Just got my Panasonic L300U, and it's sweet!

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Elias A., Aug 5, 2003.

  1. Elias A.

    Elias A. Stunt Coordinator

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    After much agonizing and preparation, I finally ordered my first front projector last week. It's a Panasonic L300U, ordered from Visual Apex. By the way, I highly recommend Visual Apex: excellent service, very helpful people, and they got my projector to me only two days after I ordered it.

    Even before I ordered the projector, I had fabricated an 83 inch diagonal 16:9 screen using 1 X 3's for the frame, with Da-Lite HCCV screen material stretched over the back. I also built a speaker stand for my center channel since it no longer has a TV to sit on. So by the time the projector arrived, I was pretty much ready to go.

    I got the projector on Friday, and spent basically all day Saturday fabricating a ceiling mount for it, plus making a home-brew stereo rack for the receiver, DVD player, and satellite box. Then my wife and I attached the projector to the ceiling, and I did some fine-tuning to get the image to land on the screen. Finally, we settled in and watched Lord of the Rings.

    I was amazed at how clean and detailed the image was, even when blown up to 83 inches. I expected some loss in resolution from the increase in screen size, but the bigger screen just seems to bring out more detail in the image. Things like fabric texture and the wrinkles on people's skin were absolutely clear and distinct, and the epic shots of thousands of characters doing battle on the plains of Mordor were breathtaking. The only drawbacks seem to be that occasionally the pixel structure of the LCD panel is noticable (mostly on shots with very light colors), and the contrast is a bit lacking, so that objects that should be black are more like very dark grey. Otherwise, it's just like being at the movies.

    I also tried watching some satellite TV on the big screen, and the image was still pretty good. It's definitely softer and less detailed than a good DVD, but still very watchable. This was a surprise to me, since my old Mitsubishi 46 widescreen RPTV had a terrible picture with regular cable and satellite, so I expected the image on the bigger screen to be even worse. I guess the Panasonic doubler and/or scaler is better than my Mits, because the image with standard definition isn't bad.

    Now I just need to get the settings for picture quality dialed in. Anyone have any recommended settings for the L300U? Also, I've heard that using a filter can help with black levels. Any thoughts on the subject?
     
  2. Derrek Kyzar

    Derrek Kyzar Auditioning

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    Congrats on the purchase Elias. I too bought a 300U and the little I have watched (building the theater at the moment.. pics soon!) I have been equally impressed.

    Like I said, I am still in the process of finishing up. The screen is hung.. really all thats left is the ceiling mount of the projector and rear speakers. But I can tell you that a down and dirty demo of me holding the projector at the screen and listening to the movie on the big 1 watt speaker in the Panny has converted no less than 4 people who are in the market for FP now. The same thing happened 4 and a half years ago when I got a 65" Toshiba G series. 3 people I worked with went out and got one within a month. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

    I would also like to hear from other 200U and 300U owners on their settings or modifications. Particularly your 'numbers'.. brightness, contrast, etc. It's my first FP, so I am interested to see what others consider a near perfect picture. I have a Da-Lite High Contrast matte, 97" viewing from about 12 feet away.

    Thanks in advance!
    Derrek
     
  3. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    Congratulations - the pj's will make you want to revisit your whole collection. There are so many people wanting to get into front projection and these are two testimonials as to just how easy it can be done.
     
  4. Elias A.

    Elias A. Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Neil and Derrek. I was surprised how cheap (relatively speaking, anyway) front projection has become. I was able to pay for most of the new components by selling my 46-inch Mitsubishi RPTV and line doubler. As long as you're willing to do some work building a screen, ceiling mount, etc., the whole thing shouldn't have to cost more than $2,000. Or quite a bit less, if you opt for an Infocus X1 or Sanyo Z1.

    Last night, I watched The Animatrix, and I was again blown away by the detail and realism of the image. "Final Flight of the Osiris" and "Matriculated" were just unreal. I also watched a few minutes of Raging Bull, to see how the projector handles non-anamorphic source material. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the image looked, even though the DVD isn't very high resolution. My previous set was just terrible on non-anamorphic material, so I could barely stand to watch a good chunk of my collection. Now I feel like I have to go back and start enjoying all my older titles again.
     
