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Review: Panasonic PT-F200U Projector

The Test Center examines the Pansonic PT-F200U projector, to see how it rates.

The 13.7-pound PT-F200U projector that the Test Center evaluated is housed in a boxy-but-elegant, silver case that sits 17 inches by slightly less than 5 inches by about 12-and-a-half inches.

The front of the unit has a swing-down door that hides the control panel, with a nice, wide plastic window through which the lens projects. In addition, besides the usual focus and zoom levers, the lens also has a shift lever which allows for adjustment of the projected image if the unit is not positioned directly in front of the screen.

The multiple inputs in the back of the unit include S-Video, Composite Video, Component Video, and a D-Sub 15 connector. There is also an additional D-Sub 15 port that can be configured via the menu to be used either as another input or as an output. Standard audio connections are also available to power the internal 3-watt speaker.

The PT-F200U utilizes Panasonic's Daylight View 4 image-processing, which works with a small Ambient Luminance Sensor (ALS) on the top of the projector, to optimize color, brightness and contrast according to the ambient lighting conditions in the room. During testing this feature appeared to work well, with the display easy to see, even with all the lab lights on and various monitors running.

When compared to 17 test patterns in the DispayMate calibration suite, the PT-F200U passed 14 out of the box, primarily falling short in the black and grey levels, while excelling on the intensity tests. Reviewers were also a little surprised that even at 3500 lumens, the whites, and some secondary colors, looked a little washed out.

It should be noted that this is not a high-definition projector, and the brightness and vividness or the colors were more than sufficient for day-to-day meetings and presentations. With some additional fine-tuning, the settings can be adjusted to suit most tastes.

Although hard to evaluate in a short period of time, another unique feature of the PT-F200U is Panasonic's second-generation Auto Rolling Filter (ARF). The ARF is supposed to reduce periodic maintenance costs connected to dust build-up and contamination by detecting reduced air flow from captured dust and automatically exposing fresh electrostatic filter material as needed.

Along with one for Power, the top front edge of the projector has LED indicators that show when attention is needed for the lamp, temperature or the ARF. During testing, the PT-F200U drew a steady 255 watts in use, and 3 watts when in standby. Temperature levels over most of the unit measured approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the highest readings reaching 140 degrees on the right side of the case.

The projector can be mounted on a desktop or from a ceiling, and from the front or rear of the screen. Desktop adjustments are made with two front legs that screw up and down. Further positioning settings can be accessed via the menu.

In addition to coming equipped with Closed Caption capability, standard features include direct power off, rear-access lamp replacement and a remote control. Sister model, PT-F200NTU adds networking functionality with both an RJ-45 Ethernet jack and WLAN capability that enables up to 16 PCs or Macs to wirelessly connect, simultaneously, directly to the projector without the need of a router or WAN.

The PT-F200U achieves its goal of being a flexible projector able to adjust to different needs when placed in a permanent setting. Those needing high-definition sharpness or colors will probably be a little disappointed, but for every day, standard use, it will live up to the expectations of most.

The PT-F200U has an MSRP of $3,999, while the networkable PT-F200NTU is $4,499.

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