Review Price £1,799.00
Panasonic PT-AE4000 LCD Projector - Panasonic PT-AE4000
Before we head into the AE4000’s extensive suite of set up options, there are a few more little helpful bits and bobs to tell you about. Namely an auto input search option, a reasonably extensive set of trans-equipment control options through HDMI available via the latest incarnation of Viera Link, and the provision of no less than 16 memory slots for storing preferred video settings. You can even give these memory slots your own names, to help you keep tabs on which setting was designed for which type of source material.
Accessing the onscreen menus - via a small but unexpectedly effective (and backlit) remote control - reveals enough stuff to keep the most ardent tinkerer happy. I don’t intend to run through all of these options, as this would go on far too long and likely bore 90 per cent of you. But there are a number of options that just have to be highlighted.
There are an impressive number of thematic presets, for a start, before you even start calibrating any of your own. Of these, I personally - given that I was using the AE4000 in a darkened room - got the most joy out of the three Cinema modes, which emphasise black level response over brightness. Though I should add, too, that the Dynamic mode is a surprisingly worthwhile sop to people who won’t always be able to watch their AE4000 in a blacked out room.
You can also choose to deactivate the projector’s dynamic iris if it causes a bit of flickering with anything you’re watching, and crucially you can adjust the contrast and brightness of the RGB elements of the picture, with some Gamma presets on hand to further fine tune things.
There’s the facility to adjust the gamma curve along nine different points, and even a deeper colour management mode giving you the option to freeze the picture - or select a part of it with a cursor - and adjust the colour, tint and brightness levels for yellow, cyan and magenta as well as the red, green and blue elements.
The extent to which the AE4000 tries to make it easier for you to get the best from its picture tools is also hugely impressive for a £2,100 projector. Particularly striking is the waveform monitor, which lets you - or more likely a professional installer - follow graphically, in real time, the ebb and flow of the individual colour constituents. But we also got real mileage out of a ‘split adjust’ feature, that lets you put two sections of a frozen image side by side so that you can make ‘before and after’ comparisons while you’re tweaking the picture settings.
Overall, it’s fair to say that the attention to detail Panasonic lavishes on the AE4000‘s calibration aids is unprecedented for its level of the market. Which is, of course, a mighty canny move, since it thus cunningly meets - if not exceeds - the demands of an increasingly serious home cinema community who don’t all have the financial power to get involved with high-end calibration-loving projectors like the latest SIM2 models.
Of course, though, you can have all the calibration tools in the world and still not be able to produce good pictures. But thankfully the AE4000 does - for the most part - deliver the home cinema goods.