3D Home Theater Projector Review
September 4, 2012
It is getting very difficult to find things to complain about on Panasonic's flagship home theater products since they tend to be loaded with features that competing units don't have, and picture quality gets better every year. Nevertheless, here are a couple nits we could mention:
Lens Shift. In a projector where everything else is polished to perfection, the AE8000's non-motorized lens stands out as something less than perfect. The manual lens shift control is a small joystick, which is handy for quick-and-dirty adjustments but can be finicky when trying to make smaller, more precise changes. It is more refined than the AE7000's joystick, but still not as slick as a finely geared motorized adjustment. On the other hand, let's be practical. Lens shift is rarely used after the projector is installed. Does it make any sense to add the cost of a motorized mechanism to assist in an adjustment that is no longer an issue after installation? Not really. Power zoom and focus have a great deal more utility during actual use, and the AE8000 has both of those.
Menu system. The AE8000's menus are detailed and extensive. As mentioned previously, Panasonic's home theater projectors offer more unique and useful features than any other manufacturer's products. That said, there is room for improvement in the menu system. For one, sometimes there is no indication of what a given control actually does, and the average user may not know the difference between Frame Creation and 3D Motion Remaster. It would be helpful to include an onboard help system, perhaps accessible via a button on the remote control, that would explain the function of a highlighted option.
In the AE8000's menus, you can press "enter" on most items to pop them out. This makes the rest of the menu disappear while the item you've selected is presented in low-profile format at the bottom of the screen, which makes it easy to adjust while watching the picture for changes. This is great, except the menu pops back to the main screen after a few short seconds, and there's no way to adjust this timing. There are exceptions; if you are using the waveform monitor or gamma adjustment system, then the menu will persist. But the single-line function would be more helpful if there were a way to adjust its persistence.