The 200W lamp at the AT5000’s heart is built into a new enclosure designed to improve the efficiency of its light output - another factor in that 300,000:1 contrast claim, we suspect. The lamp also delivers an improved version of the ‘red rich’ technology Panasonic introduced on the AE4000, designed to counter the colour balance issues you commonly get with LCD projection technology.
Impressively, considering how bright it is, the AT5000 can apparently run with just 22dB of operating noise. Certainly we could scarcely hear it at all from our position in the second row of theatre seats behind the demo unit.
It was also pretty easy from our viewing position to see that the AT5000 is a vastly superior projector to its AE4000 predecessor. With 2D material its images contain much richer colours, much deeper black levels, and a generally much punchier look that shows instantly that the AT5000’s claim to have three times as much contrast than the AE4000 is more than idle boasting.
Add in a marginal improvement in sharpness with HD sources, and the AT5000’s 2D performance seems to have outstanding potential for a sub-£3k model.
Its 3D performance, too, seemed mostly impressive during the 20 minutes or so time we got to spend watching it. Crosstalk, while not completely absent, appeared to be the lowest we’ve seen on any projector besides Sim2’s staggering but £30k Lumis 3D-S. Partly thanks to this, the levels of detail and sharpness visible with 3D Blu-rays were immense, and motion in the 3D image looked impressively natural.
If we had any concerns from our demo, it would be the amount of brightness taken out of 3D pictures by Panasonic’s 3D glasses. But we should stress that our demo wasn’t done under our usual test conditions or using any of our usual test materials. Furthermore, mention was made of different 3D glasses brightness settings being available with the AT5000, but we weren’t able to test these out to see what a difference they might make.
All-in-all, though, the AT5000’s launch, with its mix of extensive technical presentations, supporting presentations by genuine Hollywood film ‘folk’ (including cinematographer Steven Poster) and the impressive results of the AT5000 demo sequences, can be considered a resounding success. As a result, frankly the projector’s mooted September launch just can’t come fast enough.