Panasonic PT-AE7000 Home Theater Projector Review

Panasonic PT-AE7000 - Review Summary

Time to try to put all the features, performance, flexibility, warranty, and other aspects of Panasonic’s PT-AE7000U projector.

Panasonic PT-AE7000 Projector - The Bottom Line

Definitely, this new Panasonic PT-AE7000 is a great value, compared to all the recently reviewed projectors it competes with. That, rather than any one capability, is why we are pleased to provide the PT-AE7000U with a Hot Product Award. That award indicates this projector is likely to be the best projector choice for at least a significant number of potential projector owners. We’re very sure it will be.

 

It’s not, by any means that the Panasonic PT-AE7000 is perfect, or even the best at most things in its price range.

Rather, the real strength of the PT-AE7000 lies in the combination of very solid performance, combined with a fabulous selection of features, from their Lens Memory which combined with the PT-AE7000′s already excellent placement flexibility, has to be the most flexible projector anywhere near the price. Not only does it have lots of lens shift, and an impressive 2:1 zoom, but the Lens Memory gives users a choice: HDTV (16:9) screen, or anamorphic (2.35:1 or 2.40:1) screen. Only a couple other projectors under $10,000 can do similar, and they all cost more.

 

Let’s summarize, here, key aspects of the PT-AE7000U projector, that are talked about in length, in the individual topics on the previous pages.

 

Brightness has to be discussed first. As a 2D projector, the Panasonic measured just a little less than average after calibration. Understand, that typical higher end LCD projectors like this Panasonic, produce about 500 lumens calibrated, and typically 2X to 3X the brightness at maximum. This Panasonic has an impressive 1600+ maximum lumens the way we measure (conservatively), making it basically a “light cannon” compared to most.

While I commend the Panasonic for its maximum brightness, a huge advantage. Note that most of those other, more expensive projectors offer 600 – 800 lumens in “best” mode. That would make some of them, perhaps, a better choice for those looking primarily for movie watching, and doing it on larger screens.

Those 1600+ measured lumens are great for family rooms, and sport type viewing, with some ambient light present, so that brightness is a major plus, compared to most of the competition. It’s doubly important for 3D viewing, as I find most of the more expensive projectors to be only half to 2/3 as bright, and that’s a huge difference.

 

While I found the assorted Sharp, Optoma, JVC, and Mitsubishi 3D capable projectors we’ve reviewed to be anywhere from noticeably to significantly dim on an average screen (size, and gain). This Panasonic, though definitely raises the bar, in terms of having decent brightness for 3D. That’s a huge advantage for this PT-AE7000 projector.

 

3D performance, beyond the brightness is very good. If you set the glasses control for Medium, the image is pretty clean in terms of crosstalk, etc. Dark is no doubt better still, but too dark in for my setup, projecting at least 100″ diagonal.

BTW last night I put Alice on, in 3D while writing. I used the Lens Memory to fill the full 124″ Studiotek 130.

Amazingly, I found it to be bright enough. To achieve that distinction, though I had to move the glasses control to Light, for more light, but definitely more noise and crosstalk.

Running the same movie on what would be a 100″ 16:9 screen, and it was fine (not overly bright) set for Medium!

 

Picture quality is really very good. I’ve always slightly favored DLP’s for that “pop and wow” factor, especially in the darker areas, over both LCoS and LCD. But then, the last two projectors I’ve bought have not been DLP.

Skin tones were pretty natural, as expected based on calibration. In “best” mode, though, I favor projectors with a little more sizzle to the image. For example, I always liked the older Epsons extra pop. Of course I’ll have to wait until the new Epson arrives to see if that’s still the case. To me, it’s mostly been a trade-off between the two brands, between, slightly more natural, and slightly more pop. (How’s that for oversimplifying?)

The image below, from Howl’s Moving Castle (very cool flick)

 

The Panasonic PT-AE7000 has a lot more strengths though, than placement flexibility and maximum brightness.

Also consider, that it’s very quiet, probably quieter than 90% of the projectors out there. And it looks pretty good physically. The control panel is a nice one, and the projector has that 3rd HDMI input that I always scream for.

Menus are well designed although they still hide lamp control on a non-image/picture menu.

