The projector has a comprehensive number of connection options, with two HDMI ports being most welcome – a Sky HD box and a PlayStation 3 would feel most at home here. Next to them could be an Xbox 360 or a regular DVD player hooked up via component and if you had a Wii as well you could make use of the Scart socket. PCs are catered for via D-Sub, though I have to admit I would have preferred DVI. There’s also an S-Video and a composite connection though these lower quality connections and are not recommended. Finally, there’s a serial port used for custom control systems.
So we’ve established that the projector looks impressive on the outside, (at least in my opinion), and has all the right ports, but what of the technical wizardry inside? The contrast ratio is a very impressive sounding 11,000:1 – and while there’s no fixed standard for measuring these things across manufacturers, it’s far higher than what you’ll get on a plasma or LCD TV. That’s one of the reasons that projectors give a far more cinematic image that backlit displays – a far better black level – quite aside from the image being potentially so much larger. The high contrast ratio figure is achieved using an Auto Iris, which reduces brightness on the fly according to the content of the image. It doesn’t just affect brightness though, it also adjusts lamp power, iris and the gamma curve to give the best possible image. Other tricks include an aspherical lens, designed to reduce unwanted light dispersion.
The projector boasts Panasonic’s Cinema Works Pro 14-bit image processing, designed to get the best results from HD sources when scaling and deinterlacing. This bests the 10-bit processing offered by Epson’s TW1000. However, while the latter features HDMI 1.3, there is no mention of this in the Panasonic literature, so presumably the ports are HDMI 1.2. This means there is no support for Deep Colour but there’s is no software out there at the moment at the moment that supports it and in any case, the Panasonic certainly had no problem delivering rich, strong and natural colours.
Every technology has its inherent problems and the classic one to afflict LCD is the ‘chicken wire’ effect, where it’s possible to discern the grid between the pixels that make up the LCD panels. Panasonic has always used its Smooth Screen technology to deal with this and the good news is that there is no sign of the affect here.