PT-AE2000U or the Sanyo PLV-Z2000
These are both excellent projectors, and priced right. They are similar in a great many ways. One difference is brightness. Best mode against best mode (Pure Cinema - Sanyo, vs. Cinema 1 - Panasonic), The full production Sanyo PLV-Z2000 still was about 50 lumens less bright than the Panasonic, but, in fairness, the Sanyo comes with a very competent, Brilliant Cinema mode, which the Panasonic has no equivalent. Of course a similar mode could be created, but, Sanyo's Briliant Cinema is just so user friendly, with not much cost in pure picture quality. After that, though, the Sanyo has no really bright modes. Vivid (which was almost hideous to watch) still was only around 600 lumens. So, overall, Panasonic wins the horsepower battle. And that will be the deciding factor, and the biggest difference for most. If you are going with no more than a 110" screen and have good room lighting control, the Sanyo is a serious contender. But it has little power to spare.
Other than that, of course, Sanyo wins in terms of warranty. The Panasonic though, overall, is my choice of the two. I'd say it is definitely worth the $400 to $500 more (current difference - 11/07), but let me say this. If you are not buying a larger screen 110" or larger, the Sanyo is a great way to save money, if the budget is tight. One other thing, the Panasonic will support an anamorphic lens, the Sanyo won't. However few actually go that route (aspect ratio of 2.35:1, no letterboxing, on Cinemascope movies).
The overall viewing experience difference betweeen these two projectors, properly set up, is very similar. Even side by side, in best modes, they should be very comparable. So, I'll reiterate. If there is some performance aspect you need, such as lots of lumens for TV watching (Panasonic), or a larger screen, or you are thinking Sanyo because the budget is tight, figure the price/performance value proposition of these two is about a tie.
PT-AE2000U versus the Epson Home Cinema 1080
Sorry, not even going to touch this comparison. True, they are both the same price, true, they are both LCD projectors with similar placement flexibility, and true, the Epson has the better warranty.
But, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 is on the way out, with the replacement model due to ship in the next two weeks. Like the move from the PT-AE1000U, to the PT-AE2000U, the new Epson - the Home Cinema 1080UB (ultra black), should prove to be a substantial improvement over their older model. As such, if Epson hasn't cleared out all the Home Cinema 1080's you can likely expect a significant price drop on them, perhaps below the price of the Sanyo. With unknowns like that - I'll reserve judgement, until I review the new Epson Home Cinema UB in three weeks.
Panasonic PT-AE2000U and the Mitsubishi HC6000
Hmmm, The HC6000 is the most expensive of the 1080 LCD projectors. Those of you who read my review of it, know I was most impressed. The HC6000 took black levels and shadow detail to a level above the older model and the other first generation LCD 1080p projectors. The viewing experience is extremely good.
From a brightness standpoint, these two are about as close to a tie as possible. The HC6000 in best mode measured 449 lumens less than 50 lumens more than the pre-production PT-AE2000U. The Panasonic has more lumens in it's brightest mode, but then, it's brightest is uglier looking that the Mitsubishi. Overall, let's call them pick in brightness.
When it comes to black levels, I have to give the nod to the HC6000. I was extremely impressed with the HC6000 in this regard, when I first fired it up, and all the way through the review. While the Panasonic is no slouch, the Mitsubishi, gave me the feel of producing "inky" or "jet" blacks. The Panasonic never gave me the feeling it could match the HC6000, although I guaranty you it's a close thing. Both have plenty of placement flexibility, but the Panasonic has more (that' s OK, as both should work in just about any room).
The Mitsubishi, like the Panasonic without adjustment crushes blacks just a bit, and a real calibration should improve both, so no advantage there.
If you like toys, the Panasonic has great built in tools, for fiddling with the projector's image. It will appeal to those who love to tweak. For those who just want to get it set up, and enjoy, though, these two are comparable. I'd love to have them both at the same time, but failing that, my guess is that, if they were both the same price, I'd probably take the HC6000. Spending an extra $1000 for the Mitsubishi, though is going to be hard to rationalize for many.
Panasonic PT-AE2000U projector, Pros, Cons, andTypical Capabilities