There is no one projector to buy just like there is no one car to buy; we all have different needs, budgets, and sensitivities.
The 8000 seems great for me. I like:
- how the exclusive Smoothscreen technology makes and screen door effect a non-issue even for giant, immersive images or viewing up close
- not perfect but very good color right out of the box in REC 709 mode which means tweaking it with a colorimeter is hardly necessary unless you happen to be extremely picky
- quiet fan is dead silent in most but not all standard living room applications
- auto CIH zoom feature allows a nifty, crowd impressing feature to show off to guests [and is nice to have, assuming you have the right shape screen for it (2.35 or 2.4 aspect ratio)]
- the internal waveform monitor, also a Panasonic exclusive, allows automatic calibration of brightness and contrast based on the electrical signal from a test pattern you need to generate from your source device. [Note, this is not a guarantee the settings will be right for all parties because it is not a video camera aimed at your screen, so it has no idea what your room lighting is like, your projected distance, nor the gain factor (reflectivity) of your screen material, however it does seem pretty good in my use at least.]
- the price was considered OK, but not great when it was released, but now it is heavily discounted from its original release price
Things I don't like but can live with:
- the black level was only so-so at the time of release and on top that of there have been improvements in the industry since then. The 8000 can never get so black that it is hard to tell if it is on or not however it certainly seems livable to me
- it also isn't bright enough to work well in anything other than a darkened room with special light-blocking curtains for day use. Don't expect to be able to leave a reading light on so one person in the room could read a book while the others watch the projector. It needs ALL the room's lights turned off for the best image
- the optics when projecting from its center line seem perfectly adequate to me, although there may be sample to sample variations and I just happened to get a good one. Also note that projecting from the sides introduces more color fringing issues and may blur text in the corners if being used as a computer monitor. [This is not the sort of degradation most people would notice with casual TV or movie use unless they purposefully look for it with frozen test patterns.]
P.S. There may be issues with 3D use but it seems most people are like me and rarely use it. There is a section for fine tuning , for instance to minimize ghosting and to optimize it for screen size and seating distance, however some of the controls have virtually no documentation as to what they actually do so all you can do is wing it. "Adjust until it looks good" Gosh, thanks for the detailed explanation, Panny!