Panasonic PT-AE4000U : In Stock and Ready to Ship!


[ First shipment of Panasonic PT-AE4000U’s are here! ]

If you aren’t already following us on Twitter, or Facebook, then you may not know that our first shipment of the new Panasonic PT-AE4000U has just arrived!

We’ve got a couple truckloads full of them, so we are happy to report that all of our customers who pre-ordered their AE4000U should have theirs on the way to them before the end of the week – aka today or tomorrow.

One of our Facebook fans is already planning his first movie night with new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie (available November 17th on Blu-Ray and DVD)!

If you don’t already know about the new Panasonic PT-AE4000U, then we have some stuff for you to read. Just a few weeks ago we didn’t even know if it would be available in the U.S. Then, we found out it would be coming here, and we dropped the price on the old AE3000U and sold through our remaining inventory in short order.

Also popular, the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB and the BenQ W6000, can be compared here. Also, we had a Panasonic representative here a few weeks ago, here’s some not so good video of her AE4000U presentation.

Alright, so now you are up to speed on the Panasonic PT-AE4000U. Now all you have to do is wait a few days for yours to roll in – or upgrade your shipping ASAP and have it for Halloween.

And just for fun… here is some video of the unloading – because we have iPhones, a Flickr account (we won’t bother YouTube with this one), and are very excited

[ The first truck this morning, almost unloaded ]

Optoma HD20 Projectors Now in Stock!

Optoma HD20 Now in Stock

We recently received a shipment of Optoma HD20 projectors. We’re blogging this just to let you know since we’ve had some folks that were surprised to know we had it in stock already.

If you aren’t familiar with the Optoma HD20, it’s one of a few new $999 1080p home theater projectors available this year. It’s been very popular because it uses DLP technology, and offers true HD1080p for super cheap. And since it’s a projector, you can also have a very big image (as big as 300-inches in a space with controlled lighting) in a portable box.

[ Click here for the most current inventory status and pricing information : Optoma HD20 ]

New Vivitek H1080FD Projector in Action

Are you ready for a quick look at the Vivitek H1080FD?

Vivitek representative Jeff Miller was here at last week to show us the new $999 1080p home theater projector. We had him do a quick video for you so you can see it in action, and get a run down on the features. Here’s the video :

Video Timeline : Vivitek H1080FD

  • 0:00 – 0:22 : Introduction to Vivitek
  • 0:22 – 1:10 : Overview of the Vivitek H1080FD features and inputs
  • 1:40 – 2:40 : Inputs panel, speaker
  • 2:45 – 3:00 : Side panel, cooling
  • 3:10 – 4:00 : Video “Fifth Element” in lights on environment (full lumen mode – 1800 lumens)
  • 4:00 – 4:30 : Projector in “movie mode” with some ambient light – lights dimmed.
  • 4:30 – 5:00 : Projector in “movie mode” with lights off. (5000:1 contrast ratio)
  • 5:05 – end : Sign off

We hope to have this projector in soon. Estimate at the time of this post is early November 2009. But please check the Projector People website for current pricing and availability on the Vivitek H1080FD.

New 1080p Home Theater Projectors Compared : Featuring Panasonic PT-AE4000U and Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB

Panasonic PT-AE4000U

What’s the latest in 1080p HD home theater projectors? The biggest news to date has been the introduction of the $999 true HD home theater projectors. But recently big players like Epson and Panasonic have announced new, upgraded products coming out soon. The new products have higher-than-ever contrast ratios, some improvements on cool features, and very aggressive pricing.

New $999 Entry Level Projectors

We have already done some comparison of new entry level $999 1080p projectors (here and here). We haven’t had a chance to put together any hands on comparison of the projectors because there is limited availability on most of the popular models. We have had some inventory of the Optoma HD20 projector recently, but they sell very quickly. The Vivitek H1080FD and BenQ W1000 models have not come into stock yet, so we have only seen the pre-production models in person as of the date of this story. So, for now, let’s focus on the more recent news from the higher-end of the home theater projector spectrum.

New Higher End Home Theater Projectors

To start, we will compare the initial specifications of what we think will be the most popular new high end 1080p projectors; the BenQ W6000, Panasonic PT-AE4000U and Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB. I say initial specifications because there are sometimes technical tweaks made before their final releases and those changes can alter the specifications. So, here’s a chart of the initial specs for what we suspect will be the big players in high end home theater.

