For you Epson fans, note that of the four Epson projectors considered in this report, only the Pro Cinema 9500UB supports an anamorphic lens. Epson saves such extra capabilities for the Pro series over the Home series, but, they also don't offer the anamorphic support for Pro Cinema 9100. I believe the logic behind that decision, is that anyone wanting anamorphic support, who can afford it, would definitely pay the extra to go from the 9100 to the 9500UB for the better performance, since that difference is far less expensive than the cost of an anamorphic lens and sled.
Sony's VPL-HW15 does not support the lens, but their noticeably more expensive (and better) VPL-VW85 does.
None of the three new sub-$1000 projectors supports an anamorphic, and again, that makes sense. This year, we have our first two affordable entries from S. Korea, the LG CF181D, and the Samsung SP-A600B. Neither supports an anamorphic lens.
Finally, there's also the Sharp XV-Z15000 another projector that was also included in last year's report. It too lacks anamorphic lens support, something noted in its review, but last year, we failed to point out the lack of support in this same section of the 2009 report. Sorry about that!
It should be noted that only a few percent of home theater projector owners go with the anamorphic lens solution, and many of those folk are high end people buying expensive 3 chip DLPs where the cost of an anamorphic lens doesn't seem very significant, compared to the projectors' price. Still, according to the screen manufacturers I talk to, they are selling a higher percentage of anamorphic shaped screens, than in the past. And one reason just might be Panasonic's solution:
Panasonic's PT-AE4000, like the PT-AE3000 last year, does offer support for an anamorphic lens, but it also has something else, which is the ability to "emulate" an anamorphic lens.
The PT-AE4000 doesn't need an anamorphic lens to put a Cinemascope image on a 2.35:1 screen with no letterboxing! This saves thousands of dollars, but has some trade-offs. Panasonic accomplishes this trick by allowing you (once set up) to touch a button to change the lens' zoom to fill that 2.35:1 screen. Press another button and it handles your 16:9 and 4:3 content. The trick to making this work, is that you can save the two different zoom settings in a lens memory area.
The downsides are: That letterbox is still there, it's just not hitting the screen, it's above and below it. That shouldn't be a problem if your wall is dark, but if not, you will see the faint light - grays, above and below the screen. Also different from using a real anamorphic lens, is that the Panasonic projector still isn't using all its resolution for the image itself. With a "real" anamorphic lens and stretch, every pixel is in use, not just the about 80% that get used for the movie in this case. As a result, you are giving up a fair amount of brightness.