Well I finally broke down and fired up the AE7000 in part based on Projector Centralís comments on the 2D PQ. http://www.projectorcentral.com/panasoni...wing-Experience
Not only does the AE7000 represent a major step beyond the AE4000 in picture quality, it is a step beyond so-called "higher end" 1080p projectors. Viewed side by side it will outperform some competing products that currently sell for up to triple the price. And most of these competing units do not have the array of features found on the AE7000.
Just because itís there hereís their shootout between the Panasonic AE7000 and the Sony VPL-HW30EShttp://www.projectorcentral.com/shootout_panasonic_AE7000_sony_hw30es.htm?page=Picture-Quality
First thing I can say is I will never watch a Blu-ray movie or play a video game on my AE4000 again, unless the AE7000 isnít working. Iíll still use the AE4000 as a computer monitor and for watching Netflix, and likely any standard DVDs but I might test that later. So how did they really compare?
How I tested them. My HT room is all black except for the back wall which is pained burgundy and 20í from the screen. The walls are curtained so they are actually darker than if painted black and the carpet is black. All incoming light can be blacked out and my equipment is in a separate room so no LED lights to deal with except the beacon I have taped over on my computer mouse.
Both projectors are mounted on the back wall with the lenses a little less than 19í from a 134Ē diagonal 1.78 to 1 (16x9) 1.3 gain Carada Brilliant White screen. My Onkyo has dual HDMI outputs so I just switched the one I had hooked up to my LCD HDTV to the AE7000. To A/B compare the pictures I fired up both projectors at the same time and just held, or placed for longer viewing, a DVD case in front of the lens I wanted blocked. I also replaced the lamp on my AE4000 so both lamp run times were zero. To start I put both projectors in normal lamp mode and Cinema 1 picture mode (theoretically the best). I also had to alternately put electricians tape over the IR receiver on each projector when I was adjusting settings on the other since they respond to the same codes. Hell they use the same exact remote so I didnít even put the batteries in the one that came with the AE7000.
The first thing I put in my Oppo BD83 was the opening scene from Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith, where the fighters are flying through the fleet. This scene has the best PQ of any movie Blu-ray I have and IMO is an excellent test for image quality, black level, shadow detail and colour depth. As soon as I started to A/B compare them I realized that the AE4000 wasn't as well focused as I thought. After fiddling with the focus for a couple minutes I came to realize that it wasnít at all out of focus it was the image on the AE7000 was just that much clearer. The best comparison I can make is that it was like the difference between looking at a painting (AE4000) and a picture (AE7000) the image was that much better. And here I always thought the AE4000ís image was fantastic.
Set up identically there is just no comparison between these two projectors. In the order I noticed them hereís what was better on the AE4000:
Sharper Picture but w/o becoming ďvideo like.Ē
Way more ďpopĒ to the image.
Much better black level.
Much better shadow detail.
Colours were more vivid.
Better gradation between similar colours
More 3D looking 2D image (running in 2D mode).
I also tested out Avatar, The Fifth Element and Fellowship of the Ring and the results were similar. Avatar in particular looked so much better on the AE7000 because of all the picture depth and details. It literally looked 3D in 2D mode.
I also popped Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in since itís got some of the most varied scenery in any game Iíve seen. The first thing I noticed was the better shadow detail. Things that were never there before now were. The detail was also an amazing improvement. Looking at flowers at night in the distance the AE4000 let me see flowers, but on the AE7000 I could see the center of the flower surrounded by individual petals . . . at night . . . in the distance . . . out in the woods, freaking awesome! Again all the PQ improvements combined to produce an image with much more apparent depth.
I also played around with some of the settings on the AE7000. Cinema 2 mode in some ways looked better than Cinema 1. It had way more pop and corresponding three-dimensionality to the image at the expense of some black level and shadow detail. OTOH the colour seemed pretty good which, was also the case in ďNormalĒ picture mode which lost even more shadow detail and blackness. ďGameĒ mode sucked. Iím not sure what behind it but the image just looked flat and washed out. Dynamic mode was way too bright for my room though and loses way to much shadow detail but would be great for watching sports. ďEcoĒ mode really knocked down the pop factor in Cinema 1 mode and also somewhat in the others (note that I am at 19í using a pretty big screen).
Well my worries about having to send this back are gone. The 2D PQ alone is well worth the upgrade. Unfortunately Panny seems to have screwed up their glasses because they still arenít shipping, so any 3D reviewing will have to wait.
Meanwhile I think I may try moving the AE7000 close to my screen to see what effect that has on the PQ. Right now at 19í the Projector Central calculator sayís I should be getting 12 foot lamberts in the best mode. Without moving anything else around except the projector I can get is to 16í which should give me 16 foot lamberts and I can get to 18 foot lamberts by pushing my seating slightly forward. So tomorrow might be a tweaking day. Another reason for trying a closer position is due to the stated limitations of the 3D system which says with the built-in emitter the projector shouldnít be more than 6 meters from the screen and the viewer no more than 5 meters. Well my seating places my head at about 13í right now which is actually 2 feet closer than the THX recommended viewing angle so Iíll have to see what happens if I move closer, which from previous audio test should improve the front soundstage while degrading the rear.