Panny PT-AE900u: Repair or Replace?

Discussion in 'Projectors & Screens' started by audiofox, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    Well, my trusty (until now) Panny PT-AE900u projector died while I was on vacation-my daughter tells me it just stopped displaying, but I don't know anything else about the failure mode since I was not here to observe it myself. The lamp has a bit over 1200 hours on it, and when I looked at it I noticed some light deposits on the inside of the lamp inner glass. I had noticed some dimming of the display the last time I used the projector, but that was the only issue-no weird noises, no error messages or anything else out of the ordinary. Now none of the buttons work except the main power switch, which turns on the green power light but no red standby light or fan operation. I managed to find a service manual for the 900u and popped off the cover, but there is nothing obviously failed, including the main 5A internal fuse.

    I am willing to purchase a new lamp, but I'm not sure the projector is worth a more comprehensive repair, since that begins to get into the realm of the cost of a new projector. Has anyone else here seen a failure mode like this, and if so, is it indicative of a bad lamp or something more insidious? I must admit that the prospect of a nice shiny new 1080p Panny or Epson is very compelling, but the CFO (my wife) insists that I do some due diligence on the repair possibilities before I spring for a new unit. Even so, if the 900u just needs a new lamp, it would be a nice backup or projector for my other HT in the living room. TIA for any comments or tips.
  2. majorloser Moderator

    majorloser
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    It's not unusual for a lamp to blow in a projector with less than 1,000 hour. Try a new lamp or rebuild your existing lamp module. If that doesn't get it and your projector is no longer under warranty, I'm afraid your projector is toast.

    I've had a Yamaha and an Optoma projector die after only a couple years service. Very expensive to repair, if they can be repaired at all. Bench time just to determine the problem can cost almost as much as a lamp. Even then you may have to authorize the cost for the replacement lamp plus installation and it still may not solve the problem.

    My favorite source for bare lamps doesn't show a listing for your unit, but they do have one for a lamp/cage assembly:

    https://www.interlight.biz/light-bulb/L-ET-LAE900

    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=49836
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  3. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    Thanks for the link, Majorloser-I did see your previous "sticky" posting, which was going to be my next stop after the Panny service web page. The projector is almost 4 years old, so I have gotten my money's worth out of it from that perspective. Given that the local repair facility wants $150 just to look at the projector, I'm tempted to get one of these aftermarket lamps and roll the dice-I suppose I could sell the new lamp on eBay and get some money back if the lamp turns out not to be the problem.

    BTW, they do have just a bare lamp for $169 plus shipping, which is $100 less than the lamp and cage assembly. The lamp seems to be easily removable, so I think I will save myself $100 in case I end up buying a new projector. I just wish I could verify that the current state of the unit (ie, no activity except for the green power light) is indicative of a failed lamp before I spring for a new bulb-my suspicion is that it is more than that, but there is no way to find out without a trip to the projector doctor.
  4. majorloser Moderator

    majorloser
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    Yeah, that's the problem with repair centers. They may just charge for the bulb and labor and it still doesn't fix it.

    But considering how much projector you can get for your money now, it's really now worth repairing the lower end projectors. Even the high end projectors from a couple years ago can't compete with the low end units of today.
  5. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    That is precisely my quandry-given that the failure is unknown AND the projector is a 4 year old 720p unit AND the bulb likely needs replacement independent of or in addition to a repair, should I just go for the gold and get a new one? The just-released Epson 8350 is very reasonably priced and gets me all the essentials (more lumens, 1080p, good black performance, equivalent placement flexibility) for a bit more than twice what I would probably spend for an involved repair and a new lamp. I wonder if this is sufficient "due diligence" to satisfy the CFO? :)
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  6. majorloser Moderator

    majorloser
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    My first projector was $10K and lasted 2 1/2 years.
    My second projector was $7K and lasted 3 years.
    My present projector was $5K and is still running (knock on wood) for two year.

