Originally Posted by jpmst3
It is a tough one. I might even re-consider the Panny 8000 as well. I really only watch Blu-Ray movies and having that widescreen would be nice for that. Ugh.
CH setups can be difficult and have their own set of trade offs (i.e. "done right" they can be quite a bit more expensive). The Panny 8000 does do anamorphic stretch and has zoom memory, however in every other way it is an inferior projector to the 5030ub - even the 5020ub beat it in multiple shootouts and the 5030ub is better.
For true CI, you'll need a 2:35 screen, plus a way to mask the sides when you watch non 2:35 content (it's easier to do this than the other way around because you can use vertical drapes instead of horizontal masks, but on the other hand you'll need to do it because otherwise you will have white screen showing on the sides of all 1:85, 1:78, or 4:3 content).
With a PJ llike the 8000u you'll also need to decide between "zooming" and true anamorphic stretch - the latter requires an external lens, and good ones are not cheap. The former doesn't, but it means you won't get the "full" resolution of a 2:35 or higher picture since the projector still sends the black bars as part of the total picture (to be fair, that's the case whether you zoom or not). Using the anamorphic stretch feature (either built in or with an external processor) allows you to use all the projected image pixels for the picture, however that's why it needs a lens to stretch it back out.
I'm not suggesting CI isn't worthwhile - plenty of members here swear by it, and there's a whole forum dedicated to discussing it. Just understand what you are getting in to.
The 5030ub has the best black levels, bar none, of any PJ in it's price range, even beyond. Once you calibrate it the "black bars" in 2:35 or higher content end up being pretty black indeed. That said no PJ is going to make them so dark that they are indistinguishable from actual black masking material (or, in the case of CI, no black bars at all).
If I were you and I really, really wanted to do CI right I'd step up to the 6030ub (pro model) which does have anamorphic stretch, drop some cash for a decent lens and CI screen, and deal with setting up some drapes to mask the sides. If you were instead thinking of going with the Panny so you could simply zoom it, I wouldn't recommend it - the tradeoffs in overall image quality would be too great, at least in my opinion. I'd rather deal with the black bars, or come up with a cheap horizontal masking system - if you don't have a screen yet Monoprice sells one with built in pull down masks that many people here seem to like.