Slated for shipment to retailers in September, Panasonic’s new PT-AE7000U 3D projector received a spiffy jump-off at a recent press conference held at the company’s Hollywood lab facility, located adjacent to Universal Studios. As with a number of other Panasonic front projectors, the PT-AE7000U is LCD based (Panasonic is one of the major supporters of 3LCD imaging technology).
The PT-AE7000U is equipped with so-called D9 vertical array imaging devices, and as implemented in the new projector they’re configured to handle 480 Hz screen refresh. That’s helpful for 3D as it allows for 240 Hz frame interpolation as well as black frame insertion, which aids in reducing flicker as well as ghosting.
Panasonic noted that the projector was fine-tuned with input from movie experts in the Hollywood community, and the projector is equipped with a new high pressure lamp design developed in-house that provides a wider range light output. Usually, the color of white that high-pressure lamps produce tends to be a bit on the cool side, as the red component of the light is somewhat diminished compared to the rest of the color range. With the new lamp design, which Panasonic calls Red-Rich, the lamp’s color range more closely approximates that of high power Xenon bulbs, which are used in commercial movie theaters and also on some high end high output home theater projectors.
To demonstrate the improvement, Panasonic had the 7000 placed next to their 2D 4000 model, both playing a demonstration clip from Rocky Horror Picture Show on Blu-ray. While the overall color saturation was pretty much the same between the two projectors, the image generated by the 7000 clearly had redder reds. The new lamp design also comes with extended life, and is rated at 4,000 hours in the high-output mode, and 5,000 hours in the lower-output eco mode (typically, it’s 2K/3K hours for most projectors in this price class). The lamp housing itself is under the projector’s top lid, which means that when the projector is ceiling-mounted, lamp change-out is much faster and easier as the projector doesn’t need to be physically un-mounted and then re-mounted after the bulb swap, as is the case with many projectors that have the lamp access on the bottom of the unit.
Like the Sharp XV-Z17000, the new Panasonic has an array of infrared LEDs on the front panel that “spray” the projection screen with the requisite IR 3D sync pulses that then reflect back toward the viewers. Panasonic claims that with most screens, the effective range of the IR sync signal is around 6 meters, or about a 20 foot round-trip from the projector to the screen and back to the viewers. If the projector is to be placed far back in the room, an optional outboard IR emitter will be available.
It wouldn’t be a Panasonic 3D event without the requisite demo of Avatar. They intentionally ran a longer clip from the movie than what would be considered normal for a press event, to show viewers that the projector can provide a fluid and easy-on-the-eyes 3D experience with no 3D fatigue.
They also demonstrated a rather nifty 3D control that works with a newly developed on-screen 3D waveform monitor. Different people have different 3D viewing experiences, and research has shown that for some viewers if the 3D parallax is set too high, headaches and even nausea can result. The 3D waveform viewer provides a real-time display of the amount of 3D parallax, and the amount of the 3D effect can be dialed back if it exceeds a certain amount as displayed in the viewer. That’s a nifty feature, and one that we’ll be looking at when we get our hands on a production unit to review.
The PT-AE7000U will carry a suggested list price of $3,499 when it ships in September, and Panasonic noted that the projector is compatible with Panasonic’s 3D glasses offered with their Viera 3D flat panel sets.