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Panasonic PT300AE Cinema Heaven: My First Projector (NOT a technical review)

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by steve.moore, Apr 11, 2003.

  1. steve.moore

    steve.moore
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    Well last Wednesday I bought my first projector from Nexnix for around £1700 (includes dead-pixel-check and delivery within 24hours). I could have saved £100 and gone to be-direct but could not wait!

    First impressions it exceeds my expectations and is perfect! plus the wife and son love it.

    I choose the Panasonic because of two reason:
    1. The new smooth-screen technology was important because I have a small room and the projector is directly above my head (2.5 meters throw distance to the wall).
    2. A 'quoted' bulb life of 5000 hours (I now feel robbed because the manual only states 2000 hours, Panasonic assume you will use the 'high' lamp)


    This is my first projector and for the last month I worried about everything like:

    Could I throw away my 8 year old 28" 3:4 curve-tube television? I heard that TVs had better picture quality and I would still need to have one in the room. But I have been so impressed with the picture quality that I boxed-up the TV and put it in the garage. For me using your projector is an essential everyday thing and I will just buy new bulb every 2 years.. There are down sides like:
    You are always closing your curtains (you can watch films with the curtains open or Lights on at night, BUT I always feel compelled to get the room as dark as possible.)
    Each time you turn off the projector you have to wait while the fan cools down the bulbs (this can feel like an eternity!)
    You need two videos (with s-video out) so you can record one station and watch different TV channel.
    Occasionally I notice horizontal lines on small-parts of the screen, or a sunny-haze-shimming on the screen (I guess this means I am forced to get Digital TV !)
    Channel 5 looks bad (but no worse than on the old TV) and I rarely watch it anyway!
    All-In-All this is much better than a small (he! he!) 28" TV but you can bet that I am probably wearing rose-tinted-glasses, and in six-months time I will be dusting off the old-TV !!!

    Last month I worried about "Dead-Pixels" ruining the enjoyment of a film: so I figured paying £20 to nexnix was a worth while investment BUT sadly I still ended-up with a single-blue-dead-pixel. Being a novice it took me three days to notice a 'dead-pixel' and even then I can only see it in totally black scene, and I do mean totally black Star Wars-scenes. I was so concerned that at lunch-time I borrowed a friend's digital camera and went home to take a picture, BUT when I turned it on I found it difficult to locate because the daylight was coming thought the curtains, making it impossible to take a picture. BUT rest assured that at nighttime the single-pixel is easy to spot if you know what you are looking for.
    When I contacted nexnix they were only to pleased to swap the machine, the only problem with this is that I would be without a projector for up to 7 days.. and right now I can honestly say going back to a TV would be hell and one small-dead-pixel is not worth the hassle for packaging and waiting that long.....

    Last month I worried about "Fan-noise" ruining the enjoyment of a film: just how loud is 28db??? I would be lieing if I said I cannot hear the projector fan but it is a lot quieter than a computer-fan (and its about the same noise level as recording on a video tape). If you figure this will annoy you then I can't see any projector being good-enough for you, just go and buy an 80" plasma screen..

    Last month I worried about what pull-down-screen to buy, BUT for now I will just use the wall. The first two days the wall was sandy-yellow and this caused no major problem. so, on Saturday morning I painted it white and it looked amazing. I then painted it with a small pot of Dulux-Icestorm-5 but it looked too grey, so I re-painted it with icestorm-6 which I think is perfect.

    Last month I worried about the "chicken wire" effect and even with the smooth screen technology there are times when you notice this feature but I struggle to see it when playing a DVD. I have even tried playing region1(USA) verse region2(UK) I could see no real improvements with the america films. But the DVD quality for both formats were so much brighter, clearer and focused compared to my old television that could only handle PAL. I believe projectors are impossible to beat when watching DVDs but last night there were times within fast-motion cgi scenes of 'Starship Troopers' that made the bugs look a little unfocused. (I guess I need to do some tuning to the projector or it could be down to how close I am sitting and the size of the screen!).


    What else can I say:
    Well the projector in widescreen mode has a diagonal of 80" (2meters) .
    My sofa is up against the wall so I sit 2.5 meters away.
    The projector is directly above my head and the fan noise is not an issue.
    Its placed upside-down on an TV wall mount stand (a 775 see www.AVF.co.uk) leaving 14" between the wall and the fan for cooling.
    DVD players is a 2 year old LG budget player and I am considering replacing it within six months.
    I am using manufacturer standard 'Cinema2' colour setting with which looks great 90% of the time (I guess I need to turn-down the red a bit or buy a Hoya-D-filter)
    I don't have a web-site so I am sorry I can't post-pictures
    Plus its worth every pound, it brings a smile to my face whenever I see a close-up!
    I just know I will be up at 6am Saturday morning to watch the new Harry-Potter with my Son!


