Not totally happy with my new AE500, ideas for improvements?


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Jun 1, 2002
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Well, my AE500 turned up on Friday and I am a little underwhelmed. :(

I knew that Smoothscreen would mean a "softer" image but surely that shouldn't mean less-detailed? Certainly when compared to my old AE100, which had nearly half as many pixels? Atm I'm missing my old AE100 and that can't be right!

I'm sure it's not just that the picture is softer, and takes some getting used to, I'm seeing less detail in DVDs that I know really well, stuff like Monsters Inc etc. look a bit of a mess.

The image is certainly very "film like", but I'm sure something is wrong. It probably isnt helping that I'm having to keep the "sharpness" setting turned down to avoid picture noise in Avia.

I'm currently driving it with an Arcam DV88+ via Component (progressive naturally) over about a 15m run of Van Damme.

I might try and re-calibrate with a shorter run of cable and see if that helps, allows me to increase sharpness.

A couple of questions though...

a) Does it sound like a fault with the pj?

b) How exactly does Smoothscreen work? I thought I'd heard that it's an optical thing and not a processing thing, how then does the menu look so much sharper than a video signal?

c) Would a 720p DVI DVD player (like the Samsung 935 or el-cheapo Momitso/Yamakawa) or a HCPC sort this out? I.e. 1:1 pixel mapping? The resolution should certainly be there but I'm wondering if the smoothscreen is interacting with bad scaling to cause this?

d) What are other 500 user's experiences?

e) Does anyone with a DVD player/HCPC that could do 1:1 pixel mapping want to come see me in south West Sussex, perhaps you were considering an AE500 and wondered how it would look?

If I can't find a way to improve this I may end up selling this at a hideous loss to fund a Z2 purchase. :(
I might try and re-calibrate with a shorter run of cable and see if that helps, allows me to increase sharpness.

Nope that didn't help
Sound worrying (Especially as I have one of these on the way :rolleyes: ) But a couple of points. I have not heard this sort of feedback before about this projector and it has had excellent reviews universally. Smooth screen isnt everyones cup of tea certainly but not to the extent you are suggesting. And lets not forget that any problems it does bring should be more than made up for by the elimination of screen door and artifacts.....

On paper you cant compare an ae100 to the ae500 so the fact you believe the picture is not as good as your old ae100 is a real cause for concern.

Personally I cant believe a 15 metre cable run can do anything but effect the picture quality how ever good the cables you are using but hey im no expert......

I am going for the Samsung DVI player, will post my thoughts when it is all setup.
Personally I cant believe a 15 metre cable run can do anything but effect the picture quality how ever good the cables you are using but hey im no expert......

As I say, I've tried about a 2m run of component cable and it's no better.

The best way to explain what I'm seeing is that the whole image is out of focus, quite badly. Yes - I have adjusted the focus ring (using the menu was the only real way to do this as a video feed was next to useless). And yes - I know about Smoothscreen and know what it does but the amount of defocus I'm seeing is more "macro" than on a per-pixel basis if that makes sense?

It's always possible I have a bad unit I suppose, or perhaps I'm being too picky, but the image doesn't look a little softer than my old AE100 it looks less detailed. That can't be right?
Might be a fault with the component input if the menu screens look sharp enough. Have you tried S-Video ?

Was just sitting here thinking the same thing actually. ;)

Off to try S-Video.
I have read during searches that the 500s and Z2s are more refined products but are not 'substantially better' than the ae100/200/300/Z1s of this world. This is why I backed off from getting a 500 and opted for a value for money Z1 compromise until the Z2/500 beaters arrive in the £1000 range(when ever that will be).
I realise this is no help to you Andy but many potential buyers would thank you for your honest account of your new PJ and may consider opting for machines that are good in their own right and are dropping massively in price at the moment.


PS I hope I am wrong and you find a solution to your picture quality.:)

EDIT: PPS Andy, assuming I am wrong and the 500 is superb (which I hope it is) as you are also a previous 100 owner a pro/ cons review of the 500 compared to 100 would be great.:smoke:
S-Video looks as you would expect, i.e. a little worse than component.

Andy, assuming I am wrong and the 500 is superb (which I hope it is) as you are also a previous 100 owner a pro/ cons review of the 500 compared to 100 would be great

If DVI or HCPC can fix this then fair enough but so far I'm very disappointed.
Surely you should not need DVI or HCPC to solve it. I cant understand how you are getting a worse picture from the ea500 than the ae100 from the same setup.

