Panasonic home theater projector performance - Other
Panasonic has kept the AE700u's remote small and simple. There are separate buttons for HTMI/PC, Component input and "Video" (which covers S-video and composite). Of course there are the usual Menu button and Arrow keys, and there is a single button that lets you select different color modes. User stored settings can also be recalled from a button on the remote.
All the buttons are backlit, with the Light button in the upper right.
Panasonic's menus are pretty good. They are rather bland, but navigation is easy, once you figure out which menus are which. Below are some images of the menus.
Perhaps the most important menu is the Option menu. Here is where you have control of Noise Reduction (make sure it is ON!!), Cinema Reality (to enhance contrast), and also Lamp Power. Also settings for ceiling mounting, and lamp life are located on this menu (along with a few other items).
Above that image is the Color Management menu. As you can see - lots of control, and it makes calibrating easier than most.
Overall a good remote, and very useful if not pretty menus, and menu choices.
I'm talking about fan noise here (not the picture noise discussed in the previous section on Image Quality. The Panasonic is extremely quiet - in its brightest and noisiest mode. By the time you have the projecto in its best mode it is for all practical purposes - silent. I have yet to encounter another home theater projector this quiet. Simply put - you can completely forget about fan noise as an issue!
A 2 to 1 ratio. This is wonderful. You should be able to place the projector in the middle of the room, or all the way in the back on a shelf. Most projectors have a range of only 20 or 30%, the Panasonic has 100%. A wow feature, that really helps!
The single knob system for horizontal and vertical lens shift is a trifle awkward, especially compared to the Sanyo Z2 (and just released Z3), which have two dials - one for vertical shift, one for horizontal, but overall it gets the job done. Lens shift, for those not familiar is a better way of tackling keystoning than the usual digital correction, which distorts the image. By tilting the lens, you can maintain a rectangular image within the working range of the lens shift.
If there is a complaint about the lens shift, it is that there isn't enough of it. It's strength is that you can place the projector anywhere vertically between the top and bottom of the screen and have a rectangular image. However, that's about the range. If you want to place the projector on a table that is say a foot or two below the bottom of the screen, the lens shift will not be able to compensate for keystoning. Same is true if you have a high ceiling and don't want the projector to have to hang down as far as the top of the screen. By comparison, the Sanyo Z2 (and reportedly the Z3) have more vertical range, solving the "coffee table" and high ceiling issues to a significant degree.
Depending on the modes of operation you select the Panasonic projector claims 2000 to 5000 hours on a lamp. That's about as good as it gets. Of course, the projector lamp dims over time, but most projectors are happy to claim about 2000 hours, so this is impressive.
The AE700u has everything you need: 1 computer input, one HDMI (DVI compatible), 1 component, and the usual S-video and composite. There is also a screen trigger. This is as much as any projector in the price range - or even a couple of thousand more - has to offer. A second set of components or HDMI would of course be nice especially the components - for anyone who doesn't have an AV receiver that has component switching. In the real world one could have as many as 3 or 4 total digital (HDMI) and Component sources.
No problems to report here. It will take you almost as long to unbox the projector as to get it hooked up. Lots of room between connectors on the back, so that larger cables aren't a problem. The first thing, though once you have power and an image on the screen. Go to the options menu and turn on Noise Reduction and Digital Reality. Later once you determine what is best in terms of brightness you can decide what to do about lamp brightness.