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Panasonic PT-AE7000 3D Projector - A "First Look" Review

Greetings from Panasonic West.  Ok, not really!   Panasonic in the US, is HQ'd in Secaucus, NJ.  But they have their digital labs out by Universal Studios in LA.  Today, I got a first look at Panasonic's PT-AE7000 3D and 2D, 1080p home theater projector! It will be shipping in September!  I asked, they could not tell me when in Sept - early or late, or...  We'll just have to see. A quick comment then some details.   I had the opportunity to see a good hour plus of assorted 3D content, including Ice Age 3, and others.  This was in Panasonic's "theater" screening room.  It's a small theater, with great huge home theater type seats (yep cup holders, too), and it's got all dark surfaces, and a huge screen.

PT-AE7000 lens and controls - lens shift and control panel

We saw the PT-AE7000 as it will be called in the US - or PT-AE7000U, also to be known at the PT-AT5000 in the EU, and probably a lot of the rest of the world. It's impossible to make any precise, quick judgements when viewing content you don't or barely know, in a room you are unfamiliar with.  For that reason, I reserve all serious judgements for after a PT-AE7000 graces my testing room and theater.   That said, it was most impressive! What we have here, is Panasonic's PT-AE70000.  It is a 3 LCD panel projector (yes good old transmissive panels (or maybe good "new" panels.  I never asked.  It seems about the same size as the PT-AE4000, but far better looking.  Gone is the commercial box, replaced with some decent sculpted lines. Unlike the PT-AE4000, the PT-AE7000 looks great - turned off. Turn on the power and you have a 2000 lumen rated 1080p projector.  That's an increase over the PT-AE4000, but perhaps more importantly, that makes it about twice as bright (or more) than any of 3D 1080p capable projectors I've had in, to review. With a MSRP of only $3499 (no, it's not $3495), it prices below, yet is brighter than the JVC, the Sharp XV-Z17000, the Mitsubishi HC9000D and the Sony VPL-VW90ES, that we've reviewed to date.  Even the  forthcoming Sony HW30 should be at least a few hundred more expensive, as, no doubt, Panasonic will set their MAP price lower. Panasonic has not yet set it at this time, but the two most logical price points will be $2995 or $2495  We shall see.  Final pricing on the recently announced Optomas, and probably guessing at what the other 3D projector with transmissive LCDs will price at - that being whatever Epson rolls out at Cedia in 6 weeks, as they too say they will have one. Enough on that, however.  Let's talk projector. PT-AE7000 Contrast:   300,000:1  (significant improvement) PT-AE7000 Brightness:  2000 lumens We saw the PT-AE7000 and AE4000 doing the same 2D material side-by-side, both in Cinema 1 modes and you can definitely see slightly blacker blacks and the additiona pop - dynamic look, to the image.  All considered, the PT-AE7000 with better blacks and a couple hundred more lumens, effortlessly looked the better of the two. Similar, but definitely better. For 3D viewing, there was no competition there for comparison, but (for an unfamiliar location) it really did look good.  On most of the content, the PT-AE7000 was essentially free of the ghosting, referred to as cross-talk.  Part of that was attributed to their 480Hz driven LCD panels, with larger aperture. The PT-AE7000 inherits a lot from the older AE4000.   The Waveform generator is still there, but it's been upgraded to do 3D as well. The Lens Memory feature is still there.  I believe it shares the same lens and throw distances, as the older model, and it does have the same 100% range on vertical lens shift, although it has a little less horizontal shift that the 4000. A new Red rich lamp, according to Panasonic is making a real difference.  AE7000 has CFI and pretty much all the other dynamic type features that the 4000 has offered. OK, of interest.  Like DLP-Link, the PT-AE7000 sends out the syncing information for the active shutter glasses.  They say the range is about 6 meters - call it 20 feet.   If your room requires more, no worries, a separate IR transmitter for 3D is included, and plugs into one of the two "Screen triggers".  Problem solved.  The emitter was used for the demo, as some folks in the Panasonic theater were as far back as 40+ feet. Just a couple more things before I go. The full press release will be posted on our site, most likely tomorrow.   They handed out paper, not a file, although a couple folks were asking and might have gotten the pdf by now.   Either way, we'll get the full release up as quickly as possible. Same for the specs, although you know already know most of the ones you care about. The PT-AE7000 looked great in 2D, it looked almost (not really) bright, in 3D.  In one room they actually dared show it on a 120" diagonal 1.1 gain screen.  Well it was at least as bright (by my best guess) as any of the four mentioned above, on a much smaller screen.   I'd say on my slightly higher gain Studiotek 130, at 100" diagonal, none of those others was quite as bright as the Panasonic, on 120".  This gives me hope that my friends who object to the general lack of brightness of 3D, and often prefer the 2D version, only because of the brightness, may be swayed.  My toughest viewer, insisted 45 minutes int Alice, on the JVC, that she couldn't stand the dimness, so we switched to 2D. So, I'm most encouraged.  So far, the only consumer 1080p projectors out there with 2000 lumen type brightness are entry level 720p 2D/3D projectors, more for gaming or the family room.   This Panasonic changes all of that.  It still won't be close to 2D brightness in a movie theater, but it's a good step on the way. So, from a quick look under unfamiliar conditions:   Brighter than most 3D projectors, cleaner on ghosting and crosstalk, a reasonable price (you really didn't expect them to give you 3D for the same price as the AE4000 did you?) - and a classically extensive set of performance and consumer features! Great promise.  Can't wait until a review unit arrives (no they couldn't say when yet - and these units here, are all engineering samples), to see how well Panasonic delivers on the promise. One last thing.  When Panasonic was asked "what took you so long", their answer was basically, "we wanted to get it right".  Looks like they are on the right track.   It's going to be a really interesting fall and winter this year, for home theater projectors.   That's great, the past 12 months have been a bit thin  on great new projectors, but this CEDIA, there should be plenty.  I'm ready! People, start saving, there look to be a lot of cool projector choices coming in the 2nd half of this year, and the PT-AE7000 definitely looks to be one of the more/most interesting.  -art

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