CEDIA Review and New Panasonic Home Theater

The 2006 CEDIA tradeshow has just ended, leaving us all with some exciting new home theater projectors to covet. Two of the biggest products come from Panasonic, the makers of our best-selling PT-AE900U projector. These two products are already causing a stir, so we thought we’d be sure to fill you in on all the nitty-gritty details.

Improving on the Best?

Replacing the PT-AE900U will be the PT-AX100U. This is a 720p model, just like the AE900, but with a few improvements.

Most notably, the projector is brighter, at 2000 lumens, but still maintains an impressive 6000:1 contrast ratio. The AX100U also includes the new Light Harmonizer room-lighting sensor (similar to DayLight View) that adjusts the image to provide more punch in rooms with a lot of ambient light. This should be popular with users who want to watch Saturday and Sunday afternoon football and video gamers who like to play all day. Those with dedicated home theater spaces probably won’t really need the extra brightness, but it will be appreciated when the lights go on.

Panasonic also announced that the AX100U will include a 10-bit image processor, which means instead of the usual 16.7 million colors you will be able to see more than a billion. Superman isn’t the only person who will appreciate this improvement; folks with regular vision should notice more accurate color representation in shadows and skin tones. Lens shift and zoom are also included on the AX100U, just as they are on the AE900U, so the setup should be equally trouble-free. The new AX100U also features a “pearl white” chassis, rather than the more corporate silver box. And that’s all we have to say about that. See a head-to-head comparison of the PT-AE900u and PT-AX100U with or Comparison Charts tool.

Special Offers and Rebates on Panasonic Projectors

Panasonic has included a $300 Blockbuster gift card to sweeten the deal through the end of the year. The new projector should be shipping very soon, just in time for the holidays. The PT-AE900U still has a $400 rebate as well as a $300 Blockbuster gift card, which makes it a very tempting price point.

1080p Becomes a Reality – Almost

Video purists call 1080p the only true HD resolution, though stations like ESPN tout their 720p HD broadcasts all the time. At CEDIA, Panasonic announced its new AE-1000U, a 1080p projector with a lot going for it.

To start, it is reported to have an 11,000:1 contrast ratio which is the best in its class thus far. It is also reported to have a built-in waveform monitor that measures the brightness levels from video signals and then optimizes the image. It also has a 2X zoom lens, lens shift, and a short-throw lens that produces a 100-inch image from just five feet. Panasonic says this product will be shipping in December, but pricing has not been announced yet.

Many other manufacturers released 1080p projectors as well, including Optoma (HD81), Mitsubishi (HC5000U) and Sony (VPL-VW50). Though 1080p has been technically possible for years, the real barrier to wide acceptance has been the cost of the products. The recent release of reasonably priced products (and by reasonable we mean somewhere under $5,000) has been exciting those with the need for pixels.

Also at CEDIA

Other notables from the CEDIA show, the Optoma HD70 is the first native 720p projector to be released under $1000. That’s a great price for HD, without a doubt. It’s also DLP, which is a popular choice for many home video enthusiasts. DLP is known for rich, deep colors while LCD touts its color accuracy, with manufacturers like Panasonic hiring Hollywood colorists and Director’s of Photography to compare their projected images to the actual film footage. Panasonic also released its 103-inch plasma which sells for… as they say… “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” But before you get too jealous, the plasma takes about 45-minutes to warm up.

If you have more questions about new Home Theater projectors from Panasonic, call a Projector Expert today!

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