    Thanks to this forum ...

    Steve
     
  2. Comer

    Comer
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    I would definately change it for a pixel-perfect unit. It may not bother u now that you are still very impressed with the image size and quality, but when this novelty wears off it will start to bug u until it possibly becomes a total distraction.

    Congrats on what sounds like an excellent projector...enjoy



    Conor:smashin:
     
  3. phlashman

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    ohhh, I soo want mine to arrive now. I'm cheap so i got a ae200. its slightly lower res and doesn't have all the features but I think it'll be ok for me.

    It should come on tuesday(ish) next week. so i'm spending the weekend getting the room sorted.
     
  4. Dekim

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    Thanks for the write up Steve,

    Very interesting. I have posted elsewhere that i'm very tempted in buying one but was worried that the projector being about 2 foot behind my seating position would mean the picture was too large for my seating position which would be approx 1.1 times screen width.

    Cheers

    Deks
     
  5. tonytigerrr

    tonytigerrr
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    Deks,

    I'm guessing that 1.1 X width would probably be too close for just about any pj (except maybe CRT with line quadrupler).

    What I know for sure is that it is definitely too close with a panny-300....

    Tony.
     
  6. Dekim

    Dekim
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    Thanks Tony,

    I,m not beaten yet tho as I have my heart set on a projector. I'm looking into designing something to bring the projector forward a bit. Would above or slightly behind my sitting position be acceptable or should it always be in front?

    cheers

    Deks
     
  7. calibos

    calibos
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    I think somebody has got their wires crossed here. You don't have to sit a certain distance behind, in front, below or even above your projector:D Given the throw ratio and the zoom range of your Projector, you position it most conveniently for you and set the zoom lens which gives you your desired image size.

    I'll try and explain it better. Throw distances are commonly quoted as a minimum and maximum figure based on the size screen you want. ie you pick a PJ you like. Say you decide you would like an 80in screen. You check the throw distance figures for the PJ based on an 80in screen. eg 9ft to 12ft. This means you can postion the PJ anywhere between 9 and 12ft from the screen to get an 80in image by zooming in and out with the lens. If this suits your room and where you would prefer to site your PJ then great and you buy the PJ. If not you either accept that if you want the PJ in a particular spot you will have to have a bigger or smaller screen etc or you will have to accept that the PJ cant be sited exactly where you would prefer. The other option is to pick another PJ that has throw distances that will give you your 80in image and can be positioned where you'd want.

    The screen distance ratio (2, 1.5, 1.25 etc) you see people quoting is the distance of their actual or proposed seating position from the screen(NB-not the projector). EG. With my AE100 and 80in wide screen I need to sit 1.8 x Screen width back so as not to see screen door. My seating is at 1.8 (ie 1.8 x 80in = 144in/12ft) The projector is mounted on a shelf over my head which is at the maximum of its throw range given my 80in screen. It could have been mounted on the ceiling up to approx 3 ft further forward in the room up to the other extreme of its throw distance for my 80in screen. It suits me to have it on the shelf though. Remember though that no matter where my PJ was mounted within that 3 ft range my seating position is still 1.8 back from the screen.

    With the AE300 and its smooth screen technology the commonly held belief is that you can sit as close as 1.25-1.5 times your screen width and still see no screendoor.
     
  8. Dekim

    Dekim
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    Thanks for your information Calibos,

    Just got in from a 50'th Birthday party. When i'm sober in the morning i'll re-read your comments and hopefully I will understand things a littl emore. Us old gits find all this new technology hrd to follow! (altho i'm not 50!!!)

    Looks like i need to get my tape measure out and try to sort out exactly where everything is going to fit.

    BTW there is zero chance of the projector being stuck to the ceiling. It s going to have to be on some existing furniture or on aportable projector mount. I know this will be a pain in the ass to set up each time but I will have to live with that so that I can have my big screen experience on movie night :))

    cheers

    deks
     
  9. flapcats

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    Have you used the keystone correction? How good is it (for DVD)? I will have to use about 25' of keystone, sitting parallel to the sofa (at knee height). Screen will be about 70" diag, view distance about 1.8x.

    Waste of time? Or go for it? (via nexnix btw)
     
  10. tonytigerrr

    tonytigerrr
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    Calibos,

    I was refering purely to seating position - obviously you are absolutely correct in saying PJ position is only dependent on throw ratio and desired image size.

    My setup sounds identical to yours, except I have an AE-300. I sit at 1.8 x width from the screen also, even though as you said screendoor is still not apparent closer in. This is because I find the other LCD bugbears like pixelisation, vertical banding, motion artifacts far too distracting when sitting closer to the screen.

