The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Panasonic PT-AE8000U Home Theater Projector Pricing Update

Greetings all you home theater fans,

I was in contact with Panasonic’s projector group today, as I seemed to remember hearing about a price drop on their flagship PT-AE8000 home theatre projector, when I was attending CES.

Well, I remembered correctly.  Turns out that Panasonic has dropped the MAP price of the

Panasonic's PT-AE8000 Projector - 3D capable - package now $300 less

PT-AE8000U from $2999, to $2799.00.   Note please:  Until end of last year (12/31/12, Panasonic was offering 2 pair of 3D glasses and a year of extended warranty (making it 3 years (or 3000 hours whichever comes first).

They’ve changed that as well.  The new PT-AE8000 romo – through 1/31/13 (a couple of days yet), provides that 3rd year warranty, and the 2 pair of 3D glasses, plus Panasonic has added a $100 rebate, when you register the projector with them.

Panasonic likes these ending soon rebates, etc.  It creates some urgency.  But, fear not.  While there are no guarantees, they do tend to renew them (sometimes with changes), almost endlessly.  Still, don’t blame me if the rebate next month is less valuable.

Now let’s put the changes in perspective.  Essentially we are looking at total decrease in cost of $300.  The $200 price drop, and the addition of a $100 rebate.  What makes that so interesting is that it pretty much gives the Panasonic PT-AE8000 pricing parity with their most direct competitor, the Epson Home Cinema 5020UB.   That’s not surprising, because in past years, it almost always was the Epson that sold for more.

The net $300 in savings also increases the pricing advantage over Three more expensive projectors:  The Mitsubishi HC8000D (review posting this week) at $2999 (but 3D glasses, emitter, are optional), while the Sony VPL-HW50ES is $3999 with glasses and spare lamp, and the JVC DLA-X35 is $3499…

One thing to think about.  Since the glasses come as past of the rebate, you don’t get them when you take delivery of the projector. That means you are waiting weeks? before you can watch 3D.  Since many of you are likely to own more than 2 pair of glasses (for visiting friends), you might want o buy a pair or two when you purchase the Panasonic.

I’m not sure the  $300 lower package will change most people’s decision when choosing between these projectors mentioned (my favorites around the price).  That said, it just might for some of you.  And, of course, if you were already intending to go with the Panasonic PT-AE8000U projector, you end up $300 richer.  Go for it?     -art


News And Comments

  • Andy

    Hi Art,
    I have read your reviews/you tube and others. Thanks for all your candid comments; however, I think I’m now “over reviewed”…too much info! I am looking at three projectors; Panasonic AE8000, Epson 6020UB and Sony HW50ES.
    My current situation:
    -100” diagonal da-lite screen, Sharp Z3100 (720p/six years old), ceiling mount, lens roughly 11 feet from screen. Component wiring for everything, bluray and hd satellite to amp, amp to projector. Not a dedicated theatre room, rather a large lower level (light color walls with dark woodwork around screen) with media on one side and pool table/darts and bar on the other. Nearest windows and black out blinds are about 35-40 feet from the screen. Watch sports, hd tv and movies, some gaming.
    I’m leaning towards the Panasonic, as overall it seems to fit the bill. Only concern, if a concern, is the better black level/detail from the Epson and Sony. From what I’ve read and all things being equal I would go with the Sony for true picture quality. Only drawback for me is the cable input on the side vs. the back and perhaps lamp life. To me the cables would be quite visible, ceiling mounted they would be more exposed to the open area of the room. Picky, I know.
    I’m sure all three projectors are a noticeable “step up” from my Sharp. Also realize you are a busy guy; however, any comment would be appreciated, thanks Art.

    • Lisa Feierman

      These are the “big three” that will be fighting it out for my Best In Class award: $2000 to $3500 price range. (A fourth might be the JVC DLA-X35 which is inbound for review.)

      Each has strengths.

      Epson: best bang for the buck, more than enough brightness calibrated for your 100″ for movie viewing when you want, great blacks and shadow detail extremely good calibrated color/skin tones.

