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I recently completely stripped apart and renovated my Home Theater Room. I'll throw some picts/info on my room thread soon.

The whole purpose of the process was to install 4 new items: A new BD player, a new sub, a new 2.35:1 Screen, and, of course, a new Projector.

The process was fun. The room renovation was fun (and it turned out entirely better than I had planned). Handling new equipment was fun! BUT, the projector selection was maddening (in a good way!). I posted about this on the AVSforum in the owners threads for several projector owners threads... with a lot of this info included. But I decided to post on HT Shack because, after all, the Shack is really where my heart is... the place I enjoy frequenting the most!!!

After about a week of reading reviews and various user threads on websites, I bought a Panasonic AE-7000U. It sat in a box for several weeks before the room was ready. When the time came to fire-it-up, I took it out of the box, made a quick few adjustments, and projected a scene from the Incredibles on the screen. WOW! My family was all smiles.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I began to better understand the reviews (both the pros and cons) I had read about the AE7000U and the "other" projector that was on my short list: The JVC RS45.

So, there I stood. At a crossroads. Stay the course? Or introduce a new factor?

I introduced a new factor: The JVC RS45.

A shootout then occurred.

AE7000U vs RS45

The "Jack of All Trades" LCD vs the "Recommended for 2D Movie" LCoS.


Before I begin, here's a bit more background on the projector selection process that I went through (specifically for these two projectors):

There are ton of reviews out there. Projectorreviews.com and projectorcentral.com are two decent sites (note, you really need to read their reviews carefully... some of the writing is cryptic and the authors have trouble being precise in their conclusions. Granted some of this is due to the fact that there are a ton of factors to consider and explain. I also found hometheater.com to have a good review of the RS45.

If you are searching for professional reviews... don't forget to search for the non-US versions of the panasonic (5000u) and the consumer version of the RS45 (the X30).... and vice-versa if you are living out of the US or have already searched for the X30 (the search RS45). I dug up a lot on google (and video reviews) searching for alternative model numbers.

I think the bottom line to this process, and this is very important to note, is that once you get into the price range of these ultra-high contrast PJs, its a very close race. There is no real "one size fits all" projector. The technologies that each projector carries (or, more importantly, does not carry) and how these technologies perform, vary widely. So, please, don't take my impressions as the end-all be-all.

It really comes down to a very individualized need/selection process. Looking back at all of the reviews I've read, and my experience of handling some of these projectors in my home... my checklist would look something like this:

(1) Viewing habits (2D, 3D, Gaming, and HDTV/Sports)
(2) Room conditions where the unit will operate (Darkened optimal theater room on one extreme vs room with uncontrolled ambient light); light output.
(3) Size of screen (and aspect of screen)/throw distance... included in this might be lens memory (which, in the $2,000-$3,500) is fairly rare
(4) Noise/operation of PJ


Those factors can probably drive you to just a couple of models. Then you need to really start looking at performance factors and the different kind of technologies (in my case, LCD vs LCoS)

At least that was a very bare bones sketch of the decision tree I used... and would use in the future.

Now, onto the shootout. Here's a little bit of background on my room and what I want to use it for:

108" 2.40:1 Carada 1.0 gain screen. Light controlled room. All black/very dark surfaces. 13.5 foot throw distance.

I'm almost 100% 2D blu-ray movies, and prefer getting the picture as close to the REC709 standard as possible (I really find the brightness of a normal/vivid picture to induce headaches!). Just quickly, I did look at regular HDTV and sports on both PJs... nothing remarkable to report. Looked fine, again, my main use for my HT is 2D blu ray.

Also, I'm not a gamer. Specs for gaming (ie, Lag Time) were not of a concern to me.


I had both the 7000u and the RS45 set-up at the same time and watched a series of movies... switching the HDMI cable (which, by the way, is Monoprices new 50FT HDMI cable with Redmere... works great!) to re-watch scenes and/or look at paused images.... as I mentioned above, from a throw distance of 13.5 feet.

