3D Home Theater Projector Review
September 4, 2012
3D Depth Control. Some 3D movies have entirely too much depth. By "too much depth," I mean the filmmakers intentionally or unintentionally abuse 3D technology to create exaggerated depth and pop in their films. What this ends up doing is causing eyestrain. To fix this, the AE8000 has a depth control for 3D in the form of its 3D waveform monitor. This tool allows the user to adjust overall picture depth to fit within a "safe" range, thereby protecting viewers from sore eyes and headaches.
The control has two modes. One of them is more involved, and shows 3D depth across the image in real-time. The other is more of a summary of this information and instead shows maximum depth of the image in each direction at any given time. Both allow for the adjustment of depth, so which one you prefer is a matter of taste.
3D Motion Remaster. The big 3D problems that everyone knows about are brightness and crosstalk, but they are not the only issues out there. For example: when an object is in motion, your left eye and right eye are shown the same frame at slightly different times, but your brain expects to see the second image advance slightly in the direction of motion during the time interval between left eye and right eye viewing. This creates an odd bulging or bowing effect as your eye interprets the images' positions, also known as a parallax error.
The AE8000 includes a new 3D Motion Remaster feature designed to eliminate this parallax problem. Essentially, it is a highly-specialized offshoot of frame interpolation that detects 3D objects in motion and advances them slightly so your brain correctly interprets their motion. This is a hard effect to describe, but suffice it to say that 3D Motion Remaster makes 3D motion appear more natural. As with other frame interpolation systems, the user retains the option to disable it from the projector's menu.
Detail Clarity Processor. The AE7000's Detail Clarity system was designed to bring out superfine detail in HD content. The AE8000's Detail Clarity Processor accomplishes the same task, but it has received an upgrade that makes it appreciably better at its job. Tiny details, such as foliage on far-away trees or the texture in fabric, is now easier to see than before. There is still no sign of artifacts related to this control, provided you use it at a reasonable level -- cranking it all the way up will cause some artifacts. The default for this control is 2; we set our test unit to 3 for most viewing.
Lens Memory now works in 3D. A number of features that only worked in 2D on the AE7000 now work in 3D as well. Among these are the powered zoom, powered focus, and Lens Memory system. If you prefer a brighter 3D image and want to shrink down the picture when watching a 3D movie, you can set up a Lens Memory position in advance and save yourself some time.
Frame Interpolation now works in 2D to 3D. Previously, the Frame Creation system was unavailable in 2D to 3D conversion, but it now has its full functionality available.
Glasses have 3D to 2D function. Panasonic's third-generation 3D glasses are light and comfortable, but they also have a neat feature for those who don't enjoy 3D. By sliding the power switch all the way to the right, the glasses will show both eyes the same image, thereby turning 3D into 2D. Plenty of folks out there have family members or friends who just don't enjoy 3D, and this feature means you can all watch a movie together, some seeing it in 3D and some seeing in 2D, so you can make everyone happy. The glasses are not included with the projector and cost $99 per pair. Edit: Panasonic now reports that they will offer two free pairs of third-generation glasses with the purchase of an AE8000.
Gamma adjustment. The AE8000 also has an overhauled gamma adjustment system that makes it easy to make subtle tweaks to get the gamma curve you want. For starters, the new system has 15 adjustment points instead of 9. When adjusting gamma, there is an option to place the adjustment menu in the bottom corner of the screen instead of the center, which makes it easier to either see the content on screen or use a meter without having to stop and disengage the menu every time.