The major reason why I mentioned the various technologies and other manufacturers is that you do have a lot of options available to you. You may find that a DLP powered projector produces a punchier image; a step up into an LCoS-based product gives you a more film-like image or Epson’s LCD technologies provide more contrast and deeper black levels. It is important for you as a consumer to look into the other products and technologies the market has to offer.
As for the Panasonic projector, I wouldn’t be concerned about the 3D option. I often remind people that 3D-enabled products tend to be more feature laden than non-3D products and that 3D is just an option—it doesn’t have to be used.
The key for your product comparisons will be to for you to try to see the products in conditions that are similar to your home’s so you can make the fairest evaluations. Some of the factors to look at going into your evaluations will include the same screen type (or at least screen gain), room conditions, screen size, source components (Blu-ray disc players, cable/satellite boxes) and content.
You may want to ask the dealers you visit about the content they run during their demos and if it’s o.k. if you bring your own content. Blu-rays like the Disney WOW disc provide a nice combination of test patterns and clips from various Disney movies, which makes it a nice disc to use for demo content.
Good luck with your purchase, you’ll have a lot of fun trying out all of the different projectors.