundancy circuitry and secondary backup-signal input function for critical installations
- 11 lens options
- System Daylight View helps to avoid washed out images in high ambient light
- Contrast Sync & Shutter Sync assist in create seamless, multi-projector implementations
- Available in black or white chassis
- 3-Year Warranty (3 years or 12,000 hours for illumination components, whichever comes first)
The PT-RCQ10 has seven Picture Modes: Dynamic, Graphic, Standard, Cinema, Natural, REC709, and DICOM SIM. Much to my surprise, particularly for such a bright 10,000-lumen projector, all of the modes except for the DICOM SIM mode intended for X-ray presentations provided a subjectively color-accurate image that was more than just passable for photorealistic content such as photos, videos, or movies. This includes the brightest mode that on many commercial projectors is a throwaway intended only to meet the brightness spec or is barely suitable only for text-based presentations in bright light.
Indeed, all of the modes looked so good and relatively close to one another in image quality that I took the unusual step of running color measurements with the Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays we typically reserve for our home theater projector reviews. As I suspected from viewing observations, aside from varying in overall brightness (and how they handled bright highlights) the modes differed primarily in their white balance (the color/tinting of 100% white signals as well as the grayscale tracking across the full brightness range) and their subjective contrast, which was determined largely by the default gamma setting for each mode. But none of the white points were so egregiously off from a neutral white that they were outside of acceptable range. Furthermore, in all the modes, the color points that define the color gamut were reasonably close to accurate for a classic Rec.709 image, which matches the color space for HDTV film and television production, as well as the sRGB color space used in some professional photography. Some further differences were attributable to variance in color saturation. But memory colors—foliage, skin tones, blue sky, and common objects like a yellow school bus or red stop sign—rang true and were largely consistent across the modes, even though they appeared more natural in the less bright modes.
I also did A/B comparisons of the Smooth Pixel Drive pixel-shifting feature with text-heavy presentation content from a PC and with 1080p and 4K movies from disc. This feature is designed to blend the borders separating the pixels in the native WUXGA DMD array, and with text on a white background viewed close up there was some modest loss of definition of the borders of individual pixels that tended to soften the edges of alphanumeric characters and make them seem less crisp. That's an effect I've seen before with pixel-shifting schemes in other projectors. Therefore, there are times when users may opt to leave this feature off depending on the content and the image size/viewing distance.
On the other hand, with photos and film-based 24 Hz movies, utilizing the Smooth Pixel Drive vastly reduced aliasing on diagonals of large alphanumerical characters and other objects while essentially eliminating the otherwise visible screendoor effect, and it did so with no loss of image detail. Both 1080p and 3840x2160 UHD Blu-ray movies enjoyed the smoother, less visible pixel-structure I'm used to seeing on full 4K-resolution projectors. As you'd expect, the 4K versions of Blu-rays also benefitted from additional detail inherent in the native 4K transfer, which the excellent ET-DLE170 lens delivered with crisp, edge-to-edge consistency. The pixel-blending benefits of Smooth Pixel Drive were less obvious from a distance, but with smaller-size images this feature will definitely improve the viewing experience for anyone sitting close to the screen, and with the larger images likely to be served up by a 10,000-lumen projector it should provide benefit to a bigger share of the audience.
Note that although the PT-RCQ10 accepts signals at full DCI-4K and 3840x2160 UHD resolution, up to 60 Hz frame rate, it does not recognize the HDR (high dynamic range) flag on UHD Blu-ray discs or have any HDR mode for tone-mapping. Consequently, a UHD Blu-ray player or other 4K source component will usually convert HDR to standard dynamic range (SDR) at the program's native resolution before sending the signal to the projector. Blu-ray HDR images thus converted still looked fabulous and punchy on the projector thanks to its tremendous brightness and generally excellent contrast, though with 10,000 lumens at its disposable, it was disappointing not to be able to see what the PT-RCQ10 could do with tone-mapped HDR content.
Also, the PT-RCQ10 similarly lacks Full 3D compatibility, which could possibly eliminate it from some simulation, R&D, or entertainment installations.
Here's a rundown of each Picture Mode, with lumen measurements taken with the projector in its default Normal (full) power laser mode. Full brightness measurements are in appendix at the end of the review.
Dynamic. Dynamic mode is the PT-RCQ10's brightest most in which it makes its ANSI lumen spec. (Technically, Panasonic measures in the more-up-to-date ISO21118 lumen specification but promotes the result as ANSI, which uses the same measurement technique.) I measured 9,106 lumens in this mode, or 91% of the full spec and within the 10% ANSI tolerance. Not surprisingly, this and the Graphics mode had the highest color temperature for white of all the modes, coming in around 8,000K, which lends whites a noticeably cooler blue shading that works well in ambient light but was not so far from the industry production standard 6,500K (D65) white point to eliminate its use with video and film content. The default gamma setting worked well out of the box for text-based presentation materials, and adjustments to the gamma control and other image settings allow you to hone the picture's contrast for other types of content if needed.
