Panasonic PT-AE1000U 1080p Home Theater Projector Review: Overview
11/29/2006 -Art Feierman
Update 12/16/06: We received a second review unit, and it performed much better than the original pre-production projector written about here. Please be sure to read the Update, as it sheds important new light on this projector. In fact, the 2nd PT-AE1000U has caused us to reconsider our overall opinion, and we have now awarded this Panasonic projector our Hot Product Award!
It's fall 2006 and the first crop of "affordable" (under $10,000) projectors with native 1080p resolution, are hitting the market. With a half dozen announced or shipping so far, none has garnered more interest than Panasonic's new PT-AE1000U. Don't let the "under $10,000" scare you off, as most are selling from under $4000 and $7000.
There are three primary reasons. First, brand recognition, the PT-AE1000U home theater projector's lower cost sibling, the PT-AX100U (720p resolution), is almost certainly the best selling under $2000 home theater projector, and has an excellent reputation, as have its predecessors. Second, the PT-AE1000U provides excellent color handling out of the box, which will provide a very satisfying image on your screen, without needing to calibrate or "tweak" its settings. Finally, and perhaps even more important, the PT-AE1000U projector comes to market as the the least expensive of the new 1080p projectors.
As is usual, the Panasonic, being LCD based, offers a tremendous amount of placement flexibility, even more than the other new LCD driven 1080p projectors, and far, far more versatility in this regard, then the DLP entries.
The image above, and the one immediately below are from Starship Troopers (standard DVD). You may click on either for a larger image.
Although the PT-AE1000U has a $5999 MSRP, more significant, is its MAP pricing (MAP = Minimum Advertised Price). MAP pricing, at least on the Internet - pretty much ends up being the normal selling price, with some dealers discounting slightly below MAP, in conjunction with other equipment, etc. In the case of Panasonic's new 1080p home theater projector, the PT-AE1000U has a MAP of only $3999, placing it a full $500 less than its closest competition, the Mitsubishi HC5000 home theater projector, recently reviewed. Other 1080p projectors recently shipping, include Optoma's HD81 (DLP) with a $6995 MAP (making it the most expensive of the group), BenQ's W10000 (our next review) with a $5995 MAP) - also a DLP projector - and Sony's VPL-VW50, (SXRD technology - Sony's name for their LCOS technology). A sixth projector - a new JVC (also using LCOS) is scheduled to ship in February, with a $6995 MAP price.
The PT-AE1000U, is a nicely equipped projector, by any standard, including power zoom lens and power focus, vertical and horizontal lens shift, and, as an added bonus, a learning remote control. It comes finished in a flat black case, that won't win it any awards for styling, but then, it is built for your home theater, where hopefully it's black finish will blend in nicely with a dark ceiling.
Let's get started, first with the basic specs, then our physical tour.
Panasonic PT-AE1000U 1080p home theater projector - basic specs:
MSRP: $5999, MAP $3999
Technology: 3LCD technology
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1100 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 2:1
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal
Lamp life: 2000 hours full power, 3000 lumens eco-mode
Weight: 15.9 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year Parts and Labor
For full specifications click here.
Panasonic PT-AE1000U Projector - Physical Tour:
Facing the front of the PT-AE1000U, the 2:1 ratio zoom lens is mounted in the center, and almost, but not quite fully recessed. to the right of the lens is the Infra-red sensor for the remote control. There is also exhaust venting out the front, making the projector suitable for shelf mounting in the rear of the room.
On the bottom are two front, screw thread adjustable feet, which in combination with the single rear foot (a rubber bar), make for a nice, stable 3 point stance, for those placing the PT-AE1000U home theater projector on a table or back shelf.
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Moving to the top of the projector, you will find three indicator led lights, one for power, one for lamp, and one for temperature. Unlike most projectors Panasonic has not placed the control panel on the top surface. Instead the control panel features are recessed and hidden behind a hinged door on the right side of the projector (if you are still facing the projector from the front).
On that same side, but on the unit, not the recessed panel, a hard power switch, which must be in the on position for the remote to turn the projector on, or, for that matter to power up from the control panel.
The control panel itself features a large Power button in the top left, and the Menu button directly below it. Moving to the right is the traditional 4 arrow keys and centered Enter button, for navigating the menus.
Further to the right, at the top, is the Input selector button, and below it a Return button which completes the navigation buttons suite. Lastly on the right most side, are two buttons at the top for the focusing of the power lens, and below them, two more to control the power zoom function. Lastly on the far back near the bottom is a push release for the air filter which slides out to the side.
Finally, that takes us to the back panel. The PT-AE1000U is better equipped than most home theater projectors, sporting a pair of HDMI inputs, a pair of Component video inputs, the usual S-video and composite video inputs, and a PC input. Lastly there is a serial port for "command and control" of the projector from a PC, or room control system.
Below the inputs is the power receptacle. And that concludes the physical tour. The remote control will be covered separately in the General Performance section.
What people really want to know about, however, is the image quality, so it's time to consider just that. So please click on Image Quality here, or below.