The LCD-based PT-AE2000 arrives on the back of a formidable projection heritage. In fact, its Panasonic predecessor, the PT-AE1000, was a real star of last year's affordable projection scene, offering full HD resolution at a sub-£2k price level that rival DLP technology could only dream about.
However, a year is a long time in the AV world, and now full HD DLP projectors are starting to hit the sub-£2,000 ‘patch' as well. This means that the new AE2000 is going to have to work that bit harder if it's to retain Panasonic's competitive edge.
Not that any more effort seems to have gone into the projector's aesthetics. It remains a surprisingly chunky, resolutely black and depressingly angular lump of a thing, with only a reasonably neat grille finish to alleviate the boredom. Oh well. At least you can't say you don't get plenty of sheer product volume for your money!
The first area where the AE2000 impresses is its connections, as you get a rather handy three HDMIs, all built to the v1.3 standard. This latter point means that the projector can handle the picture-boosting Deep Color format - assuming you can find any sources that support Deep Color in the first place.
As well as the three HDMIs, more unexpected HD generosity comes in the form of two component video inputs, alongside a D-Sub PC port. Plus you get the usual low-quality S-video and composite options, and an RS232 port for system integration. The only thing you don't get that you might ideally have wished for is a 12v trigger output for driving a motorised screen.
More good news becomes evident as you start to set the projector up. For despite carrying prodigious quantities of features (which we'll get to in a minute), it's remarkably easy to get up and running.
Particularly helpful are two ‘wheels' on the projector's top which provide a sublimely simple means of adjusting the image's vertical and horizontal position, ensuring that you can get an image on to your screen no matter how weirdly shaped your room is.
There's also plenty of keystone correction for removing angles from the picture's edges, and the onscreen menus are clear, well-organised and work in good harmony with one of the better remote controls in the projection world.
Turning to the projector's inner specification, it is, as we indicated earlier, a full HD model using LCD technology. It also boasts a 16,000:1 contrast ratio that's far higher than we'd usually expect to see from an LCD machine - or even an affordable DLP one, come to that.