It would be one thing if the picture was a bit better but not enough for you to be happy with the addional outlay. But worse picture from a better projector. Something is not right.
Surely you should not need DVI or HCPC to solve it.

Well I'm eager to give it a shot, the pixels themselves seem clear enough but perhaps it's how the projector is scaling to use them that's the problem. :confused:

I cant understand how you are getting a worse picture from the ae500 than the ae100 from the same setup.

Yes everything is the same... source, cables, screen etc. etc.

It would be one thing if the picture was a bit better but not enough for you to be happy with the addional outlay. But worse picture from a better projector. Something is not right.

My feelings precisely.
I've got the 500 & I'm blown away on how good the pic is on mine, unfortunately I can't compare as this is my first PJ.

Are you able to demo another 500 near you?

or may be

Take yours back to who ever you purchased it from & ask them to check it out against another machine?

Before buying the 500 I did demo the 100, 200 & the 300 & there were noticable differences as you went up the model range, 500 had my thumbs approval & IMHO there was a big difference between 100 & 500 accepting that smooth screen will play a big part.

Initially I found my 100 was sharper with an image than the 500 was. Picture seemed like it was being digitally processed on the 500 in a strange way.

I had not changed anything in my set up apart from the straight out the box 500.

My 100 had been adjusted/refined over a period of time and I did have a Hoya FL-D on it. This set up was as perfect as I had then wanted it.

So, first turned off NR on the PJ, that helped. Then I realised I had edge enhancement on in my SD900, turned that off. This helped considerably, although it had helped out on my 100, it was causing the 500 serious grief. Well not grief, it was evident the 500 was picking up all the processing that the edge enhancement had introduced.

The picture by now was dramatically improved already. Personally I like my picture sharp and that's what I am now achieving. Factory settings and the image was too soft.

Went into flicker adjustment on Desk mode set them for 2A for all of them for my eyesight. No VB whatsoever.

Turned down the colour, cooled the colour temperature settings and set gamma accordingly.

I am now watching the most cinematic and filmlike image capable of being thrown by any LCD PJ this side of £1500. Actually I say £1500, but I did go back to demo a VW12HT, a HS20 and a Sharp X91(DLP), to see what the extra outlay could achieve. Post demo's I had no inclination to spend anymore. The colour, resolution, depth and dimensionality of the image is really quite something. There are quite a few settings to play with that you can tweak in the 500's menus. Patience is the key.

Now, when I fire the 100 the difference is all the more apparent. Stepping up initially was more of a refinement, stepping down and you realise how far you have actually moved on.
oh and also I believe the 500 is a far more less forgiving PJ than the 100. The 500 picks up the flaws in a set up and makes them more evident.

This maybe why your menu's look sharp but your feeds not ?

I have just watched "Once upon a time in Mexico" R2 Pal. Transfer on this DVD seems absolutely immaculate to my eye and the last hour and a half has been seriously stunning viewing. Flawless imagery on display.
hey andy.... let me guess.... if you watch a close up of someone, the picture is fantastic.... but if its a medium shot of a group of ppl, the whole things looks soft, right???

thats the way that this pj leans, im afriad. had the same prob with the ae300... i learned to live with it. sometimes it also depends on the source material... some are much better than others.

what you can do is play around with the settings somewhat, or alternatively get a dvd player with sharpness settings. apart from that, i dont think it is your cables.

btw which bit of west sussex are you from??

Hi all

I too have just received my new 500 - a replacement for existing 100 - and found exactly the same as Andy - a disappointment over 100 properly set up with FLD filter etc

I am constantly fiddling with the focus to try to sharpen things up and get more detail.

My question re set up - should the DVD player options be tweaked first or the PJ 's as both have similar picture controls?

Incidentally I think interlaced looks better than progressive at the moment!

Ekko Star - what do you mean by "Went into flicker adjustment on Desk mode set them for 2A for all of them for my eyesight."


"Turned down the colour, cooled the colour temperature settings and set gamma accordingly." - presumably your are referring to PJ controls rather than DVD?

Sorry to hijack the thread - but I have the same problem as Andy!


