Panasonic PT-LB20NTEA review

Price when reviewed

It may not be one of the most imaginative or daring designs, but hiding under the PT-LB20NTEA’s plain silver casing is a great projector. It offers a brightness of 2,000 ANSI lumens and integrated Wi-Fi for simple, wire-free presentations.

Panasonic PT-LB20NTEA review

The Panasonic is based around an LCD engine, which delivers only a 400:1 contrast ratio, and it weighs more than others at 2.2kg. But if you’re after a great-quality portable projector that offers wireless connectivity and affordable running costs, you can’t go far wrong with the PT-LB20NTEA.

Spare lamps cost £199 and should last anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 hours, depending on how often you use the economy mode. In the worst case, this equates to 10p per hour – not an extortionate sum, but not the cheapest either.

There’s no DVI input and those wanting to hook up component sources for video will have a reasonably tough time too. But, for business use, neither of these aspects will matter and that’s where the Panasonic shines. Quite literally in fact, as it possesses an ambient light sensor. This so-called Daylight View technology means the projector can sense the light level in the room and adjust brightness accordingly.

In use, we found that even in a relatively bright room the PT-LB20NTEA managed to remain bright enough to see while preserving colour accuracy. Photos in our presentation retained dark and light details without bleaching them out or making them too dark. In the Natural colour mode, contrast was acceptable, giving good whites and blacks, as well as reasonably realistic skin tones.

Business charts and graphics had good impact with clean, accurate colours and bold text without ghosting. Characters could have been slightly crisper, though – focus dropped off slightly on the right-hand side of the image.

Projecting a black screen left a considerable amount of light on the screen due to the LCD mechanism, and movies tended to be over-bright, losing contrast. We also noticed horizontal tearing during pans, a sign that the processing system was having trouble keeping up.

Although it only produced 43.5dBA in standard mode, the fan made an annoying whine and, despite the 802.11g Wi-Fi, you can only transmit static PowerPoint images – no video clips are allowed. Finally, the flimsy carry case doesn’t offer much protection from top and bottom, while the price only includes a VGA cable.

We like the Panasonic’s three-year warranty and six-month lamp warranty (which is double the length of its rivals’), but at £1,080 you’ll have to really need the Wi-Fi capability and image quality to justify buying it over the Optoma.

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