Frame interpolation for both PJs was off and left off!

Here's a very brief review of my findings... please note, I'm not going to discuss differences in specs (such as bulb life, lumens, etc). Most specs are already detailed in great depth on some review sites.

Build Quality

Both are attractive looking PJs. Black finishes, robust in size. The panasonic's lens is off-set from the center of the PJ, JVC is centered. The JVC is larger, physically, than the panasonic... it also weighs about twice as much. Both are ceiling mountable. I have a Peerless PRG-EXB universal ceiling mount (Which, by the way, is a very sturdy/well made mount) and it fit both projectors.

The finishes are very similar... however, to the touch, the JVC feels sturdier and more solid. The RS45 also has a very attractive gold ring around the outer part of the lens (I believe the X30 is silver).

Just in handling the two units, the JVC feels much more substantial.

The RS45 comes with a plastic shipping lens cover... it can be used everyday, but is a white plastic. The Panny comes with a black lens cover that is attached to the PJ with a string. My understanding is that lens covers aren't totally necessary because of anti-static coatings on the lens. But I don't know that as fact.

Input/Control

You'll have to look up specifics, but I believe the Panasonic has slightly more input options... I believe it has 3 HDMI inputs vs JVC's two. Also, the JVC lacks a yellow/video RCA input which may or may not be important to you. None of this really mattered to me as my AVR manages all of my HDMI inputs and I only have 1 HDMI cable going to the PJ.

The panasonic's controls (such as zoom/focus) are on the side of the PJ. JVC has their's on the back of the unit.

One big downside to the Panny, I think, is that the lens shift is accomplished by manually manipulating a joy stick on the front of the projector. It's flimsy, inexact, and for those of you ceiling mounting your PJ, the projector (itself) moves around while you manipulate the joystick. So, while you are moving the joystick the image on the screen is moving not only because the joystick is shifting the lens but also because the projector is moving. The end result is a very awkward process that feels like a bunch of guess work. The JVC does the same process with a motorized lens that can be operated via remote control.

Both remote controls are well laid out and easy to use - and both light-up. One nice feature on the JVC remote is that the "light" button glows green and is easy to find! The light on the Panny remote is activated by touching any button.

Set-up

Both PJ's come with fairly cryptic user manuals - for a novice, that is. The Panny's is more extensive... but, neither give you plain commonsense information (such as simple steps in order that you can perform to, say, set-up lens memory). Yes, all the info is there. BUT, it would be nice if it were laid-out in a fashion that spoke more to the common user.

I was able to get both projectors up and running fairly quickly, but the JVC's set-up process (such as saving various aspect ratios) was quicker and more intuitive.

At the end of the day, I found the JVC much easier and quicker to set-up from lens shift all the down to setting up the zoom to take advantage of my 2.40:1 screen.

The Panny has about double the amount of lens memory save slots as the JVC (I believe it's 6 to 3).


Noise Factor

Note, my projector is mounted about three feet above and 1 foot behind the center listening position in my room. Yes. Close.

While operating the two cameras I found the Panasonic - while relatively quite - to be louder (both PJs were about 4 feet from the center listening position in my HT). It's fan runs slightly louder, yes, but not significantly. BUT, I was able to hear the auto iris in the Panny (remember, the JVC doesn't have an auto iris... nor does it need one!) which was a constant high-pitched whirling sound. When the action in a movie is hot and intense, you can't hear it, but the second the sound dies down... you can hear it. I found it livable... but mildly distracting.

The RS45 is pretty much dead-quiet.


The Nitty-Gritty

Here's a real quick review of the PQ and my final decision. First off, I ended up running the panny in it's REC709 mode with some tweaks to the settings as suggested by projectorreviews.com... and the JVC in Cinema mode (and a user 1 mode) with specs set forth by projectorreviews.com and the reviewer at home theater.com.

For the Panny: Auto Iris On. For the JVC, the manual Iris pretty much at its lowest setting. Lamp mode on both was left in Eco/Normal... not high.

