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Our head-to-head testing is always performed with the two projectors' lumen outputs set as close together as possible. This allows us to evaluate dynamic range and black level without having to consider differences in light output. In this test, we were able to set the AE7000 to its Cinema mode (526 lumens) and the 5010 to its Cinema mode using the Eco lamp setting (628 lumens). The two projectors were indistinguishable from a brightness standpoint -- a 100-lumen difference under these conditions is not visible to the human eye.

At these settings, the AE7000 had deeper black levels on a pure black screen, but the two projectors' black levels were very close after that with a slight (very slight) edge to the AE7000. Why you "have to conclude that the Epson has better midrange performance than the Panny" is something I don't understand -- especially since my only claim was that "the AE7000 appears to have a slight advantage, with the picture appearing more three-dimensional in some scenes." Furthermore, the performance of previous models in no way affects the performance of current models, especially when the projectors in question have been redesigned as completely as the AE7000 and Home Cinema 5010 have been.

Both projectors are using the latest generation D9 LCD panels, so the notion that one projector's dynamic range (which is largely a function of the panels) is going to blow the other one out of the water is a little strange. Contrast differences, as I saw them, are subtle. Very few people even have theaters dark enough to truly appreciate the performance of these projectors, so a slight difference in black level should not have a significant impact on most folks' purchasing decisions.

At the end of the day, our job as reviewers is to point out the differences as we see them. We are in a position to evaluate projectors that most people have not yet seen, in an environment that lends itself to side-by-side testing. I can only account for observations that I have made and not the comments of other reviewers, but I stand by my comments. Either projector would make a wonderful addition to a home theater, and which one you choose should largely come down to which feature set you prefer. I would be proud to recommend either one.