The AIG HD Projector Project #2 - The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 LCD

      Date posted: June 16, 2008

Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Front Projector

Sugg. Retail: $3100CAD/$2500USD

Manufacturer/Source: Sanyo Canada Inc.,
1-300 Applewood Court,
Concord ON
L4K 5C7
(800) 577-2696

Can a projector that costs about the same price as a large-screen plasma or LCD set deliver a superior, as well as, larger picture? I suppose that’s the first of quite a few questions posed in this review, and possibly answered. I guess I was spoiled somewhat by the Knoll DLP, which worked almost to optimum right our of the box, but this was not the case with the Sanyo. Its colour had a somewhat garish quality, especially greens (I watch a lot of golf), and resolution was not all that great. I suppose the next few paragraphs will be a progress report on fine tuning the PLV-Z2000, and this might be instructive to those who, after reading, still want to buy one.

Some aspects of setup were very simple. The little lever on the side of the lens allowed instant, exact setting of picture size to our wonderful VUTEC pull-up screen, and focus was also easily adjusted by turning the lens itself. Thus we quickly had a full 90″ 16 x 9 image that perfectly filled the screen. There are 7 picture modes labeled Brilliant, Cinema, Creative Cinema, Pure Cinema (that’s rather a lot of “Cinema” to my mind), Natural, Living, Dynamic, and Vivid. As you may infer, I didn’t like any of them, with “Living” the closest to a “Natural” picture in the subdued light conditions of our home theatre room. The brighter modes, especially Dynamic and Vivid, tended to make the golf course grass look rather like Astroturf. And reds, too, had a little too much “bloom”, as it were.

But, then, I still had to pull the overall colour down from +6 to 0 (on the Sanyo scale, so to speak). But let me backtrack a little and talk more about inputs, facilities and setup, all quite easy with this ergonomically excellent product. In general, it took about 3 days of fiddling with the too-many adjustments of various sorts to finally nail down the picture, which to its credit was very free of LCD screen-door pattern, and able to be manipulated without being ruined. It might be good advice to put some of the money you save back on purchase into an ISF calibration process, if you can find a dealer or installer who’s qualified to do it.

The PLV-Z2000 has inputs for composite, S, HDMI (2), RCA VGA, RCA component (2), and a 9-pin Dsub serial port. That should be about enough to run a multiplex cinema, though obviously you couldn’t use them all for separate screens. The 3-panel LCD light engine is 1920 x 1068 native 1080p, with an 165-watt bulb. Video signals are handled in all consumer formats in NTSC, PAL or SECAM.

As noted above, it’s a manual zoom/focus system with a 2X range and vertical and horizontal lens shift. This translates into a possible 100″ 16 x 9 image at viewing distances between 10 and 20 feet. The bulb life is not specified, but a replacement bulb is not totally unreasonable at between $300 and $400. The projector comes with a warranty of 3 years.

One cute aspect of the Z2000 is its motorized lens door that opens when you turn it on, and closes when you power down; this has the practical result of limiting dust buildup on the lens during down time. The contrast ratio is rated at up to 15,000:1, perhaps a fanciful figure, but one that means little to me in my light-controlled environment, where we’re able to run the unit at the lowest colour temperature and lumens output to achieve the most natural picture. There are 5 programmed colour temp options.
PLV-Z2000 inputs

Another nice feature of the Sanyo right out of the box was its low fan noise. But it does run quite hot, vented to the left side facing the projector. I used an ANTEC A/V Cooler (also very quiet in its low fan setting, review forthcoming) with its extra fans, sitting on top of the projector to increase airflow around it. In my smallish 14 x 16-foot room excessive fan noise definitely interferes with the surround experience, with the projector mounted just behind my right shoulder. Here it was well below the ambient noise on most program material.

It took a few days to fine tune the picture performance, and none of the preset options seemed to quite do it for me. But once these issues were sorted out with quite a bit of off-air 1080i, and Video Essentials tools, the picture came into focus, so to speak, and was detailed, with good greyscale values, and a nice naturalness that was only very occasionally marred by a bit of chroma noise or slight motion artifacts characteristic of LCDs, but much reduced here. These were predicted by the handling of the motion patterns, and some of the colour patterns and screens on the aforementioned VE disc, but proved to be less of a nuisance than feared from such test material.

Most of the time I thoroughly enjoyed the PLV-Z2000, watching golf, basketball, and other HD delights, as well a number of DVDs. It doesn’t do much for inferior pictures and conventional TV, with limited processing of such signals. It also much prefers progressive signals, so set your video sources up accordingly if you buy this unit.

And one certainly can’t argue about price on this one! The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is the best buy going right now in high definition projection, and while recognizing its minor flaws, I recommend it highly to anyone wanting to make the leap to a bigger and better picture. I didn’t quite miss it as much as I did the Knoll when I went back to my Pioneer Elite 64″ set, but then, bigger is still always better in HD pictures.

Andrew Marshall

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