Panasonic PT-AE8000 Projector Overview
The Panasonic PT-AE8000 (or PT-AE8000U for the U.S.) is Panasonic's second generation 3D capable projector. It is already shipping (10/2012).
What we have here is one of the most feature laden projectors on the market. The PT-AE8000U is versatile, with lots of placement flexibility. It's even got a toy store of cool features for geeks, including a waveform generator, and the ability to do side by side comparisons when you change some settings.
Before I go further, I want to thank one of our dealers for providing us with a brand new PT-AE8000U for this review. I still had not been able to confirm a unit from Panasonic, so Visual Apex came through for us.
It is also bright. Rather, last year's PT-AE7000 was very bright, claiming 2000 lumens. This year Panasonic claims an extra 400 lumens under the hood. That certainly helps with 3D viewing, and gives you a genuine light canon. The PT-AE8000 is built for a dedicated home theater or cave, but is one of the most capable projectors for brighter rooms - your bonus, family and livingrooms.
It really is bright. The Panasonic's most direct competitor this year is Epson's Home Cinema 5020. (These two companies slug it out every year, as the two dominant top quality 3LCD home theater projectors.) A strange thing has happened. For years, the Epson projectors were always the brighter - never drastically so, just something you could count on. This year the Panasonic PT-AE8000U claims 2400 lumens - the same number as the Epson. In their brightest modes, when we measured, however, the Panasonic beat the Epson by a few dozen lumens. That's never happened before. For the first time, they are essentially a dead tie at their brightest.
The real competition are the 2D/3D projectors, and that means the major players besides the PT-AE8000U are the Sony VPL-HW50ES, the aforementioned Epson and its sibling, the Pro Cinema 6020, the Optoma HD8300, Sharp XV-Z30000, and JVC has a projector around $3500, so all are +/- about $500 of this Panasonic. There are others too, but most of them are a big price step up from the Panasonic. For example, the top two of JVC's 3D capable models are at $7999 and $11,999. Sony has a more expensive one too, for $5999.
The PT-AE8000U takes home our Hot Product Award.
The feature set alone almost earns this projector our Hot Product Award. But, on the other hand, how can we forget picture quality. The Panasonic as you will read, is quite impressive there, as well.
The PT-AE8000U is designed for your home theater. That said, I will repeat - it is one of the very brightest projectors out there, which means it's going to be every bit as good a choice in a "brighter" room - whether living, family, or bonus - room. There are only a few brighter (in brightest mode) home theater projectors on the market that are under ten grand. (Even most of the "lower cost/quality home entertainment projectors aren't as bright.)
Panasonic's PT-AE8000 offers you their Lens Memory feature, discussed below.