The Panasonic PT-AE2000U is a very good projector, and one that I like to describe as very film like. It also has some great controls (including their waveform generator) for those who like to play around with their hardware, almost as much (or more) as watching content. The Panasonic does produce a most enjoyable "film-like" image to watch. The Epson HC1080UB, though, in my opinion, has the advantage in almost every area. it's sharper, has better blacks, at least as good in terms of shadow details, and its zoom has a little more range. (And don't forget the better warranty.) The typical Epson HC1080UB image has richer colors in dark areas, which generally leads to descriptions such as "eye-popping color", or wow factor. By comparison, the Panasonic image might be described as natural and laid-back, and the Epson - rich and dynamic.
One particular advantage of the Panasonic, though, is its support for an anamorphic lens for those wanting a Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That's one thing the Epson doesn't do! The Panasonic also has a bit more vertical lens shift range, but that will only appeal to those ceiling mounting, with high ceilings.
As I said elsewhere, the Epson is rather noisy for an LCD projector. The Panasonic on the other hand, is one of the very quietest. If noise aversion is your thing, that's a big plus for the Panasonic.
From a standpoint of personal preference, my vote is definitely for the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB. I really enjoyed watching the Panasonic, but I loved the Epson.
HC1080UB vs. Sanyo PLV-Z2000
I know I didn't comment much about the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 in the rest of the review, but it is a projector to be reckoned with. If anything, its image is slightly sharper than the Epson, and it does a very respectable job, overall, although the Epson has much better black level performance. I really liked the Z2000 when I reviewed it, and with it, you get an overall excellent picture, at a price well below the Epson - at this time, probably about $600 or so less, and that works out to about 25% less.
Keep in mind that the Epson is especially bright, and the Sanyo less than average in brightness. In fact in brightest mode, the Epson is almost 3 times as bright. Like the Epson, the Sanyo does not support an anamorphic lens.
If you've got the bucks, you'll get more bang from them with the Epson.
HC1080UB vs. Optoma HD80, HD8000, HD81, HD81-LV
Like I said, I'm trying to keep this short. Optoma dominates the 1080p DLP space, at least in terms of projectors widely available. And these Optomas are not all alike, but they share many of the same picture quality attributes. So, here goes.
All the Optoma's have very limited zoom lenses, and no lens shift. That puts you pretty much into two choices - ceiling mounting, or on a table. Since they aren't especially quiet, and we're talking 1080p projectors here, I'll assume you are ceiling mounting. The Epson of course can go just about anywhere, so, no contest, in terms of placement flexibility.
The Optoma's typically need serious tuning out of the box - but then, you've read my reservations about this Epson as well. it's just that a simple adjustment gets the Epson very good in most modes. You'll normally need a calibration disc to do the same for any of the Optomas.
OK, let's get serious here. In my opinion, the Epson equals or beats all of the Optoma projectos in terms of black levels, and shadow detail (remember - I'm not doing side-by-sides). The more expensive Optoma's at least, however, the HD81 and HD81-LV are at least as sharp.
And nothing shipping yet, short of a 3 chip DLP projector ($10K+ for 1080p minimum), can match the Optoma HD81-LV for brightness. There are definitely a number of folks who will wisely favor - for their room and tastes, the HD81-LV over the Home Cinema 1080UB. That said, the Epson, overall, is more than a match for any of the others.
The entry level HD80, however, like the Sanyo, is significantly less expensive. I believe the Epson is the better value, but the HD80 will definitely appeal to those who like the DLP look, and have a limited budget. The HD8000, basically the same as the HD80 but sold through local installing dealers is more expensive than the Epson, but technically, it competes with the Pro Cinema 1080UB, the ISF certified Epson which is also sold only through local installing dealers. The Pro version of the Epson is $3999 (with spare lamp and ceiling mount) so still several hundred dollars more than the HD8000.