Thanks for the tips guys, I'm still tweaking/playing about with it. I've made some improvements and learnt some stuff too, it definetly seems to vary a lot depending upon the source, maybe it is just letting me see imperfections that the AE100 wasn't?

Ekko - How does one go about determining the correct Gamma and RGB Brightness/Contrast levels in the advance menu? I've got Avia but I'm not sure there are specific patterns for that?

TimF - Welcome aboard hehe, for the flicker adjustments you need to access the "secret menu". Go to OSD in "Options" and hold down select until a new menu with Flicker Adj appears. Go through 6 RGB flicker screens (2 of each colour) left and right adjusts the flicker level up and down to go to next screen.

krlock - I'm from near Gothmog's "sunny" Bognor hehe.
"Incidentally I think interlaced looks better than progressive at the moment!"

This does not surprise me at all. This unit deinterlaces the signal anyway so progressive scan is not going to help (Or that is my understanding) Personally i will be using a DVD player with DVI out which eliminates this issue (For Dvd anyway) and gives the best quality.

"presumably your are referring to PJ controls rather than DVD?"

Yes picture setting on the PJ. This is my first projector but if its anything like Plasma displays tweaking the settings will make a big difference in terms of your "Personal" preferences.

Someone mentioned turning off VNR on the DVD player. I think this is a good idea as it certainly sofens the image in its own right.

Still I dont think we are gettting any nearer to why you feel you are getting worse results from what on paper is a much better unit. How long did you have your ae100 ? Do you still have the 100 ? would be interesting to see them side by side running exactly the same material. "

I will be able to do this when I get mine as I have a friend who as an AE100 and the same screen I have. Should be interesting.
to quote krammer from a recent post

"A 1280x720 PJ has 56.25% more pixels than a 1024x576. That's quite an advantage Having that many more pixels means that the size of the projected pixels is considerably smaller than those from a 1024x576 PJ.

This results in far less screendoor, far less pixelation being visible, far smoother edges - curves/diagonals especially & subjectively a sharper picture. Obviously there's no more detail in the picture (unless you're using a 720p source etc.) but the higher resolution does result in a "perceived" higher resolution image.

Basically, higher res panels have many advantages & do (on the whole) provide a smoother, more filmlike picture.

In other areas yes, lower res PJs can better their high res counterparts but this is more a general PJ trait than resolution specific."

You get where I am going with this. Its a no brainer really. Or should be.
you just gotta play around with both dvd player and pj to find out what you are happy with.

however, neither the 300 or 500 produce megasharp images... its the price you pay for the smoothscreen.

Adjust the flicker until it only just becomes solid, no need to go beyond that point.

Setting are to your own taste really. The colours and reds are very strong as factory set and I have toned them down to my liking. I will post my settings later if this helps, this is of course subjective to your own viewing tastes.

SD900 does have a host of settings inc sharpness and edge enhancement. As strange as it may seem, I had to turn off edge enhancement to get a sharper image but I knocked up sharpness a couple of notches that's all.

This PJ sure will pick out detail, and it will certainly reveal the source material for what it is. That may not be to everyones liking and you may even have to partner it better.

As for Progressive scan, well IMHO, the picture does become rock solid but I also feel it smooths the image somewhat. It's one of the reasons why I still prefer the SD900's interlaced output. That's just my own opinion, I may however be tempted to try a DVI enabled PS player in the near future.

Try "Once upon a time in Mexico" as I'm 100% sure it'll be used as a reference dvd for image quality.
Hi Andy, sorry to hear about your initial disappointment with the AE500.

I think you maybe the victim of (1) people talking up new models simply because they cost more or have better paper specs, and (2) consumers never happy with what they got and always griping about something to the manufactures (screen door)

I think that the only way to test the quality of your new pj is to feed it a computer signal in the native resolution. This will show whether or not the pj can deliver a non-tampered signal path (like the AE100).

Long live screen door and sharp pixels, IMO

Hi all. Guess what, I also see a slightly softer image compared to my old ae300.

My settings using an avia disc are (have dvr50 with prog output but use NTSC prog (525p) output with region 1 discs and PAL intrlacd (625i) output for Region 2 discs because PAL progressive output from the dvd is crap (loadsa dark interference lines) but the projector converts to pregressive scan anyway).