Comparison Chart : New 1080p Home Theater Projectors

Projector Panasonic PT-AE4000U Epson Home Cinema 8500UB BenQ W6000
Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Panel/Chip 3LCD D7 3LCD D7 DLP
Brightness 1600 lumens 1600 lumens 2500 lumens
Contrast 100000:1 200000:1 50000:1
HDMI Inputs 3 2 2
120 Hz Yes Yes No
Lens Powered zoom (2x)/Powered focus Optical zoom 2.1:1 1.5:1 Manual Zoom, Manual Focus
Lens shift H 40% & V 100%, manual H 47% & V 96%, manual Manual Lens Shift (see here)
Noise 22 dB (economy mode) 22 dB (economy mode) 32 dB
Warranty 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp (2 yr. after rebate if applicable) 2 yr. pj, 90-days lamp 1 yr. pj, 90-days lamp
Street Price $1,999 MAP $2999 MSRP $2,799 MSRP
Expected Release Dates Late October Late October/Early November Available now  
Full specs Panasonic PT-AE4000U full specs Coming Soon BenQ W6000 full specs

As you can see, much like last year (and the year before that) we are seeing dramatically higher contrast ratios, lower introductory prices, and more high performance features.

Lower Projector Prices: More Hollar for Your Dollar

Every year we write a sentence like this; “Last year you would have paid $$$ for a projector of this quality,” and this year is no different. The Panasonic PT-AE3000U and Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB came in at an aggressive (at the time) $2999 price point last year. This year, you’ll pay $1000 less than last year for a projector with higher contrast, better video processing, and some cool new features.

However, with this aggressive introductory pricing, we don’t expect to see these prices dropping again anytime soon. The fact that these came in this cheaply initially is probably due in part to pressure from the release of the $999 1080p DLP projectors.

Contrast Ratios: Say “Hello” to Six Figure Contrast Ratios

How is a 60,000:1 contrast ratio different from a 100,000:1 contrast ratio? Not quite as dramatic as it sounds, but there is a visible (palatable) difference in the picture quality. A higher contrast image actually feels crisper than a lower contrast image. But in reality, both a 60,000:1 and 100,000:1 contrast ratios look very good. In three years we will compare the new 1,000,000:1 projector the 100,000:1 projector and see how dramatic the difference is.

For now, these high contrast ratios really separate the business “crossover” projectors from true home theater models. Unless you are a serious videophile, or visually particular, you’d most likely be happy with anything over 10,000:1 contrast in your home theater.

New Features: Panasonic PT-AE4000U

We’ve had the introduction from Panasonic on their new product, so we are more familiar with the new features of the PT-AE4000U than the new Epson’s. So we should have more information on the new Epson features coming soon.

Projector Central did a comprehensive review of all the new features on the PT-AE4000U (read here). We also took some video of our tech session with Panasonic and are including it below. Two interesting new features for videophiles are the automatic lens memory and new video adjustments.


Panasonic PT-AE4000U : A Technical Introduction from Projector People on Vimeo.

This was recorded with a mini HD camera and without a tripod. There are shaky bits throughout. To save yourself time, click here for a breakdown of content by minute for this video.

The Unsung Midrange 1080p Projectors

Mitsubishi HC3800 projector

While the new high-end projectors attract most of the press these days, there are also some interesting options available in the ‘mid-range.’ What keeps us from calling these high-end projectors? Essentially its lower contrast ratios, less advanced video processing (like no 120hz), and some missing features. So if you don’t have the funds for a $2k projector, but you want a little more than the $1k projectors have to offer, a mid-range projector might just have all you need and will save you a little cash.

Two new mid-range projectors coming soon are the Epson Home Cinema 8100 and the Mitsubishi HC3800. The HC3800 is getting rave reviews from Projector Reviews and Projector Central. And though we have yet to see the Epson Home Cinema 8100 in action, it’s likely to benefit from Epson’s technological strides in home theater and be a very nice low price alternative in 1080p. It’s also 3LCD which is preferred by some buyers – and most of the other low cost alternatives utilize DLP technology.

What’s Left in 720p Projectors?

