Panasonic PT-AE1000U Projector Review - General Performance
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
PT-AE1000U Projector Menus
The PT-AE1000U uses the same basic menu structure found on other recent Panasonic home theater projectors. There are four main menus, with the bulk of the "action" on two of them, the Picture menu, which controls almost everything relating to color handling, preset modes, and, brightness and contrast. In addition most of the dynamic controls - iris, Cinema Reality, etc. are located. Also found on the first Picture menu is the sharpness control, Memory Save, and access to the Advanced (Picture) menu.
One interesting feature is Panasonic's Waveform monitor which I'll touch on, in the Calibration section below.
If you select the Advanced Menu, there are separate Red, Green, and Blue controls for Contrast and Brightness. There are also separate controls for Gamma (High, Mid, and Low).
Also found on the Advanced menu is the Color Management setup, and two noise reduction features, one for general image noise, and the second for motion (MPEG) noise reduction. For my viewing I had Noise Reduction on, and MPEG noise reduction off.
Last on the menu is the Cinema Reality off/on option. Cinema Reality relates to support for 24 frame per second content. Normally you will want this on.
The Position Menu (not shown), allows you, among other things to choose from multiple aspect ratio settings, including 4:3, 16:9, as well as several "zoom" settings. You can also control vertical and horizontal positioning, although of greater interest is the vertical position, which, could allow you to eliminate letter-box bars at top and bottom, if you have a motorized screen and limit the drop. You can then only show the shape for Cinemascope (2.35:1) instead of 16:9. Then move the image up on the screen so the top of the actual content is even with the screen top, and the bottom of the movie even with the bottom. The end result - no letterbox. Whether many with such a screen will even bother, is a big question, but the Panasonic supports this, as do many other projectors, including all the Optoma home theater models.
The third menu- Language - allows you to choose your favorite language for the menus. (not shown).
The fourth menu is the Lens menu - which controls focus and zoom. When you select this you get a white background image filling the screen, with horizontal and vertical bars to help you get the best focus.
Lastly, is the Options menu. Most notable is the lamp power (Normal or low power - eco). Other options include those for the menus, including look and position, whether the projector when turned on, goes to the last input source, or searches through all inputs until it finds a live one. There is a sleep feature, for conserving lamp life. There is also a high altitude option (runs the fan faster), and the usual orientation (ceiling/floor/front/rear).
Overall, I really like the menu layout, especially in that you can see most of your controls on the main Picture menu. I still wonder, howeverwhy Panasonic and most other manufacturers refuse to put the lamp brightness mode on the Picture menu, with the other most heavily used features. Still, that's hardly a real negative.
PT-AE1000U Memory Settings
The PT-AE1000U offers 5 user savable memory settings, which can be recalled from the remote control. Five is a good number! It will allow you to tweak settings for, say, movie watching with a bit to much ambient light, or sports when you want the maximum light you can get away with.
PT-AE1000U Remote Control
This Panasonic projector uses an improved version of the learning remote they introduced last year with the PT-AE900U. Although I did not try programming it to control other devices (there's only so much time), overall it is a very well laid out remote control.
Also of note, it has very good range. I was able to get a good bounce off my screen with the "round trip" from the remote to screen to the projector's front IR sensor at distances just beyond 35 feet. Better than most, and sufficient for virtually any room.
At the top of the remote are two power buttons, the large one for the projector, and the second one to control the "system". Also on the top row is the backlight control. Once the backlight is engaged it will automatically turn off after 30 seconds. There is also an LCD display, which relates primarily to the handling of other devices. You can see and select from all of the devices you have programmed. Most of the buttons below the LCD and above the arrow keys are for controlling other devices, and include buttons for channel and volume change, controls for VCR and DVD, etc.
The lower half of the remote is almost all about the PT-AE1000U projector. Curving around the diskpad (4 arrow kes and centered Enter button), are three buttons, the left one is Menu. The middle one is Device for toggling between devices that the remote controls. Here lies my only complaint. I often accidently hit the device button when feeling for the up arrow. Then, by changing the device, I had to go back and reslect the projector before continuing). The right most of the three buttons is the Return button, which has multiple functions depending where you are in the menus, but primarily moves you back up the menu levels until the last will turn off the menus.
Directly below the diskpad, are a default setting button and a freeze frame button.
Next come three rows of three buttons. The top left of these is the Input source button which allows you to toggle through the various inputs. A lens button is next bringing up the screen mentioned in the Menus section, and focusing and controlling the 2:1 zoom lens. The right button is for Sleep options. On the 2nd row, there are buttons (left to right) for setting Aspect ratio, Picture Mode (the presets) and the Memory Load button, to choose settings you have saved.
