Originally Posted by jrwhite
Art's reviews on projectorreviews give the basic values to compare the two. In short, from my reading of them, the two are just about as bright in their brightest mode, however the ax100 is quieter in this mode. In the video calibrated modes the Panasonic is brighter. It sounds like the CR performance is comparable in best quality mode. The Panasonic has the edge with SDE due to it's MLA implementation. Everyone here says it's great, without compromising sharpness. The ax100 has a longer zoom range at 2:1 compared with the Epson at 1.5:1. The Epson has better lens shift at about 100% screen height up or down ( purely by anecdotal evidence, and the Epson manual seems to be wrong ), while the Panasonic seems to have about 60% up or down. Epson offers next day replacement ( with a referb pj ). Epson seems to be known for better customer service compared with Panasonic. The Panasonic comes with a free lamp, but the Epson is less expensive.
Just my take
Greetings, a quick note, from talking with Panasonic, Smoothscreen is not part of the LCD panels themselves, but technology, in front of them. From what I gather both projectors are using the same panels (is that important?).
Here's my personal opinion, since I've been getting a lot of people emailing me, about how they compare.
Johnathan summarized well, and personally I value the Epson warranty and support, but those are issues that you all will weigh differently.
When I got the 400 in for review, I was very impressed. The 400 produced a sharper overall image than the older 550, improving it from so so to good. Pixel visibility is typical LCD, and the newer panels may be slightly better than the 550's, in this regard. Overall, the Epson projects a nice, saturated, sharp image.
When the Panny came in, I expected Epson brightness or maybe a little better based on specs, and they delivered. The Panny definitely has an edge in best modes, and the difference at max brightness gives the Panny a bigger advantage, but as I think I mentioned in the review, the panny is going to lose a decent amount of lumens iimproving the color, whereas if I recall the Epson probably gives up a little less in tweaking their bright setting, still the Panny has the advantage.
But, for me, it really was the smooth screen technology Panny employs. For almost anyone who likes to sit in the front half of a movie theater (likes the large screen, more immersion), Panny has made pixels less visible than the DLP's - perhaps half way between DLP and LCOS, yet I found its sharpness to be very typical, about the same as the Optoma HD72, Mits HC3000, and probably the Epson 400. (except the epson's more visible pixels will tend to give an impression of more sharpness, even though detail would be about the same.
That's a big tie breaker for me. Especially since I like close (11 feet and change, from a 128" diag screen) Other than initial price, warranty and support, where the Epson has the advantage, most significant things are pretty comparable but for the brightness and smooth screen.
So, I prefer the Panny, but remove the smooth screen, and it's a toss up, the difference in brightness not being great enough to make a real difference to most users. (You could say, the Panny gets an A+ in brightness while the Epson gets merely an A.)
Either projector is good enough to recommend, and there will be man people I will recommend the Epson to, the kind of folks that want an excellent projetor, but aren't interested in the subtleties, but whom will be much happier with knowing they have excellent warranty and support (and I'm a big fan over overnight replacement programs and Epson delivers for both years of the warranty. Also selling Epson projectors for a decade - much of it as one of Epson's largest online dealer's I never found any line we carried (panny, Mits, Optoma, BenQ, Sanyo, etc.), that came anywhere near Epson in product reliability - none ever came close.
So everyone figure out what's most important to you, and those of you who bought the 400, no buyers remorse, just remember how blown away you were when you fired it up when you got it. Besides, in a couple 3 years, you'll probably be plunking down another couple thousand or so, for a 1080p projector with 100,000:1 contsrast ratio.