Panasonic PT-AE3000E Inverness
If you're serious about home cinema, projectors don't come much better than this. The PT-AE3000E is Panasonic's flagship model. It has a 1,920x1,080 resolution and a brightness of 1,600 lumens.
Physically, it looks identical to Panasonic's older PT-AE2000U, but there are differences inside. One is Motion Picture Pro, which converts 24fps video into 100fps footage using frame interpolation; this makes for smoother motion in sports and action-filled movies. Another is anamorphic lens emulation. This uses the projector's powered focus and zoom lens to adjust between two positions automatically and allows you to change between, say, a 16:9 aspect ratio for TV and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio for movies. It's useful if you have two screens of different aspect ratios, but can be used even if you project on to a wall.
Yet another change is a dynamic contrast ratio of 60,000:1. Dynamic figures should be treated with caution, but we could see straight away that black levels were superb, and better than on virtually every other home cinema projector we've seen, including the smartest DLP models.
You may not need to adjust the default image quality settings, as they're so well optimised. Colours are realistic, with particularly accurate skin tones, but we found that reducing the saturation slightly improved the image. Brightness is also good, but be warned that 1,600 lumens is only good for use in dark rooms. Sharpness was average compared with that of other full HD projectors. You're unlikely to notice, though: Blu-ray movies look stunning.
The PT-AE3000E is designed for permanent installation. It's fairly flexible with regards to positioning, though, as it has both horizontal and vertical lens shift, plus a 2x zoom lens. There are plenty of HDMI inputs, and a pair of component inputs as well. There's full support for HDMI 1.3, which includes Deep Colour for greater colour accuracy.
We liked the backlit remote control, which was easy to use in complete darkness. Menus are clearly arranged and have a comprehensive selection of adjustments. As with the PT-AE2000U, the Split Adjust mode is very useful for getting a side-by-side comparison of the original and adjusted settings. If you plan on connecting a games console or PC to the projector, you'll appreciate the ability to choose between best image quality and fast image processing. The latter eliminates any discernible processing lag, which meant fast-moving games felt as responsive as they would on a normal PC monitor.
Fan noise is extremely low, and is barely noticeable even during silences in dialogue. Lamp costs are a little above average, working out at 11p per hour in economy mode and 16p in normal mode. The lamp has a six-month warranty up to a maximum of 500 hours, while the projector has three-year collect-and-return cover.
The PT-AE3000E is an excellent projector with impressive image quality and lots of features for enthusiasts. It's expensive, but easily deserves our Ultimate Award.
1,920x1,080 native resolution, 60,000:1 (dynamic) contrast ratio, 1,600 ANSI lumens, lamp costs £315 inc VAT, 130x460x300mm, 7.3kg, three-year collect-and-return warranty, 6-month or 500-hour lamp warranty
Power consumption: 0W standby, 240W on
With excellent image quality, low noise and the ability to play games, the PT-AE3000E won't disappoint.
Author: Jim Martin