Panasonic PT-AE8000 vs. Sharp XV-Z30000
Sharp's XV-Z30000 started shipping a few months before the Panasonic. Unlike most home projectors - first shown in September at CEDIA and IFA, we got a peek at CES last January.
Let's start with brightness. The PT-AE8000 is about 70 lumens brighter when both are calibrated, hardly a great deal, considering that's about 13%, but every lumen helps. (On the other hand, the Sharp arrived with 300 hours on the lamp, the Panasonic was new), That Sharp may well have already lost 100 lumens since new. In brightest mode, however, there's no competition, the Panasonic PT-AE8000 is roughly twice as bright as the XV-Z30000.
The Sharp gives you excellent placement flexibility, rivaling the PT-AE8000. The Z30000 has a 2:1 zoom like the Panasonic, and both have a Lens Memory feature. The Panasonic does have a little more lens shift range, but let's call this pretty much a dead tie in placement terms.
The Sharp needs a full CMS calibration more than the Panasonic does to create excellent skin tones and color in general, but we're talking a small difference. Both look very good, with the Sharp having that DLP feel.
The Z30000's black levels are very close to the Panasonic's. With three months between viewing the two projectors, but having common projectors to compare both with, I'd have to call them about a tie. If watching a variety of content great for observing black levels and shadow detail, I doubt one would consistently best the other at blacks. When it comes to dark shadow detail, the Sharp has the advantage. We're talking differences you might barely notice during normal viewing, on the right scenes.
All considered, two projectors with more similarities than differences. But there are some differences, starting with the Sharp's lack of CFI. Always a nice feature to have, at least for sports, I consider it a feature most can live without, but would rather not have to.
The Panasonic also has the advantage for 3D thanks to all that extra brightness. The Sharp can handle 3D on a 100" diagonal screen "adequately" with a new lamp. The Panasonic can do the same, let's say, on a 130" diagonal screen instead, and is pretty comfortable e at 100" diagonal.
The Sharp has the sharper, crisper image. This starts with being a single chip device. No question here, this is a real Sharp (no pun intended) advantage.
If you know, and like that DLP look and feel, the lack of CFI and some razzle dazzle features that are found on the Panasonic, shouldn't be enough to sway you from going with the Sharp. If you need/want brightness, plan on lots of 3D on anything but a very small screen, etc., the PT-AE8000 has the advantage.
For standard 2D movie viewing - calibrated, it really is going to be a "look and feel" difference, as well as any price considerations.