Panasonic PT-AE100: Widescreen Performance under $2,000
The AE100 is a three-panel widescreen format LCD projector in the WVGA resolution class. The physical pixel matrix on the LCD panels is 858 x 484. The projector is rated at 700 ANSI lumens with a 500:1 contrast ratio. A low-power mode reduces lumen output and increases lamp life from a standard 2000 hours to a highly desirable 5000 hours. Fan noise in low power mode is rated at 30 dB.
The AE100 comes with a manual 1.2x zoom and focus lens. The throw distance is relatively short. A 100" diagonal 16:9 image is achieved from a distance of between 10.2' to 12.1' lens to screen.
This is a small projector, just 6 lbs in weight. It is 11" wide, 9.5" deep, and about 3.5" high. It has silver-gray casework with chrome highlights.
The connector panel offers one RGB input, one set of 3-RCAs for component, one S-video, and one composite RCA. Audio inputs are available for computer, component, and either of the two video inputs if you wish to use the single 2-watt speaker on-board. We trust most of our readers will pass on this option.
The AE100 comes with a credit card size remote control unit that is as functional as a remote of this size can be. Its features include a single INPUT button that lets you toggle through the various video sources, and an ASPECT button that lets you select the correct aspect ratio. Many projector vendors don't make it this easy.
In terms of signal compatibility, you can get just about anything you need. It will accept 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i. Color system compatibility includes NTSC, NTSC 4.43, PAL, PAL-M, PAL-N, and SECAM.
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