Home Theater Shootout:
Epson 5020UB vs Panasonic AE8000

Bill Livolsi, November 7, 2012

The most obvious competition in home theater this year is between the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020UB / 5020UBe and the Panasonic PT-AE8000, another sub-$3000 1080p 3D LCD projector released this year. With similar specifications and features at a similar price point, the two are going to go head-to-head for the attention and dollars of many home theater consumers this year. Below are the salient differences between the two.

Update 11/9/12: We have corrected a pricing error. -bl

Update 12/4/12: We have expanded the Warranty section. -bl

Shootout

2D Image quality. Our comparison uses the AE8000's Cinema 2 mode and the 5020UBe's Cinema mode, which are (a) very similar and (b) the best images that the projectors can produce for home theater use. The 5020UBe has a slight black level advantage over the AE8000. Both projectors have sufficient brightness, excellent color, and razor-sharp pictures. It is becoming more and more difficult to make a distinction between two projectors, especially two projectors exhibiting this high level of polish. We're ready to call this a draw.

3D Image quality. As 3D is newer and less established than 2D, there are still some important differences in these two projectors' 3D images. The AE8000 has a number of interesting features such as 3D Depth Control and 3D Motion Remaster that make it easier to watch 3D comfortably, and Frame Creation is available in 3D on the AE8000. The 5020UBe does not have thesse features and 3D Frame Interpolation is not available. On the other hand, the 5020UBe has radio-frequency synchronized glasses, while the AE8000 uses infrared. RF glasses are less prone to interference and losing synchronization than their IR counterparts. The AE8000's glasses have a 3D-to-2D function, which is a nice touch if you want to watch in 3D but someone else in your household prefers 2D. Neither projector needs an outboard signal emitter. Both projectors do an outstanding job of controlling crosstalk, but we were more likely to see slight crosstalk on the 5020UBe than on the AE8000.

Light output. While there was a light output difference between the AE7000 and 5010, that difference has been eliminated in these new models. In Dynamic mode, the AE8000 measures 2471 lumens; the 5020UBe measures 2432 lumens. Living Room mode on the 5020UBe measures 1725 lumens after calibration while Cinema 2 mode on the AE8000 measures 1612 lumens. Cinema 1 mode on the AE8000 measures 822 lumens to the 5020UBe's 914 lumens in Cinema mode. These differences -- all under 150 lumens -- are near invisible to the human eye. They are functionally irrelevant.

Contrast. We've come to the point where you can safely ignore contrast differences on spec sheets. The 5020UBe is rated at 320,000:1 on/off contrast, while the AE8000 is rated at 500,000:1. However, the 5020UBe has a more aggressive auto iris. The difference boils down to a small black level advantage for the 5020UBe in most scenes. Both projectors maintain shadow detail exceptionally well.

Color. Neither projector is perfect out of the box, but both of them calibrate very well. This is a tie.

Sharpness and clarity. The AE8000 and 5020UBe both have smart sharpening systems (the AE8000's is called Detail Clarity instead of Super Resolution) but Super Resolution on the 5020UBe seems more aggressive than Detail Clarity on the AE8000. That could be good or bad, depending on how much you enjoy the effect.

Frame Interpolation. Both FI systems have three settings, but the AE8000 has an edge in maintaining the film-like character of the picture on its lowest setting. Even on the 5020UBe's Low setting, there is still a touch of the digital video effect that one can see. The AE8000's FI system is also available in 3D.

Placement Flexibility. Both projectors feature extensive zoom range and lens shift. The 5020UBe has an incrementally larger shift range while the AE8000 has powered zoom and focus. While both projectors can be focused to razor-sharp clarity, the powered focus helps to get your focus adjustments done quickly. On the other hand, the larger shift range of the 5020UBe makes it easier to mount.

2.4x Cinemascope compatibility. The AE8000 has an anamorphic stretch mode for compatibility with anamorphic lenses. It also has automated Lens Memory, which can zoom the picture from 16:9 to 2.4 widescreen based on the aspect ratio of the content. This gives you the option of a constant image height (CIH) setup without using a costly anamorphic lens. The 5020UBe lacks both of these options. Anamorphic stretch mode is available on the Epson 6020UB and 6020UBe, but those models cost significantly more.

