1080p Home Theater Projector
October 29, 2007
Sanyo Z2000 vs. Panasonic AE2000
This is an intensely competitive shootout as both models are formidable projectors. Price will be a big factor for many buyers. Projector prices are highly volatile and can change without notice. But as of this writing, the Z2000 is selling at a price of $2,195 after rebate, including a three-year warranty, whereas the AE2000U is selling for $2,699 with just a one-year warranty. Extended warranties on the AE2000U are available at extra cost.
What do you get for the extra money spent on the AE2000U? Well, for one it has better contrast and black levels than does the Z2000. On the spec sheets, the AE2000 is rated at 16,000:1, whereas the Z2000 is 15,000:1. The difference in contrast is quite noticeable when images are shrunk down to about 60" diagonal and viewed side by side. When compared at this image size the AE2000 has a definite advantage that looks like much more than the difference you'd expect from the almost identical specs. However, once the pictures are blown up to 120" diagonal in a room with low ambient light, the difference in contrast becomes less apparent to the eye. Though the AE2000 has an advantage in contrast, the practical difference will be negligible in many home theater set-ups.
In terms of image sharpness and clarity with high definition sources, the Z2000 and AE2000 are virtually identical, which is to say they are both outstanding. Both of them exceed the clarity of images we get from any other 1080p models we have been reviewing, including the JVC RS1.
Perhaps the most surprising discovery in this side by side comparison was that the Z2000 actually trumps the AE2000 in its ability to deliver a smooth, filmlike image from standard definition DVD that was upscaled from Blu-ray and HD DVD players. The Z2000 showed less noise in SD source material. And while there was relatively little ghosting on the AE2000, there was none at all on the Z2000. These factors result in a remarkably smooth, clean picture on the Z2000 that was quite impressive.
The AE2000 has zero pixel structure due to the SmoothScreen filter. Meanwhile, there is a subtle pixel structure visible on the Z2000 when viewed up close. However, as noted previously, it becomes invisible when viewed from the distance of one screen width. In practical terms, both images are free of pixel structure and screendoor effects from any normal viewing distance.
The AE2000 has a vertical stretch mode to support the use of an anamorphic lens with high definition signals, whereas on the Z2000 this function only works with 480i and 480p inputs.
The AE2000 has three HDMI ports, and the Z2000 has two. Both models are HDMI 1.3. Both have two component video ports, a VGA port, one S-video, and one composite. Neither model has a 12 volt trigger.
The AE2000 has a unique split-screen calibration feature that holds half of the original image on one side of the screen, and lets you see the effects of calibration changes on the other half. This is the first home theater projector to include this particular feature.
The AE2000 has 16 user programmable pre-sets, while the Z2000 has seven. Both projectors allow you to rename each of your calibrations for easy identification, rather than having to remember them by number. However, in addition, the Sanyo Z2000 also lets you rename your inputs, so instead of seeing "HDMI 1, HDMI 2, Component Video" in the menu, you can rename them to appear as, say, "HD DVD, Playstation 3, DirecTV" or whatever sources you might have hooked to those inputs. The AE2000 does not provide the ability to rename source inputs.
The Sanyo Z2000 and the Panasonic AE2000U are each impressive 1080p projectors that have advantages over the other. If you are attempting to choose between them, look over the features each has to offer and select the one that best meets your needs. No matter which you choose, you will end up with a projector that you'll be extremely satisfied with.