When only a big projector will do

Panasonic PT-DW5000U

Features: A

Brightness: B-

Color quality: A

Value: C

Price: $12,000

Reviewer's comments: If you need a conference room projector with built-in redundancy, consider the PT-DW5000U. But keep in mind it doesn't run any brighter than smaller, cheaper portable projectors.

Contact: Panasonic Corp, Secaucus, N.J., (888) 411-1996

Every year, when we look at portable DLP projectors, we focus on designs that are less than 7 pounds (and sometimes on true lightweights that barely register 2 pounds). While we can compare these minuscule miracles to each other, one begins to wonder how they might stack up against a true conference room monster. What do you lose in terms of image quality, reliability and raw brightness when you trim 20 pounds off a design?

This year, to answer that question we brought in the Panasonic PT-DW5000U, a conference room projector that's by no means portable. We used the PT-DW5000U as a control of sorts, something the mini units could try to match. Surprisingly, several beat it in unexpected ways.

The PT-DW5000U weighs 32 pounds and is just over 20 inches long and 16 inches wide. It's almost seven inches thick, so it forms a large, heavy brick that nobody would want to try to lug through an airport.

The most unique feature about the PT-DW5000U is that it has two bulbs, each with its own cooling and air filtration system.

From an administration menu, you can set the projector to run with one bulb or the other, or have both of them going at the same time. The idea is to give the PT-DW5000U built-in redundancy, something we've never seen before in a DLP projector. If the left bulb blows out, you can simply switch over to the right bulb.

Of course, if you run both bulbs, the unit should project more light onto the screen to create brighter images. Surprisingly, at 10 feet we recorded only 710 lumens at the middle of the screen. This dropped off to 500 in the corners.

That's not necessarily bad, but with two bulbs we expected more. Several of the portable units were able to beat this brightness level, some by quite a lot.

One of the advantages of a large projector is more room for data input ports. The PT-DW5000U comes with two RGB, one DVI, one normal video and one S-Video port. As a result you can hook up just about any signal.

The PT-DW5000U also aces display quality tests, especially when it comes to text, which the unit handles faithfully down to six-point size.

There were some very slight registration errors in the video display tests, but given that the projector is more optimized for enterprise presentations, this was not surprising.

At $12,000, the price is a bit steep. However, in a mission-critical role, the redundancy might be something you can't pass up.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above