  5. Derrek Kyzar

    Derrek Kyzar Auditioning

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    Neil, how right you are.
    All the people that have seen it either had no idea the picture was so good, or that they had gotten so reasonable in price (comparatively).
    I myself sold that Toshiba for $1500 to an upstairs neighbor just so I wouldn't have to move it downstairs. I was completely willing to add another $1500 to that and get another Toshiba 65". On the way to look at them, a friend mentioned that he got a Dell FP for his work and that I might want to look into them. After a demo of it that night I was up till 2 am reading everything on projectorcentral.com. The next morning my mind was made up. 300U, ceiling bracket and screen came out to just at $2k. So I feel like I got the deal of the century only having to add $500 from the Toshiba sale after expecting to spend $1500.

    Derrek
     
  6. AaronSP

    AaronSP Auditioning

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    I admire you Derrik, I've been reading about projectors for 5 years, and wanting to get one, but stil haven't. You started reading about them, and ordred one the next day. That is great!
     
  7. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I have said for about 10 years now the only way to watch a movie in your house is with front projection. As surround sound did for bringing the movie experience into your house front projection brings the video end into your house.

    There is nothing like having a large screen front projected image to pull you into a movie like anything else you can add to your system. Now with the prices dropping on these units more and more people are finding out just what I have been preaching for years. Go front projection! You will never go back to watching a standard CRT or RPTV again.

    You will also find that your trips to the local theater start to drop off too. Or if you do venture out to watch a movie one of the first thoughts you will have is "I wonder how this is going to look on my system!" or "This movie is going to kick ass on my theater".

    Also, they make for great entertainment with family and friends. You have everyone over for dinner and then they get to stay for a movie. How great of a time is that?

    I am really excited to see so many people getting on to the front projection band wagon.

    Parker
     
  8. Derrek Kyzar

    Derrek Kyzar Auditioning

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    Well Aaron I appreciate your admiration, but I did actually get a chance to see one in action. Read a bunch of threads on this board, particularly Parker and Ron-P's X-1 thread, and read a ton of reviews on Projector Central. So it wasn't totally impulsive. Reader reviews for the 300U on Projector Central I think really did the trick.

    Parker, ANOTHER convert last night. Surround still not hooked up because attic wiring not complete (one man show) but was able to show some Episode II on the screen. This was a buddy of mine that also wanted the Toshiba when it was up for sale. Now I am preaching FP all the way to anyone that will listen. Another guy at work is building an addition to his house to include a pool table. I told him that as soon as he sees the projector, he will be adding that too. He knows I am right from what he has been hearing. :)
    "We MUST-ah... let the people KNOW-ah... about the GLOOOORRY of Front Projection-ah"

    Derrek
     
  9. Bob Maged

    Bob Maged Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's another point to consider -- I figure my new PT-L200U is saving me around $170 per month. Since I began my DVD collection I have averaged around 23 per month. Thanks to the early days of on-line bargains, CH, and some judicious purchasing I have averaged around $10 per. In the last two months I have added just 11 new DVDs to my collection. Why? Because re-watching my DVDs on the FP is like seeing them all for the first time. It's going to take me two years to catch up!
     
  10. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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  11. Michael Mathius

    Michael Mathius Supporting Actor

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    Congrats Elias. Oh how sweet it is. Now you will know the true meaning of the sweet spot.
     
  12. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Yes, theres no going back to a reg. tv for movies. And while pj is being serviced, I refuse to slum and watch a dvd on something else! Ha[​IMG]

    It's great how nice it is re-discover a movie again that you've owned a while on a pj. Most of the time it brings back the real theater experience you had and I think my sound and atmosphere is better than the theater. Just need to get better home popcorn and sticky floors. [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

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    "We MUST-ah... let the people KNOW-ah... about the GLOOOORRY of Front Projection-ah

    Derrek"



    Amen, brother...

