Seeing as how this is marketed as a gaming projector, these tests were by far and away the most important. I had seen first hand at CES how it performed in Call of Duty 4, but I had a few others games in mind that I knew would provide some benchmarking. The most touted aspect of the AX200U is the Game Mode, which virtually eliminates lag between controllers and the screen and enhances the gradation to help see in dark areas. So we specifically chose several games that would provide a stern test.
First up were Guitar Hero II and Rock Band, which we used for benchmark testing due to the vast amount of fast moving information on the screen (RB) and the ability to synchronize the controllers to the projector (both). After playing through several songs in both games, it was agreed that the projector did extremely well. The graphics were sharp, the motion smooth and our controllers responded quickly to our commands. We initially had a few problems hitting out marks, but determined this to be due to the size of the screen and not any lag between controllers and projector. To make sure, we did a synch with Guitar Hero II and Rock Band, and realized we were on the money with the control responsiveness, just our reaction time needed to catch up to the bigger graphics. After playing a few songs, we had adjusted to the larger screen and were in rhythm without further problems.
The next test was some co-op with Gears of War. There may not be a better game on the market right now to test dark levels and graphics than what Gears provides. Using two-player local co-op on a split-screen, we put the AX200U through several areas of the game. Starting off in the Prison was especially informative, as it really gave us a chance to fine-tune the projector and see the advantage that the game mode provides in detail reproduction. This is the feature that shows more details in areas that are usually shrouded in shadows or darkness. I immediately noticed a difference, as grenades, ammo and cog tags that were difficult to pick out of the surrounding on the LCD in my office jumped right out at me. Controlling Dom and Marcus was a snap, with neither of us experiencing any lag with fire, reload or movement. All in all, it was one of the best Gears sessions I have enjoyed since the game came out.
The last bit of fun was with Call of Duty 4 using spit-screen multiplayer. I chose the BOG multi-player map due to its contrasting light and dark areas, along with the amount of secondary activity that is on the screen (burning barrels, tracer fire in the background, etc.). After chasing each other around for awhile, we started engaging in some close combat battles. The projector performed extremely well, rendering the map with incredible detail. The Game Mode aspect that accentuates the shadowy area really stood out on this map, as I was twice able to pick up my adversary in an area I normally would not have noticed him in. One time was while sweeping the area using the scope of my sniper rifle, where I just picked up the shadow outline of his soldier while he was hiding in a very dark corner. Needless to say, he didn’t hide there for the remainder of our match.
Miscellaneous Items of Note
• The AX200U vents a fair amount of heat from just to the left of the Lens.
• It includes a two-year, limited part and labor warranty and a 90-day lamp warranty.
• There is a transition period for many games to “re-learn” how to play at the larger screen size.
• Make sure the area is conducive for a projector to achieve maximum effect.
• Replacement lamp costs around $300-$400.
||Puts out lots of heat
|Easy to set up
||Some LCD screen tear
Items utilized in the testing of the Panasonic PT-AX200U included, but not limited to:
Xbox 360 Elite, Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, amplified Off-air antenna, DirecTV Satellite feed, 92” 16:9 Da-Lite fixed screen.
Testing was done at a throw distance of 11’ 5” from a 92” 16:9 screen with a bookshelf mount location (approx five feet off the floor.) Seating was at a distance of nine feet from the screen.
Panasonic took great lengths to not only gear the PT-AX200U’s performance toward gamers, but offer the ability to provide an overall Home Theater experience. From the inputs to the instruction manual, you can tell the design team had a great feeling for what the inner-gamer and home theater enthusiast in all of us wanted. Simplicity and performance rule the day, and the Panasonic PT-AX200U is one of the first to capture that essence and deliver it to the consumer. At $1,299, the PT-AX200U easily out performs projectors in its class and will provide exceptional value to anyone who purchases it.
A special thanks to Automated Visions/AV Homes here in Hilliard, Ohio for the use of a 92” fixed Da-Lite screen
The PT-AX200U has changed the way gaming can be viewed. No longer is a projector just for bigger presentation, as the gaming and graphic qualities on the AX200 are to the levels of rear-projection screens half its capable size.
Page 4 of 4