The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Panasonic PT-AE3000U and Mitsubishi HD8000 1080p home projectors

Greetings all,

OK, The CEDIA expo show floor opens tomorrow, but I’m spending much of today at press conferences. So, far, I’ve been to Panasonic’s where they rolled out the new PT-AE3000U 1080p home theater projector.

And I picked up a press kit for Mitsubishi, with whom I’m meeting with later this week. While Mitsubishi is already advertising their new Diamond 1080p home theater projector, I was surprised and pleased to see an announcement for the HD8000, which I will also discuss below. Mind you I haven’t seen either of these work, and in the case of Mitsubishi, the HD8000 press release leaves some things unanswered.

Let’s start with the PT-AE3000U from Panasonic.

First of all, it looks like the previous PT-AE1000U and PT-AE2000U that preceded it. BTW, Panasonic claims to be the #1 seller of 1080p projectors, just as they have been with 720p projectors for years.

Here’s what’s interesting though:

It’s brighter – now a claimed 1600 lumens. Of course we’re concerned with how many lumens it really can put on the screen in both “best” and “brightest” modes. Still, the PT-AE2000U, overall, was just about average when released, and would be below average if we looked at whats out there now (almost a year later, including other announced projectors from other brands. More lumens is always a good thing.

Perhaps most interesting, is Panasonic has added the ability to actually interpret new frames.

Start with a 60 frames per second image, and it will analyse one frame, then the following, and completely create a new frame in between, that anticipates the position of moving objects. The example they gave was a shot of an airliner (in the air. frame 1: plane in the frame, but starting far to the left. The next frame (that would be the next frame broadcast, or on the disc), shows the plane almost all the way to the right side of the frame.

The PT-AE3000U actually creates a new frame, with the airplane whose location is half way between the first and second original frames. and so on. This method of getting up to 120fps, makes a great deal of sense, and should dramatically reduce the inherent motion flaws of not enough frames to begin with.

Very clever.

Better still, they do the same with 24fps (movies), but actually create 3 frames between the first and second provided frames.

I can’t wait to do some side by sides, with other projectors when it arrives for review (soon).

Next: Mitsubishi HD8000 ultra bright home theater projector.

Now, I’ve been pitching for much brighter home theater projectors for years – ones that can handle a good amount of ambient light, with far more ease than today’s projectors.

The HD8000 claims 5000 lumens. It is a 3LCD projector, like their other 1080p entries. I can’t wait to put one in my theater room for testing, and open up the window shades more than I’ve ever been able to previously.

Two immediate questions come to mind, and I expect I’ll get the answers at my meeting with them:

1. Contrast ratio (and of course I’ll need to work with one to assess how good the black levels are when needed for a dark environment).

2. Working in a dark environment – 5000 lumens is outstanding for sports and HDTV, but what if we wish to fully, or almost fully darken the room for movie watching – 5000 lumens or even 2000, is likely too bright, unless you have a humongous home theater projection screen. I’m hoping that it will have multiple levels available starting, say, at 500 lumens…

The only immediate downside I see to the HD8000 is the price tag: $14,999. Sanyo says it’s the least expensive home theater projector that is this bright, which is exciting in its own right. That the price will scare most of us off, is true, but it does provide a solution for those that can afford it. Certainly, 5000 lumens, on say a 100″ diagonal screen, should make the HD8000 about as bright as a typical plasma display, and that means a viable solution for the family room, for those who do want daytime viewing, without blackout shades, etc.

I do want to review the HD8000, but from a practical standpoint, it will have to likely be sometime in November, before I can work it in. The new Mitsubishi Diamond has priority, as do a number of other projectors from Epson, Panasonic, Sanyo… I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

OK, stay tuned, more blogs coming! -art

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