For most people, the fact that projectors usually require near darkness to work well makes them a non-starter for a normal family living environment. This is why Panasonic has rustled up the PT-AH1000E: a PJ designed to deliver bigscreen party thrills in light rooms.

The main trick the AH1000E employs to make this social projection dream a reality is an extreme brightness output. Its 280W lamp churns out a remarkable 2,800 Lumens – that ought to be enough to cut through the midday sun while you’re watching the football.

Crucially, though, the AH1000E doesn’t solely rely on its potent lamp for its party projection kudos. It’s easy to use, too, with setup aided by an expansive optical zoom and a superbly simple joystick system for shifting the image up, down, left or right. It’s a PJ for dummies.

Also key is something called Light Harmonizer 3, which uses integrated sensors to analyse the brightness and colour tone of the light in your room, and adjusts the picture settings accordingly. It sounds gimmicky, but unlike the light meters built into many TVs, it works very well, making on-the-fly tweaks that massively improve the image in all sorts of different situations.

In fact, the Light Harmoniser feature single-handedly makes the AH1000E arguably the most persuasive and user-friendly ‘casual’ projector I’ve tested.

Light fantastic

In use, the AH1000E proves supremely able to combat a startling amount of ambient brightness. Even with my test room dimmer bulbs on full the images produced from the Blu-rays of War Horse and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol still looked passably punchy and, most startlingly of all, naturally coloured. Usually, even if an affordable projector has the brightness to tackle ambient light it fails to provide any colour compensation, leaving tones muted and unnatural. But the AH1000E’s Light Harmoniser helps it sidestep this common flaw.

In short, the AH1000E meets its remit very well, and outgun the more expensive Runco LS-HB. However, it can’t quite get serious enough for the ‘curtains drawn’ proper film-viewing sessions you’re likely to indulge in from time to time. Even if you set the lamp to Eco level (something the Light Harmoniser can’t do automatically), black levels during dark scenes still fail to look entirely convincing, with a noticeable grey mist over the darkest areas and a shortage of shadow detail. So, consider this a cautious recommendation.


HCC VERDICT

Panasonic PT-AH1000E
Price:
£1,600 Approx

Highs: Very bright pictures watchable in ambient light; doddle to setup; Light Harmoniser feature
Lows: Can’t deliver a convincing black colour; Light Harmoniser can’t engage Eco mode; noisy runner

Performance: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Specifications

3D: no
Full HD: yes 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
Component video: yes 1 input
HDMI: yes 2 x v1.3
12V trigger: yes 2
Brightness: 2800 ANSI Lumens
Contrast ratio: 50,000:1 
Dimensions: 470(w) x 151(h) x 380(d)mm
Weight: 8.6kg
Other features: Light Harmoniser 3; vertical and horizontal image shift via joystick; eco and normal lamp modes; dynamic contrast system; Motion Effect processing; seven picture presets; Pure Colour Filter Pro technology; 29dB fan noise; 3,000-hour lamp life