Motion is handled with superb tact and naturalism, no matter what refresh rate the source might be using. And finally there’s just no video noise or LCD-related artefacts (such as the ‘screen door’ crosshatch effect) whatsoever to stand between you and your enjoyment of what you’re watching.
So blisteringly good are the AT5000’s 2D pictures, in fact, that when we first donned a pair of Panasonic’s 3D glasses, our initial feeling was one of slight disappointment. For after feeling so engrossed by the brightness and punch of the 2D images, the reduction in brightness and colour ‘pop’ caused by the move to 3D felt actually quite painful.
Over time we came to realise that these first impressions weren’t really fair. Actually the AT5000 seems to take slightly less brightness out of its 3D images than other 3D projectors, so our disappointment about the brightness reduction is actually more a testament to the stellar quality of its 2D pictures than it is a failing of its 3D pictures.
In truth the AT5000’s 3D pictures are very good by affordable projection standards. Their detail levels are excellent, colours are unusually believable in tone, the 3D effect feels natural and deep, and flickering issues are surprisingly minimal. The result is a thoroughly engaging 3D image that doesn’t leave you feeling fatigued.
However, there are still a couple of issues. First, the amount of brightness lost from the picture can - as with most other 3D projectors - lead to shadow details getting crushed out of the picture during dark scenes. Second, while the AT5000 in general suppresses crosstalk very well, it certainly wouldn’t be accurate to describe its 3D pictures as ‘crosstalk free’. You can still clearly see, for instance, two ghostly echoes of each lantern during the infamous Tangled lantern festival sequence. And whenever such crosstalk occurs, it’s invariably distracting.
The only projector we’ve seen that doesn’t suffer at all with crosstalk, though, is the Sim2 Lumis 3D-S. And that costs £30,000. It seems from memory (as sadly we don’t still have a model for direct comparisons) that the £4,000 Sharp XV17000 also suffers less with crosstalk than the AT5000. But the Sharp model isn’t nearly as accomplished with 2D as Panasonic’s AT5000, and that’s a big deal given the ratio of 2D to 3D sources there are for you to watch.
In the end, living with Panasonic’s debut 3D projector has been a great if slightly unexpected experience. For while by any comparative measure the AT5000 is a great projector with both 2D and 3D, its 2D pictures have proved so delicious in terms of their brightness and colour punch that we’ve felt slightly less inclined than anticipated to choose to watch something in 3D rather than 2D.
Still, in a way even this fits in perfectly with what’s really special about the AT5000. For it seems to us that the single most lovable thing about it is that it’s got the native quality, the long list of features, the open-mindedness and the raw, cock-sure confidence to be exactly what absolutely any individual user wants it to be. Which really is a heck of an achievement for £3,200.