Panasonic PT-P1SDEA review

Price when reviewed
Panasonic’s PT-P1SDEA has two unique features: an SD card slot and an ambient light sensor. If you make the same presentation again and again, using an SD card instead of a notebook is an extremely attractive proposition: you don’t have to carry a heavy notebook with you and you won’t have any embarrassing delays as you struggle to obtain a signal from the notebook.

Just bear in mind that you can’t make last-minute changes, and slides have to be converted into JPEGs via Panasonic’s downloadable utility. SD cards can be used for security too: register one or two cards via the menu, and the projector won’t operate without them.

The ambient light sensor automatically adjusts brightness, but there’s no eco mode (an unusual absentee), which would allow you to maximise lamp life and potentially reduce fan noise. As it is, the PT-P1SDEA is moderately noisy at 44dBA (43dBA with Ambient Light Sensor off), although replacement lamps are more affordable than some at £156. Lasting up to 2,500 hours, it leads to a very reasonable 6p per hour running cost.

The Panasonic’s other ace is the price: at £524, it’s the cheapest ultraportable projector we’ve seen. It tips the scales at 1.4kg, but isn’t the smallest around at 234 x 189 x 72mm (WDH). It also has one other caveat: the 800 x 600 resolution, while most others here boast 1,024 x 768.

This will make little difference in most PowerPoint presentations, though, and our test presentation appeared brighter than the 1,500 lumens rating would suggest. Being an LCD projector, the Panasonic’s colours are vibrant, if not particularly accurate (skin tones looked unrealistic in particular). There’s no sRGB mode, but the Dynamic mode proved best for photos. However, we couldn’t get the top and bottom halves of the screen sharply focused at the same time, and the lower resolution means you can see the lattice-like grid of pixels if you’re close enough to the screen.

Interfaces are standard fare: VGA, S-Video and composite video inputs are accompanied by RCA audio inputs. Only a VGA cable and slipcase are included, but this makes the carry weight just 1.8kg.

Despite the low price, Panasonic provides an impressive three-year exchange warranty, and this makes the PT-P1SDEA a real bargain if you’re out to spend the minimum possible and don’t need super-accurate colours.

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