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Brian Schucher

    Brian Schucher Supporting Actor

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    Do we REALLY have to tell em??? [​IMG]
     
  15. TommyL

    TommyL Supporting Actor

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    Man...this forum just keeps costing me money! [​IMG] How does this 300 work with the xbox? The main reason I use a 55" mitsu is for dvd and gaming..I need them both[​IMG] Opinions and pics would be great! Visit me @

    http://home.mchsi.com/~toml/wsb/html...tos.html-.html

    Tom
     
  16. Elias A.

    Elias A. Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't got an XBox (yet), so I can't answer that question. However, I might have to get one soon, just to see what Halo looks like on an 83" screen. One problem I have with playing video games on big screen TV's is that the illusion is so good that you can get motion sickness, especially with first person games. I had a Sega Dreamcast for a while that I used with my Misubishi widescreen, and both my wife and I would start to get a bit queasy after a while. Maybe that's just as well, otherwise I could play all night.

    Getting back to the main thread, I was starting to notice some minor "screen door" during scenes with a lot of motion or camera movements. I think this is the so-called "scanline artifact", where the pixel structure becomes momentarily visible during scenes with movement. It's only apparent for a split second, but it's kind of distracting. I did some fine-tuning on the L300U last night, including the "flicker tweak" to get rid of the scanline artifact. I also did some fine tuning of color and contrast settings. Then I watched Shrek all the way through, and the scanline effect was almost completely gone. The picture is even smoother and more filmlike, but still has incredible detail. Yessss! I still haven't done any tuning with Avia or Video Essentials, but the picture already looks incredible to me. I might have to go and get a video tuning disc today to complete the adjustments.
     
  17. TommyL

    TommyL Supporting Actor

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    Elias.....how does it look on dvd vs a mitsu hdtv...? I have the 55" mitsu widescreen..how does it differ....I mean, I wonder how pixelation is and so on?
     
  18. Elias A.

    Elias A. Stunt Coordinator

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    I was surprised how good the picture is compared to my old Mits. I haven't noticed any increase in pixelization or compression artifacts. Of course, I've been watching some of the higher quality titles so far (Lord of the Rings, Shrek, Toy Story 2, Bug's Life, etc.), so it may be that there aren't many flaws on those discs. Edge enhancement will probably also be more visible, although I haven't really noticed it yet. Overall, the picture seems even more detailed and vibrant than on the Mits.

    The L300U also seems to handle non-anamorphic material and 4:3 material quite well, whereas the Mits always looked terrible on anything that wasn't 16:9 enhanced. My only complaints are that the black level isn't perfect (although it's not awful either), and the scanline artifact is occasionally distracting. However, doing the flicker tweak and slightly defocusing the picture seems to have all but eliminated the scanline artifact, and any trace of screendoor.
     
  19. Rik P

    Rik P Stunt Coordinator

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    I can vouch for the direct comparison on the 55" inch Mits (WS-55809) also. I prefer the L300, you get more bang for buck factor than the Mits as long as you have some light control. Better light control means better blacks. Also scan lines are noticeable but do not take away from the PQ much.
    I can now officially say that your screen will have lot to do with how well PJ is going to perform. I built a DIY screen from a formula over at AVS. I painted right over the black out cloth (96") i was using, and man my blacks now smoke my Mits by a long shot (with no visible loss of brightness) i was watching Men In Black 2 (HD) last night and could not believe the blacks. My Mits never performed like that before, also my Mits was ISF calibrated in April.
     
  20. TommyL

    TommyL Supporting Actor

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    damn...[​IMG] I wish someone had a darn ps2 or xbox hooked up to this thing...as far as light control goes---> I have 4 windows with levelor metal type shades...what am I looking for as far as light goes...I would think you want it as dark as possible...will my setup work at all with what I have(shade/window-wise) thanks guys..you may have cost me more money lol...Here is a pic(3rd set of 5)..maybe you can tell---->

    http://home.mchsi.com/~toml/wsb/html...tos.html-.html
     

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