    Each step up was a huge improvement in picture quality and lumens. And also a heck of a lot cheaper. If my present Epson 7500UB projector dies I won't even hesitate to buy a newer Epson Pro 9700 or what ever is the top-of-the-line Pro Cinema at the time. I love the picture and features you get with the Pro series.
  7. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    Thanks for the motivation to upgrade, although I only needed a gentle nudge! I survived the CFO gauntlet with only minimal blood loss, so I am now looking at the Epson 8500UB (a refurb for a good price from Dell), the Epson 8700UB (seems to be essentially the same as the 8500 but with a couple of features I don't need) and the Panny AE4000u. All are within a few hundred of each other and would appear to be a significant leap in performance from the AE900u, although I am guessing that most current 1080p projectors would outperform the 900 at this point. I am also contemplating a new screen-the Elite Cinetension2 looks like a nice upgrade from my Da-Lite Model B and would eliminate the wavy surface problem I now have.
  8. jostenmeat Audioholic Spartan

    jostenmeat
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    Check out the JVC HD250. I think BMX says it may be going for 2.5K. Just a few years ago, the cheapest JVC you could find was about double that. 3LCOS means you don't have to worry about dust blobs that you would with the unsealed light paths of 3LCD. You would also get the highest fill ratio as opposed to the lowest fill ratio of the competing technologies.

    For screens, I'd try to see if you can land a Carada. If Elite, I would make sure you really put in your due diligence on research, because sometimes you can get a hit, but sometimes you can a really big miss. I just don't consider them.

    Or you can go like me, and a bunch of us here, and go with an acoustically transparent weave.
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  9. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    Thanks for the tip-I see the HD250 for around $3k, but nobody online is offering it below that so far. I wonder if BMX has a line on a distributor cost unit or knows of another reseller with a better price-I'll PM him and find out. Given my current audio system (Denon 3808 as a pre/pro, Rotel RMB-1095/RB-1080 amps, Oppo 83, Dynaudio Audience 7.1), I think I can justify going to a higher quality projector-the JVC would seem to be a more equivalent match to the audio part of my system, since neither it nor the audio system is entry-level (IMHO). I also have an ever-growing collection of Blu-ray disks, so I am motivated to getting the best performance I can afford for the video as well as the audio part of my system.

    Regarding Elite, Da-Lite, Carada: The Elite Cinetension2 seems to have a better reputation than the first gen series, but this is admittedly from reading online reviews only-I have no first-hand experience with any of their products. I would love to get a Da-Lite tensioned screen, but they are significantly more expensive (although one does seem to get what they pay for in screens). I have always liked the Carada products but have not been able to figure out a way to use a fixed screen because of the configuration of my media room. The 92" 16:9 screen now lowers over a doorway (there are doors on both ends of the rectangular 15x22 media room, so it was really a matter of which door), with the center channel speaker on an angled shelf over the doorway, so I would have to determine a way to store a fixed screen somewhere in the media room while it was not in use so I could still use the doorway (which goes into our garage-not one I can easily block off or relocate). The cost of a Carada Criterion screen is actually less than the Cinetension2 of the same screen size, so maybe I will put on my creative thinking cap and see if I can find a solution for storage of a fixed screen.
  10. jostenmeat Audioholic Spartan

    jostenmeat
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    Hey, if you get a tip from BMX, will you PM me? Thanks.

    Yeah, I agree, you have nice gear.

    I am a dummie, and didn't read into Cinetension.

    If* you don't mind putting the screen up and down, I'm sure there's got to be a way to make it easier. You can even make your own screen if it makes having the right hooks/attachments easier to implement.

    The Dalite HP material's waves are very hard to perceive as a pulldown, and in that size, my guess is $200ish. Some would say the waving is impossible to see, and while I disagree, most movies you would never notice a single waving scene. That's after years of ownership.