What was most remarkable about this mode was that, aside from its cooler white balance, it had none of the obvious green or cyan-leaning cast that we typically see in projectors on their brightest mode, much less a single-chip DLP model in this 10,000-lumen brightness class. I'm not sure what contributes to this accomplishment, though on the developers' web page describing some of the innovations in the PT-RCQ10, the engineers discuss how the Rich Color Harmonizer and its punched up reds combine with Panasonic's processing to provide better color balance. What is certain is that the ability to use essentially the full brightness of the projector (or something close to it) with virtually any type of content offers an unusual degree of flexibility.
Graphic. Graphic mode was the second brightest at 8,109 measured lumens, and had a similarly cool white balance as Dynamic. Its default gamma was closer to what we'd see with regular TV or movie content, and so it provided a more suitable image for mixed graphic materials that included photographic content. It's described in the manual as the mode that's been set up at the factory for connection to a PC.
Standard. Standard mode measured 6,830 lumens and is one of four remaining modes that are well-suited to photographs and video/movie content. Panasonic describes Standard as the mode suitable for "moving images in general." Along with being less bright than Dynamic or Graphic its whites leaned just a touch warmer (toward red). The overall contrast was excellent and again, very reminiscent of a traditional home theater projector. This mode benefitted subjectively with most movie content by switching from its Default gamma to the projector's 2.2 setting.
Cinema. Cinema mode, at 6,660 lumens, was the least bright mode out of the box, and as its name implies is intended for movie content. Its white balance was distinctly warmer (more pink) than most of the other modes, which is not unusual for color modes targeting film content, and in combination with its default gamma and other settings it provided a softer look overall.
Natural. Natural is described as the mode suitable for use in dark environments. It measured 6,931 lumens, with whites that were distinctly cooler than Cinema and actually measured closer to the production industry standard D65. Subjectively, it brought some welcome crispness back to the image compared with Cinema.
REC709. In its factory default settings, this mode is intended to be compliant with HDTV content mastered to the Rec.709 broadcast color standard. It measured 6,773 lumens. Its white balance subjectively fell a bit on a warmer side—not as warm as Cinema mode, but not as cool as the Natural and Standard modes, both of which measured close to the D65 white point. Movies played back in a dark environment benefitted by switching this mode's gamma from the default to the 2.2 setting that better aligns with this this content; the default, while unnamed, was clearly a lower gamma. But even at full default settings, REC709 (along with the Natural mode) had the most natural looking skin tones.
DICOM SIM. At 6,734 lumens, this mode follows the gamma curve set by the Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) Part 14 Grayscale Standard. It's suitable for medical presentations but as with other projectors featuring DICOM simulation modes, it's not intended for diagnosis.
Preferred Presentation Mode. Not surprisingly, Graphic, at a very bright 8,109 lumens, was the best all-around mode for typical PowerPoint or PDF presentations with mixed graphic and black & white text as served up from my laptop. Dynamic is also an acceptable choice for presentations if you need the extra brightness.
Preferred Video/Movie Mode. As noted, several of the modes provided an excellent image for moving pictures. For dark or dim settings I eventually preferred either Natural mode with the Dynamic Contrast setting boosted from its default setting of 2 to 3, or sometimes the Rec.709 setting with its gamma set to 2.2 from the default, which restored some depth in the darker areas of images. As noted, Rec.709 (with the 2.2 gamma) provided slightly better delineation of flesh tones than Natural, but Natural's crisp, neutral whites gave the image some additional dimensionality.
For bright-room viewing, the Standard mode, with essentially the same brightness as Natural and a similarly-toned white, seemed to stand up as well or better to ambient light and offered a bit of additional color saturation prior to any adjustments.
In all of these modes, the PT-RCQ10 and its Color Harmonizer technology delivered on its promise of accurate and engaging reds on the go-to scenes I use to check for this. One such clip is in the excellent Blu-ray transfer of La La Land, a movie that thematically uses the same shades of deeply saturated red, blue, yellow, and green throughout the production in wardrobe and set design. At one point, the female protagonist Mia (played by the fair-skinned Emma Stone) leans back on her bed atop a mix of red throw pillows that the Panasonic strikingly delivered without a hint of the orange lean that's often seen with Rec.709-gamut projectors that lack the reach for these kinds of saturated red objects.
On another note, while I'm not particularly sensitive to rainbow artifacts associated with single-chip DLP designs that use a sequential color wheel, I did see some occasionally during my evaluation, mainly with white characters set on a black screen. But I otherwise couldn't really identify any particular conditions or types of content that would cause them to reveal themselves. It was a rare occurrence in many hours of use and caused me no concern.
