Panasonic has announced the new PT-AE8000 home theater projector, and Epson is about to release its new home theater line…
Panasonic’s AE8000 is officially announced today. The latest flagship model in their home theater line incorporates a number of incremental improvements over the popular AE7000.
Contrast ratio has been boosted to 500,000:1, and lumen output in all operating modes is up by 20% according to the spec sheet, and perhaps even more by our measurements (the rating is 2400 lumens maximum). The color performance has been improved with a stronger red component, yielding more refined videophile picture quality. The AE8000 looks sharper than the AE7000 due to contrast enhancement and improvements in the Detail Clarity Processor.
Panasonic’s excellent frame interpolation system in 2D has been extended to 3D as well, and a 3D remastering system takes advantage of frame interpolation to smooth out certain motion artifacts in 3D that are a fact of life without FI. The AE8000 comes with newly designed 3D glasses that are lighter weight and more comfortable, and the 3D picture is quite noticeably brighter.
No pricing on the AE8000 has been announced yet. Panasonic will begin shipments in September. There are no plans to show it at the CEDIA trade show in Indianapolic next week. Our review of the AE8000 will be posted early next week.
Meanwhile, Epson is gearing up to release its new line of home theater projectors next week at CEDIA. The current Home Cinema 3010 and 5010 models will be replaced by the Home Cinema 3020 and 5020. The Pro Cinema 6010 is being updated with the Pro Cinema 6020. As with last year’s models, a wireless edition of each model will be available and will be designated the 3020e, the 5020e, and the 6020e, and will be priced about $300 higher than the non-wireless models. The new wireless transmitter will take up to 5 HDMI inputs.
Like last year’s models, all of these new units are 1080p and 3D enabled. The IR glasses on last year’s models have been replaced with RF in a lighter weight design, so no line of sight interface is required. Contrast and lumen output has been increased incrementally on all models, and they now have 2D to 3D conversion.
Epson’s Super Resolution processing improves sharpness of the image. A handy feature on all models is a split screen display in which you can see the effects of Super Resolution applied just to the right half of the screen so you can evaluate the effect and choose your preferred settings accordingly.
No final pricing is currently available, but the 3020 is the lowest priced unit and will come in below $2000. It is rated at 2300 lumens and 40,000:1 contrast.
The Home Cinema 5020 and Pro Cinema 6020 are both THX certified (only the 6010 was THX certified last year). They are rated at 320,000:1 contrast and 2400 lumens. The 5020 will be priced under $3000, and the 6020 under $4000.
Shipments of the non-wireless models are expected to commence in late September or October with the wireless versions following a few weeks later. We will review them as soon as possible, but review samples are not available until after CEDIA, so look for the review toward the end of September.