Panasonic PT-AE8000 - Competitors
We consider the Panasonic PT-AE8000 compared to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market, including the Sony VPL-HW50ES, Epson Home Cinema 5020, and Sharp XV-Z30000
This page has to be written, the info below is from older reviews.
Coming very shortly...
Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5010 and 5020UB
The Panasonic and Epson are arch-rivals, sharing the same 3LCD panels. They are very
OK, above, Panasonic PT-AE8000 (left) vs. Epson Home Cinema 5010 on right in the upper image, and vs. the Home Cinema 5020 below it.
I had done some side by side viewing with the 5010 before the new Home Cinema 5020 arrived. It was a close thing, I didn't think the newer Epson would arrive in time for this review. No question about it, our badly over-exposed night train scene shows blacker blacks on the Epsons in both comparisons. The Panasonic might be very good at black levels, but the Epsons just get noticeably blacker. Since how the iris is programmed, some scenes some projectors will do better than others. In this case, on a couple of scenes the Panasonic came close, but usually the difference on the darkest scenes - where you care the most - are the greatest. Our Bond Night
The Panasonic, though, does have the better (or rather smoother) CFI if you are looking for smooth, less noticeable soap opera/live digital video effect to use it on when viewing movies.
When it comes to placement flexibility and options, both have similar range lenses. Panasonic motorizes zoom and focus, while Epson doesn't, but the huge difference is Panasonic's Lens Memory.
If you aren't going with a 2.35:1 screen (or similar), it really isn't a big deal, mostly no deal at all. But if your room supports the wider screen, and you decide that's the way to go, the Panasonic lets you go "Cinemascope" without having to buy an anamorphic lens.
And the PT-AE8000 has other additional features, including their Waveform generator allowing some help in calibrating.
If you want to play in the 3D world, of course there's no comparison.
Bottom line: If 3D isn't your thing, and you're sure it won't be in a couple of years. the Epson is a a projector, with less features, but an overall similar quality picture, a few more lumens, better warranty, and a lot less money while they last.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs.
Above, Panasonic on the left, HD8300 on the right. Overall, the two images are of similar brightness in that both have their brightest areas measuring about the same. But when you measure the blacks, (using the letterbox area, since it's easy), the Optoma is definitely, slightly darker. I'd put the Optoma about half way between the blacks of the Panasonic, and the Epson above - with neither difference being really great.
It also has more "best" mode calibrated lumens, although not as bright overall.
But things aren't all that rosy when it comes to 3D. The roughly 50% brightness advantage for the Panasonic makes a huge difference. The HD8300 was one of those that I find to be somewhat dim. That's correctable with high gain or small screens, but, it's a significant downside to those really interested in 3D and reasonable brightness. Fine for those who don't find it as dim as some of my friends do. Let me put it this way, on my 100" size for 16:9, I think the Panasonic gets the job done. (I don't want a screen high gain enough to matter and significantly narrow the viewing cone or corner brightness). The Optoma though, is a bit rough with some of its dynamic controls, not the best CFI, or iris action.
To summarize, the HD8300 will appeal more to the purist, for the rich colors, and image depth, slightly better blacks, wanting the best possible picture quality in 2D. The HD8300 can deliver on that, and a longer warranty as well. The price difference of $1000 or so will be a big determining factor, but one of these two likely will have a lot more appeal to you than the other, even forgetting price, and that should make choosing somewhat easy.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs. Sony VPL-HW50ES
I will get an opportunity to view the Sony VPL-HW50ES side by side with this PT-AE8000, just not in time for first publication of this review. I will be taking the usual black level / shadow detail and misc. images later, when the opportunity arises.
Still, I'm pretty confident of how I see these two. Let's get out of the way a feature that can be the decider: Tthe Panasonic has Lens Memory, the Sony does not - it has a manual zoom. For those wanting a true widescreen that means the Panasonic can do so conveniently, without the expense of an anamorphic lens.
Both calibrate well. Both produce really fine skin tones, and look natural, though if I had to, I'd give the Sony a minor advantage. The Sony will also prove better on black levels, and on dark shadow detail.
