Panasonic PT-AE3000 - Performance
10/17/2008 - Art Feierman
Average, very average. Some projectors are average in best mode, but in other modes may be significantly brighter or dimmer than average. The Panasonic, however stays right there at the low end of average.
I consider average brightness to be anywhere from about 400 to 550 lumens in its best mode, and average tends to be in the 1000 to 1200 lumens in brightnest mode.
Let's start with the brightness of each of the Panasonic PT-AE3000's preset modes. This is before any color calibration. I have also included the color temperature measured for white. The format below shows lumens first, and color temperature following the @ sign.
Cinema 1= 402 @ 6519K
Cinema 2= 391 @ 7021K
Cinema 3= 422 @ 8051K
Normal= 936 @ 8646K
Dynamic= 1144 @ 7455K, 1261 at full zoom out, 760 at full zoom in
Color 1= 461 @ 6742K
Color 2= 539 @ 7457K
All measurements above are with the lamp mode on Normal (full power). Switching to low lamp mode, we remeasured Cinema 1, and, surprisingly, the Panasonic still measured 357 lumens, so it is only about 11% dimmer. That 11% should be consistent between full and low power for any mode. Not surprisingly the color temperature was a bit higher at 6742, which seems to be typical with most projectors (and only a minor shift towards blue).
Calibrating Cinema 1 mode (remember the Panasonic requires only the slightest adjustment), measured 407 lumens, essentially unchanged.
The quick calibraton of Normal mode reduced lumens from 936 to 900 and Dynamic mode dropped from 1144 to 1116 lumens. Again, very minor differences between before and after calibration. The PT-AE3000U, as mentioned, really does have very good color for a "bright mode" to start with, and after our quick calibration, it got even better.
Our first image is a closely cropped image of the DTS test disc opening menu. What you see in the thumbnail is only about 20% of the area of the full image. The larger versions (when you click on them), are even further cropped. As you can see, the Panasonic is not exceptional in this area.
Top left: Panasonic PT-AE3000, Top Center, Sony VPL-VW60, Top right: Mitsubishi HC6500
2nd row left: Sanyo PLV-2000, middle: Optoma HD8000, right: InFocus IN82
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right PT-AE3000U, Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, Sanyo PLV-Z700, and BenQ W20000. Only the BenQ does a visibly better job. The PT-AE3000U is one of the sharper 1080p projectors out there.
Panasonic PT-AE3000: Bottom Line Sharpness
The PT-AE3000 is not overly sharp, in part due to their SmoothScreen technology which makes for essentially an invisible pixel structure (comparable to LCoS projectors and better than DLP, and better still compared to other 3LCD projectors). The thing is, few of us see pixel visibility to be an issue with 1080p projectors. Consider the differences in sharpness between 1080p projectors to be pretty minor. They all look sharp, and it really takes a side by side viewing to become aware of the differences. Sure, sharper is better, especially for digital source material, but with typical movies (with all their film noise - grain), the subtle differences in sharpness are harder to detect.
My own JVC RS1 is at the most, the tiniest bit sharper, while a number of others are better still than my RS1. I've had my projector for a year and a half, and have never felt that the sharpness was any sort of problem. (In other words, the slight softness is something you won't notice). While there are differences in sharpness between competing projectors, it's not overly significant, and probably not enough to affect a purchase decision. Still if a razor sharp image is your thing, you might consider the competition from Sanyo, Mitsubishi, InFocus and BenQ.
No issues here, the Panasonic is about as good as it gets. No significant light coming out of the lens and hitting the screen and around it, and no light of note coming out of the sides or venting.
As one would expect, image noise is not a problem. That is typical of just about all 1080p projectors. Jaggies are handled fine, and when it comes to things like motion artifacts, remember, not only does the PT-AE3000U support 24 fps (no 3:2 pulldown), but does creative frame interpolation to make fast moving objects smoother. Mosquito noise (seen in relatively stationary bright areas), is minimal, and less than most DLP projectors (which tend to have more than 3LCD projectors). If you are an absolute perfectionist, there is a noise reduction control, but I never found the need to engage it.
Panasonic claims 22db noise level in low lamp mode, and that is extremely quiet although not the quietest (17 db). Figure another 4-6 db for full lamp power, which still makes it 5-7 db quieter than the noisier projectors (mostly DLP projectors). No one should have any issue with the PT-AE3000U when it comes to fan noise, not even with lamp on standard.