3D is the best we’ve seen, when you consider both picture and brightness. The glasses are fairly comfortable (as if any glasses that can cover regular glasses is going to perfect), and come in 3 sizes. They sell, BTW, for $99, and are optional. There’s glasses have compatibility with Epson, Optoma and others, a nice dollar saving touch.

The Very Bottom Line on the PT-AE7000 projector:

There are always trade-offs, but mostly, I think many will find that the combination of performance, placement flexibility, picture, and for 3D fans, the brightness for 3D, can hold its own with just about any of the more expensive projectors we’ve reviewed this year. While yes some are better in several, or even many ways, those that are, overall, at least as good, seem to be a lot more money. Of course there are more new projectors coming, but that’s always the case.

The primary consideration some of you should make, relates to 2D vs. 2D and 3D abilities. If you really have no interest in 3D, and figure that to remain true while you own your next projector, then you should evaluate the PT-AE7000 only for its regular 2D performance. In that case, you’ll find some less expensive competition, that really is the equal, overall. The two such projectors that immediately come to mind, though, are Panasonic’s own PT-AE4000 that the PT-AE7000 projector replaces, and that Panasonic’s arch rival, the Epson 8700UB.

Let’s face it, you are paying for that 3D ability in every projector that offers it.

Unfortunately both of those 2D only projectors are being discontinued, and likely will all be gone before end of 2011. Those shopping this fall, have the choice, though, until the old ones have all been sold.

As a 2D and 3D capable projector, it’s the best value yet in my opinion of the ultra-high contrast ones that have been reviewed. In other words for most folks, you would be hard pressed to go wrong with the PT-AE7000.

In fact, I’m truly impressed with the Panasonic for doing so well in both “dimensions”, whereas several other great projectors at 2D fall very short on 3D performance.

So far, reviewing this summer/fall batch of new home theater projectors, only one other projector I’ve worked with, seems to be an even more impressive value. That is the lower cost Epson Home Cinema 3010, but it isn’t competition if you are very serious about movie viewing, which I would expect anyone shopping the Panasonic to be very concerned with movie picture quality. Remember, this is a home theater projector that can double rather nicely in a family room. (That Epson is a family room projector that can be put in a theater, but won’t have the black levels etc. to compete against more expensive projectors like this Panasonic).

In other words, for the moment at least, I’ve found the best value in the $2000 – $3500 sweet spot of the market

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Panasonic PT-AE7000 Projector: Pros

  • A very bright “brightest” mode, pretty much a “light cannon”, and good brightness for 3D, the first $3K+ projector we’ve said that about
  • Very clean 3D in most modes, three brightness settings
  • 3D glasses come in 3 sizes, and there’s an optional Emitter – a booster, if needed
  • Truly outstanding placement flexibility
  • Lens Memory – for using widescreens without an anamorphic lens (a real plus for some)
  • CFI – smooth motion, one of the smoothest, many may even use for movie viewing (I’ll stick to sports and other non-movie content)
  • Calibrates very nicely, though not the absolute most natural color
  • 3 HDMI 1.4a (Blu-ray 3D compatible) inputs
  • 480hz panels for faster response time, including gaming
  • Nice remote control
  • CFI and Dynamic iris both function in 3D!
  • Works with 3rd party glasses, as well as some brands like Epson and Optoma
  • Excellent Lamp Life (4000/5000 hours)
  • Very quiet operation, even at full power
  • Extensive, and well laid out menus
  • Dark finish, which is ideal for most home theaters
  • Waveform monitor and split screen adjustments for the enthusiast/tweaker
  • A great value – it simply does more of most things, for less than the competition
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Panasonic PT-AE7000 Projector: Cons

  • Short warranty – 1 year Parts/labor, 2000 hours maximum use. Even promotional, free 1 extra year extension for registering (offer through 3/31/12), though, still has the total 2000 hour limit, Heavy users will run out of hours long before 2 years.
  • “Best” mode, while average in brightness, isn’t as bright as most of the DLP and LCoS competitors (even though this projector is brighter at maximum)
  • Lamp brightness control hard to find on menu
  • Does not include 3D glasses for the price
  • Good black levels for the price range (for 2D/3D projectors) but still could be improved significantl

 

Above, Captain Pike, from the Star Trek movie

The end. We hope this has helped you. More content and images, content being added though 11/14/11.

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