AVForums gets the low down on Panasonic's latest projector
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758Last year when we went to Panasonic’s Bracknell offices to take an exclusive look at their PT-AT5000 3D Projector, their demo room consisted of a couch, a table and a screen.
Clearly Panasonic felt that such an environment wasn’t ideal for demonstrating their latest projector technology and this year there have been a few changes. When we arrived at their offices we became the first people to see Panasonic’s new demo room and, after a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, we found ourselves in a custom built dedicated home cinema. The new demo room has motorised 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 screens, along with a 65” VT50 and a full 7.1 system with multiple subwoofers. There is custom cinema seating for up to 15 people, as well as an equipment rack at the rear housing various sources and Panasonic’s SA-BX500 AV receiver.
However, as impressive as Panasonic’s new demo room is, that wasn’t the reason for our visit. We were there to get a first look at their new PT-AT6000 3D Projector, which the company are announcing today at IFA and launching in September. The PT-AT6000 represents a culmination of 11 years of home cinema projector engineering and is a refinement of last year’s PT-AT5000 rather than anything revolutionary. However, Panasonic have certainly addressed a number of issues that were raised in last year’s review and it is encouraging to see that they value our feedback. In terms of headline features the new projector can produce up to 2,400 lm of brightness, deliver a contrast ratio of up to 500,000:1 and includes innovative new 3D features that promise a more natural and immersive home cinema experience.
The PT-AT6000 uses a 220W Red Rich Lamp for increased red intensity which produces brighter images and better colour reproduction. However, the use of a more powerful lamp also results in much higher temperatures, so the design of the prism and lens have been enhanced to deliver better convergence characteristics which also contribute to the 2,400 lumens. The lens has a new AR (anti-reflective) coating and the prism uses a polarising filter for improved cooling efficiency. The PT-AT6000 includes condenser lenses for better colour reproduction with purer reds and greens which, when combined with Panasonic’s Pure Contrast Plate technology means the light path can be corrected to better block out light and thus reduce light leakage. The PT-AT6000 also includes Panasonic’s Pure Colour Filter Pro, Smooth Screen technology and has a claimed contrast ratio of 500,000:1, although this number is achieved using a dynamic iris.
As with previous projectors, the PT-AT6000 includes a number of colour gamuts including one designed to replicate the industry standard of Rec.709. However, also included on the PT-AT6000 is a colour gamut called Cinema 1 which Panasonic Hollywood Labs developed in conjunction with cinematographers and colourists. Panasonic claim that the resulting colour gamut is closer to the creator’s intention and is better suited to a larger screen sizes. We certainly agree that it is important to replicate the creator’s intention but Cinema 1 is clearly a wider colour gamut than Rec.709 and the opinions of individuals - no matter how qualified - are completely subjective, so we would always choose the industry standard as the best way of watching content as their creator’s intended.
Panasonic continue to strive for the most comfortable and natural 3D viewing experience at home and compared to its predecessor model, the PT-AT6000 ensures there is less crosstalk through better temperature control and more impact thanks to the 20% brighter image. In addition, the newly developed 3D Motion Re-master results in more natural motion, whilst the 3D Viewing Monitor and 3D Picture Balance control ensure a comfortable and safer 3D viewing experience.
The idea behind the 3D Motion Re-master feature is to correct an inherent problem that active shutter 3D has with motion. Active shutter 3D technology operates by alternately opening and closing the shutter for the left and right lens, which in turn creates the 3D images. However, this creates a slight delay of 1/120 of a second between each eye which with motion creates an unnatural parallax due to a phenomenon called the Mach-Dvorak effect. This effect is caused by both eyes seeing the same image due to the delay but the second eye expecting to see the image in a different place due to the motion and compensating for this. As a result the brain becomes confused, hence the unnatural parallax. In order to resolve this issue the projector interpolates an image that compensates for the 1/120 seconds lag for smooth continuous 3D movement. We were given a demonstration of this effect and how the 3D Motion Remaster corrects it and whilst it works it also introduces interpolation artefacts.
The 3D Viewing Monitor visually shows the amount of parallax within the 3D images and where they sit within the safe zone set forth by the 3D Consortium Committee. This safe zone was developed to ensure a comfortable 3D viewing experience and because the amount of parallax varies according to screen size. Using the 3D Viewing Monitor you can see the image in black and white with the positive and negative parallax within each image highlighted in red and blue. There is also the 3D Picture Balance feature which allows both the right and left eye image to be shown side-by-side to match the colours of the two sides.
The PT-AT6000 includes dual core processing with enhanced Detail Clarity Processor 4 and the Frame Creation 2 chipsets, which are now optimised for 3D images. Just like with 2D images, these two features are designed to bring out all the natural fine details in the image, as well as deliver a sharpness and clarity to fast moving scenes. The Detail Clarity Processor also adjusts the brightness of different parts of the image at a pixel level in much the same way as Darbee’s video processor. The Frame Creation 2 is now also available during 2D-3D conversion and the lens memory and colour management functions can now be used in 3D.
The PT-AT6000 is equipped with a built-in IR emitter that can transmit up to 6m and can be used with Panasonic’s original 3D eyewear (TY-EW3D3M) or with third party 3D IR glasses such as the XpanD X104. An optional IR emitter is also available for longer transmission distances of up to 10m (33ft) and the optional Panasonic 3D eyewear, (TY-EW3D3M) are also compatible with the PT-AE6000. When we asked Panasonic why they didn’t use the RF system that is included on their 2012 3D TVs, they explained that since more people tend to watch a projected image and the RF system has a limit to the number of glasses that can sync, they feel more comfortable using the older IR system.
The projector uses frame interpolation to address unnatural parallax effects caused by a phenomenon called the Mach-Dvorak effect.The installation of the PT-AT6000 is very easy with a motorised 2x zoom lens, along with lens shift and lens focus. The PT-AT6000 can project onto a 120in diagonal screen from as close as 3.6m to 7.2m and it can either be installed on a ceiling or mounted onto a wall with +/- 100% vertical adjustment and +/- 26% horizontal adjustment. The PT-AT6000E also contains three HDMI inputs, along with two 12V Triggers to allow for more flexible home cinema installation and of course there is Panasonic’s excellent Intelligent Lens Memory which automatically detects the aspect ratio of the content and adjusts the zoom, shift and focus accordingly. Panasonichave also listened to the complaints of some users regarding the 'Processing' text box that would appear in the centre of the image when changing aspect ratios using the Len memory function. This can now be switched off.
The PT-AT6000 includes the same six axis colour management system as on the PT-AT5000 and unfortunately it has the same problems, although there is a work around. The PT-AT6000 also includes a new Advanced Gamma Adjustment which has been improved on the previous gamma control. There is still the option to move the entire curve but the number of adjustments points has been increased from nine to fifteen allowing the user to fine tune the gamma curve if necessary.
We were given a chance to see the PT-AT6000 in action in Panasonic’s new demo room, where we watched a combination of 2D and 3D content. We also had a chance to directly compare the PT-AT6000 to last year’s model and see how some of the new features work. Overall the PT-AT6000 looked very impressive but obviously we won’t be able to make any objective comments until we get one in for review. While we were at Panasonic's new demo room sampling the PT-AT6000 we made the following video with Rena Yotsu, from the projector product management in Osaka.
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