Bottom line with these projectors: Both are ultra high contrast PJs and it shows. I don't think you can go wrong with either one. I guess if 3D is really important to you, the Panny would have an edge (just based on reviews of the 3D quality)... but I didn't review the 3D capabilities of either PJ. I find 3D distracting and headache inducing! I also didn't look at these PJ's with lots of ambient light. Most all of my viewing was done in the dark in my light controlled HT.

Here's the quick and dirty on performance:

The JVC, as is common knowledge, simply has better blacks and shadow detail... and that's exactly what I saw with my own eyes. One example would be the camp fire scene in 3:10 to Yuma. The Panny simply couldn't hang with the JVC. The nighttime blackness around the fire scene, on the Panny, appeared more grey. Pretty much any scene - from other movies - involving outer space and the such had the same result. The JVC's inky blacks are simply pleasing and robust.... not to mention any brightness in dark images on the JVC had tremendous pop without greying of blacks. Mind you, I say "greying" without intending to imply that the Panasonic has grey blacks. The blacks on the Panny are very much black... but not as black as the JVC... especially in scenes where there is a lot of black on the screen! The difference is less obvious with images that are predominantly bright with few blacks.

The difference in contrast between the two was also evident with the JVC being the clear winner. Please note, this is not a slam on the Panny at all. It has a very nice image... and, all things being equal, if I had never seen the JVC, I would have been very pleased with the Panny.

Color on both PJs is very nice. The Cinema mode on the JVC was close to the REC709 mode on the Panny... but with slightly more vibrant colors. Red on the JVC has a boldness and pop not seen on the Panny.

Remembering that I only had these side to side for about 3 days (and haven't completely dialed in the PQ settings), but I felt the panny has slightly better skin tones than the JVC. The JVC on the User 1 settings I took form projectorreviews.com had a slight green-ness to them... and the Cinema mode has a little more rosiness (I only found this to be a problem on 3:10 to Yuma, where I had to switch to User 1 mode to tame down the skin tones).

The Jvc has an overall better sharpness/focus factor to it's image.

In terms of fine detail, I paused movies on high detail/contrast images so many times my eyes almost fell out. This is what ultimately sold me on the JVC. Just as an example: In the opening scene to MI4:Ghost Protocol, there is a fly over of a city. When paused there is a tremendous amount of detail and color and opportunities for contrast to shine. The image produced by the Panny simply wasn't as detailed (more jagged lines less sharpness, less visible detail) as the JVC. In fact my wife (who would be the first to admit that she doesn't care about HT tech and really doesn't have an eye for noticing fine detail) was quick to point out the striking difference between the images the two projectors produced on this paused scene and others (mind you, I demoed scenes and paused images to her in a blind fashion, meaning she didn't know which projector was being used). In the end, the image differences were really obvious.


I wanted to like the Panny more as to avoid a restock fee on it's return - unfortunately, I mis-remembered the seller's return policy and had to pay a 15% restock fee because I used the bulb for a short 13 hours (mind you, that's returning the unit in mint/brand new condition with all it's original packaging... the 5 hour limit for no restock fee was just too short to properly set-up and evaluate the PJ anyway). It's a shame, because that is a big hit to the wallet. But the JVC (for my purposes) simply performed better and throws a sharper, more detailed, higher contrast image - I also found the lens controls and menu controls easier to use/more intuitive. Again, this is not to say that the Panasonic's image isn't high contrast and very pleasing. It is. In fact I had the panny for about 1 week prior to getting the JVC -- the first movie we watched was the Incredibles. My entire family was stunned by how beautiful the image was.

At the end of the day, if you are a new buyer, I would carefully read and MEMORIZE a return policy for any given seller. The seller of the JVC unit was very accommodating with their return policy (especially once I discussed my situation with them).

