Projector Reviews

Panasonic PT-AE1000U Projector Review – Image Quality-5

Panasonic PT-AE1000U Home Theater Projector – Sharpness

This was the one real dissapointment of the PT-AE1000U. One of the big reasons for buying a 1080p projector instead of 720p is for the higher resolution, and in turn, more detailed image. Another key reason is that pixels are going to be less visible.

Panasonic decided to use their Smooth Screen technology (in front of the LCD panels), to make pixels essentially completely invisible. They have been successful with this technology on the lower priced (720p) PT-AX100U, and the older PT-AE900U. In all cases, the end result is invisible pixels at any normal viewing distance, and a slight softness to the image. The loss of sharpness on the AX100U was slight, and we found it to be more than acceptab

however, people are paying over twice the price of a 720p projector, and I would think less willing to sacrifice sharpness. (Of course, it is sharper than typical 720p projectors.)

Below I have several comparison images, but first want to comment further. It’s almost ironic. The Smooth Screen technology is so good, you can sit as close as you want, and no pixels, but the trade-off is, for the feel of an extremely sharp image, you need to sit further back.

I would put this forth as a guideline. For a 100″ screen, if you are sitting more than 12 feet back, you should not notice the slight softness. At 14-15 feet back for that same sized screen, you probably couldn’t tell the difference in sharpness between the PT-AE1000U, and a slightly sharper projector, like the Mitsubishi HC5000.

Below are four images. They are a closeup of the necklace from Phantom. (same image as shown above, but zoomed in).

The first image is shot on the Panasonic PT-AE1000U, the second on the Mitsubishi HC5000, the 3rd on the sharpest of the 720p projectors, the Sanyo PLV-Z5, and lastly, the new BenQ W10000, their 1080p DLP entry. (Basically a 1080p version of my PE-8720). Although the enlargement varies slightly from projector to projector, you should get the idea!

Please remember you are viewing a very small section of the full image.

Sanyo PLV-Z5 (720p projector) Note: The Sanyo, though very sharp, has very visible pixels. I certainly wouldn’t consider the Sanyo to be comparable, because from a pixel visibility standpoint, you would need to sit much further back with the Sanyo, for the pixel issue to dissapear.

BenQ W10000: (This image will be added shortly, as will several direct side-by-side comparison shots of the PT-AE1000U with the BenQ W10000.)

Here is a closeup of a computer monitor from Space Cowboys (HD-DVD). I’m starting to use this for sharpness comparison in future reviews. Even what you see below is only about 25% of the whole frame

Click to enlarge. SO close

I should point out that the Panasonic PT-AE1000U’s image softness would appear to be about the same as found on most LCOS projectors such as Sony’s VW50, their new 1080p resolution entry ($4995 MAP – $1000 more than the Panasonic).

Bottom line on sharpness. I’m not sure why Panasonic felt it necessary to use their Smooth Screen technology on a 1080p projector, I don’t think it was needed. I sit very close to a large screen (11 feet from eyeball to screen, and the screen is 128″ diagonal). At that distance/size, 720p DLP projectors show very slight pixel visibility (not a problem), although with normal LCD projectors at 720p, that distance for that large a screen is just too close, the pixels become a problem.

With the 1080p Mitsubishi, however, (also LCD based), even a 11 feet from my large screen, pixels are not an issue, so I think this Panasonic projector would have been better without Smooth Screen. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Other factors, especially screen size and seating distance, directly affect the situation. Since the PT-AE1000U (typical of 1080p projectors) is not especially bright (more on that later), I feel that 106″ diagonal is the largest screen anyone should use, unless they opt for a screen with very high gain.

I suspect most buyers of the PT-AE1000U will choose screen sizes between 92″ diagonal and 106″ diagonal. In that case, the sharpness should not be an issue with seating distances (to your eyes, not the front of your chair) of 11 (for the 92″) to about 14 (106″ screen) feet should be far enough back to negate the softness. Fortunately, for Panasonic, those are fairly normal seating distances for those screen sizes.

Click Image to Enlarge