On the last row, you can engage the Waveform monitor, there is a second button that toggles through presets and other settings, and the Color Management button that allows users to create custom color profiles.
PT-AE1000U Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Wow. First of all the Panasonic's 2:1 zoom lens means you have as much front to back placement flexibility as any home theater projector on the market. If you have a 100" diagonal screen, you can place the front of the PT-AE1000U as close as 9 foot 10 inches, and as far back as 19 feet 8 inches. Even more impressive is the huge amount of vertical lens shift (controlled manually from a dial on the top of the projector). The Panasonic can be placed almost anywhere from below your floor to your roof (OK, a bit of an exaggeration there). But, seriously, the PT-AE1000U allows you one screen height above or below the center point. As a result, with a 49" tall screen (100" diagonal), the projector can be approximately 24.5 inches above the top, 24.5 inches below the bottom of the screen surface, or anywhere inbetween. To the best of my recollection only Epson home theater projectors offer more lens shift. The Panasonic also offers horizontal lens shift. The more horizontal or vertical lens shift you use, the more it constricts use of the other. Fortunately few people need any, or certainly any significant horizontal lens shift. (The maximum with no vertical lens shift, is 40%.
PT-AE1000U Screen Door Effect and Rainbow Effect
As you have probably gathered, there is no screen door effect. Panasonic's Smooth Screen technology requires you to be only a couple of feet back from a 100" screen to see the pixels. No way you will ever sceen a "screen door" at anything even close to normal seating distance. The trade-off, of course is a certain amount of softness in the image.
Rainbow Effect, of course is that color strobing affect that only affects single chip DLP projectors, and thus, is not an issue for this 3 panel LCD projector.
PT-AE1000U Light Leakage
No issues here, the usual tiny amount from the lens but never any I could actually spot on the screen or nearby wall.
PT-AE1000U Projector - Audible Noise
Quiet - very quiet. Definitely no issues here. Although not quiet as the Mitsubishi HC5000 (the quietest projector we have never heard), it is very quiet, even in full power lamp mode. It certainly is a bit quieter than the BenQ W10000 (a DLP - and they are typically a bit noiser than LCD models), and since the BenQ W10000 (our next review) is a PT-AE1000U competitor, and is sufficiently quiet, we certainly have no complaint with this Panasonic.
PT-AE1000U Projector - Brightness
An important note: Please remember that this review unit, is pre-production, and has a definite problem with a color shift. As a result, I am not confident that the lumens measured below would be accurate with a properly working production model. As a result, when the replacement review unit arrives in two weeks, I will remeasure and post the new results. I'll comment further, that I expect it will measure a bit brighter, just based on looking at the specs of the Panasonic vs the Mitsubishi HC5000: Lens brightness - f-stop, lamp wattage and a similar zoom ratio, Considering that the two projectors are very similar in all these areas, the Panasonic should produce results very similar to the Mitsubishi HC5000, but this review unit came up low.
All the lowest priced new 1080p projectors are LCD, and collectively, they are not particularly bright. The 1080p DLP projectors (typically $2000 more than the LCD 1080p's), are a bit brighter than the LCD's and probably the way to go if you want a really large screen (say 120" diagonal or larger).
Before I get into lumen measurements, a note regarding brightness and zoom lenses. Due to normal lens design, zoom lenses pass less light when in telephoto mode (smallest image size from a given distance) than wideangle mode (largest image). Because of the extreme zoom range (2:1), the difference in brightness is significant, with the Panasonic outputting a little less than half the brightness in full telephoto as full wideangle. In doing these measurements the zoom lens was set as close to the middle of it's range. That said in full wideangle, expect about 30% more brightness and about 30% less in full telephoto. This is common for LCD home theater projectors with their wide range zooms. By comparison, it's less of an issue with DLP projectors which normally only have 1.2:1 to 1.35:1 zooms where the difference in brightness is barely significant.
Getting back to the Panasonic PT-AE1000U projector's brightness:
The Cinema 1 mode comes across as the best preset mode for movie watching. In full power mode, we measured an expectedly not very bright 295 lumens. Drop into low power, and lumens drop to 236, an almost perfect 20% drop.
For the rest of the measurements, I will quote only full lamp power "normal". If you want to figure low power brightness, reduce the lumens by 20%.