The Panasonic PT-RCQ10 offers technological advances that help it deliver images of unusually excellent quality for its brightness class among single-chip DLP projectors, including a mode that can take advantage of the full brightness of the projector without introducing any noticeable hint of green or blue cast. That's rare in any projector claiming such a high lumen count. It adds to this a boatload of proprietary features to assist in set-up and day-to-day operation.
The full mix of the PT-RCQ10's offering should qualify it as a premium projector worth paying a bit extra for, but at just over $15,000 with its standard zoom lens included, it comes close in price to the least expensive 10,000-lumen, WUXGA projector currently found in the ProjectorCentral database—another single-chip DLP model that ships without a lens and does not offer a fully comparable set of features and innovations. It may be possible to spend more for better image quality in this brightness class, but it's hard to imagine right now a better value for schools, museums, sports bars, theme parks, and houses of worship that place good image quality and stretching budget high on their list of purchase criteria.
Brightness. The PT-RCQ10 is rated for 10,000 lumens based on the ISO21118 standard, which relies on the same 9-point averaged measurement technique used for the ANSI standard that preceded it. With the ET-DLE170 zoom lens set to its widest full-open position, our ANSI measurements came in at 9,106 lumens in the projector's brightest Dynamic mode and Operating Mode set to Normal (100%) power. This is within the accepted 10% ANSI tolerance.
By specification, setting the power mode to ECO should deliver 80% of full brightness. The projector measured a very close 79.5% brightness. The Quiet 1 mode, which lowers noise but retains the same brightness, also measured 79.5%. Quiet 2 mode, which should correlate to 64% brightness, measured 64.2%. The User mode allows up to three custom power settings that can be set to any brightness down to 8.0% in 0.1% increments. Set to 50%, the measured brightness was 47.7% of full brightness, and at 25% the measured brightness was 24.4%.
Below are the all the Picture Modes and the expected lumen output in each power setting based on our measurements.
Panasonic PT-RCQ10 ANSI Lumens
|MODE||Normal||Eco||Quiet 1||Quiet 2|
Zoom Lens Light Loss. With the ET-DLE170 standard zoom with 1.71-2.41:1 throw ratio, moving the lens from its widest zoom setting to its longest telephoto setting resulted in a 12.5% loss of brightness.
Brightness Uniformity. With the ET-DLE170 lens set to its widest zoom position, brightness uniformity measured 89.9%. In the long telephoto position, it dropped to 82.3%. This is very good to excellent performance, and there were no detectable hotspots or light shadings visible on the screen with either test patterns that show these or in any live content.
Fan Noise. In lab measurement conditions, the PT-RCQ10 is rated for 43 dB of noise in Normal power mode, 40 dB in Quiet 1 power mode, and 38 dB in Quiet 2 power mode. This is not unexpected for a 10,000-lumen projector and is most certainly noticeable when you're standing near the chassis. Casual measurements in my test studio (29.9 dBA background noise level) taken from approximately 5 feet in front of and even with the projector registered at 46.5 dBa in Normal, 46.4 dBa in Quiet 1, and 42.2 dBA in Quiet 2.
The PT-RCQ10 does not have a dedicated High Altitude mode but monitors its internal pressure and heat conditions and may reduce brightness accordingly to protect itself in some settings. It is not designed for use at or above 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) altitude.
Input Lag. I used a Bodnar 4K lag meter to measure input lag for the PT-RCQ10 from its HDMI input. With 3840x2160p/60 Hz or 1920x1080/60 Hz signals, it measured 30.1 milliseconds in the two picture modes I tested, Dynamic and Natural. With either 3840x2160p/30 Hz or 1920x1080p/30 Hz signals the lag in both modes doubled to 59.4 ms.
- SDI In (BNC, 3G/HD)
- HDMI (with HDCP 2.2, for up to 4K/60)
- DVI-D (with HDCP)
- RS-232C Serial In (D-sub 9-pin female)
- RS-232C Serial Out (D-sub 9-pin male)
- Remote In (3.5 mm)
- Remote In (D-sub 9-pin)
- Remote Out (3.5 mm)
- Multi-Projector Sync In (BNC)
- Multi-Projector Sync Out (BNC)
- LAN (RJ-45)
- DIGITAL LINK HDBaseT (RJ-45; can double as LAN port)
- USB Type A (for wireless LAN dongle, power supply (DC 5V, 500ma), or cloning of settings to multiple projectors)
- SLOT NX expansion slot (compatible with cards for HDMI, DVI-D, DisplayPort, 12G-SDI, and 12G-SDI optical fiber)
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Panasonic PT-RCQ10LBU projector page.
The Panasonic PT-RCQ10LBU is also sold outside of the United States of America as the Panasonic PT-RCQ10LBE, Panasonic PT-RCQLBD and the Panasonic PT-RCQ10LBX. Some specifications may be slightly different. Check with Panasonic for complete specifications.