    However, at this smaller size, it may very well be too bright. And tab tensioned would be the best solution here, outside of cost, you're right.
  11. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    As much as I'd like to get (or make) a fixed screen and be done with it, that option seems impractical for my needs-in addition to the storage challenge when the screen is not in use, the fixed screen would effectively prevent entry into the garage, which is inconvenient at best and a safety hazard at worst. I still think my best option is a pull down screen, either manual or motorized. My current Model B screen is a quality product but is starting to show some waves in the material, which was my original motivation for evaluation of a tab tensioned screen. I've already tried some attempts at "flattening" it, using various bungee cords and other contraptions, but the problem defies a simple fix. I will probably delay replacing it until I get the new projector and see how sensitive the new display is to the existing screen flaws, then deal with it accordingly.

    The JVC projector looks like a good match for my needs, which is mainly movies with a sprinkling of sporting events here and there (most of those are viewed on the Panny plasma HDTV in the second HT in the living room, which curiously has more seating capacity).
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  12. jostenmeat Audioholic Spartan

    jostenmeat
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    Yeah, that makes sense to me. May I ask which material is being used on your model B? Let us know what you find out about the tensioned Elites . . .

    If you have anything approaching a 30 deg viewing angle, I think just upgrading to 1080p will be well worth it. You will be more than doubling your pixels, from less than a million, to over 2 million, not to mention the improvements to all of the other things that make a good pic.

    Those ECs do look very** affordable for a tab tensioned. I wonder what all of the available screen materials are, and which are best. There was a thread here recently where a poster or two mentioned liking a particular material, lemme see if I can find it.

    Ok, it's the very next hit after this very thread. Someone really likes the Cinewhite, and he appears to have tried many materials.

    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=67786
  13. just-some-guy Audioholic Field Marshall

    just-some-guy
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    my model C 2.8 has many small waves in it. from what i can tell, its from the bottom bar. it is not stiff enough to stay straight while pulling the screen down. and thus, effects the material = pulling it more at the middle than at the ends, causing issues. at that, during a movie, i cannot see any abnormalities.

    not only i am totally satisfied with mine. what i watch every weekend is better than anything i have yet to see. this includes theaters, sonys, jvc's and $1000+ screens in $15000 rooms. i know where there is a $15000 runco in a nice room with high end(?) jbl speakers. i will check this out one of these days.

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  14. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    Thanks for the post and the photo. The waves in your photo are worse than the ones I have with my Model B, so maybe I will just sit tight and wait to see if there is any noticeable flaws with the display after I get the new projector. Clearly, the projector is the critical path for this project. :)
  15. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    FYI, the Panny will be given a proper burial and will be replaced with a shiny new JVC DLA-HD250. I spent the weekend researching this and several other candidates before finally deciding that the HD250 had the best bang for the buck for my needs and will be a substantial upgrade from my AE900U. I am expecting to upgrade the screen as well, but I decided to wait and see how the new projector looks on the existing screen, plus I need to do a bit of media room layout analysis to see if I can fit the next size screen (for me that is a 106" diag. 16:9) into the room. The JVC appears to be a big enough improvement in best mode brightness that I should actually have better fL performance on the larger screen than I did with the Panny on the existing screen, but I want to verify that with my built-in optical feedback sensors first.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  16. majorloser Moderator

    majorloser
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    By "proper burial" I will assume you'll use a sledgehamer. :D


    Very nice choice in projector.
  17. audiofox Full Audioholic

    audiofox
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    I'll probably dismantle it and play around a bit, but if I manage to find a cheap aftermarket lamp (less than $100 shipped), I might see if it still works and use it for movies on my patio. It is still a mystery why the projector just up and died without any advance warning, but since it was a convenient excuse to upgrade, I am only complaining about that to my wife. :)
  18. lsiberian Audioholic Overlord

    lsiberian
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    I'd love to have it lol. If it's just the lamp those aren't too expensive normally. It would be a huge upgrade from my PJ lol.
  19. mrs nosey parker Audiophyte

    mrs nosey parker
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    Hi I have the same thing happening, no bulb working , power to unit, only green power button on all the time, cant turn off unless I physically switch it off
    can I ask did changing bulb fix your problem , thanks so much

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