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Topic: Best 4K successor to Panasonic PT AE-4000?
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Hello all,

We've owned our Panasonic AE-4000 projector for 12 years, paid just under $1900 for it. We've had to replace the bulb probably three times, and it goes black for no apparent reason from time to time; we restart it and move on. It's been a great unit for our light-controlled basement theater.

Someday, maybe before long, I'd like to upgrade to something with 4K projection; I don't know if that will be "true" 4K, or something "simulated", like what Epson offers with the Home Cinema 4010.

Our ceiling mounted Panasonic delivers a 107" image at a 13ft throw, so I'd want something able to do the same. Virtually any "modern" projector will outperform the Panasonic on image quality, etc. However, one of our most beloved features is the Panasonic's automatic adjustment from 16:9 to project wider formats, depending on the source material, which it automatically detects.

What would any of you recommend as worthy successors to this projector, in this room, at something $2500 or less, especially something that can automatically detect and adjust its projection?

Thanks!

Todd

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The ability to auto detect 16:9 or 2.35 material and then auto adjust the zoom/focus was a feature entirely unique to Panasonic and no manufacturer has copied or duplicated it, to my knowledge, ever.

As well, don't sell the Panasonic short. It was a top of the line projector for home theater when it was released, and had a $3,000 MSRP, which was common for that model of the time. It's only real competition came from Epson, which was (and still is) the manufacturer of the LCD panels used inside that projector.

Epson, with their 5050UB, is the only model which makes sense as an upgrade, and while it is a fair bit brighter, I think in most ways you will find that it is a very similar product overall. The technology of projectors doesn't move anywhere near as fast as it does for flat panel displays. Where, in the last decade, we've really seen OLED displays come in and shake things up. For projectors, we still have DLP (tons), LCD (Epson), and LCoS (JVC/Sony). Every technology has it's plusses and minuses, but LCD and LCoS tend to stand above the rest in terms of contrast and best image quality. LCoS starts at $5,000+. So, that's not viable. The newest LCD models, the LS11000 and LS12000 from Epson are quite good, but once again, $4,000+.

That leaves the Epson 5050UB as THE model to get under $3,000 for best overall image quality.

The Epson 4010 should just be skipped. It uses a outdated HDMI 1.4a connection, so it doesn't even properly support 4K/60hz like their lower tier models do. This is not something you want to have to deal with in upcoming years and makes no sense to spend money on.

The Epson 5050UB does have a lens memory feature, similar to Panasonic, but it doesn't have automatic detection and does require you to press a button to switch between different zoom modes if that's what you were previously doing on the Panasonic.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Thanks much for those insights. Others (or perhaps you) have made similar remarks elsewhere. It's a sad ending to the auto-recognition of the Panasonics, but perhaps is survivable.

Any thoughts on the best ways to stay on top of deals on the 5050UB?

Thanks!
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Quote (SilverTiger on Dec 28, 2023 8:11 PM):
Thanks much for those insights. Others (or perhaps you) have made similar remarks elsewhere. It's a sad ending to the auto-recognition of the Panasonics, but perhaps is survivable.

Any thoughts on the best ways to stay on top of deals on the 5050UB?

Thanks!

Until a few years ago I didn't know that Panasonic could auto-detect and switch lens presets automatically. It's a heck of a feature! I just haven't heard of anyone else doing it. I do think a problem today is that a lot of movies are IMAX enhanced. So, while much of the movie is in the 2.39 aspect ratio, certain sections will be in the 1.78 aspect ratio, so I'm not sure how that would mess with the projector.

Anyway, I don't really have ways to stay on top of deals on the 5050UB. It did recently go on sale at $2,500, but to my knowledge, it hasn't been discontinued and isn't end of life as of yet. So, it's just one of those things you may just need to keep checking back in on a couple of times a week.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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It is, indeed, a heck of a feature! We've loved it, though, if I can program a future projector to widen an image to maximize its width with a button press, I'll live.

On the IMAX issue, it's definitely been noticeable: the projector will switch back and forth (which takes a few seconds and has an idiotic message displayed in the center while it's doing it), which wouldn't be bad if there were only a few such changes in a movie. One of the Batman movies had a TON of these, and that was suboptimal. But, I still prefer to have that automatic option.