Panasonic more than most has set its crosshairs on the HD gamer, and with the LCD-driven AX200E it has made a model fit for the job.
The AX200E is no lightweight. As well as being a large projector, it also boasts lots of connections, with two HDMI inputs, component, and S- and composite video. It's a native 720p model well-suited to HD gaming and movies. It even comes with optimised gaming presets guaranteed to eek out threats lurking in the ill-lit shadows.
The AX200E is ideal for use on a nearby coffee table. It's quiet, making little more than a low whisper as it generates a perfectly bright image. Although its maximum image size is less than that of some of its rivals, the short throw ratio lens gives a cracking six-foot image from a table just nine feet away. Brilliant for big-screen battles.
Setting up is made all the easier with the joystick-style optical lens shift. Just plonk it down and use the stick to aim at your screen. A little digital keystone correction and you'll soon have a perfect fit. Colour temperature, contrast, sharpness, etc can all be controlled from an unintimidating onscreen display.
Out of the box, with all the settings on neutral and the dynamic iris switched off, the AX200 offers a vibrant colour palette but little finese. Switching on the dynamic iris automatically dims the beam to suit the room. This improves contrast, which is no bad thing as it isn't the AX200E's strongest suit. 'Theatre' mode reduces the light output even more, making it the best setting for movies.
Switch to 'game' mode and you get a pumped up image full of colour with minimal lag which I found just perfect for Tekken 5 (PS3). Superfast motion proved no real problem for the AX200E (Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 is enough to test a display to its limits) and I noted real depth and focus to its hi-def images. This works well with both consoles and dedicated disc-spinners; with twin HDMIs, there's nothing to stop you plugging in two machines and toggling between them.
The AX200E is a genuine contender let down only by a disappointing contrast ratio that makes blacks appear a little grey. This robs the AX200E of some movie chops, but it doesn't spoil the hi-def gaming action. An all-round winner.