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Panasonic AE8000 released; Epson to unveil new HT line-up

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.

Evan Powell
Editor

Reader Comments(12 comments)

Posted Aug 31, 2012 9:15 AM PST

By davidm

Something about this reminds me of the market for digital cameras; forget image quality, just add more megapixels and gimmicks people will rarely use. But instead of image quality, the elephant in the room is fan noise. Noise that means you have to set the volume higher, yet a spectrum of music and speech in frequency will still be drowned out. Epson's 8350 was the last affordable projector that had decently low noise output, and it's two years old now. I hope this deficiency can be highlighted and better considered by reviewers and consumers.

Posted Aug 31, 2012 9:54 AM PST

By richie

claiming contrast ratio at 500000:1 is too much in real pratice

Posted Aug 31, 2012 10:50 AM PST

By 007

Eh, more bulbs!

Posted Aug 31, 2012 3:53 PM PST

By John Grubb

I know that the Epson 21000 model was never released even after glowing reviews. What about the European version EH-R 2000 model? I want one. I dont care aboue 3-D. I do want 2.35 to one without losing pixels. This machine looks like the grail for cinmascope. Where do I buy one?

Posted Aug 31, 2012 8:26 PM PST

By drew

When you do the review of the AE8000 can you PLEASE let us know how the input lag is for those of us who are interested in gaming on this projector?

Thank you!

Posted Sep 1, 2012 12:50 AM PST

By Larry A Silva

THE WORLD WAITS for an LED or LASER or combo thereof video projector that pumps out 2400 lumens and uses the same cheap PASSIVE 3d glasses kids bring home from the theaters. Laser eye damage a concern? Have an IR invisible control laser beam that triggers an instant shutoff if the IR laser beam reflection from the screen is interrupted. I refuse to pay another 200 dollars for a frigging light bulb....WAITING...WAITING....

Posted Sep 1, 2012 2:08 PM PST

By Dave

It all sounds great, but I was really hoping for an LED replacement for the ever more powerful bulb. That would greatly help with the contrast, the black levels, the heat and the noise

Posted Sep 3, 2012 11:44 AM PST

By Ryan P

More Bulbs. Glad I saved some money and bought a clearout 2012 Sony projector (nothing against these brands as they are equally as nice), and do an upgrade in 2 or 3yrs to an LED/Laser unit.

Posted Sep 5, 2012 4:36 PM PST

By Mike

Evan,

Is you calculator pro correct? It is telling me that the new Panasonic needs more brightness for a 114 inch screen at 22 feet. I got the same result for the 7000, but the 8000 is brighter.

Posted Sep 18, 2012 8:51 PM PST

By chris

Yes, pretty please include lag time on these reviews...especially the 6020e. Thanks.

Posted Sep 28, 2012 4:34 PM PST

By Ben

One more for the LED/ bulb free camp. Just in case Epson, Panny, Sony etc haven't gotten the message in the last 4 yrs that home theater folks have been asking. Hanging on to my Epson 8500 till an LED alternative is available & affordable (<$5K). Improvements to frame interpolation/creation and 3D is nice, but replacement bulbs need to go

Posted Nov 3, 2012 10:47 AM PST

By Mir Aized

Great review, I'm actively considering the PT-AE8000. I would like to know if the AE8000 would work with the Samsung SSG-4100GB 3D Active Glasses? New products are supposed to work with universal active shutter glasses across brands.

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