So, at this moment the JVC is hanging upside down in my HT. I'm very happy with my choice. I hope this shootout review helps. If you are leaning towards the Panasonic 7000u, I don't think you'd be making a bad choice. It's a very nice PJ. If you leaning toward the RS45 -- and you think your watching habits are similar to mine - I would highly recommend taking the plunge and buying it! You won't be disappointed --- not in it's price range!
 

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What are the price comparisons for the two?? Just curious. I actually own the Panasonic PT-AE7000U.
And it is really nice. Thanks for the fair evaluation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I got a really great deal on the JVC. I'm not sure about the rules on posting pricing... But the JVC ended up being about $250 more than the Panny.
 

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AE7000 street price is around $2579.

JVC RS45 street price is around $3495.

This is according to what is at PJCentral. If you can get the RS45 for only $250 more it would be an excellent choice. I see the RS45 at Amazon Marketplace available from some sellers for only $2699. That's a good price!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yup, I bought it from an HT installer down in a southern state that has ties to a distributor that deals across the US. Amazingly, it was delivered to my house - free - in less than 24 hours.... In the mid-Atlantic. Pretty sweet deal.

The hardest part, however, is the restock fee hit I took on the Panny. Not happy about that -- my slip up though. But, at the end of the day I thought keeping the right one for me was the best choice.
 

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One point that was missed is that the Panasonic has auto aspect ratio memory zoom so if you planning on using a 2,35:1 screen the Panny could very well be a better choice As I dont think the JVC will do it automatically.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That's true, Tony. But there is a lens memory select right on the remote. You can save different aspect ratios and easily change between them. Is it auto? No. But using the remote button is really no trouble.
 

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Thats good to know :T sounds like the JVC is a good option.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
TypeA said:
Isn't the JVC near perfect in color anyway, like out of the box perfect?
Honestly, I'm not experienced enough to know how accurate it is. The Cinema mode is pretty good out of the box. But it's a little heavy on the reds.

I created a User mode with recommendations from projector reviews.com (it was either that or home theater.com). It is much closer to the rec709 mode on the Panny. All of the colors are more subdued. But the skin tones are ever so slightly green.

I have a calibration disc...spears and munsil... That I'm going to run.

One review in a high end mag suggested getting an outboard color management system. But, I think if I did that I'd be sleeping in the lake down the street! ;-)
 

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27dnast said:
That's true, Tony. But there is a lens memory select right on the remote. You can save different aspect ratios and easily change between them. Is it auto? No. But using the remote button is really no trouble.
Agreed... I have the Panny and watching the auto lends work I think to myself... I could totally do that with the push of a button. I thought it would be a primary feature, but in practice you rarely "need" it.

Sometimes when I'm watching cable (FIOS) a 2.35:1 commercial will come on and it will adjust to fill my scope screen... I just think to myself, that really wasn't necessary.

When watching a movie pushing a button on my harmony would be just as convenient...
 

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Dnast/Anyone:

Have any of you guys experienced the Darblet? I was planning in searching HTS for it, but I'm looking fir people with specific experience with the Panny 7000.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
No experience with it. I did read, somewhere along the way, that users couldn't push YCbCr 4:4:4 through it...

If you don't find anything about it here, I'd look on the AVSforum. I believe they have some active threads (then you could come back and summarize what you found for all of us :D )
 

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Dnast/Anyone:

Have any of you guys experienced the Darblet? I was planning in searching HTS for it, but I'm looking fir people with specific experience with the Panny 7000.
There is a thread here about it. We are anxiously awaiting a unit for review. :T
 

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mechman said:
There is a thread here about it. We are anxiously awaiting a unit for review. :T
Just spent abiut 45min on the phone with one of their authorized dealers. Mine is on order and I shoild be receieving it within 2 weeks. I was assured this latest shipment has the most up-to-date firmware.

If I beat everyone else to the punch, I'll post up my layman impressions.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Could one of the mods change the title of this thread from "Shoot Out" to something like... "Big Comparison!"

This whole Colorado situation makes the use of that phrase seem wrong... obviously I didn't mean anything by it when I posted, but now it seems inappropriate. I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

27dnast
 
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