Memory 1 (nightime setting) Con -4, Bri 0, Col -11, Tin +1, Sha -3
Memory 2 (daytime setting) Con -5, Bri +3, Col -11, Tin +1, Sha -1
Memory 3 (PS2 Svideo setting) Con +3, Bri +1, Col -11, Tin +5, Sha +7

I also have to alter the POSITION menu depending on the input (check via overscan menu in AVIA):
NTSC output from DVD needs H-pos = -11, V-pos = +2
PAL output from DVD needs H-pos = 0, V-pos = 0
Svideo output from PS2 needs H-pos = +1, V-pos = +3
(these are memorised by projector for each source independantly)

Off I go now to switch NR off on the projector and go into the flicker menu
Also remember that when an image is scaled up it is always softened.

The AE100 with DVD is either 1:1 with NTSC DVD or scaling down with PAL, similarly the AE300 is 1:1 with PAL DVD and only a slight upscale for NTSC.

DVD->1280x720 is a significant upscale, it is likely that what we are seeing here is the limits of DVD with high resolution PJs.

Play a 720p HDTV clip and I'd expect it would blow your socks off.. ;)

Roll on HDTV, blu-ray etc. :)

-- Jon
Been doing some more playing and thought I ought to update y'all as my initial post here may have alarmed some of you. There's been some good news and some not so good news.

Firstly, one of the worst looking films that was really bugging me, was a different version to that which I remembered (I'd forgotten I'd had to replace it recently), so perhaps it's a worse transfer. Doh! :suicide:

Anyway, I've managed to get a long VGA cable and now have 1:1 pixel mapping, with dot clock and phase properly calibrated, it looks pretty damn sharp with that. So, following Gothmog's tip I downloaded the Robotica Windows Media HD clip. I'm kinda "between" PC's at the moment following my CPU giving up the ghost, so my spec isn't great. But, I turned the playback speed down and it was able to keep up with most of the frames hehe. Very nice it loooked too, this would seem to show that when presented with an image which it needs to do nothing with, the 500 can display it sharply, Smoothscreen or not. I might have a go with some of the other clips later on if I can bully one of my mates with broadband into downloading them for me. :)

Ok, next up I tried DVD playback from the PC, this was a little disappointing. It looked no better than my Arcam DV88+ (worse really), but then I was using crappy freebie DVD software that I had lying about (WinDVD and PowerDVD). Does anyone reckon Theatertek and better hardware would make a real difference? (That's a question probably best asked in the HCPC forum). But has anyone actually compared the different software players side by side? I know Theatertek gets rave reviews but I'm wondering whether the extra money is worth it?

The bad news is I've found some, if not dead then certainly poorly looking pixels, not sure of the exact number or what's up with them. They're wierd really, they are quite tricky to see, they only appear with certain colours and even then are tricky to spot. They are slightly darker or paler than the colour you need to spot them. I need to do some more playing to see if I can narrow down if they are specific to different colour panels. Their certainly not distracting and to be honest the VB is probably hiding some of them. :rolleyes:

Anyway thought I'd update y'all, I'm off to go and play some more.....
Well I had my first proper play last night and I am amazed by the quality the ae500 is putting out to be honest. This is despite the fact that its not properly setup at the moment. I am having to use keystoning as the room it is in just aint suitable for a projector and I am only using rgb scart at the moment. Certainly not ideal - best quality will be dvi from the sammy dvd player and high def pack from the xbox. It is a very nice 5m RGB scart lead though :)

I am only currently running it in low lamp mode. Bearing all this in mind, In my opinion, even with these significant disadvantages it is putting out a better picture than my friends HS10 which he has had for a year now and is well setup. The HS10 is still a very good projector and far superior to an ae100.

I can tell you categorcally there is no issue with the quality from these projectors. The picture is stable, sharp and clear. Vivid colours and the blacks are excellent. Best of all from 11ft viewing distance on an 81" screen I am seing no screen door.

And I know from experience it will be even better when its in a dedicated room properly setup. Much much better.

On the HCPC question I dont know if this will be the best route for most people to be honest. This is due to (A) the cost of doiong it right and (B) the complexities of setting it up correctly. If you want to get good quality the digital route why not give the Samsung DVD player with DVI out a go for £150 ????

Incidentally I can confirm after 8 hours of use and detailed examination the ae500 I purchased from Komplet has no dead pixels (Touch wood they dont start to show up !)

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