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Panasonic PT-AE3000E Full HD 3LCD Projector
Panasonic is one hardened professional when it comes to delivering some quality visual displays units, be it their acclaimed Vieras, or their respectable projector model array. Today we've got our grubby paws on a high end Full HD projector by them, called the PT-AE3000E. Now they have a new AE4000 model also, but this one is not far behind from that. It’s a home theater projector, it’s got very heavy spec ratings, and it looks menacing, like it will spit lumens and burn our screen.
Design and features
This model will have to be a permanent fixture at the house, no lugging around is possible due to the bulky size. It’s still very neat looking, with a straight edged rectangular chassis coated in black matte, slightly beveled finish. The top panel is bare except for 2 dials, 3 red LEDS and the Panasonic logo. The dials are for horizontal and vertical lens shift respectively. Control buttons are on the right side panel, protected by flap that clicks out. These tiny buttons are white push buttons, with a a nice firm tactile feel. The lens on the front is huge. Like a lens should be. Rimmed by a metallic accent, and covered with an attached black plastic cover.
The back panel houses connections in a central cut out window: 3 HDMIs, 2 components, one composite, one S-video and a RS-232. This projector is of the 3LCD kind, where each channel of R, G and B is individually transmitted and then overlayed. This is my current fav display technique, I find it brighter than DLP most times. The resolution is 1920 x 1080, while the brightness is rated at 1600 ANSI lumens. Contrast ratio is a healthy 60,000:1 with a proprietary feature called the Pure Contrast Plate technology. The video processing is further taken care of by Panasonic’s Detail Clarity Processor 2, all of which we will take a look at in the performance section. Also there is 100 Hz Frame interpolation, just like TVs.
The lens supports 2X optical zoom, also with a powered focus. Max projection distance is 12 m, and max screen size attainable is 200 inches across. As mentioned on their website, the AE3000E is the second projector in the Panasonic line up which was tested and optimized by the Panasonic Hollywood laboratories together with leading Hollywood colorists. It also has lens shift feature that goes upto 40% shift on either side, up and down, for perfect screen-image alignment.
So for our room, we plugged the projector into our HTPC via HFMI, and placed it at a distance of about 6 meters from screen. The screen size we got was about 100 inches, more than enough for our room. Setup was really simple due to the lens shift function, and the powered zoom and focus. We found ourselves using it generously to get it right.
The first thing we noticed was the intensive UI and options available to tweak; this one is for the videophiles. The advanced menu section had individual gamma setting for high, low and mid levels, and then also we have individual controls for Red , blue and green channels contrast. One can opt to turn off the frame interpolation algorithm; I just don’t like the effect it does to video. It looks like it’s wrapped in plastic.
One cool feature was the split screen adjustment, which comes in use while calibrating. Basically one can have the original image in the right and tweak around with the left side. So initial results dictate that this monster has very healthy brightness, it passes our grayscale test and oscillating white bar test without any blooming. Low blacks are also very deep, and have good level of detail , though not out of the box, it needs to dialed in by increasing brightness a bit. Most importantly this projector’s projected white was very close to 6500K, and the gray bars were very clean, no colorations. This is also visible with the naked eye, thus we’re impressed with the quality of the stuff under the hood.
Colors are anyways 3LCD technology’s forte, and this model had no issues whatsoever in displaying gamut that is vibrant and deep, BUT, it can easily get oversaturated, as the colors are actually very strong. Anything above midpoint in the color bar setting will make it blotchy. But the vibrance is in full fledge below.
As for presets, the Dynamic user preset is the worst, one should steer clear from that, and Cinema 1,2 and 3 are ordinary, a little washed out. Normal is the best, and one can dial in better tones from there.Motion wise also the projector cruises in superlative orbit. The detail in 1080p video (we watched Ratatouille and Pulp Fiction Blu-ray) was intricate, and thanks to the powered focus, we could get the sharpness required very easily.
This one’s a Soldier, we have no issues with the performance, and in fact find it quite exemplary in terms of brightness and contrast. Colors are also superb but they can overwhelm if not checked in the menu. The slight iffy is actually the price - Rs 1,99,000. That’s a wee bit extra, about 10-15 K less also makes a difference. IF cash is not an issue, go for it, it’s a serious home theater performer.