The PT-AE2000U is a solid performer in the entry-level 1080p projector category, delivering deep black levels and sharp video processing, but falling short of the best projectors' colour accuracy.
Our biggest complaint with the PT-AE2000U is in overall colour fidelity, which is compromised by poor primary and secondary colours. Panasonic claims on its Web site to be delivering "Digital Cinema" primary colours. We prefer them to be as close to the HDTV specifications as possible, and they are definitely not very close. Blue was good, but red and especially green were way off from the standard.
The PT-AE2000U produced a deep, compelling level of black, which provided for great "snap" indicating good contrast ratio. With that said, we believe the 1,500 Lumen light output rating is way too generous. We couldn't meet the film specification of 12 footlamberts on our Stewart Grayhawk RS screen, which is 92 inches diagonal or 80 inches wide, without losing detail in white areas -- a sure sign of overdriving the projector.
For that reason, we recommend going with a relatively small screen -- no larger than ours and preferably even smaller. White fields were quite uniform for an LCD projector, which normally exhibit some visible discolourations in bright white scenes.
Its resolution measurements were actually better than most 1080p projectors, and it more fully resolves a 1080p/24fps signal than even our current favorite, the Sony VPL-VW200, which costs about six times as much. The difference is slight, however, and the Sony handily outperforms the Panasonic in all other areas.
The early chapters from the excellent transfer of Batman Begins on HD DVD are torture tests for black-level performance. The little Panasonic delivered during these tough scenes -- Chapter 1 where he falls down the well as a kid, and Chapter 2 in a Chinese jail cell -- with good depth and shadow detail. For more colourful and natural scenery, we watched our old favourite Seabiscuit on HD DVD. It is a very natural-looking film, and therefore a good test for colour, among other things. Green objects like grass and hedges really looked a bit cartoony or punched, but the rest of it looked impressive.
Standard definition from my Time Warner Cable system looked as good as we'd expect on the big screen, an indication of the PT-AE2000U's solid video processing.
As is typical with these types of projectors, overall colour fidelity is Panasonic's biggest issue, but in other areas of picture quality it performs surprisingly well. The unit offers great connectivity and a slew of helpful setup features, and it packs a solid 1080p punch for such a compact package.
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday