The PT-AE900U fully resolved a 720p multiburst test pattern at both the component and HDMI inputs, indicating that it can reproduce all 1280 lines horizontally, but DVDs and even HD looked a little on the soft side. I believe this is primarily caused by the lens. This became quite evident when I focused the projector and was unable to see individual pixels on the screen. The upside is that you aren’t likely to be bothered by the dreaded “screen-door” effect. On a projector in this price range, I was not overly surprised by the relatively low quality of the lens, as good ones are expensive.
Running my Panasonic DVD-RP91 DVD player from its interlaced component- video output, I was happy to find that the PT-AE900U 3:2 pulldown worked well. The opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection appeared smooth and artifact-free.
The color decoding pushes red slightly, but it decodes green better than most. Overall color saturation for an LCD projector was quite good despite the slight red push. The primary colors of red, green, and blue were not perfect by any means, but they were much closer to the HDTV specification than most other inexpensive LCD projectors I’ve tested. In particular, green was much closer to correct than on the Hitachi HDPJ52 (see review, page 90).
HD programming from my Time Warner cable feed looked pretty good. Color saturation was good, but detail was not what it should have been. Images looked distinctly softer than on some of the entry-level DLP projectors I’ve reviewed recently. Dark concert footage on HDNet looked decent, but shadow detail and “snap” were lacking in the picture. The $3995 Sharp XV-Z2000 I reviewed in Issue 62 smoked the PTAE900U in both detail and blacklevel performance.
The PT-AE900U is one of the leastexpensive high-resolution projectors on the market, but as I said earlier, you get what you pay for. Given that fact, you have to expect some performance shortcomings, like the slightly soft picture due to the quality of the lens. Still, I do think it’s a reasonably good projector for the price.
If you can afford about $1,000 more, you can do a lot better in terms of picture quality and performance in a single-chip DLP projector. However, if you are on a really tight budget, the PT-AE900U is capable of a reasonably good home-theater experience, particularly if you go to the trouble and expense of having it professionally calibrated.