Preview: Panasonic PT-AE7000
- — 01 October, 2011 22:00
|Name||3D Home Cinema Projector: Panasonic PT-AE7000|
|At a glance:||Full HD (1080p) projection,480Hz Active (shutter-glasses) 3D,Screen size up to 300 inches (2D), 200 inches (3D)|
|Summary:||A great way to bring the full-scale cinematic 3D experience home.|
|RRP:||$5500 (Projector), $100 (additional 3D glasses, per pair)|
Late in September I headed over to a boutique cinema on Auckland’s North Shore to check out Panasonic’s PT-AE7000, “the world’s first LCD full HD 3D home projector”.
The 3D effect is frame-sequential, using active shutter glasses – the more expensive solution when it comes to additional glasses ($100/pair), but providing greater resolution (and arguably a better 3D effect overall) than passive, polarised-glasses solutions. The active 3D also means you don’t need a special projector screen: you can use any commercially available screen, or just a white-painted wall.
Instead of the 120Hz used by Nvidia’s active 3D system (on which I’ve clocked a few hundred hours of gameplay), Panasonic drive their LCD panel at 480Hz – this allows for a much shorter transition time between showing the left-eye and right-eye frames, reducing crosstalk (double-images).
From my brief preview session, I can confirm that crosstalk is massively reduced in comparison to Nvidia’s 3D Vision, and notably less than I’ve seen with many competitors’ 3D LCD TVs. This in turn leads to a much more comfortable 3D viewing experience – important if you don’t like your movie-watching to be accompanied by headaches and nausea.
Watching a few scenes from Avatar, the active 3D appeared vastly superior to the passive 3D in-cinema experience. A major caveat: Avatar was my first experience with modern 3D, and since then I’ve adjusted to the format over a long period of time. I can’t tell how much of my perceived ‘improvement’ in that case is just thanks to familiarity. However, it certainly wasn’t worse than the original experience.
Another feature Panasonic is pushing is the AE7000’s “Hollywood Tuning” – Panasonic has worked with Hollywood professionals to deliver a picture closest to what was originally intended by filmmakers. This, obviously, is something that’s hard to confirm or deny from a half-hour preview session in perfect cinema-darkness. I’ll reserve my judgement on that feature until we can get the AE7000 through the PC World test lab.
I can say that colours were rich, black areas dark, white areas bright, and images as detailed as you’d expect of any 1080p display. Panasonic claims that by design, the borders between individual pixels should not be visible: something often seen on large projected images, even when you’re starting with a high resolution like 1920 x 1080. Unfortunately the cinema at which the projector was demonstrated used a perforated screen, which creates a grid-like pattern reminiscent of pixellation. This is another thing I’ll have to hold judgement on until I’ve been able to test it myself.
Despite the preview venue, the AE7000 is not a cinema-sized behemoth – at 470 x 137 x 345mm and approximately 8.7 kilograms, it sits well within the average size and weight range for home cinema projectors.Your ideal setup is going to be a ceiling mount or high, custom-built shelf. Neither is going to require major structural work, unlike some of the heavier commercial-grade projectors out there.
A throw distance of 1.2 – 18 metres will get you a projected screen size of 40-300 inches (1.0 – 7.6 metres) in 2D, and 40-200 inches (1.0 – 5.1 metres) in 3D. The projector includes a lens shift mechanism providing +/-100% vertical adjustment, and +/26% horizontal. Lens shift allows you to mount the projector off perfect centre, and still end up with a properly-oriented rectangular image without using quality-limiting keystone correction.
Overall, Panasonic’s PT-AR7000 looks like a great way to bring the 3D experience to your home theatre without limiting yourself to a ‘small’ 50 or 60-inch TV screen. It’s pricey at $5500 for the projector and two pairs of active 3D glasses, but at this stage, I’d say you get what you pay for.