Shootout versus Panasonic PT-AE3000U
Panasonic's AE3000 is another high contrast 1080p LCD projector coming to market shortly, and it just so happened that we had both models in the lab simultaneously.
Lumens. In its brightest mode, the AE3000 measures 1273 lumens, which gives it a big edge over the HC7000's maximum 670 lumens in rooms with ambient light. More lumen output is also preferable for larger screen sizes or content like video games, so the AE3000's extra brightness makes it a more versatile projector.
Contrast. The HC7000 has higher on/off contrast than the AE3000, so dark scenes will look darker and bright scenes will look brighter on the HC7000. However, the AE3000 has a bit higher ANSI contrast, at 446:1. Therefore, in any given scene, the AE3000 may appear to have slightly higher dynamic range than the HC7000. In essence, these two projectors are roughly equivalent in contrast performance.
Placement Flexibility. The AE3000 has a 2.0:1 powered zoom as well as a greater lens shift range than the HC7000, but unlike the HC7000 the lens shift is not powered. While lens shift is usually an "adjust once" item, there are times when adjusting it while in use could prove helpful, and it is easier to do this on the HC7000.
Additional Features. Panasonic's AE3000 has a number of features that are not found on most other projectors. These include a wave form monitor and split-screen viewing to aid in calibration, a lens memory function that will automatically sets the lens for either 2.35 or 16:9 display, and a frame interpolation capability that runs at 120 frames per second and can sharpen objects in motion. We will discuss these in full in our AE3000 review, which will be posted shortly.
Cinemascope 2.35 options.The HC7000 has the dual Anamorphic stretch modes that eliminates the need to move an anamorphic lens. However, the AE3000 does the same thing, though the aspect ratios are not labeled "Anamorphic" as they are on the HC7000. With either projector, mounting an anamorphic lens does not require a track system. In addition, if you want to set up a 2.35 format screen without an anamorphic lens, you can do that on both projectors by using the powered zoom lens adjustments to zoom back and forth when you change from 2.35 to 16:9 material. One nice advantage that the AE3000 has over the HC7000 is that it will automatically zoom the lens back and forth at the touch of a button, whereas these adjustments must be made manually on the HC7000.
Style. The HC7000 comes in sleek, glossy black casework that has more of a high-style consumer-oriented look and feel to it. The AE3000 is a more reserved, flat dark gray, rectangular box with an industrial look. Which of the two appeals to you is a matter of taste, but they will definitely look different in your theater space or living room.
Mitsubishi's HC7000 is, above all else, a serious theater projector. Designed with contrast and color performance as primary concerns, the projector is a perfect addition to a darkened, light-controlled home theater. While other projectors are more versatile and can be installed in rooms with more ambient light, the HC7000 has the high contrast and quiet operation that make it an excellent choice for traditional home theater.
The HC7000 and its little brother the HC6500 are the sharpest 1080p projectors we've seen this fall - when it comes to sharpness, they are in a class by themselves. In addition to its unique sharpness, the HC7000 also has very competitive contrast, color saturation, and color accuracy. It is also strong in image clarity and three dimensionality. For these reasons, it rates five stars for performance. It rated slightly less in features and value due to lack of frame interpolation, the lack of a high brightness mode, and street prices that are somewhat higher than the competition.