Panasonic PT-AE700U LCD projector TJN Comments
As noted in the review, the Panasonic was very quiet most of the time. When I displayed a peak white, full-field test pattern for a few minutes, however, the fan switched to a faster, noisier mode and was slow to return to quiet operation. But I didn't find this to be a problem in normal use.
On my 16x9, 80-inch wide Stewart FireHawk screen, I measured a peak contrast (a full 100IRE white field vs video black) of about 1200:1 and a minimum light output of 0.012 foot-Lamberts with the Dynamic Iris in operation and the projector set to Natural mode. This increased to 1700:1 in Normal mode, largely because of an increase in peak output in this setting (22.3fL in Normal vs 14.2fL in Natural on my screen). The minimum light output with a video black input changed little in different modes (0.012fL in Natural, 0.013fL in Normal with a properly set brightness control), suggesting that this may be the black-level floor for this projector. With the Dynamic Iris turned off, the contrast in Natural mode was reduced by more than half, to 560 (peak white at 14fL, video black at 0.025fL).
Turning the Dynamic Iris off changed the color temperature slightly, but not enough to be visible. The same was true when switching from the HDMI input to the component input. The video controls allow different video control settings for different picture modes and different inputs.
The Panasonic was a solid performer on the FireHawk screen. Compared to the Sony VPL-HS51, the Panasonic had slightly richer color (together with more useful and intuitive color adjustments), significantly better gray scale tracking, a brighter image, and a less visible pixel pattern (the LCD screen door effect). The Sony had far better contrast with much deeper blacks and better shadow detail, was quieter in its Low lamp setting (which produced more than adequate light output), and threw a sharper image. The Panasonic's Smooth Picture feature did not result in a soft image per se, but the projector never looked quite as crisp as the Sony. I did not find pixel visibility to be a problem with either projector from a viewing distance of about 3 times screen height (just under 2 times screen width).