Dead-Finger Tech: Panasonic HD front projector

I like my toys. Dual monitors on a quad-core, 12 GB Mac Pro.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

I like my toys. Dual monitors on a quad-core, 12 GB Mac Pro. Blackmagic Intensity Pro HDMI capture card. 4 TB of local disk, including my favorite, a 300 GB WD 10k Velociraptor system disk. Logitech Trackman Wheel and a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite.

Canon HV20 and Kodak Zi6 HD camcorders. Final Cut Studio and Shake. External 4 drive eSATA RAID. Contour Shuttle Pro2. Lexar Professional card reader. iSight Firewire webcam.

Scansnap sheet-fed scanner. Olympus LS-10 digital audio recorder. Microphones. iPhone, natch. Etymotic earphones. Wacom tablet. Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with Manfrotto fluid head. Teleprompter.

80mm rich-field refractor with 2" eyepiece and star diagonal. 10x40 binoculars. Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000 and Vehrenberg's Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors. A dark sky Arizona mountain town to enjoy them in.

Oppo Digital DVD and Sony Blu-ray players. Outlaw Audio receiver. Dynaudio speakers. Home-built 120" screen. 1,000 DVDs. No cable, no landline.

Did I mention I like my toys?

And the winner is . . . I like them all and love several of them. But my dead-finger tech choice is one I never would have guessed a year ago: my Panasonic PT-AX-200U front projector.

The picture quality is superb - as good as the local movie theater if memory serves. Dozens of people have come over for the Friday night movie and all have been impressed.

Size matters It isn't just the quality though - it is the sheer size of the screen. My prior 50" plasma was excellent, but I see them now and they just seem puny.

I don't think I could go back to a small screen. Even a 50" big screen.

The downsides It isn't perfect, but the negatives don't affect me as much as they might others.

  • Dark room. Movies don't start until it is late twilight because brightness kills the theater experience for me. No daylight saving time in Arizona, so movies start at 8 pm even in June. The picture is watchable with ambient light, but I want the movie theater experience. If you can't darken the room it may not be for you.
  • Costly lamp replacement. The powerful lamp that gives the 2000 lumen beam is only expected to last 2000 hours. Some get less. At $350 for a replacement it isn't cheap - especially since the street price for the projector is only $1k.
  • Size and weight. At 10 lbs. it isn't light, nor is it small except when compared to a TV. But it is a lot greener.

The Storage Bits take How we interact with our stored data is almost as important as the data itself. A large, high-quality HD image makes it easy and enjoyable to interact with video content.

In the latest James Bond movie, MI6 is equipped with table and wall-sized touch screens. They have the right idea. Size matters.

Perhaps my next monitor will be a 30 incher.

Comments welcome, of course. BTW, I bought it. Panasonic markets them through their business division, not home entertainment, because at $1,000 they are cheaper and bigger than most displays.

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