Panasonic Debuts PT-AE900 Home Theater Projector
Latest offering from Panasonic features cinema-like color fidelity
By John Virata
Panasonic introduced to the media its latest home theater projector at the Panasonic Hollywood Lab in Universal City California. The projector, the PT-AE900 is Panasonic's latest offering to the home theater projector market, and is the successor to Panasonic's PT-AE700. The projector is a native high-definition home theater projector that the company says produces film-like images with a 5500:1 contrast ratio, and can display HD images up to 14.5-feet wide.
A sampling of new features found in the PT-AE900 include a dynamic iris with scene tracking capability, cinema color management technology , RGB 10-bit full digital processing, 2X optical zoom with lens shift technology that enables you to set up the projector in various locations in a room between 3 meters and six meters from the screen, dynamic sharpness control circuit, a high definition LCD panel (1280 x 720 x3 RGB) that features 2.76 million pixels in a 3-layer RGB construction, Smooth screen technology that outputs realistic, deep pictures that the company says is like what you'd see at the movies, selectable user equalization function that enables you to set the picture image to suit a mood.
The settings include Cinema 1 (ideal for watching movies), Cinema 2 (for viewing older films and classics), Cinema 3 (action films and animated cartoons), Video (music or sports programs), Natural (setting designed to reproduce colors of the image source), Normal (general image setting for a variety of sources) and Dynamic (designed for use in a brightly lit room). These are chosen in addition to user selectable gamma levels, color temperature, and color management adjustments for a fully adjustable image. Also new is a learning Remote Control, which enables you to control all the peripherals to the home theater, such as DVD Player, Amplifier, room lighting, and projector screen.
In a question and answer session with Panasonic engineers, Hollywood Colorist David Bernstein (Molin Rouge, Unfaithful, Phone Booth), noted his contributions Panasonic took into account when building the PT AE900. Panasonic's projectors are also used in Hollywood by some directors to view the digital dailies that are screened after each shooting day.
The company and Bernstein got together three years ago with the predecessor to the PT-AE900, the AE700. For example, Bernstein took issue with the way the AE700 was outputting blacks, and Panasonic engineers worked to correct this with the AE900. The practice in getting a colorist to work with Panasonic to develop a projector is based on Panasonic's goal to ensure that the color fidelity that the viewer sees via the projector is as close as possible to what the director of the film intended.
And for the most part, Panasonic succeeded. Despite some vertical banding issues with the test unit (banding that the engineers speculate came from the length of the cabling, which was excessively long), and a single broken pixel, the PT-AE900 performed extremely well. The company went as far as to compare its image with that output by a $50,000 Christie digital projector it had set up, and it fared very well. The PT-AE900 is expected to ship in October for a price of $3,199. For more information, visit www.panasonic.com/projectors