Panasonic PT-AE2000U Projector

Check out how the Panasonic PT-AE2000U fared in our comparison report.

Ahh, warranty. My favorite complaint about Panasonic. In the world of 1080p home theater projectors, virtually every popular projector comes with at least a two year warranty. Panasonic, however, continues with their standard one year warranty.

With the launch of the PT-AE2000U, Panasonic has offered a free 2nd year warranty, for those buying before 12/31/07. Whether Panasonic continues that promo into 2008, I have no way of knowing, but I hope so.

Among the popular competition, the Sanyo Z2000 offers 3 years, the Epson Home Cinema series has 2 years, with an overnight replacement program for both years. Mitsubishi offers two years on the HC6000, and Optoma offers two years on their HD80.

Out of warranty repairs can be really expensive. I urge anyone buying a projector with a single year warranty program, to get at least one more year. While 3rd party warranties may not be as painless as factory warranties, they could save you a bundle if you have a problem, and they are very inexpensive.

Home Theater Projector Review: Panasonic PT-AE2000U LCD Projector: Summary, Pros, Cons

I had this pre-production PT-AE2000U for a week, and about 30 hours of viewing and measuring… Definitely a bit less time than I normally spend with home theater projectors I review. Still, that includes at least 15 hours of movie viewing and probably 10 hours of HDTV/TV (it’s college football season).

The Panasonic PT-AE2000U is simply a notably better product than it’s predecessor. Whereas I felt the PT-AE1000U came up short in a number of areas, notably brightness and sharpness, it was a good projector. By comparison the PT-AE2000U is a significantly better projector, and, I would say, easily worth the extra $400 – $500 it commands as dealers are closing out their inventory of the PT-AE1000Us. If you’ve got the extra bucks, buy the AE2000U.

You will be able to buy a better 1080p projector, but not for the same money. There is nothing really, for example that the Panasonic can do, that the JVC RS1 can’t do as well or better, and the JVC excels, by comparison in black levels, shadow detail and brightness in best modes. Yet, after living with the JVC for about 7 months, I could easily learn to live with the PT-AE2000U, and thoroughly enjoy just about everything I choose to watch. Then again, the JVC is twice the price. And that is a lot of extra money for most people.

Unlike its predecssor, this new Panasonic is at least average in brightness. Since pre-production projectors like this one, typically aren’t as bright as regular production projectors, I’m expecting the production version to have anywhere from another 30 to 75 lumens, in Cinema 1 mode. We’ll see how good my prediction is.

The Panasonic PT-AE2000U creates a truly excellent viewing experience, on both movies (especially hi-def.) That said, HDTV viewing was most impressive as well. You really must see Planet Earth, and DiscoveryHD channel content, not to mention HD football).

Panasonic PT-AE2000U and the Competition

First, because of emails received, I’ve been asked how the PT-AE2000U compares with Panasonic’s own lower resolution (720p), new PT-AX200U. In other words, is it worth twice the price. (The MAP – minimum advertised price of the PT-AX200U is $1299, vs $2699 for the PT-AE2000U).

For those of you not familiar with the PT-AX200U (click for review), it is the brightest of the 720p home theater projectors, easily outputting more than 2000 lumens in brightest mode. This makes it killer for large screens, and for viewing with some lights on. The PT-AX200U can handle far more ambient light than this PT-AE2000U. Even in best modes the lower cost projector has more horsepower. It also has an enhanced gaming mode, for hard core gamers, whether they use X-Box 360, PS3, Wii, or others.

But, that’s the end of what the PT-AX200U does better. The PT-AE2000U, has better blacks, and by virtue of that, better shadow detail (once adjusted). We are comparing apples and oranges here. The PT-AE2000U, produces a visibly sharper image, as would be expected by having 2.25 as many pixels! That alone is a big thing. But shadow detail and black levels are a step up. There are those that won’t be happy with anything short of an old CRT projector (perfect black levels), but the PT-AE2000U, comes a magnitude closer than the PT-AX200U. Mind you, I found the PT-AX200U to be a great projector for the bucks, but the PT-AE2000U has better picture quality when it comes to movie watching. The differences are significant.

So, unless you have an environment you can’t properly darken enough, and need the PT-AX200′s extra lumens, or you are a fan of large screens – over 110″ diagonal, you will simply enjoy watching the 1080p PT-AE2000U more. For those not highly challenged in budget, gaming, extra large screens, and ambient lighting issues notwithstanding, I’d have to say the PT-AE2000U is worth every penny of the difference. As usual, though it is your exacting requirements that you need to consider. If movies are your primary concern, definitely go 1080p, if you can. If watching a lot of TV/HDTV/Sports on a large screen and minor ambient light are what you care most about, then the PT-AX200U may be the way to go. You should be able to figure it out.

Panasonic PT-AE2000U and the Optoma HD80

The HD80 is a very nice 1080p DLP projector, and when launched it was priced right, as the lowest priced 1080p around. Today, though it has plenty of price competition. The one rather subjective area where DLP’s have historically been considered better than LCD projectors is in being “film-like”. And the HD80 and it’s CEDIA dealer distributed sibling, the HD8000, are both pretty film-like, but, in my opinion, the Panasonic is even more so. Add to that the huge advantage in placement flexibility, plus additional features, and the HD80 while a nice projector, with consistantly good black levels, just isn’t going to be as good a choice as the Panasonic for most buyers. The biggest avantage the Optoma has, is after adjustment, it measured about 560 lumens, about 20% more than this pre-production Panasonic. That, and the 2nd year warranty, are its primary strengths. After that, I favor the Panasonic at just about everything.

PT-AE2000U or the Sanyo PLV-Z2000

These are both excellent projectors, and priced right. They are similar in a great many ways. One difference is brightness. Best mode against best mode (Pure Cinema – Sanyo, vs. Cinema 1 – Panasonic), The full production Sanyo PLV-Z2000 still was about 50 lumens less bright than the Panasonic, but, in fairness, the Sanyo comes with a very competent, Brilliant Cinema mode, which the Panasonic has no equivalent. Of course a similar mode could be created, but, Sanyo’s Briliant Cinema is just so user friendly, with not much cost in pure picture quality. After that, though, the Sanyo has no really bright modes. Vivid (which was almost hideous to watch) still was only around 600 lumens. So, overall, Panasonic wins the horsepower battle. And that will be the deciding factor, and the biggest difference for most. If you are going with no more than a 110″ screen and have good room lighting control, the Sanyo is a serious contender. But it has little power to spare.

Other than that, of course, Sanyo wins in terms of warranty. The Panasonic though, overall, is my choice of the two. I’d say it is definitely worth the $400 to $500 more (current difference – 11/07), but let me say this. If you are not buying a larger screen 110″ or larger, the Sanyo is a great way to save money, if the budget is tight. One other thing, the Panasonic will support an anamorphic lens, the Sanyo won’t. However few actually go that route (aspect ratio of 2.35:1, no letterboxing, on Cinemascope movies).

The overall viewing experience difference betweeen these two projectors, properly set up, is very similar. Even side by side, in best modes, they should be very comparable. So, I’ll reiterate. If there is some performance aspect you need, such as lots of lumens for TV watching (Panasonic), or a larger screen, or you are thinking Sanyo because the budget is tight, figure the price/performance value proposition of these two is about a tie.

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