Panasonic PT-AX200U projector

Not a heck of a lot. And the price points are not really dropping because there just isn’t any more room to do so. Our Panasonic PT-AX200U started out at $999 when it was introduced, and has stayed consistently around that price. With features like lens shift and unique gaming mode – if it remains in production – it’s still a great projector. Its brightness and native 720p (much of broadcast HD’s native resolution) make it a great match for the football season and sports all year round. And it’s a great projector for gaming too. Epson also has a new “karaoke” projector in their MovieMate line with built-in DVD and speakers with native 720p resolution. Also available in 720p is the underdog Sanyo PLV-Z60.

That’s All for Now, But More to Come!

That’s about all we have to cover today, but there will be more to come on the Epson Home Cinema projectors, and on the Panasonic PT-AE4000U as well. We will keep you posted on any more projector related news, as always.

Projector Break on the Waves

Projector screen from a Movie Night in Texas

[ Scene from a projector movie night on the water in Richardson, TX ]

There’s a traditional home theater – the kind that looks like a ‘real’ Cineplex down to the popcorn maker. And then there’s progressive home theater. These are the theaters that have been created in random spaces by creative video enthusiasts who take their projector with them everywhere – like a Hollywood starlet carries her Chihuahua – to the backyard, in the middle of the living room, in the basement next to the pool table, and we recently learned — even on the water.

Progressive projector enthusiast, Mike Wilkinson, has taken his business projector into the family, and onto the boat with him. He and some friends watch horror movies, sailing themed movies, and whatever else strikes their fancy – out on the water.

We have pictures to share, and we did a short email interview with Mike to share his unique use of projection. Interview and pictures below :


What part of the country do you hail from?


Richardson, Texas (Dallas suburb)


How did you come up with the idea to project on a sail?


One of our fellow sailors in our yacht club (Lavon Yacht Club) is our Cruising Commodore. He came up with the idea of “Movie Night Raft Up”


What body of water do you project on?


Lake Lavon (Northwest Dallas near Plano)


How long is the sail watching season in Richardson, TX?


We can sail almost year around. As far as rafting up, we usually do that between April and November.


What kind of ship are you sailing? How large is your screen/sail?


I have a Hunter 36 (36 foot Sloop). The name is “Hiding Out” We use my boat as the projector and seating since I have a diesel generator to power the projector, microwave, etc. We have been using another boat (Catalina 30) for the projection screen. His main sail is new and crisp like a projector screen. Everyone else ties their boats up to one side or the other of us.


How does the picture look, and what do you use for sound on the water?


The picture looks good. The screen moves a little with the wind so the picture gets distorted a little bit if it is windy. We are going to try a bigger boom box in the future. This has been the weak point thus far.


What are your favorite films to show?


The club favorites are Wind and Captain Ron! But, any sailing, water, or water horror picture is great!


Have you ever become sea sick from watching a movie on the water?


We do this activity in a cove so the boats don’t rock too much. ” Actually, I have never been seasick. I have raced in Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf. I am lucky that my body actually gets tired and wants to go to sleep when I am in a car, plane, or boat.


What do you do with your projector the rest of the year?


The projector is actually property of my company “Paragon Innovations, Inc.” It is our portable projector to take with us on sales calls, etc.


What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?


Well it depends if it is an African or European swallow 😉


Any other tips you’d like to share with a would-be movie projecting sailor?


You can use a small portable generator (like the Honda EU2000) for power if the boat doesn’t have AC power. Make sure the sound can be louder than you think. In the open, sound doesn’t get to bounce off of the living room walls. Also, movies tend to have lower audio levels than music CDs, etc. The lighter the wind, the better in terms of swaying. The bigger the more stable the boats the better.


Have any photos from the boat?



Photos of Projector Movie Night

Movie Night in Texas

[ Sail. Check. Screen. Already checked. Projector. Check. Comfy seating. Check. ]

Movie Night in Texas

[ A scary movie on the water. ]

Movie Night in Texas

[ Overboard viewed on the sail if a boat in Richardson, TX. “Catarina! Aurturo!”]

For much of the country, it’s a bit too late in the year to start projecting out on the water. But those of us in the south, it’s still in season. Either way, we can all agree that this is an idea whose time has come.

[ Find your own projector for business and/or pleasure ]