Review Price free/subscription
Panasonic PT-AE3000 LCD Projector - Panasonic PT-AE3000
We're nowhere near done with the AE3000's little strokes of genius yet, either. For also outstanding is a new Lens Memory function, which has a pretty fair stab at solving the traditional 2.35:1 cinemascope problem experienced by home cinema enthusiasts.
Explaining this means getting into the horrendously dark art of movie aspect ratios - a subject we could spend many thousands of words covering in depth. So I'll try and keep my explanation of why the AE3000's lens memory feature is so cool as brief as possible.
The problem with traditional projectors is that if you've bought a 2.35:1 ratio screen to get the most cinematic impact from Cinemascope sources (Blu-rays, DVDs and broadcasts which still have black bars above or below them even if you're watching them on a widescreen TV), it's difficult to get a native 16:9 format projector to fill your screen with its 2.35:1 images.
The most satisfying way round this is to get an external anamorphic lens that sits in front of your projector's lens and optically manipulates the image from a 16:9 aspect ratio into the wider 2.35:1 ratio, to suit a 2.35:1 screen. Problem is, these external lenses tend to cost an arm and a leg.
So what many people do instead is just get a projector with an expansive zoom on it, so that they can zoom the image out to hide the black bars when watching Cinemascope ratios, then zoom it in again when watching 16:9-ratio sources. This works OK, but obviously all this messing around with changing your projector's settings is a royal pain in the rear.
So what the AE3000's Lens Memory does is allow you to set the projector's zoom up toward the wider end of its optical range to suit 2.35:1 sources, then save that setting. Then you simply zoom forward until the picture is optimised on your screen for 16:9 sources, and save that setting too. From this point on, switching between 2.35:1 and 16:9 pictures is simply a case of switching between the two lens settings you've set up - a single button press, rather than an age fine tuning zoom and focus settings manually.
As if all this wasn't clever enough, the AE3000 can even shift the 2.35:1 image within the projector's 16:9 native frame, to compensate for any vertical image shifting you might have done during the set up process. Awesome.
Moving on to yet another cool touch, we come to Panasonic's Smooth Screen filter. This uses patented double crystal refraction technology to stop the structure of the pixels on the LCD panel from appearing in the picture (a common LCD problem known as the screen-door or chicken wire effect).