These days it's just not enough to be HD Ready. If you now want to appeal to the AV cognoscenti, you need to be Full HD, with a native pixel count of 1920 x 1080. Cue Panasonic's PT-AE1000, the manufacturer's very first full HD projector.
This ground-breaking technology is housed in a serious-looking black box, sporting fine HD-friendly connectivity in the shape of two HDMI sockets and a component video option. Other handy inclusions are a D-Sub PC input and an RGB Scart socket.
Compare and contrast
Aside from its Full HD resolution, the PT-AE1000's most striking on-paper spec is a remarkably high (by LCD technology standards) 11,000:1 claimed contrast ratio, achieved using a dynamic iris system.
Other handy tricks include handling of 1080p feeds as well as 1080i/720p, 1:1 pixel mapping of 1080-line sources, a Pure Colour filter that allegedly delivers an impressive 1.07 billion colours, and MPEG noise reduction.
Finally, Panasonic has included its patented SmoothScreen optical design on the PT-AE1000 for getting rid of LCD technology's grid-like 'chicken wire' effect. But, we can't help but wonder if this is really necessary on a Full HD projector, with its enhanced pixel density.
It's also possible that SmoothScreen does harm the picture fractionally. During a run-through of The Brothers Grimm in HD from Sky, detail-packed shots (like those in the forest around the witch's tower) don't look quite as pin-sharp and textured as we've seen them on one or two Full HD rivals.
Still, aside from this (actually minor) gripe, the PT-AE1000's pictures are absolutely outstanding. Black levels are a revelation for LCD technology, combining exemplary depth with plenty of greyscale subtleties to produce a superb sense of realism and scale in the night-time scene where a red-caped girl is snatched by a wolf.
The projector's Full HD resolution helps deliver some remarkably subtle, realistic colour blends too - perfect for recreating the movie's tricky colour palette. In fact, we're not sure we've seen as much colour subtlety on a projector at this price point.
Also, the kinetic camera work is well handled by the LCD optics too, colours are as natural in tone as they are subtle in blend, and standard definition scaling is terrific.
Pushing too hard
If pushed to produce more negatives on the PT-AE1000's performance, we might say we've seen even better black levels and richer colours on one or two mid-range DLP projectors, but these have other problems and cost a relative fortune for a Full HD model. Also, JVC's DLA-HD1 certainly delivers a better all-round performance and richer colours in particular - but that costs £4,500.
But that's really nit picking. The happy conclusion is that the Full HD Panasonic PT-AE1000 is as good a £3,500 projector as we've ever seen.