Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I am anxiously awaiting the time when I can get my hands on this one. Currently I am working on my ceiling making preparations for the installation of the PJ.
I guess this has already been addressed by Adam but I'll answer anyway. The confusion on my part was apparently due to the different modes being available only through different connections. I'm using component cables and with this setup the zoom works just as you describe. (I.e. when it's selected non-anamorphic suff wil fill the screen)From what I understand in Adams posts, this feature has made it to the 500U but is not available for all inputs/sources.
concerning the zoom for nonanamorphic letterbox: On my AE300, this mode slighlty distorts the image, it is compressed in vertical direction. not as much as a 16:9 anamorphic compression would do to a nonanamorphic source, but noticeable. But this effect is only for NTSC sources, not PAL (I am using YUV input). Anybody found this, too? Any tricks to get rid of it? It is extremly annoying, since I have now to watch all my NTSC letterbox Laserdiscs in 4:3 mode, with grey areas all around the (smaller) picture.
Its nice to know the AE500 takes 480p over DVI as I just picked up an iScan Ultra. If I go that route, I'll certainly give the DVI connection a try. I may actually settle for an L300U for now, but thats not so happy using the DVI port. I may be stuck with VGA, which isn't so bad. I wonder though about the iScan Ultra and its TBC. Time Based Correction. Its a sort of digital noise reduction. People might be familiar with it from the JVC SVHS vcr's. You turn off TBC in the iScan and I hope it doesn't cause any weird problems. I've seen TBC do weird things with VHS tapes. Watching Pulp Fiction on VHS a couple years ago, when Bruce Willis shook his head in the dark bar scene, it looks like his head is a wavering flag with TBC on. Without it, it is normal. With shakey camera work, I hope that the TBC of the Ultra doesn't mess things up. Anyways....I digress.
Guys just bought my new Panasonic 500 projector. I used a white cloth measuring 7' x 10' as screen for the meantime. I was blown away by the picture, definitly I did not go wrong in choosing it between the RPTV's. But can you help me out because after watching a movie I feel dizzy/headache. My friend experienced it too but my sis and my mom seem ok with it. Is it an isolated case or there is something wrong with my set-up. By the way it is desk mounted and I only watch in the evening. Hope you can help me out here. Thanks
Perhaps you are sitting too close to the screen? I believe the recommended distance is 1.5-2.0 times the size of your screen (measured diagonally, of course). Try factoring in how close you usually sit to the screen when watching a movie (near the front, back or middle) to also gauge the distace you should be sitting in.
Also some movies are more naturally more predisposed to induce dizziness than others. Try watching a less dynamic film and see if you still get a bit dizzy.
Great review Adam. I've been a reasonably happy Panasonic PTL-200U owner for about 8 months. However, I've had some optical blocking issues lately. I get a 4 inch purple band of color at the bottom of the image and a off-white band at the top. These fill the entire width of the image. Not really an issue when watching 2.35:1 films but very distracting on other stuff. And Panasonic has "backordered" the optical block until late March!
So right now I'm a little put off with them. But this is probably rare. Your 500E review does look nice.
Thanks, Tim. I'm sorry to hear about your problems with the AE200.
Jay, Chris may be on the money. When I set up my original AE100 I experimented with a screen size of about 115". I wasn't sitting very far away (less than 1x screen width). Just the opening few minutes of Pitch Black were enough to make me feel nauseous. Try shrinking the image a bit, or sitting further back and see if that improves things.
For those waiting, I've actually been on jury duty for the last week so haven't had an opportunity to get a work digital camera yet. I will try to get some screen shots up as soon as possible.
Thnks, Dan. I did mess around with the flicker option, but didn't see any improvement in the vertical banding. I've heard from some that Sony's projectors have been less susceptible to banding in the past, but I haven't seen an HS20 in action yet. I would be interested to hear any comments from anyone who has.
It seems that some people are more able to detect banding than others (much like the chroma bug). I recently had a chance to see an AE200 in action which had quite noticeable banding, but the owner insisted he couldn't see it. Go figure.