    I think it is a question of personal taste - others may not find these things so bothersome and would be happy sitting closer. It also depends on sources and connections. Sky and terrestial suffer much more than DVD etc...

    My advice to you Deks is that if you want this PJ (and I can heartlity recommend it) then choose a screen size which you are happy with and which you can place your seating position at least 1.5 X screen width from (preferably a bit more).

    Then see if you can accomodate your PJ position to this screen size. The figures calibos quoted for the ae100 are the same for the ae300, i.e. 80" screen means the PJ needs to be 9 to 12' away. You can always use keystone correction if you cant place the PJ in front of the screen, though this does have an effect on picture quality.

    If seating position is absolutely not flexible i.e. you cant be more than 1.1 x width from the screen then I'd think very carefully before getting this PJ - get a demo and see if the things I mentioned above bother you.......
     
  11. Insp.Gadget

    Insp.Gadget
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    Flapcats, just to re-iterate what I've said in another post, I'm currently using 27' of keystone and it just isn't worth it. I fully intended to have it permanently set-up at the side of the room but the far edge of the screen gets very pixellated and is out of focus. I would seriously recommend you have a viewing of one set-up like this before you shell out your money blind like I did.

    Dekim, I will be mounting mine on the ceiling within the next week, but it will be a retractable mount that goes up into a white box on the ceiling so it will be less noticeable and no visible wires etc. The total cost shouldn't be more than about £20 (depending on whether I use perspex or wood). I will post pictures once it's finished.
     
  12. Dekim

    Dekim
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    Thanks for the info Tonytigerrr.

    I'll look forward to the piccies inspector gadget.

    I think i'm going to look at using a smaller screen and having the projector on a stand. either that or look at a HS10 or equivalent with a longer throw.

    Cheers

    Deks
     
  13. Dipman

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    I have my ae300 on order. I have 2 options for placement.

    1) A celing mount which would require an offset of approx 7" which I could leave fixed.

    2) Central floor setting which I would have to move everytime I finished using the projector.

    I would prefer the celing mount but will the 7" offset make a big difference?

    Any help would be appreciated. :confused:
     
  14. Supernosh

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    steve.moore - thanks for the superb post. I am in a similar position in that I am looking to buy a PJ and have for months but have been worried by all of the jargon and technology!

    I have finally decided on the Panny AE100 due to the relativly low cost and may look at upgrading at a later point.

    It is nice to hera from a 'lamen' much like myself and I am glad to hear your experiences as they make me feel like I am not alone and more at ease!

    I also cant wait to show my kids Monsters Inc on a 80" screen!!

    Cheers!!
     
  15. rjs1974

    rjs1974
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    Can anyone answer me this question:

    I am looking to buy the Panny AE-300, and want a large a screen as possible. I think I can go up to about 100" wide.

    The furthest away I can place the PJ is about 15-16 ft.

    Will this allow me to achieve the 100" image? Or will it be too far away or too close? Theoretically, what would be the largest and smallest I could achieve from that distance?

    Sorry for being thick!

    Cheers all.
     
  16. steve.moore

    steve.moore
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  17. tonytigerrr

    tonytigerrr
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    hi rjs1974,

    I've heard the projectorcentral calculator is a bit out for the panny-300 so I'm not sure you can trust those figures above.

    I'm at at work so I dont have the manual in front of me but I think the min/max throw ratios are 1.39 to 1.66 X the diagnol screen size. That would make you screen size 115" (i think) so you would need the pj to be 13.3 feet min from the screen to 15.9 max.

    I'm fairly sure its the diagnol, feel free to correct me peeps - if its the horizontal width then just multiply 1.39 and 1.66 by 100 for the min and max distances.

    cheers,
    Tony.
     
  18. steve.moore

    steve.moore
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    Hi rjs1974
    Last night I looked in the Manual and the calculation is :
    Min Projector Distance = 1.229 * Screen Diagonal - 0.0381
    Max Projector Distance = 1.481 * Screen Diagonal - 0.0381

    So a 100" Screen Diagonal would mean placing your Projector between 120" to 150". This feels about right because my Screen just under 80" and the projector is approx 100" away (250cm)


    Steve
     
  19. jimbobuk

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    Referring to the original review... where you talked about upgrading to digital tv... you said you saw occasional horizontal lines... this is screendoor of sorts but on the avsforums they talk about it as peek-a-boo screendoor/scanlines... I've noticed it on mine... faces moving up and down tend to do it.. whiter images show it up more obvious... its a problem with all LCD panels to a point.. the relative absence of traditional screendoor makes it more obvious where on other models they have a similar looking thing all the time... on my gameboy advance if i move the screen up and down a little i can see similar effects.... Apparently unfocusing the projector a little can help with this .. i had a go the other night and made it happen by standing up and sitting down in front of the screen... on a still picture... I couldn't really eliminate it that much.... to be honest I can live with it.... this is big screen on a budget and even with the lines its not too bad at all... when they aren't there you get a nice solid image....

