Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB vs. Panasonic PT-AE2000U

Looks like we have a rematch here, from last year. Last year, the older Epson Home Cinema 1080 (no “UB”), did battle with the Panasonic PT-AE1000U. In last year’s “contest” the results were pretty much a tie, with each projector having some advantages and disadvantages.

 

This year the results are definitely different! Both took our top honor, the Best In Class Award, but the Panasonic got placed in our 1080p Entry Level group (approximately $2000 and under – street price), and the Epson in the main grouping ($2000 to $3500). This makes things interesting!

The Basics: What is similar about these two home theater projectors - features?

When it comes to finding a projector that will work in your room, in terms of where it can be placed, these two are basically a tie. Both offer wide range zoom lenses – 2:1 for Panasonic’s PT-AE2000U, and 2.1:1 for The Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB. Note please, that outside the US and Canada, the Epson is sold only in one version, as the Epson TW2000, and is the same as the Pro Cinema 1080 UB, here. Also, both have vertical lens shift with similar range, and both offer horizontal lens shift. One difference, is that the Panasonic’s zoom and focus are motorized, while the Epson is manual. Both have similar lamp life ratings. I should note, at this point, either projector can be shelf mounted or ceiling mounted. The Panasonic, however, has an advantage when ceiling mounting, in that you can change out the lamp, without unmounting the projector. Epson requires the projector to be unmounted, to do so.

Both home theater projectors use 3LCD technology, so many characteristics of image quality are similar, and both rely on dynamic irises, to produce the best black levels on darker scenes.

Both have very good remotes, but I favor the Epson. The Epson remote is excellent all the way around. By comparison, the Panasonic is a bit cluttered, and has some minor limitations. The Panasonic remote control, does, however, have some advantages. First, it’s a learning remote that can also control up to three additional devices, and second it has an LCD display as well as lots of buttons.

Color Mangement Systems (CMS)

Both offer extensive color management controls, although the Panasonic goes a bit further, and also offers their built in waveform generator, to help out. The Epson is more traditional, but has an excellent gamma adjustment setup, allowing users to easily create custom gammas for different conditions and content.

Future-proof Projectors?

Both have HDMI 1.3 inputs, with Deep Color support (not all modes). The Panasonic, however, has three HDMI inputs, compared to The Epson’s two. Personally I think everyone should have three, but, in reality, few do. Having three comes in handy for those with 3 different input devices using HDMI, but not using an AV Receiver for their HDMI source switching. Those three devices might be: 1) cable or satellite box 2) Hi-Def (probably Blu-ray) DVD player 3) standard DVD player 4) computer with HDMI output (most Macs, some PC’s), 5 Some game machines – such as the PS3 6) future devices.

 

Of course there’s always the option of buying a 3rd party HDMI switcher, if you have more devices, than inputs.

Both projectors also support 1080p/24fps, which is a big feature, that was not widely supported last year. This lets these projectors when working with most new hi-def discs (Blu-ray), that support 24fps, output movies, without having to support 3:2 pulldown, which is otherwise needed because movies are 24fps, and video (including projectors) are normally based on 30fps. The result of 3:2 pulldown is some unevenness in motion, usually referred to as “judder”. Both of these fully suport 24fps, so, are on top of things. They will still use 3:2 pulldown with standard DVDs, since the “old” format does not support 24fps.

With both projectors supporting HDMI 1.3 with Deep Color, and 1080p/24fps, they fit into the most “future-proof” category.Above: Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB (left) Panasonic PT-AE2000U (right), not to scale, the Panasonic is larger, but fits neatly, in size, between the “smaller” projectors, like the Epson, and “larger” ones like the Sony, JVC and BenQ projectors.

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