Panasonic PT-AE8000U Home Theater Projector Review

The Very Bottom Line on the PT-AE8000 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 of 3D, the AE8000 can hold its own with just about any of the projectors near its price.  There are more new projectors for us to review, but, of course, that’s always the case.

Sharpness is very good, though not exceptional.  Rather typical for a good three panel or chip device.  Want a crisper look, you can take up the detail enhancement, or you can stick with the more natural, unenhanced.  The detail enhancement does enhance, but can’t be pushed as far as Sony’s impressive Reality Creation which seems more adaptive, but again, that projector’s almost 1/3 more in price, based on the two manufacturer’s MAP (minimum advertised price) pricing.

As a 2D and 3D capable projector, it’s as good a value as any of this year’s crop of home theater projectors that we’ve reviewed.  For example, I am truly impressed with the Sony VPL-HW50ES, and while I would likely spend the extra theoretical $500 for the Sony, I’ve got an ideal room.  I certainly would lean toward choosing this Panasonic, for more of a good family room type setup.  There’s other tough competition.

Our next review is the Epson Home Cinema 5020, which this year is slightly lower priced than the PT-AE8000.  My last photo session with this Panasonic PT-AE8000 was doing side by sides with that Epson.  Look to the image quality page for side-by-sides with both the older Epson HC5010, and the just arrived HC5020, it’s replacement.

When it comes to the picture, this Panasonic seems to be pretty natural.  Some projectors have a bit more “pop” than others, in terms of picture dynamics (rather than brightness).  I’ve always felt that the Panasonic’s leaned towards the natural – less spectacular look. DLP projectors, for example, are still known for lots of “pop”, most notably on darker scenes.  Faces and such seem more dynamic, without being over the top.  This Panasonic PT-AE8000 may not scream “pop”, but with all those lumens under the hood, don’t worry, it will out dazzle any of those in its brighter modes, where it’s usually about twice as bright!

Black levels and shadow detail are the only areas that really came up short. Although the gamma Mike selected measures well, we’re definitely losing a bit more dark shadow detail than some other projectors including last year’s Epsons, and this year’s Sony. It’s not that serious, but it’s not quite up to the best, not that most people would notice. Black levels as well, do come up short compared to both of those competing projectors.  It could well be that much of that missing darkest detail might be recovered by creating a custom gamma that perhaps works better in the darker ranges.

But!

The PT-AE8000′s black level performance has to be considered at least good for a projector at its price, and that’s far better than almost any under $2000 projectors.   Yes you can have better black levels than this Panasonic, but these levels should certainly satisfy most folks. Decide what’s most important, among the various projectors’ trade-offs.  No projector is best at everything, or best for everyone. (Ok, that’s pretty obvious!)

Unlike a lot of other projectors, the PT-AE8000 will almost certainly work in any setup you have. The PT-AE8000 has some really fine looking color modes out of the back for your movie viewing and also your sports and other HDTV content. This projector is also most suitable for gaming, including those games demanding displays with low lag times.

This Panasonic PT-AE8000 projector is definitely worth serious consideration if it is in your budget.  It’s certainly not likely to disappoint.

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