PTAE-300/Plus Piano 3100 comparison

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Smurfin, Dec 1, 2002.

  1. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    This week I was lucky enough to demo both the new Panasonic PTAE-300 and Plus Piano 3100 (thanks respectively to Puddleduck and Corleone88).

    First of all let me make a disclaimer, this is in no way a scientific comparison, I didn't see them side by side and it was on different equipment. But it might be of interest to some...

    Secondly, I hope either of the 2 owners don't mind me posting this...

    First up.....

    PTAE-300.

    This was seen with a Philips 963a PAL progressive player and projected onto a white wall - approx 6' image.

    I was immediately struck by the screendoor on this projector, or rather the lack of it. Having owned a Plus U31080 DLP projector for a couple of months, I'm used to not seeing it. And the 300 was no different. Excellent.

    The image was rock solid (Swordfish R1 and Monsters Inc), colours were vibrant - alot stronger than I anticipated and more than anything else....the image was sharp.

    Sharpness was the one thing that was missing on my old DLP, long-distance shots lost so much detail (this was via component interlaced), but the PTAE-300 retained this detail to an impressive level. However, I did notice a little "ghosting", especially on the front screen of the Philips DVD player. This did surprise me, although I must add that it didn't affect actually movie viewing.

    What struck me also was how smooth the pans were. I'm used to juddering or "tearing" in the picture....but again the PTAE-300 maintained it's composure giving a smooth image.

    I DID notice a small amount of the vertical motion artefact (on Swordfish only), however to be honest it didn't bother me in the least - the strengths of the projector far outweigh this minor point.

    Contrast....this was where I noticed the weakness of the projector. Again, I'm used to more "solid" blacks, and the PTAE-300 couldn't match it. Blacks were more grey than black (hardly surprising) but as I watched I thought: "It's liveable."

    The other thing worth mentioning is that this was obviously projected onto a wall (not the best solution), and therefore there was no screen masking. Andy (Puddleduck) also mentioned that he hardly barely tweaked the machine yet, so I'm sure the black levels could be improved.

    Fan noise.....errr what fan? It was so damn quiet by comparison to what I'm used to, very unobtrusive enabling DVDs to be watched at low volume levels without distraction. This was in the low power mode.

    Overall:

    Impressed. Sharp images, vibrant colours, no screendoor (this was at 1x too), blacks were still not "black".....but reasonable all the same.

    Coupled with a high lamp life in eco mode, and whisper quiet operation, I thought it was a good machine. And Monster's Inc has to be seen to be believed....

    Plus Piano 3100

    I had high expectations of this unit, between viewing the 300 and the piano the black levels were nagging at me....I was beginning to think that the 300 hadn't impressed me as much.

    The Piano was viewed on a 4' widescreen, white screen, viewed at 1.5x. Both through my Toshiba SD510E and via DVI HCPC.

    Source material was again Swordfish R1 and Toy Story 2 instead of Monsters Inc.

    As soon as the piano fired up, Swordfish went on via the DVD player.....

    No surprises, an initially smooth picture with great colour renditioning, and zero screendoor. I was immediately impressed, this is what I love about DLP projectors!

    Swordfish got off to a good start, however, in the opening set-piece scene, I noticed some horrible artefacts, most noticeable on faces/areas of shadow.

    I couldn't believe what I was seeing, I was completely gutted:( We repeated the scene - apparently only I could see it at first, but then Philippe spotted it and was in agreement.

    It really was that bad. Dark areas/faces struck me as being from a VCD source rather than DVD, everytime someone moved their heads I could see it. Which was REALLY surprising as I'd heard so many good things about this projector.

    With it's own on-board "progressive scan" I didn't think it would be an issue....but there it was.

    Moving the viewing position further back did help to eliminate the problem somewhat, but to me it was still noticeable (and this was only on a 4' screen also).

    Next up was Toy Story 2, which looked very impressive. The opening sequence displayed clear colours, a vibrant sharp picture...but again, in the "spoof pod-race" sequence I noticed the same artefacting as on Swordfish. It wasn't nearly as bad, but still noticeable (perhaps because I was looking for it at this point).

