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How typical. No sooner have consumers finally started to get their heads round HD, and start flocking to pick up 720p capable kit, than 1080p comes along to make it all seem second best. But while it’s the new high end standard for flat TVs it actually makes the most sense on projectors, where the size of your pictures is likely to be limited only by the size of your wall.
The market for affordable 1080p is small but growing. While three-chip DLP units cost a small fortune, Optoma’s HD81 is a cheaper single chip unit, Sony has the three chip SXRD Pearl and Epson has its new TW-1000 based on 3LCD C2 Fine technology. This has recently appeared on the market at around the £2500 mark and as a result Panasonic has dropped the price of its PT-AE1000E to compete. This is great news for the consumer, though perhaps not the ones that have already picked this model up.
The PT-AE1000E employs Epson’s C2Fine technology, using three 1,920 x 1,080 panels making it a fine match for a Sky HD box, dedicated HD DVD and Blu-ray players and the X-Box 360 and PlayStation 3. Panasonic has a long history of success with its PT-AE line, which are renowned for offering great value for money and things are no different here.
One look at the projector itself and you can see that it means business – it’s large, squat and angular, with grills round the front edges. It may not win any beauty contests but I actually really like the way it looks. Compared to the Epson TW-700 its more Tie-fighter than X-Wing, but we all know which one is cooler. It’s a heavy beast at 7.2Kg so you’ll need a large table or a proper ceiling mount to locate it, but this is the sort of projector that could form the basis of a dedicated home cinema, so that makes sense. You can get a 100in picture from 3.6 metres, but we made do with a 70in picture at around two metres.
Standing over it you’ll notice two dials on the top that look like two small DJ mixing tables. These are actually for horizontal and vertical shift, giving you a good degree of flexibility with the setup, enabling you to locate it away from the centre of the screen if you have to – though directly in line with the screen will always be best. There are feet on the front two corners which can be raised or lowered to get the right position. A panel on the side hides a power button, and menu, zoom and focus buttons, but you can do all of this from the supplied remote – which is handy if you do have it on the ceiling out of reach. The remote isn’t the best looking, but its solid, has a backlight and lets you control multiple Panasonic devices, should you have others. You use the remote to cycle through inputs – you can’t go to the one you need directly.