Posted on November 13, 2013 By Art Feierman
Although these two projectors use different technologies, they are similar in more ways than not. Although the Panasonic PT-AE3000 picked up a Best In Class award, the Sony VPL-HW10, is a very good alternative. More to the point, those that tend to favor the PT-AE3000 compared to say the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, are likely to be the same folks that also favor the Sony VPL-HW10 over the Epson, and others.
Where to start? Both projectors typically sell for less than $3000, but well more than $2000. Still, the Sony will typically (at the time of this writing), be several hundred dollars more expensive.
Both offer very good, to excellent placement flexibility, and both are relatively film-like. Each however has strengths relative to the other, so, while we granted our Best In Class award to the Panasonic, and no award to the Sony, the Sony we still see as a projector that will be favored by a number of folks comparing the two, as it may well be the better choice for their own circumstances.
Both are three chip devices. The Panasonic uses LCD technology, while the Sony uses LCoS (which Sony calls SXRD). The Panasonic has more interesting features, but the Sony has all the standard stuff, and implements everything rather well.
Let’s get the cosmetics out of the way. The Sony VPL-HW10 is a really good looking projector physically, longer than wider, mostly finished in a shiny black piano finish (with dark gray in the front). The Panasonic PT-AE3000, although similar in overall size, is wider than deep, and finished in a flat gray. The Panasonic is certainly drab and industrial looking compared to the Sony’s more impressive looks. The thing is, once the lights go down, who cares, it’s the picture that counts.
Both projectors have a center mounted zoom lens. The PT-AE3000’s lens is motorized, the Sony’s is manual. The Panasonic lens offers more placement range with a 2:1 zoom compared to a more limited 1.6:1 for the Sony. Both offer manual lens shift.
Without a doubt, the Panasonic is the more flexible. For a 100 inch diagonal screen, they can both be as close as 10 feet (the two projectors vary by only 2 inches in terms of how close). It’s the maximum distance that is markedly different. For that screen size, the Sony can only be as far back as 16.3 feet, while the Panasonic can be 19.8 feet. What that means to you, is that if you want to shelf mount, many of you will not be able to shelf mount the Sony in deeper rooms. In squarish rooms both should work fine. When it comes to lens shift, again, the Panasonic has a distinct advantage, which comes into play if you have higher ceilings. The Sony VPL-HW10 can be mounted as high as 7 inches above the top of that 100″ screen, while the Panasonic can go as high as 24.5 inches. If you have a high ceiling, then the Sony HW10 will have to be hanging down lower on an extension pole, by that difference of about 1.5 feet.
Looking from the front, the control panel of the Sony is on the side (left), while the Panasonic has theirs behind a spring loaded door on the right. Sony’s is small and a little harder to operate than the more traditional layout of the Panasonic, but, really, no one should care very much about those differences.
The VPL-HW10 has its input panel on the side, below the control panel, while the Panasonic PT-AE3000 has theirs in the back. Which you prefer, is a personal choice.
The Pansonic PT-AE3000, however, has 3 HDMI inputs compared to two for the Sony HW10.
One key difference is that the Panasonic not only has internal support for an optional anamorphic lens, but has its anamorphic lens emulation mode. The Sony VPL-HW10, much like the Epson 6500UB, does not internally support an anamorphic lens, and would require an outboard processor (think $800+) to use one.
Ultimately, the Panasonic PT-AE3000 wins the placement flexibility battle. We consider it excellent with “Greatest flexibility”, while we ranked the Sony VPL-HW10 as “Good flexibility”.
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