Funny! I am also looking to upgrade from my PT-AE900U
I must say, I had flicker issues with the lamp on my PT-AE900U quite a bit throughout its lifetime. It seems random. Sometimes it flickers, sometimes it doesn't. Though the problem started well into its lifespan. Still, the intermittent quality of the flickering is strange. It makes me question buying another Panasonic projector, especially in light of the positive posts re: Sony lamps on these forums.
The LS-3 is pretty quiet for a DLP in economy bulb mode, I see less image noise, less banding than the Optoma.
About image noise & banding -- I saw both noise & banding evident in just the PS3 home screens when using the BenQ W7000 (DLP). Is this inherent to DLP b/c of dithering? Don't see the noise or banding on any of my LCD projectors. Re: banding, it's possible the W7000 was just calibrated poorly, of course.
I'd pick the HW30 or the 5010. I've compared both side by side for several months.
Only reason I wouldn't pick the 5010 is b/c of input lag... which makes it poor for gaming (though I haven't experimented myself).
I'm also thinking of just waiting a month for CEDIA, though I'm not convinced the HW50 would be a considerable upgrade to the HW30...
One thing I should mention:
The PT-AE900U has pretty good motion resolution (not much motion blur) in my tests using the moving pattern (response time test- ghosting) from this site:
I shot some 24fps video using 1/800s shutter speed to monitor ghosting. Epson 8350 & 3010
('480Hz panels' supposedly) showed a lag of up to 3 bars
(you could see 3 bars forming ahead & 3 bars disappearing behind the moving pattern) at some point in the video (you don't always see it since the 1/800s sample could occur when the pattern isn't moving, since I have 60Hz output from my HTPC... meaning the screen content is only updated every 1/60s... which is why it's important to shoot a video, or shoot many stills, as opposed to just taking one still image). The PT-AE900U
at worst showed only a lag of 1 bar
. The W7000
showed no lag
, being DLP.
Would love for someone to do this test with the 5010 & the Sony HW30. Actually, there should just be a review site that measures motion blur quantitatively...