Panasonic PT-AE4000 vs. BenQ W6000

Before you take that to heart, however, remember please that we do a full grayscale calibration for “best”mode, but for “brightest” we do something completely different.

For a “brightest” mode, we want to get the max lumens out to cut through ambient light, while still having respectable color, but not necessarily great color. As such, we didn’t try to calibrate the Panasonic’s “brightest” mode for great color, and, no doubt had we done so, it would have had fewer lumens. Thus, there is probably a better compromise mode with very good color for the Panasonic, while still maintaining most of the Panasonic’s lumens in “brightest” mode. Since we didn’t go that route, we ended up with some additional lumens, but color not a match for the BenQ. Most likely, to get color approaching the W6000’s, with the Panasonic on Bright, we would end up with a less lumens than the W6000.

With the improved dynamic iris, the BenQ’s performance in this area is now perfectly acceptable. The Panasonic iris may be a touch smoother, but not enough difference to matter.

The BenQ has that DLP look with rich colors especially the darker ones. It also has the noticeably sharper looking image. The Panasonic is more of the “invisible” projector – subdued, neither adding, nor taking away significantly from the original content.

Between the Panasonic and BenQ, special features notwithstanding, I find the BenQ to be the more fun projector in terms of picture, but the Panasonic still has a significant advantage in black levels. Very tough call for many. I’ve got a screen large enough that the Panny can’t cut it in “best” mode, so, since I do demand a great picture for most movie watching, I’d have to choose the BenQ W6000, but than mine is a 128″ Firehawk G3 – a high contrast gray surfaced screen.

If, however, any of the additional capabilities of the PT-AE4000 really appeal to you, and brightness is not your problem, then almost certainly the Panny would be your choice.

Panasonic PT-AE4000 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000

The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is entering its second year. Pricing seems a little higher than the Panasonic but there’s also more price variation, so consider the two projectors to be about the same price. I am not aware of Sanyo reducing their MAP price, so technically it is still more expensive.

When I compared the Z3000 last year to the PT-AE3000 I commented that the Panasonic has a very slight advantage in terms of black levels. Obviously that margin has just increased, and becomes a more important difference.

We also couldn’t get color quite as good as we would have liked, in calibrating the PLV-Z3000 in part due to simpler (coarser) color controls than most other projectors have, including their less expensive PLV-Z700. The Sanyo does have a slight shift to yellow green. The small Panasonic shift to red is probably a touch less, and personally, the less objectionable of the two. Still both have good color, we’re talking small shifts here, there’s more variation in the colors in your source material.

Brightness is interesting. The Sanyo has a no-frills “best” mode, Pure Cinema. Not many lumens (235 lumens measured), far dimmer than the PT-AE4000’s Color 1 or Cinema 1. Most people though, will use the Creative Cinema which does have the dynamic iris, and dynamic image enhancement functions (and is more like most other 3LCD projectors’ “best” modes). Creative measured out to 373 lumens, brighter than last year’s Panasonic but below this PT-AE4000’s 430 measured lumens.

In “brightest” mode, the Sanyo produced 1046 lumens which is brighter, but not dramatically so than the Panasonic’s 943 lumens. All in all, consider the two projectors to be roughly equal in brightness with the slight edge in “best” mode to the Panasonic in “bes”t mode, and the Sanyo in “brightest”.

In terms of basic sharpness, a slight advantage goes to the Panasonic. I had reported last year that the Panasonic had a slight advantage, and the PT-AE4000 is every bit as good as the PT-AE3000, (and even has an extra dynamic feature to enhance the crispness of the image).

Panasonic PT-AE4000 vs. Planar PD8150

The Planar is a premium single chip DLP projector with the best black levels we’ve seen on a single chip projector so far (under $10,000). That said, its black level performance is probably a tad shy of the Panasonic’s but they should be very close overall, the PT-AE4000 doing better on most scenes, but on some the PD8150 may best it slightly. A slight win for the Panasonic

Sharpness – definitely a win for the Planar.

A significant win in terms of warranty, also goes to Planar.

When it comes to brightness, the two projectors are as typically different in brightness performance as a single chip DLP and a three chip LCD normally are.

The Panasonic clobbers the Planar in “brightest” mode, with about 930 lumens vs. just 606 lumens.

But, when it comes to “best” mode, the advantage is relatively smaller but for the Planar PD8150 which measured 468 to 430 for the Panasonic. Since this year’s Panasonic is within 10% of the “best” mode brightness of the Planar, in best, a big overall win goes to the PT-AE4000.

That said the Planar will have real appeal to folks primarily interested in movie watching, and not seeking lots of lumens for dealing with ambient light.

All considered I would say that if you set up the two side by side, and put on a good movie, the Planar will have the richer look, more “pop and wow”, sharper image, better skin tones, roughly comparable black levels (advantage Panasonic), and overall just appear to have a superior picture.

Well, what do you expect – The Planar is a good four times the price!

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