    You also mention the bugs looking blurred in Starship Troopers... this is due to another inherrent problem with LCD panels... that of refresh rate, or latency whatever its called... basically LCDs response time is worse than CRT monitors... fast motion will blur... this used to be much worse and its continuing to improve... its a slight problem with the 300e... horizontal pans will blur the whole image... but to a point this blurring is in the film too... I dont mind it too much....

    Sitting too close i find can make your eyes hurt a little with frantic scenes.. watched the battle scene from braveheart the other night... very fast cuts... fast pans.. it started to make me feel a little queezy... basically i can't sit far enough back in my current room.. at most i can be level with the projector.... playing games thru it too causes problems... Gran Turismo 3's rally stage induces similar feelings of sickness ... its all about the immersion... I believe THX requires you have a certain angle of the screen into your eye... calculated to make it easy for the eye to scan the whole screen... at distances i have to sit, scanning to read subtitles and track motion CAN be a little difficult....

    ALl in all tho its a fantastic projector.. I think i'm pretty much dead pixel free... i have it 1:1 pixel mapped through my PC so have used solid black, white, red, green and blue screens and not been able to spot a problem... I also found that using a fullscreen of text captured from notepad just the alphabet.. is the best tool to focus the projector evenly across the whole panel....

    getting 1:1 with this projector is hard but we're lucky.. in the UK 50hz is what we want and basically at this frequency 1:1 is achievable....
     
  20. steve.moore

    steve.moore
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    thanks jimbobuk for this extra information.

    I guess I will have to borrow someones PC and configure the projector correctly (instead of using the basic factory setting).

    When you mention "basically LCDs response time is worse than CRT monitors" would one of of the new PAL Progressive DVD players help solve this? I am aware that my DVD player is a bit old and in need of an upgrade....

    Thanks again
    steve
     
  21. gothmog

    gothmog
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    I have also noticed blurring on some fast action, however I do not believe this to be due to the response time of the AE300 panels.

    I did some testing and compared to my Samsung TFT (25ms response) the AE-300 has far far less motion blur when gaming at 60fps.

    I believe the blur is actually really there on the film, as this is why we can tolerate to watch a film at 24fps, the inherent blur of the exposure smooths the motion.

    I think starship troopers is a particularly interesting situation because the bugs are CGI and therefore they have to have a motion blur digital effect applied to them or they would look bad at 24fps. This effect may well have been overdone ;)

    Discuss :D

    -- Jon
     
  22. jimbobuk

    jimbobuk
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    a dvd player wouldn't really help the blur....

    gothmog.. i've not got anything other than my monitor (CRT) to compare.. and haven't done any real testing... the dxtest programs of a white square moving across a black screen are the best... there is a lot of blurring on even a CRT... most PC monitors have better response times than any other CRTs.. i belive the hitachi have the best at the moment.. down as low as in the teens....

    pity we can't get proper figures for the panels in the projector... Its suprising that you think the projector better than your monitor.... actual size of image has to contribute....

    You only need to freeze a dvd, or pause a dvd to see just how blurred action is on film.... but you notice more blurring on a projector than on a tv... i do at least... can't be helped and its not too bad... its there already in the film..
     
  23. gothmog

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    My samsung TFT does nearly as good (or bad) a job of the white box test as my CRT monitor I think the blur in this test is more to do with the persitance in the eye that the source, given it's such a high contrast test.

    It's far more obvious in games where with the TFT you lose detail as you turn, in Quake 3, say :) With the CRT you don't to (anything like) the same extent.

    With the AE-300 I'd place it between the two, possibly a bit nearer the CRT. From a technical standpoint I'm not sure there's any reason to expect panel response times to be in any way similar to that of desktop LCD monitor, after all the AE-300 panels are only 0.7"! Wonder if we can find a data-sheet for these panels somewhere, I think I remember seeing that they were Epson somewhere ;)

    I should add that playing DVD's on my TFT and you don't notice the motion blur to any great extent, I expect this is because of the source being 24fps (1/24 = 40ms).

    As you say I think a lot of it has to do with the sheer size of the projected image, the film blur just isn't visible on a TV/CRT/TFT becomes obvious when it's 8ft wide :)

    -- Jon
     
  24. rjs1974

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    Many thanks steve.moore and tonytigerrr for the advice on throw distance, it's very much appreciated.

    Cheers.
     

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