Panasonic PT-AE7000

If 3D is your bag, the PT-AE7000 is definitely worth checking out. It's a one-trick pony, but it pulls that one trick off fairly well.

Name3D Home Cinema Projector: Panasonic PT-AE7000
At a glance:Quiet projector with excellent image quality for both 2D and 3D,Huge range of features aimed at videophile customers,Active shutter glasses can be tiring to wear for longer periods of time,High price
Summary:Stunning image quality for the dedicated videophile with a big budget.

Panasonic’s new high definition projector with 3D capabilities seems pricey compared to the company’s TV sets at $5,500, especially since you have to add all the other bits required to complete the home entertainment equation.

You’ll need an amplifier and speakers for the sound, digital tuners for television and forget about any networked stuff or USB connections because the PT-AE7000 is a one-trick pony.

That said, the projector costs maybe a third of what many current 3D projectors go for, and it delivers some pretty stunning imagery that may have you thinking a dark room with special cabling, screen and black walls are worth the money and effort.

If 3D is your bag, the PT-AE7000 is definitely worth checking out. Thanks to 480Hz processing for the 3D, cross talk or ghosting of images is barely noticeable. There’s less light loss too, meaning you don’t have to turn up the brightness and lose detail and contrast. Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean looked great with the PT-AE7000. Viewing angles are excellent too, much superior to flat panel TVs.

However, the 3D capabilities are marred by the two pairs of active shutter glasses supplied with the projector (additional spectacles cost $100 each). Panasonic made the lenses quite small and they are some way off from your eyes. This leads to light leakage and reflections that tire your eyes after a while.

Ye olde 2D is less complicated of course, and the PT-AE7000 does a fantastic job here. The twelve-element projection lens with extra-low dispersion glass and the dynamic iris and colour filter help create stunningly good images with very deep blacks that are also very sharp.Blu-Ray discs at 24p look particularly good.

DVDs and standard definition content look great too, as the projector is more forgiving of low-resolution material than LCD TVs in general.

Being as costly as it is, it’s good to see Panasonic offering the full gamut of high-end features in the PT-AE7000 such as a waveform monitor, advanced gamma and sharpness adjustment, and 12-bit colour depth for 68.7 billion hues just to mention a few.

It also has three HDMI connectors, RS-232 serial port for remote control and even a VGA connector, and an be ceiling-mounted.

The lens is fixed and can’t be replaced with different focal length alternatives. However, the f/1.9-3.2 zoom covers 22.4 to 44.8mm for 1.35 to 2.7:1 ratios, which should be fine for most situations. With the projector nine metres away from the sreen or wall, it’s possible to get a 300-inch (over seven metres) diagonal screen with the lens on the widest setting.

Physically, the PT-AE7000 is a chunky piece of kit and generates a fair bit of heat with the 200-Watt red-rich lamp. It’s very quiet though (rated 22dB), especially in eco-mode that also dials down the brightness – 2,000 ANSI Lumens is possible – to levels suitable for dark rooms. The lamp is rated for 4,000 hours of operation in normal mode, and 5,000 hours in eco mode.

Panasonic got most things right with the PT-AE7000 which is worth considering for the very good 2D image quality alone. However, the projector wows in 3D mode too and while we still think the technology needs to shed the glasses, active shutters or not, the PT-AE7000 is one of the best devices around currently, should you wish to add that extra dimension. Be warned though, it’ll cost you.

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Juha Saarinen

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