Connectivity. The AE8000 has three HDMI inputs while the 5020UBe has two. The AE8000 has two 12V triggers while the 5020UBe has one. The 5020UBe has a wireless transmission option which raises the price of the projector; the UBe model sells for $2899 versus $2499 for the UB model. However, the AE8000 costs $2999 and has no wireless option. Comparing apples to apples (5020UBe versus AE8000), you get more ports for about the same money with the 5020UBe.

Input Lag. We saw noticeably more lag on the 5020UBe in Cinema mode -- 84 milliseconds (5 frames) -- than we did on the AE8000. Considering that the AE8000 itself measures a pokey 67ms of delay (4 frames) in Cinema, this isn't much of a victory for the AE8000, either. On the other hand, the AE8000 has a game mode which measured 34ms (2 frames) while the 5020UBe's Fast processing is one full frame slower at 50ms.

Fan noise. Both projectors are dead silent in Eco mode, but the AE8000 is quieter than the 5020UBe in its full power mode. If you plan on running the projector that way and positioning it near the audience, it is something worth thinking about.

Lamp. Both projectors have lamp lives of 4,000 hours in full power and 5,000 hours in Eco mode. However, replacement lamps for the 5020UBe cost $299 while replacements for the AE8000 cost $379. Over the life of a projector, that may be a minor cost factor to consider.

Warranty. Both projectors come with a 2-year warranty, though there are some differences. Panasonic's warranty covers the projector for two years or 2,000 hours, whichever comes first. On the other hand, Epson's warranty covers two years regardless of hours. 2,000 hours in two years works out to roughly 20 hours per week. If you use your projector more than this, Epson's warranty is a better deal.

Menus. The 5020UBe's menus, including single-line pop-out items, will stay on screen until you cancel them with the Esc button. This is infinitely more helpful than the AE8000's menus, which cancels pop-out items after a few seconds with no way to change the timing. When you are making fine adjustments, sometimes it is helpful to watch the picture for a few seconds before deciding what to do, and the 5020UBe's menus make that task easier.

Conclusion

The Panasonic AE8000 has a number of features and picture enhancements that the 5020UBe lacks. However, the 5020UBe has a few unique features of its own, such as a wider lens shift range and RF glasses. In terms of picture quality, the two projectors are evenly matched, and this becomes a very difficult shootout to call one way or the other. It ultimately comes down to which projector's features have more appeal to you, as the picture you get from either one will be stellar.

Reader Comments(36 comments)

Posted Dec 13, 2014 12:50:38 AM

By Scott

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troy - I have the ae4000 and would be very interested in your impressions of the 8000. Thanks...Scott

Posted Aug 7, 2014 11:20:54 AM

By Scott

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For those (of us) interested in CIH and not purchasing a sled with another lens which costs as much as a decent projector there seems little choice but the Panasonic; in the under $3k range at least.

Posted Oct 1, 2013 9:33:42 AM

By Troy

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I would like to see a blind test against RUNCO and panny 8000 I have the panny ae-4000 great pic as good as my top tier 60"sharp led so but can't wait for my panny 8000 to arrive can't see say $10,000 diferance on a 120" screen ,almost waited for 4k which I think will see a differance on anything over 120" . I've seen 4k in stores on 55" screen no differance then 1080p bigger the screen the more you'll see a upgrade in pic quality !?! I'll give review when I get the panny 8000 ! Enjoy your home theater folks I'm !!

Posted Aug 5, 2013 1:08:52 PM

By MMARTINEZ

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We are also dealers of Runco, Panasonic, Epson among other brands. You can compare Epson, Panasonico, Sony, JVC all night and find many simialirities but if you put a runco on the side you will see what a perfect image is. It is amazing the diference, the razor sharp images without any digital noise, the unbelievable popup colors and the deepest blacks. There is simply no comparison to be made.

Posted Jun 18, 2013 2:14:55 PM

By JoeK

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@ Dave and Scott - I've owned several Panasonic and Epson projectors. People come to my house and say they look great.