    We then switched to the HCPC via DVI, and things immediately changed. Toy Story 2 looked incredible to my eyes, I looked at it and thought "how could you possibly better this?". Where I thought the image was sharp and vibrant via the Toshiba 510...the HCPC certainly had the edge.

    The artefacting was definately reduced by using the HCPC....but still on swordfish I could see it in the opening set-piece:(

    Fan-noise on the Piano was quiet (hell my U31080 sounds like a 747 taking off by comparison) - it was louder than the PTAE-300 but still not instrusive. The lamp life is 1000 hours which for me is an increasingly important feature - 1000 simply isn't enough for the investment.

    Due to the projector being low lumens (450?) there is also no eco mode.

    Speaking of lumens, I should also mention that initially I was skeptical of the 450 rating......but this really wasn't an issue. In a light controlled room, the picture was superb.

    Overall:

    Great black levels, crisp picture and vibrant colours. Sounds great doesn't it? It was, until I saw the artefacts, which makes it a "no-goer" for me. If I had a HCPC I might have given it more consideration, but having as I do a standalone DVD player (and no plans to change in the near future), it really isn't an option.


    So there you have it, not scientific, and easily dismissable as the projectors weren't viewed side by side and under different conditions.

    The more I think about it, the more impressed I was the PTAE-300. If only we didn't have to order the buggers from Japan:mad:

    I think I've made my decision, PTAE-300 it is:D (*goes to fill up that paypal account).

    Cheers
    Matt
     
  2. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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    Good review.

    Certainly some interesting points about the artefacts with the DLP machine. Did you ever see those kind of artefacts on your old pj?

    Gary.
     
  3. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Yes I did see them but I was expecting to really be wowed by the Piano, given its inherent AV application. The plus is a native business projector, and interlaced only.

    Maybe it was psychological but the artefacts on the Piano were worse than on mine. Saying that, before I pack up my 1080 tonight (it's going tomorrow:( ) I'll stick on Swordfish and see what it looks like.
     
  4. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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    Cool. :)

    I sometimes see these artefacts too, but it seems to be DVD dependant. Some have them, but many don't.

    They look like my 100hz Sony when the sharpness is set too high..

    Gary.
     
  5. Julia

    Julia
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    Smurfin,

    Thanks for the great review!:)

    I agree with you that AE300 is a great projector. I'm glad that it passed your tests with flying colours... :D

    I hardly wait to get mine back... If only they would not have those dead pixels:(

    I wish someone would make a AE300/HS-10/Z1 comparison...

    Good luck with your AE300 if you decide to buy one.
    Julia
     
  6. Corleone88

    Corleone88
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    Matt,

    Thanks for the detailed review (even if my Piano didn't win in your opinion ;) ). I checked again these motion artifacts and I managed to reduce them (I think) by changing different values of the projector. I understand that it can be annoying for some people (like screendoor or rainbow), but it doesn't bother me (only if I am concentrated on that). And to be honest, I prefer this little problem than taking the risk of having dead pixels and hope that Panasonic will not charge to much to fix it (especially when you have to send it back to Japan ;)). When are we gonna have a pj without any defaults? Home Cinema is still very new...

    Anyway, it was very nice meeting you and also see my Piano connected to component signal.
    Cheers

    Philippe
     
  7. Big_AL007

    Big_AL007
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    I would think seriously before you buy a PJ from Japan. Are you really sure there is no better way of spending £1700 in this country. For that sort of money perhaps a good second user unit would be better, and a lot less hassle :confused: :eek: :(
     
  8. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Yes the thought of importing does concern me, not so much dead pixels but after say 200 hours......if it dies:(

    Still not sure, but for £1500 I can think of no other viable alternative in terms of performance.
     
  9. Big_AL007

    Big_AL007
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    Another thing, Swordfish, whats that all about. No wonder you were looking for problems with the picture if that was on. :D One of the few films I have laughed at cus it was so bad :eek:
     
  10. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    heh, Swordfish was used partly because I left it in my DVD player by accident....:rolleyes:
     
  11. Big_AL007

    Big_AL007
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    LOL you mean to say you had been watching AGAIN :confused: :confused: :confused: :eek: :confused:
     
  12. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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