PT-AE8000U vs Epson 5020UB: Hands-On Experience
Hi All. Recently tried out both the Epson 5020UB and the Panasonic PT-AE8000U and thought my experience could be helpful to others. Also just wanted to contribute back a little since I used a lot of this forum's posts to help me through the buying process.
This winter I decided it was time to upgrade from my 2006-vintage Optoma HD72 (720p 1-chip DLP). I had read some really good reviews of the AE4000 a few years ago and had it stuck in my head that I would just get the latest Panasonic when I upgraded. So, I picked up an AE8000, which would project onto a new 110" 1.0 gain fixed screen in my family room.AE8000 First Try
- I think it goes without saying that it blew the HD72 out of the water (1080p, 3D, brightness, color saturation). Was a little surprised, though, by the size of 3LCD pj's, the HD72 was only 7lbs.
- Unfortunately, the Panny's focus uniformity was terrible. I could never get the upper right corner of the image to focus together with the rest of the image. It was more than just a little soft in that corner, it was straight up blurry. Convergence also seemed a bit dodgy, but not horrendous.
- Color uniformity was not good. On a grey or white test pattern, there was a pronounced red to green tinted gradient from upper left to lower right. This is not something that I noticed with normal content without specifically looking for it, but it was disconcerting to know that there was an underlying color problem.
- After a couple of weeks, I noticed 3 faint blue splotches when the image was dark. Maybe these were dust particles trapped in the light path somewhere.
Although I was having a lot of fun with it, I finally decided I must have a defective unit and returned it. I also read some reviews of the Epson which suggested it might have better optics, so decided to give it a try.5020UB Gets a Shot
- This didn't start well. Out of the box, the Epson powered up but then just sat there. No picture via HDMI, couldn't even bring up the menu using the remote or on-board buttons. I thought it was DOA. Once I unplugged HDMI, I could get the menu to come up, but as soon as I plugged it back in, the projector would stop responding to input. After poking around the menus for an hour I finally discovered the culprit was the HDMI-Link feature. After turning it off, the projector functioned normally. With HDMI-Link turned on, though, the pj was basically a brick. Unfortunately, this is a feature that I use and it worked great on the Panny. Seems like a firmware bug, but I couldn't find a lot of other reports of this problem. Could be other people just assumed their unit was DOA and didn't investigate further.
- The optics were fantastic. Focus uniformity was virtually perfect, and color uniformity looked almost perfect as well. Seeing the 5020's picture just confirmed that something was seriously wrong with the AE8000U unit that I had.
- The screen door effect was a lot more noticeable on the Epson than on the Panasonic, though. Reminded me a little of when Phantom Menace first came out in theaters with digital projection.
- The motorized lens cover was pretty cool, but the lens shift controls were terrible. The dials' action had a ton of slack before they actually started moving the picture, and one dial would drag the other unless you held it in place. Basically you can't legitimately call one horizontal and the other vertical, because one doesn't stay in place while you're adjusting the other. Maybe I had a bad unit, but I much preferred the Panny's lockable joystick.
- Put this in the category of features you don't value until you lose them, but having motorized remote-controlled focus/zoom control on the Panny was really nice. The Epson doesn't have this.
- NOISE. I didn't realize how quiet the Panny was until I tried the Epson. The noise on the 5020 was just intolerable for me. Loud scenes with explosions or music would mask it, but any quiet scene with dialogue would be totally spoiled for me by the noise. Switching the lamp to eco mode made it acceptably quiet, but why do I want to run the projector in a gimped mode?
The HDMI-Link issue aside, I thought the Epson's picture looked great, but the noise was a complete deal-breaker. I just wouldn't be able to enjoy the viewing experience, but YMMV. I decided to roll the dice and try another AE8000U.AE8000U Part Deux
- Projector People sent me another AE8000U, and this time they told me they would, with my permission, quality check the unit before sending it out.
- Whatever they did, it worked. This new unit had great focus uniformity. Was able to focus the entire picture very well.
- Grey/white test patterns still showed a bit of red/green gradient, but significantly improved from that first unit. Still not as good as the Epson, but well within what seems acceptable for this price range.
- If I stand within inches of the screen, I pick up a little blue fringing on convergence test patterns. But, white lines and pixels are sharp and clearly white, so I don't think it's a problem with actual pixel misalignment, but perhaps less than completely perfect optics or lens elements. Further than a foot away, though, this was invisible.
- Overall, unless I was looking at test patterns, the picture looked every bit as good as the Epson, and maybe better because of the reduced screen door effect.
- noise. Fortunately, the quietness of that first Panny unit wasn't a fluke. This new one was just as quiet, and a welcome relief from the Epson. I realized it wasn't just the volume, but the character of the fan noise that was different, and much more annoying on the Epson.
- Picture: comparing the Epson to the good Panny unit, I think I would have been very happy with the picture from either one. They were both really good. Epson might have slightly better optics, but that could easily vary between units. Panny has the better screen door (non)-effect.
- I don't know if the Epson's HDMI-Link problem was just that unit, or more endemic, but the Panny's equivalent (Viera-Link) worked great with my Sony audio receiver, and means I can use just one remote (DirecTV) instead of three to turn my whole setup on and off, just as convenient as a standalone TV.
- There's no comparison on the noise. I suppose it depends on your install location, but even standing 8-10 feet from the Epson, it was still bothersome to me.
- I ultimately decided to keep the Panasonic, and am very happy with the purchase now. The noise issue in particular was the deciding factor, and overcame the advantages the Epson had in terms of better warranty/exchange policy, as well as the bundled 3D glasses without the rebate hassle. I realize noise is subjective, though, and it might be fine for other people. Honestly, if I didn't mind the noise, or if my install was arranged in a way that mitigated the sound, I probably would have kept the Epson.
Also, I highly recommend Projector People, they treated me very well. Hope this is useful for you guys!Edited by Xank - 2/12/13 at 2:04pm