The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Panasonic PT-AE8000 Projector Shipping This Month?

The Panasonic PT-AE8000 – sold as PT-AT6000 in Europe

I’m fresh back from CEDIA, and wanted to fill you folks in on the PT-AE8000 projector, which Panasonic was nice enough to bring by our place more than 2 weeks ago.  Sadly, they didn’t let me hang on to the PT-AE8000, or you’d be reading a full review by now, instead of a blog talking more features, than performance.

Although in the brief time Panasonic had it in my theater, there was no time to do a side by side comparison with the Epson, JVC, and
Sharp projectors I had at the moment, as they wanted to go back and forth between the PT-AE8000 with a PT-AE7000 they also brought.  Alas, they had to show the PT-AE8000 projector to someone else, later that day, limiting my time.

So, what have we here?  Click for link to specs/brochure

Like many projectors this fall, the new Panny projector is essentially evolutionary.  That translates to improved performance, but a projector that basically “looks and cooks” like the older PT-AE8000.

Here are some of the key aspects that separate the PT-AE8000 from the older projector:

Start with a claimed 20% boost in brightness from 2000 to 2400 lumens.  Lamp wattage only increased 10% so I expect the latest lamp (pulse?) technology is being used to find the extra 10%.  (One of the new Epson’s gets a boost, in brightness without a lamp boost or new panels – so, similar in that regard.)

Contrast spec is way up, and the black levels did look really good.  3D in particular was most impressive.  Panasonic, like everyone else is refining its 3D performance.  Panasonic is actually correcting for the inherent offset of the glasses…it’s a long story, but they are correcting for the slight distortion of angle.  The example showed a person riding a stationary bike.  With the Panasonic’s correction the pedal arm seems to move in a perfect circle.  Comparing it directly to the 3D on the older PT-AE7000, on that one, the depth changes, so the pedal seems to arc closer at points.  Hard to describe, but I’ll figure that out by the time I review it.  Point is, the difference was very real, and much better with the PT-AE8000.  Let me finish by saying that the PT-AE8000 seems to correct for something that never “felt” quite right.

I did watch in 3D, the entire opening section of Hugo, pausing on the closeup of Ben Kingsley’s face.  It really did look great.  Excellent 3D.

Looks like Panasonic is giving us a new model that is solidly better than last year’s.  No improvements huge enough to rock our world, but a visibly better projector for sure.


News And Comments

  • Pat Boyle

    I have a suggestion for your projector reviews.

    You should look at Road & Track automobile comparisons. They have been doing car reviews for longer than there have even been Home Theater projectors. They follow a semi-quantitative procedure for subjective matters. For example they judge exterior styling as well as their objective test results of acceleration. They weight each category. So Acceleration might be good for a maximum of 30 points while Styling would only be 10 points. These various weightings are printed in a box so the reader can develop their own scores depending on their own tastes and needs.

    In the Home Theater environment you might weigh Black Levels at 50 and brightness at 20. So if a reader doesn’t have good light control (e.g. a living room) They could apply different weights and reach a different final score.

    You of course do all this already, but verbally. Look at an R&T comparison between a Corvette and a Ferrari. In many ways that’s a tougher comparison than you usually find in Home Theater.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Pat,
      I’ve pretty much given up on ratings. Nothing makes sense in terms of value, due to two things. First, the tremendous differences over time. That’s something that RT doesn’t have to worry about. Think this way, in home theater projectors, todays standard Honda Civic easily outperforms the Lamborghini of just 5-6 years ago. And, you can argue that today, for $2500 you can buy a projector in most ways better than all but one or two projectors between $10K and $25K just 2-3 years ago. Thus, time is a killer of using points. Especially since about half the projectors have a 2 year replacement cycle, while the other half is typically 1 year. A best value today, can be average in 3-6 months, and so on.

      I like comparing, but also keep in mind, that most projector comparisons aren’t Corvette vs Ferrari, that RT comparison makes fun reading, but don’t help people choose their next car.

      I think people buying a home theater projector need to understand what they are doing. Room conditions can be more important than black levels, or of no concern at all… it really is trade-offs, and thinking about one’s viewing habits (and what a projector might do to them), one’s room, the mix of content, and more. Editor’s Choice awards, with 4-5 rankings provide interesting stuff, but will not get anyone into the best projector for their situation. It might, however, eliminate some weaker choices, but that too is iffy.
      Especially with 3D in mind, for example, DLP projectors from Mitsubishi and Viewsonic, and Optoma, are typically less bright than LCD projectors for example. If you want a 110 or 120″ screen, that might outright eliminate those (unless you can tolerate very high gain screens), but for the person with the smaller room and only wanting a 92″ screen, they might be the best choice around.

      It’s tough. Sorry, I figure I will stick to making people read the reviews…

      However, I am thinking about adding these monikers to reviews. What do you think?
      Family Room Certified
      Cave / Dedicated Theater Certified

      Where I can help people by at least giving them a quick indication of which projectors have the muscle and features for “non-caves” and which projectors have the kind of performance such as superior black levels” that makes them Cave… dedicated.

      Maybe even a “3D Worth Watching” for projectors who are pretty clean in 3D. Many are pretty good is my guess this year. Last year we definitely had a number who needed to improve 3D. JVC it seems, is still struggling, but Sony’s got it nailed…

  • Matt

    Nice article. There are so many different projectors on the market that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I would love to work with this, looks great. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hayati Akbas

    Art, Monikers to indicate which projector is a great idea. it is a good indication for us to get a quick guide about the projector being reviewed.
    I found a Epson 8700 (used one for a year before) for less than $850, JVC HD250 for a little over $1000 and a JVC X3 (RS40, I am afraid about the brightness of this model) for $1499 also a JVC RS45 for about 2K. what do you think? which one to get?
    I have 135inch 1.1 gain screen and fully darkened place to watch, only movies really.
    The new JVC RS46 (seemingly better lamp life at 4000 hours and better 3D performance, one would hope) for preorder at $2600.
    Now please give me your expertise on what I should do. I used Epson 8700 for over a year before and I like it. but JVC with black levels and no iris (hated the noise on Epson) seems great.
    I am an actor with a budget to match an Ant colony. so I gotta think about winter and survival and everything being buried under snow and stuff but I also wanna enjoy movies to the max in my cave in cold winter nights.
    Thank you.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Tough choices. I do think the 8700 is the deal of the lot, but you are obviously up for a change. Between an RS40 X3 and RS45, I’d say save the bucks and go with the RS40. Neither has great 3D, but then the others don’t have it. The 46 – 3D performance is improved. I haven’t had a really close look yet, but some who saw it say the 3D still needs more work… Certainly, it’s their weakness. Your big screen is an issue. The Epson will still give you the maximum lumens, even if not the prettiest, but it’s 500 calibrated lumens is definitely thin for a 135″. Good luck. Gotta run – Florence and the Machine tonight.