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Projectors

Panasonic PT-AE1000

To fully appreciate "full" HD you need a very big screen, so a projector, such as the Panasonic PT-AE1000, may be the best way to go to watch 1080p pictures.

Upside
Panasonic's been very successful with its home theatre projectors, like the CNET.com.au's Editor's Choice PT-AE900, yet the company developed a totally new optical system for its first full high definition model, the PT-AE1000. Not only does it sport 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixel) native resolution, but it also boasts a contrast ratio of 11000:1 and a brightness of 1100 lumens.

It's a bigger and bulkier (and blacker) unit than its lower spec'ed brethren, as it accommodates a new aspherical glass lens system to reduce the amount of light dispersion.

Its next-generation HD LCD panel features inorganic perpendicularly-aligned liquid crystals which Panasonic claims enhances black level performance. Panasonic's Dynamic Iris functionality and Pure Colour Filter work to improve colour purity and fine detail in dark scenes. With 14-bit gamma correction, the number of displayable colours is over four trillion -- with 16,384 gradiations -- so very subtle variations of brightness and hue are possible. Its Smooth Screen technology also reduces the black lines between pixels that can cause a 'chicken wire' effect.

A strong point of Panasonic projectors has always been ease of set-up and the PT-AE1000 is no exception, with a 2x powered zoom and a lens shift with 100 percent vertical and 40 percent horizontal adjustment. You can get a 100-inch image with the projector just three to six metres from the screen.

Further installation flexibility comes from the LCD projector's personalisation features. Its waveform monitor lets you measure brightness output from the video source and make adjustments to the dynamic range according to your specific room layout and home theatre set-up. You can also use its Cinema Colour Management feature to correct individual colours to your preference, if none of the picture modes that were developed in association with professional film production studios are to your liking.

A learning remote control and two HDMI ports round out the extras of the feature list.

Downside
Panasonic is holding off announcing the Australian pricing of the PT-AE1000 until it becomes available in late November 2006. Like all other 1080p display devices, you can expect premium pricing.

At 460 x 130 x 300 mm and weighing 7.2 kg, it is a bit bigger than what we've come to expect from home theatre projectors, so it's certainly not the most portable unit you could find. We did not have the opportunity to check its noise level during our quick inspection, nor was any data provided by Panasonic on either noise or lamp life.

Outlook
With the optical system and image processing engine both given an overhaul, Panasonic looks to have the 1080p PT-AE1000 fully optimised for high definition glory. It was designed specifically to partner Panasonic's new Blu-ray player, the DMP-BD10.

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