      Panasonic: The something or rather a lot, for everyone projector. Lens memory should you decide to go with a wider screen in the future, cool tools (waveform generator) if you like to play, power zoom and focus (needed for lens memory). similar maximum brightness to the Epson. Not as bright calibrated, but you don’t need more when you are doing best viewing, a smoother CFI (I don’t value that much, as I would never use any of them for movie watching, and their all just dandy for sports, etc.) Blacks, though are by far the weakest of the three, though still “ultra-high contrast”

      Sony – the beautiful projector of the group. Best skin tones (calibrated), blacks that are almost identical to the Epson, but the epson get the edge. (let’s say that on a 1-100 scale, if the Epson is a 95, the Sony’s a 93 and the Panasonic is a 78).

      Warranty, panasonic’s offering a 3 year at the moment (if you register it) but that can disappear at any time. Even with it, there’s a 3000 hour max on the warranty. without the 3rd year, it’s 2 years, 2000 hours max. Heavy users run 2000 hours a year or more – that’s 40 hours a week. Sounds like this is your “TV”. If you are a 40 hour a week type, give or take, you should figure that into your equation.

      Myself, I’m torn between the Sony and the Epson, and at the same price would definitely go with the Sony, but from a practical standpoint it’s at least $500 – $700 more. (not that I’ve checked lately). With current prices, I’d say the Epson’s the slightly better value, and the best value of the three.

      Interestingly, I obviously least favor the Panasonic, despite it being a great projector. It’s just not my idea of a great projector, even though it’s the only one that supports lens memory (I have a 124″ 2.35:1 screen). Truth is, I have use of an Epson 5020 here for the year, and it’s going to see 2000 hours during that time, as it’s what I’ll be watching between all the reviews, and as a medium high performance “reference” projector, that I can compare each other projector to, to use as the basis, for example of how the Mits 8000D compares to the Sony, because I know how they both compare to theEpson…

      If black levels, etc, are valuable to you, then you might do what I do, should you ever go widescreen and if you have a reachable ceiling. I get up everytime I go from 16:9 to 2.35:1 content or the reverse, and readjust manually the zoom, lens shift and focus. Gawd I which the Epson and Sony had motorized lenses and lens shift, but you have to pay $6000 for a Sony that will, and there still is no Epson.

      Or, give up a bit of black levels, and just score the Panasonic, as you seem to be leaning that way. All will be a huge step from your old projector.

      hope that helps. -art

  • Mark

    I have an Epson 8350. It is my primary TV screen.
    I love it. I purchased it after reading your reviews. I am partial to DLP projectors but the the user experience (lens shift etc) of the Epson confirmed my purchase.
    I am now on my second bulb.
    I have 2100 hrs on this bulb.
    As the bulb brightness decreases, does the apparent contrast increase?
    Is there a simple brightness/ contrast/ gamma adjustment or formula, I can make to the cinema or living room settings to compensate for the dimming bulb?
    IE- every 1000 hrs of bulb usage, increase brightness by 10 etc.

    PS when can I expect to purchase a 4K projector or one with a 20,000hr LED light source for $3500?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Mark, Glad I could help. Does contrast increase? I wouldn’t think so, but having a darker image might seem that way?
      No formulas I know of for lamp life/brightness. Just do what you can. The primary nature of a dimming lamp should be some color shifting. That is, the only thing you can really do. Increasing the brightness setting doesn’t increase your brightness, but it will raise the floor – you blacks get less black. Increase brightness and you raise every value, thus the near whites become white, aka “crushed whites”. All you can really do to get back lost brightness is to give up some color accuracy. That’s what the brighter modes are for, to “bail you out” when the lamp no longer is bright enough to satisfy you when in it’s “best” mode.
      4K projector for $3500 with LED? LED’s the problem. So far bright LED projectors are really expensive. We’ll have to see about that. However, I am hoping that we’ll have 4K 3D projectors out for under $5K at CEDIA in Sept 2014. I hope so, but almost certainly the following year.
      I’m certainly ready for a $5K 4K projector. Manufacturers typically have programs for sales people, press, etc., so I get good prices. I’ll be happy to get that $5K for $3.5K. OK, way too many K’s.