Price (RRP): $2,749
Note: This projector was reviewed in comparison to 4 others as part of the Into the light – 5 projectors reviewed article.
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
I’ll make no secret of it: for the past few years my favourite budget 720p projector has been whatever the current Panasonic model has been, ever since the PT-AE500 projector. The PT-AX200 is the fourth replacement since then and, like each of its predecessors, it is an improvement over the last one.
It is still based on three 1280 x 720 pixel LCD panels, and still uses a dynamic iris to enhance black levels. It also has a large zoom range of 2:1 and both horizontal and vertical lens shift, so placement is very easy. This is adjusted with a joystick, which is harder to use for fine adjustments than the thumb-wheels provided on the Sony and Sanyo projectors. For a 100 inch display, the projector needs to be between 3.1 and 6.2 metres from the screen.
There’s nothing much to distinguish between the Sony and this Panasonic projector on the handling of high definition video. Both do a superb job of it. In particular, the Panasonic not only accepts the 24 frames per second format of high definition video, but displays it with film-like smoothness.
One particular quality of recent Panasonic projectors has been their ability to quite eliminate the ‘screen door effect’. This is a visible grid-pattern on the screen formed by the individual display pixels. Somehow Panasonic’s display engine makes these invisible, even if you stand within a metre of the display screen. The other projectors all had some degree of screen door effect, although this was of course not visible at normal viewing distances. One result of this was that the picture displayed by the Panasonic could seem, subjectively, just a little softer than with the others.
With PAL DVDs delivered over HDMI in interlaced format, the performance was excellent (just make sure you have the ‘Cinema Reality’ option under the Advanced Picture menu switched On).
With excellent colour and black levels as well, this projector wins on 720p picture quality.