However, this weekend, I was at a friend's and watched some 3-D on his high-end Runco. It was astonishing. It was the best picture quality I've seen in a home and probably better than most anything I've seen in a theater.

Sure, you can argue value per $$ all day long, but if I could actually afford the Runco and wanted the best, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Posted Jun 7, 2013 4:39:47 AM

By TCCollins

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Thanks for the info on lag in 3D gaming, it is actually for me the number one reason to buy a 3d projector. Is there nayone out there who owns a 3d projector and games in 3d on it? Any feedback?

Posted May 4, 2013 8:24:26 PM

By Speedthrill

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Any updates on both the Panasonic 8000 and the Epson 5020? Is the lagtime in the 5020 really a factor? Has anyone seen both projectors side by side?

Posted Feb 9, 2013 9:04:08 PM

By Dave

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To Scott, re: Runco projectors. Projector Central rarely if ever reviews these products, but having sold projectors a few years ago, I was regularly surprised at how Runco could sell a 720p projector for $5K that didn't match the image that a projector costing half as much could deliver. Runco was known for their ability for professional calibration, and because of the price they gave dealers a decent margin. But I can't imagine even their top tier projectors hold up against something like the AE8000-or whatever the newest iteration of the JVC projector is (although the last time I was looking the current-at-the-time Panasonic actually held its own against the JVC-which was no small feat).

I'm sure Runco has it's supporters, but I never did see a difference to warrant the price difference-and especially not if its as big a price jump as you mentioned.

Posted Feb 4, 2013 12:07:00 AM

By Matt

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How do the projectors compare on the screen door effect?

Posted Jan 20, 2013 2:00:52 PM

By Scott

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Great comparison! Has anyone thought to perform a comparison of either of these projectors to a much more costly RUNCO (eg, X-400d)? Where are the Panasonic and epson projectors on par with RUNCO and where are there important differences that warrant the 10x cost differential?

Posted Jan 16, 2013 7:44:55 AM

By Björn Ericsson

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Thanks for a great review!

What are your thoughts on the convergance issues reported on avsforum?

Posted Jan 15, 2013 3:32:40 PM

By wnielsen

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I have an Epson 5010. The Epson has a better warranty, but they send you "refurbished" projectors, which in my case have the same issues at the projector I returned. I am on my third now, and it has issues (startup sometimes delayed, sometimes I must unplug it. Red convergence two full pixels off) The other huge difference not mentioned is Panasonic's smoothscreen. I sit 7' from my 120" screen. Pixel structure on my old panasonic ae-2000 with smoothscreen was invisible. On my 5010 the screen door effect is clear.

Posted Dec 16, 2012 7:14:22 PM

By joe

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use the zoom in and zoom out ring

Posted Dec 4, 2012 10:25:56 PM

By Andrew

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Thanks a ton for this shoot out. Exactly what I was looking for. Looks like the Panny does it for me, since 3D cross talk is not something I want to deal with at all. I got to see an Epson 5010 last year at my nephews in laws, very impressive 3D, so can't imagine how this Panny is going to look!

Posted Dec 4, 2012 11:54:30 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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leslie - Sorry I missed you there. The 5020UB does NOT support anamorphic stretch. For anamorphic stretch on an Epson projector, you need to look at the Home Cinema 6020UB.

Posted Dec 4, 2012 11:37:30 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Thanks everyone for your comments. I will try to address some of them below.

Erik - 2D to 3D conversion is notoriously difficult to test. Often the differences between projectors are subtle, and it is usually impossible to watch both projectors simultaneously side by side, either due to glasses incompatibility or IR interference. I would characterize the two as similar, with no major flaws, but we still think the Mitsubishi HC8000D has the best 2D to 3D conversion we have seen thus far.

EeeTee - Thanks, we've updated the review to reflect current pricing. I will update the Warranty section shortly.

Tom - we do not currently test input lag in 3D since 3D adds a significant amount of lag. Gamers concerned with input lag should not use 3D. I'm curious, though: I'm not as active a gamer as I once was, so I don't know if there are 3D games that are highly lag-dependent. Do these games exist?

Squuiid - I don't know what to tell you. I listed my settings in the review. That's what I used and that's the number I obtained.

