Panasonic PT-AR100E home theatre projector
This Panasonic projector is a big screen for your living room, even with the lights on
- Bright 2800 lumen lamp
- Very good colour presets
- Good image quality
- Contrast could be higher
- No 3D or frame smoothing
Designed to be used in brighter environments than the range-topping PT-AE7000, Panasonic’s PT-AR100E makes a compromise between contrast, black levels and image brightness. It does a good job - it’s one of the best projectors we’ve seen for watching movies in a room that’s anything other than pitch-black.
Price$ 3,079.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic PT-AR100E is a projector aimed at the same market that buys big-screen TVs like the 65in Panasonic VT30A, the 60in Sharp LE835X (and its 70in LE735X counterpart), and the 65in Sony HX925. It’s designed to be used in your living room, whether you’ve got the lights on or not — with a lamp that’s rated at a bright 2800 lumens, it can handle displaying a movie when your living room is well lit.
Panasonic PT-AR100E: Design and features
Panasonic makes two home theatre projectors: the PT-AR100E, designed for casual viewers and enthusiasts alike, and the decidedly more high-end PT-AE7000 — meant for cinema room installations complete with black-out curtains and high-end sound system. Both projectors are laid out similarly, with an offset lens and front fan vent, but the PT-AR100E is finished in a matt white.
The lens setup of the Panasonic PT-AR100E is almost perfect. There’s a very generous range of motion in the integrated lens shift mechanism, and the 2x range of the zoom lens means the projector can be set up in a small or large room with a similarly small or large screen size. Our test conditions were at the lower end of the projector’s throw range of 1.16m - 18.08m and screen size of 1.02m - 7.62m, but there’s plenty of adjustability for larger viewing spaces.
Our one gripe is the lack of any extra-fine adjustment in the zoom and focus rings — it’s all manual, so unless you’ve got a partner checking whether the image is perfectly focused and zoomed, you’ll need to make a guess and check it on the screen. We would have liked motor-driven fine focus adjustment or a second focus ring for extra-fine adjustment.
The Panasonic PT-AR100E has a few nifty features designed to optimise its video without any input by the user, in a range of lighting conditions: namely Dynamic Iris Pro, which adjusts brightness as well as gamma curve 60 times per second to react to whatever’s being displayed. Also in the mix are built-in ambient light and colour sensors that detect room and projection surface settings to better display video with the correct brightness and white balance. A split-image mode compares settings so that users can choose the most pleasing image and see the impact of their changes.
Buttons are hidden off to the side of the PT-AR100E, and are laid out in a familiar directional pad. You won’t need to use these apart from the projector’s initial setup — the backlit remote control that comes bundled with the projector can change video inputs and navigate menus when necessary.
Panasonic PT-AR100E: Performance and video quality
The Panasonic PT-AR100E strikes a good compromise between brightness and contrast — the two factors that each projector has to balance in order to suit the environment in which it is used. Hardcore home theatre projectors can maximise black levels, dynamic range and image contrast by sacrificing overall brightness, where business projectors need the highest possible brightness for sun-lit boardroom presentations at the cost of colour accuracy and deep blacks.
The Panasonic PT-AR100E has an impressive 2800 lumens of brightness from its lamp — enough to display bright colours alongside reasonably deep black levels when the room is lit by a bright fluorescent light. Obviously the black levels aren’t as deep as when the room is darker, but for anything other than serious movie-watching it’s more than capable and is easily better-looking than a budget or mid-range LCD or LED television.
The Panasonic’s built-in sensors make it easy to change from watching in a bright room to a dark one — the projector optimises itself when the Dynamic Iris Pro setting is used, so viewers can switch from watching TV in a bright room to dimming the lights and watching a movie with no projector fiddling required. Also impressive are the video presets, which do a great job of switching colours, contrast and processing to suit the input of a movie, game, or fast-moving TV show. We generally left the Panasonic PT-AR100E in the Cinema preset for our movie watching and switched to Game when we gave it a test run on our Xbox 360 Slim.
At 50,000:1 native (full on to full off), the contrast ratio of the Panasonic PT-AR100E means it can display some pretty subtle variations on-screen in the right environment. Using the Panasonic PT-AR100E in a darkened room, we were impressed with the range of detail we could find in dark and bright scenes. It’s not perfectly on par with a dedicated dark-room home theatre projector, but it is a lot more versatile for a minimal trade-off in image quality. As we’ve seen in previous Panasonic models like the Panasonic PT-AE3000 home theatre projector, the PT-AR100E’s lens is excellent. It’s extremely sharp across the entire frame, even at maximum and minimum zoom levels.
Panasonic hasn’t included any kind of 3D technology or frame interpolation in the PT-AR100E — those are restricted to the higher-end PT-AE7000. This might be a disappointment to the kind of buyer that obsessively compares specifications between different models and different manufacturers, but in our viewing we didn’t ever wish for either feature. The PT-AR100E generally handles fast motion well, especially in the Game mode, so we didn’t see any significant image break-up, and we’re still not sold on 3D.
Panasonic PT-AR100E: Conclusion
Unless you intend to use it as a dedicated cinema-room-only projector — there are better models for that, including Panasonic’s own AE7000 — the Panasonic PT-AR100E is an impressive projector. It’s the best compromise we’ve seen yet in terms of producing a bright and vibrant image while still maintaining good black levels and contrast in a wide range of lighting conditions.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Sony’s new liquid-cooled 4K home video projector delivers 5000 lumens of brightness, costs $60,000
- BenQ targets Epson with revamped home entertainment projectors
- LG's new Laser Display gives you 100in of full HD glory
- Vivid Sydney 2012 gets some love from will.i.am
- InFocus releases cheap short-throw projector
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTService Desk Team LeaderNSW
- CCSenior Front End DeveloperOther
- CCSenior Automation TesterSA
- CCData Scientist (Big Data)VIC
- CCService Management Analyst (Part-Time)NSW
- CCConsumer Social Specialist (Digital)VIC
- FTSoftware Sales & BDMNSW
- FTEnterprise Account ManagerACT
- FTSenior Project Manager / Program ManagerNSW
- FTDigital Delivery and Engagement OfficersVIC
- TPSenior Engineer-UNIXVIC
- CCSenior Networks EngineerVIC
- FTTechnical Writer - HealthcareVIC
- FTSolution DesignerVIC
- CCProcess Analysts, Wealth ManagementNSW
- FTChief Security Officer l CISSP l ISO27001NSW
- FTSoftware Developer - LMSNSW
- CCTechnical Solutions Architect - CloudNSW
- CCIT Service Management Delivery SpecialistNSW
- CCMobile Application DeveloperQLD
- FTLicensing SpecialistVIC
- FTSystem EngineerNSW
- FTSystems Engineer - Managed Service ProviderVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst- RFQ, Test Manager- Government backgroundNSW
- CCMainframe Developer (with ASP.NET)SA