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Jumping to the other end of the spectrum is the Dynamic mode, where the Panasonic actually cranks out a fair amount of lumens for handling ambient light (especially for TV/sports). Although still no match for the brightest 720p projectors which are now putting out around 1500-2000 lumens in their very brightest mode.
The Panasonic output a respectable 844 lumens. Of course like any other projector, the color balance in brightest mode is compromised to best fight ambient light.
Normal mode - Not as bright as Dynamic, but better overall color balance, more suitable for HDTV and TV, then movies due to a much higher color temperature: 586 lumens.
Other Panasonic PT-AE1000U preset modes:
Cinema 2: 348 lumens
Cinema 3: 580 lumens
Color 1: 331 lumens
Color 2: 359 lumens
Note, Color 1 is almost identical to Cinema 1 in performance, including color temperature, and also it's green content (relative to Red and Blue) is dead on the money, as is Cinema 1.
OK, last note: Since I had the Brightness in Cinema 1 mode at -2, at default 0, the projector is likely 5-10% brighter than these measurements suggest.
PT-AE1000U Projector - Lamp Life and Replacement
Panasonic rates the PT-AE1000U at 2000 hours in full power (warning indicators at 1800 hours) and 3000 hours in low power.
One very nice touch - the lamp can be replaced without unmounting the projector. The top of the PT-AE1000U lifts off, to allow changing the lamp.
A note regarding the filter. Panasonic recommends cleaning it every 100 hours. Of course few owners clean their filters as often as the manufacturers recommend. Just keep in mind, dirty filters cause projectors to run hotter, which in turn degrades the lamp life - quite possibly, significantly. If you have a dirty filter, your projector will run hotter, but not enough to trip the overheat indicator.
Panasonic PT-AE1000U - Screen Recommendations
For this Panasonic, considering its brightness, and it's very good black levels, I would think most buyers will be happiest with white surface screens, rather than gray. The extra lumens from a white screen with moderate gain (say 1.2 - 1.5) will be helpful for those who want to buy larger screens, and even if you go with a small screen, say 92" diagonal, the blacks will remain nice and dark.
I did almost all of the photo shoot on my 106" Carada Brilliant White, which claims 1.4 gain. I found the screen at that size to be a good match for movie viewing. By comparison, in my theater (viewing) room, I was projecting about 100" diagonal on my Stewart Firehawk, (a light gray high contrast surface), but still found the projector to be slightly underpowered.
In addition to the Carada, you can consider screens like Da-lite's Cinema Vision (gain 1.3), Stewart's StudioTek 130 (1.3 gain, and, I should note, considered by many to the the industry reference standard, but also more expensive). I'll also comment that with lower priced projectors I often find it hard to recommend a very expensive screen, unless the buyer is planning to upgrade projector quality. With a projector in the $4000 plus range, then spending for a top quality screen starts making real sense. There are a number of other screen manufacturers, of course, but those are the ones I am most familiar with.
If you really want a much larger screen, say over 110" diagonal, and your seating position is straight back from the screen, you can get a huge lumen boost by going to screens with over 2.0 gain. They will give you twice the brightness (or more) of a 1.0 gain, but the image brightness will roll off quickly as you move off to the sides. For example, a 2.0 gain 130" diagonal screen will have about the same brightness image as a 92" diagonal with a 1.0 gain screen.
As I mentioned earlier, the color performance was so good out of the box, in Cinema 1 mode, that, after measuring, all I adjusted was the brightness (-2), Contrast (+1), and Color (saturation), where I bounced back and forth between -2 and -3. (Mostly, I preferred -3).
Here are the color temperatures measured in Cinema 1 mode, where 6500K is ideal for movie watching:
100IRE (white) 6643K
80IRE (light gray) 6420K
50IRE (medium gray) 6339K
30IRE (dark gray) 6232K
Color 1 settings (which I didn't play with until the end) were actually slightly better still (barely visible, with:
With the separate RGB controls you can actually cut down on the slight shift to red (as the image content gets darker), but, again, either set of numbers is extremely good!
The Panasonic offers it's Waveform Monitor which can be usued in conjunction with it's color management system to finely tune specific color balance. I barely played with this feature, although some will love it. The images here show you the menu, and the waveform monitor. The second shows the full combined color over the entire picture, while the third waveform shows only the green channel across one horizontal line of the image. Very fun.
PT-AE1000U Image Noise
I never noticed any image noise under normal viewing, unless I was specifically looking for some. The Panasonic does very well on jaggies, and motion noise artifacts as well.
Next is Warranty.