This is our favorite time of year. The air is cooling, the holidays are coming, and the new projectors are officially rolled out for consumption. This year the focus seems to be on the 1080p resolution, but there are two very interesting developments in the 720p camp.
The New 720p Projectors
Get in the Game – Panasonic sure did. Their next generation Panasonic PT-AX200U projector sports a new “Game Mode” which improves signal processing for a virtually zero-delay response time from controller to image. Game Mode also pumps up the detail in the crucial dark scenes common in many video games. Without Game Mode, these scenes look muddy in the shadows, but in Game Mode the details in those dark areas are revealed.
Projector People’s very own Joey Shipley was the first gamer in the U.S. to test the new Panasonic Game Mode with a copy of Splinter Cell running on the new Xbox Elite. He will be trading in his Panasonic PT-AE900U for the new PT-AX200U. Panasonic also has the endorsement of Major League Gaming. Tom Taylor, known in the professional gaming circuit as Tsquared, manned the Panasonic booth at CEDIA – challenging visitors to a round of Halo 2 and recounting how his experience with the new PT-AX200U projector is “unmatched.”
[ photo: Typical projector in dark scenes. Some detail missing in the darkest areas of black. ]
The PT-AX200U features the same 2000 lumen brightness, 720p resolution, 6000:1 contrast ratio, and Hollywood color tuning as its predecessor. (Panasonic really does take its engineering samples of home theater projectors to Hollywood color studios for final color adjustments before their production runs.) The PT-AX200U also adds an additional HDMI input, improved Light Harmonizer technology, and a refined Advanced Dynamic Sharpness control for clearer more natural images.
[ photo: Example of Panasonic PT-AX200U projector in dark scenes. Greater detail in black areas of the image. This is cruicial in video gaming because much of the ‘action’ takes place in the shadows. ]
Expect the PT-AX200U to ship around October 1, 2007. At the moment, your guess is as good as ours on the street price.
Make the Rounds – Epson is the first manufacturer to bring an all-in-one DVD player and projector to market in 720p, HD resolution. Their new MovieMate 72 3LCD projector incorporates an up-converting DVD player that up-converts standard definition DVDs to HD 720p and sends an all-digital signal to its native 1280 x 720 resolution projector partner. Both devices sit in a newly designed chassis that can swivel so that the DVD can be loaded from any side.
A very nice package for the price (ESP $1200), the new MovieMate 72 projector also features built-in, 5-watt speakers with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS sound. Other bonuses include lens shift (another first in this category), and an HDMI input for another high-definition device.