And especially impressive is Sony's detail enhancement - Reality Creation. Neither the Panasonic's Detail control or Epson's Super-Resolution comes close to the Sony when it comes to digitally enhancing sharpness / crispness. For those coming from single chip DLP projectors, and are used to nice and crisp, the Sony is something different. As much as I love to argue for "director's intent", I can make the argument that Sony's implementation goes further toward trying to put back what has been lost in translation.
All considered, there's close to a $1000 difference between these two, and that, I believe is a reasonable difference in price. If it isn't any particular ability of one projector over the other, that you must have, then I'd say, beyond which features you prefer, the Sony is overall a better projector - picture quality wise, definitely enough to justify that much price difference.
My own choice - for my dedicated theater - I'd have to spring for the extra dollars to choose the Sony. I'd even sacrifice a little 3D brightness
Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs. Sharp XV-Z30000
Sharp's XV-Z30000 started shipping a few months before the Panasonic. Unlike most home projectors - first shown in September at CEDIA and IFA, we got a peek at CES last January.
Let's start with brightness. The PT-AE8000 is about 70 lumens brighter when both are calibrated, hardly a great deal, considering that's about 13%, but every lumen helps. (On the other hand, the Sharp arrived with 300 hours on the lamp, the Panasonic was new), That Sharp may well have already lost 100 lumens since new. In brightest mode, however, there's no competition, the Panasonic PT-AE8000 is roughly twice as bright as the XV-Z30000.
The Sharp gives you excellent placement flexibility, rivaling the PT-AE8000. The Z30000 has a 2:1 zoom like the Panasonic, and both have a Lens Memory feature. The Panasonic does have a little more lens shift range, but let's call this pretty much a dead tie in placement terms.
The Sharp needs a full CMS calibration more than the Panasonic does to create excellent skin tones and color in general, but we're talking a small difference. Both look very good, with the Sharp having that DLP feel.
The Z30000's black levels are very close to the Panasonic's. With three months between viewing the two projectors, but having common projectors to compare both with, I'd have to call them about a tie. If watching a variety of content great for observing black levels and shadow detail, I doubt one would consistently best the other at blacks. When it comes to dark shadow detail, the Sharp has the advantage. We're talking differences you might barely notice during normal viewing, on the right scenes.
All considered, two projectors with more similarities than differences. But there are some differences, starting with the Sharp's lack of CFI. Always a nice feature to have, at least for sports, I consider it a feature most can live without, but would rather not have to.
The Panasonic also has the advantage for 3D thanks to all that extra brightness. The Sharp can handle 3D on a 100" diagonal screen "adequately" with a new lamp. The Panasonic can do the same, let's say, on a 130" diagonal screen instead, and is pretty comfortable e at 100" diagonal.
The Sharp has the sharper, crisper image. This starts with being a single chip device. No question here, this is a real Sharp (no pun intended) advantage.
If you know, and like that DLP look and feel, the lack of CFI and some razzle dazzle features that are found on the Panasonic, shouldn't be enough to sway you from going with the Sharp. If you need/want brightness, plan on lots of 3D on anything but a very small screen, etc., the PT-AE8000 has the advantage.
For standard 2D movie viewing - calibrated, it really is going to be a "look and feel" difference, as well as any price considerations.
Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 5010
Read the full comparison here in a whole article published 11/25!
Panasonic PT-AE4000 vs. Panasonic PT-AE8000
Overall, since the PT-AE8000 seems to be an evolved PT-AE4000, but with 3D and a whole lot more lumens. I haven't had a PT-AE4000 here in quite some time. That said, despite the increase in published contrast ratio, I don't see any significant improvement in black level performance.
Since the PT-AE4000's are by now, out of production (11/14/11), most likely they won't be around very long, from days to a couple of months.
While they are still available, some potential PT-AE8000 projector owners may do better for themselves with "last year's model." That would be mostly three types of home theater folks: Those with no interest at all in 3D, those looking for a big boost of lumens, and those desiring both the brightness and 3D abilities.
As those are the major enhancements, consider that in a typical year to year, one would expect improved performance for slightly less. If the extra 500+ lumens isn't important to you, nor is 3D, then it will be very hard to rationalize the PT-AE8000 for an extra $1000.
On the other hand, 3D and all those extra lumens do make the PT-AE8000 a whole lot more projector. With a price easily in line with any of the other new 3D capable projectors we've reviewed to date.