Odd. The PT-L200U is reported to have less banding than the 100,300 or 500. Some Sanyo Z2 owners are sending their PJ's back on account of vertical banding and other colour issues. Sometimes they get their PJ's back, or replaced and clearing up the vertical banding problems. From my experience, the vertical banding for the PT-AE and PT-L500U projectors (mostly the PTAE500U) has been mixed. I'd say 51% of projectors have it and can't eliminate it through any adjustments. Thats a risky gamble. What is lame up here is that we in Canada can only get the PT-AE projectors. The PT-L Panasonics are not available up here. Whats the big deal? The PT-AE projectors are marketed on average at TWICE the converted USD value as their US counterparts. The only way for us to get PT-L projectors (or fairly priced PTAE500U's) is to import them. There is on US retailer who has a Canadian mirror site, and therefore, a Canadian warehouse, so they effectively "import" the PT-L300U for Canadians, but so far, no sign of the PT-L500U. I've called and they don't know what I'm talking about. I'm going to email them. I'm also going to email Panasonic Canada and ask why the PTAE in Canada are double the cost of the PTL in the US. The Sanyo Z1 and Z2 are sold both in the US and Canada at practically the same price when you converted to USD.
Thanks for allowing me to vent! Argh. Canadians need fair prices for Panasonic home theatre projectors!
Chris, is there any reason to want an L500 rather than an AE500? Just price? As far as I know they're identical and the letters simply identify the distribution chain (like Yamaha's RXV/HTR receiver models, but for the domestic and business markets in this case).
The vertical banding on the AE500 is much less noticeable that it was on my AE100. The banding is very fine when I notice it, compared with the relatively thick vertical bands I saw on the AE100. I can't actually think of any area that the AE100 isn't substantially outperformed by the AE500.
Up with the flu. Can't sleep. Actually, I imagine these PJ's are identical. Some have said there are different warranty coverages given to each. The PT-AE is part of the Panasonic consumer division and the PT-L is part of the Panasonic Business Professional division. I do know they are different colours. Price is only different up here. We don't get the PT-L projector, just the AE, but its crazily over-priced up here. Like double. Oh well. I guess its import only.
Thanx for the feedback about the vertical banding. I'll make the decision soon whether I grab a 300 or 500
Adam, I was a little confused by this part of your review:
As a prior owner of a LCD projector that now owns an X1, I can probably answer this:
The X1 is a DLP-based, native 4:3, SVGA resolution projector which has been designed for both computer presentation work and as an entry Home Theater projector. As such, it does a tremendous job. It's 2000:1 contrast ratio is readily evident; and, in it's 16:9 mode it's able to display anamorphic DVD's without scaling, which really helps to provide a razor-sharp picture from that particular source. It also includes Faroudja de-interlacing circuitry which does a tremendous job in smoothing out interlaced sources. It's weaknesses are that it provides only for component, s-video, and composite sources (no DVI); it will have to scale all hi-def sources; and it's color wheel, at 2X, spins at a relatively low speed. (This means that individuals that are able to detect the DLP "rainbow" effect will see them with this projector.) The X1's bulb life is rated at 4000 hours which is pretty darn good for a projector designed for presentation purposes.
The PT-AE500 on the other hand is designed from the ground up to be a Home Theater Projector. It's resolution is on the WXGA level (which helps to reduce the LCD "screendoor" effect and provides it with true Hi-Def resolution), and the unit contains all the current and future inputs that you will need. It's better than the X1 in every way except for black level and the LCD "banding" and "trace line" artifacts. (And possibly de-interlacing interlaced sources; the X1's Faroudja is probably better in that respect.)
The bigger question might be how the PT-AE500 compares with the upcoming Infocus 4805, which is the "guts" of the X1, but optimized for Home Theater. (Specs include 16:9 SVGA DLP chip, 4x color wheel, 2000:1 contrast ratio, 750 lumens via a 3000 hour lamp.) In that shootout the only advantage the AE500 would have (in my opinion) is in the area of resolution.