Resolution and Aspect Ratio Explained

Do you know the difference between aspect ratio and resolution? How about the difference between XGA, WXGA, and HD? Our Projector People Expert, Todd, breaks it all down very nicely for us in the following video. He also demonstrates what it looks like when the native resolution of your computer doesn’t match up with the native resolution of your projector. Great information here – thanks Todd!

High End 1080p Home Theater Projectors Compared

As you wish, readers! That’s our motto!

We have had many requests to see the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB and the Panasonic PT-AE4000U head-to-head, so we’ve put together a video comparison just for you! We are also including a lesser known (perhaps ‘underdog’) DLP projector; the Vivitek H5080 to the shootout.

So, let’s start with the video (view it here or below). Then we will move on to some additional analysis of what we saw in our shootout.

Video Timeline Breakdown : Hammer Time

  • 0:00 – 0:21 – Introduction to yellow shirt
  • 0:22 – 0:40 – Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB overview
  • 0:45 – 1:00 – Vivitek H5080 overview
  • 1:00 – 1:20 – Panasonic PT-AE4000U overview
  • 1:20 – 2:00 – Three projectors compared for color in default dynamic range
  • 2:05 – 3:15 – Lens shift and zoom capability, and additional features on Panasonic PT-AE4000U
  • 3:15 – 3:40 – Close up video from the Panasonic PT-AE4000U
  • 3:40 – 5:30 – Lens shift and zoom capability on the Vivitek H5080
  • 5:30 – 6:00 – Close up video from the Vivitek H5080
  • 6:00 – 6:40 – Lens shift and zoom capability and features on the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB
  • 7:00 – 7:25 – Close up video from the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB

High End 1080p Projectors : Pros and Cons

As you can see, Rodney looks ravishing in yellow! And he’s given a nice rundown on the primary differences between the three projectors. Feel free to share your own opinions below, and here is a cheat sheet for shoppers of pros and cons between the three 1080p projectors.

Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB projector review

Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB

Pros: 2-year warranty with no specified hour limitation*, 120hz, THX color mode, (best in class) 200:000:1 contrast ratio, broader zoom range than Panasonic AE4000 and H5080

Cons: Manual (but not cumbersome) lens shift and zoom, x2 HDMI inputs (versus x3) , mid range MAP price at $2499 ($200 rebate may apply. See here for latest promotions and best price.)

* There is no specified limit to the number of hours you can use the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB within the 2-year warranty period. This won’t be an issue for most users, but to those who use the projector over 2000 hours in the first year or two, it can provide some peace of mind. The Panasonic AE4000 has a 1 year warranty standard, with an additional year of warranty with mail in rebate. Both the AE4000U and the 8500 UB have a 90-day lamp warranty. Vivitek offers just 30 days on the lamp and 1 year on the projector.

Vivitek H5080 projector review

Vivitek H5080

Pros: Two (2) optional lenses available for short or long throw if needed, DLP technology (a plus for some buyers) with lens shift (not common on a DLP projector), very good color out of the box.

Cons: 60hz, 25000:1 contrast (lower than AE4000U and HC 8500 UB), limited lens shift and zoom, cumbersome lens shift controls, highest MAP price at $2999.

Panasonic PT-AE4000U projector review

Panasonic PT-AE4000U

Pros: Power zoom, lens shift, and focus, very good zoom and lens shift range, preset for recognizing aspect ratios (video from AVForums explains feature here), 100,000:1 very good contrast ratio, lowest MAP price at $1999.

Cons: Slightly red color space out of the box (possibly due to red rich lamp technology), warranty limited to just 2000 hours of use.

[ For a complete comparison chart of specs, click here ]

Projector Shootout : In Person Opinions

During the shootout, our Projector Experts shared their opinions about the three head-to-head. We were given a demo Vivitek H5080 projector that several took home – out of the goodness of their hearts – to review. The H5080 won over over most all of those who took it home. One or two even reported that it was among the best DLP home theater projector they have seen to date.

In our shootout, the Vivitek H5080 got the most positive reviews of the three for color representation with out of box settings. The H5080 was also lauded for its 120hz-like clarity, even though it’s a 60hz unit. There were others who gave the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB the nod (including myself) for color. Color wise, most felt the Panasonic PT-AE4000U was pushing red (possibly because of the ‘red rich’ lamp technology). Whatever the out of the box settings were, all three are fine tuneable, including a “THX” mode on the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB and a bunch of tweak-friendly features on the Panasonic PT-AE4000U.

As for features, the Panasonic PT-AE4000U, has all the right moves. Power zoom and lens shift are nice features to have (even though some may only use them once) and the menu includes lots of tools for tweakers. It also featured the widest lens shift range, though it appeared to be second to the Epson HC 8500 UB on the zoom range. The THX setting also looks nice on the Epson 8500 UB, and will be a plus for some buyers. If you have a very short or very long room, the Vivitek is one of the only home theater projectors in this price range that offers optional lenses.

Panasonic PT-AE4000U, Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB, and Vivitek H5080: All Good

The short story, as it usually is, the that the average home theater buyer would be happy with the picture quality of any of the three high end home theater projectors we included above. The decision for most buyers will probably come down to the more technical elements like throw distance, and desired features like 60hz or 120hz frame rate, number of HDMI inputs, or a coolness factor like power zoom and lens shift. And for those who are flexible about features, at least you have this low rez youtube video to help you choose! No problem. You are welcome!

Projector Showroom Updates Coming Soon!

We will soon be adding the Epson Home Cinema 8500 UB, BenQ W1000, and the Optoma HD20 to our showroom. Also the new brand new LG Electronics CF181D has just been added to our site as well as the showroom.