Robert - good to hear that your findings reflect our own.

Scott - yes, you can use a wall to view 3D images. That is one of the benefits of active shutter 3D technology; a special screen is not required.

Lourdes - I always go with simple white, but I have not painted a screen in many years so I'm afraid I can't be much help.

Dave - there is a Zoom dial on top of the lens.

Phil - as I haven't seen the X55, I really can't comment. Sorry.

Posted Dec 3, 2012 5:20:17 AM

By Phil Jones

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I am having a new house built with a dedicated home theater, I was really excited about the Epson, but now lean a little towards the Panny. Here is the real dilemma.... My budget is between $3000-$5000 dollars... Should I go with the Panasonic, or the new JVC-X55b? The JVC cost $2000 more, but upscales to 4k. Is it worth it? Another concern with it, is the lumens (1300) are no where close to the Panasonic... and also, would the 3D be as good as the Panasonic... It would be great to see a shootout between these two... Or at least JVC's lower model, the X35b..which is more direct competition of the Panasonic.

Thanks, PJ

Posted Nov 30, 2012 11:08:33 AM

By THX_Ultra2

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Do any of you have thoughts on how the Panisonic and Epson compare to a similarly priced JVC DLA-RS50U? You can get these NEW for under 3k from authorized dealers. I realize the JVC is 2 years old, but its got 70,000 native contrast ratio and is plenty bright at 1300. I am strictly interested in the finest 2D picture under $3,000. (Dont care about 3D). By the way, I have an 88 inch Carada Brillant White screen with ambient light in the room. Thank you.

Posted Nov 24, 2012 7:47:06 AM

By Paul.N

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Scott, I had this panasonic AE 3000U for almost 4 years now. I did not have any problem with this projector. I will be at the CES 2013 to see the AE 8000 . It's a bout time for me to upgrade to 3D or 4K projector.

Posted Nov 20, 2012 2:46:13 PM

By leslie

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this review says that the 5020 dosn't support CIH but arts review said it does. I would be upgrading from a 8700UB with anamorphic lens so I need CIH support. Which review do i believe. Can anyone enlighten me.

Posted Nov 17, 2012 11:15:55 AM

By Ken Kucera

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Evan, Thanks for the great review and comparison. I currently own a Panny 7000 with which I am please. The new 3D features, lens shift (a pain with my 7000) and frame creation may not be worth the net $1000 difference between the used sale price of my 7000 and a new 8000 but I think I will go for it anyhow. Would be interested to see your review of the Darbe Darblet. Any chance of your investigating tweak products like the Darblet?

Posted Nov 17, 2012 5:25:08 AM

By Ken

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I've narrowed down my search to 1 of 3 projectors, these 2 and the new X35d from JVC. Does anyone now how it compares to the Panasonic and Epson? I've heard the X30 was a better 2D projector and I'm hoping they work out there 3D issues with the new model Is there a review coming soon? Thanks

Posted Nov 16, 2012 6:18:06 PM

By Dave

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Just got this out of the box and I have a "tired Friday night" question. How do you increase the size of the image? Sounds really simple and I'm sure i'll figure it out by Saturday but if anyone could post I would greatly appreciate it!

Posted Nov 15, 2012 3:12:34 PM

By Skip

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I have a epson 5010 and painted my wall with sherwin Williams pro classics satin latex.i have a 150 " painted screen on my wall and did it with 2 coats for about $30.00 it looks as good as the 100" 1.1 gain screen I had. The pro classics paint is the extra white with no other tints straight out of the bucket. It is awesome and for the price is at least worth a try

Posted Nov 15, 2012 9:07:50 AM

By IAN

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Anything? response to some of our questions please?

Posted Nov 14, 2012 6:29:16 PM

By Lourdes

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I like the panasonic 8000 and want to use wall as screen. what do you suggest like paint? i heard that LCD projectors need light grey painting? can you suggest something ideas please?

Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:01:49 PM

By Scott

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I have a Panasonic AE3000U I have been using for a few years that has been excellent although has had a certain issue from time to time.At times it will start then shut off,or as now not start.In the past it was an issue that a Mitsubishi guy called,"shake and bake",where you take the bulb out,turn it over,shake it then reinstall.This has worked a couple times.The projector was just past the 2 year warranty although the bulb only had a few hundred hours on it.I am still havinh same issue. Anyone ever had this problem? Next question.Can you view a 3D image off of a wall? I know it sounds crazy but I have been viewing off a wall for years and it looks great.I had done screen sample tests and you could hardly see a difference to warrant spending the $6,000 or wharever for the 240:1 size I was viewing. Seriously,I don't mind the screen cost but can a wall actually work for 3D? Thanks for any info.

Posted Nov 9, 2012 10:08:01 AM

By Robert

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I sent my 5020UBE back, the fan is LOUD in 3D mode, there is no Frame Interpolation available in 3D mode, and I also saw some crosstalk in 3D mode with glasses on medium. So, as some reviews have stated, if your main interest is 3D, go for the Panasonic AE8000.

Posted Nov 9, 2012 5:44:37 AM

By Mike P

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Thanks for the comparison. I'm looking at both of these for my replacement primary viewing projector. The Epson would be my choice if it weren't for the power zoom/focus of the Panny (projector is unreachable w/o ladder). The ability to zoom in and refocus to the smallest screen size is a real plus for my lumen count when the Mrs. wants it bright in the room on Saturday afternoon. ...even with the hit from the zoom. ..Now I just have to find a the best way to make the AE-8000 white.

Posted Nov 8, 2012 8:26:13 AM

By IAN

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I dont know what version of the 5020 you guys have, mine has 3d depth control, screen size, and motion detection all available in 3d. my cousin and I used a crt monitor for game lag tests and the best we could come up with taking over 100 different settings and variations could only come up with 62ms lag, what settings did you guys use exactly to come up with 50ms? What type of display do you use for lag tests? Not one person on the net can reproduce 50ms lag no matter what we do.

Posted Nov 7, 2012 6:33:22 PM

By prabjakumar

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Good reviews, I would like to add one more thing that Epson's effort % in sales and customer care is more than panasonic

Posted Nov 7, 2012 2:26:44 PM

By Squuiid

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PLEASE tell us what settings you are using to get 50ms lag on the 5020.

Nobody in any of the forums has been able to reproduce your claims. 62ms was the closest.

Epson 5020 LAG test in THX mode / Eco / High Speed Iris / Fast processing... 62ms

Posted Nov 7, 2012 1:22:32 PM

By Tom Collins

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You mentioned the Panasonic has a game mode that brings the lag to only 2 frames. Can you have game mode on while playing in 3D. Does 3d gaming increase lag time? I already have an Epson but want to enjoy 3d gaming with minumal lag, the Panasonic would be my first choice but not if there is an increase in lag. Thanks

Posted Nov 7, 2012 1:09:49 PM

By EeeTee

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At present, the Epson 5020UB sells for $400 less than the AE-8000 almost everywhere. Not a trivial difference (15%) to me.

In the shootout 'Warranty' section, you essentially gloss over the significant differences in coverage. At least mention or link to the warranty details in the individual Projector Central reviews.

Panasonic covers the AE-8000 for two years or 2000 hours, whichever comes first. In order to get 2 years of coverage, you can't use it more than ~2.75 hours per day. You also have to pay to send it to Panasonic for repair and wait for it to be returned.

The Epson 5020UB/5020UBe warranty is for 2 years regardless of hours. Epson will over-night a replacement projector for two years so you are never without a projector, nor are you charged for shipping the defective unit back.

Looked at another way, if you used the AE-8000 24x7 you'd lose warranty coverage after 83 days. You can use the Epson 24x7 and have warranty coverage (17,520 hours) for two full years. Major diiference for those who use their projector for tv, internet, gaming, etc. in addition to just movies.

Posted Nov 7, 2012 12:29:24 PM

By Erik

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What about the 2D to 3D conversion of the two; Similar? How do they compare to the competition (e.g. the Mitsubishi)?

Posted Nov 7, 2012 11:34:20 AM

By Lahoree

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THANKS!

This helps A LOT. Panny for me this round :) Game mode is the deciding factor :)

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