Art's Two Cents
I felt it necessary to cross pricing categories, due to the promo situation told above, if for no other reason. Forgetting that, though, these two needed to be compared. Afterall, they are very similar in many ways, from technology to room placement, and both sporting very good, out of the box color.
When it comes down to the bottom line, though, the Epson, if the prices were the same, I believe would be the choice of significantly more people than the Panasonic. Despite the PT-AE2000U's very pleasurable, film-like qualities, that dramatic difference in black level performance, and the extra lumens let the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB project that more dynamic looking image - it's just got more wow factor, that more than offsets the slight hardness to the image.
I've already said elsewhere, that if I had to give up my $6000 JVC, and had to spend under $4000, the Epson would be my choice, but I will have no qualms about recommending the Panasonic for those really wanting to keep their investment down close to $2000.