|Sanyo PLV-Z2000 3LCD Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors LCD Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
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For an entry-level budget front projector, the PLV-Z2000 does a lot right. Color decoding is accurate for both SD and HD formats, and video processing is reasonably good, with 2:3 pull-down for motion artifact elimination with film-based DVDs. The company claims 14-bit processing, but I could not verify that. The video processing also de-interlaces 1080i HD, properly preserving all the resolution in the signal, which I verified using the excellent Silicon Optix HD DVD test disc, with my Toshiba HD DVD player set to output 1080i. Unlike much of the competition out there, the PLV-Z2000 does pass all the resolution in a 1080p source at the HDMI inputs. This is not the case with many projectors I have tested in the last year or so. However, like many an HD display on the market today, the PLV-Z2000 gives up some of that resolution at the component inputs. That shouldn’t be of too much concern, as none of the HD DVD or Blu-ray players will output 1080p via component video, and since those are the only 1080p sources available today, you will not lose anything.
One very important thing to note on the Z2000 is the HDMI set-up under the Setting menu. Unfortunately, the factory preset is wrong for video and home theater. The Normal and Expanded settings in the HDMI set-up are related to the correct color matrix for computing and for video. These settings affect black, white and contrast ratio. The reference for computing is RGB 0-255, and for video is Y, Cb and Cr 16-235. To get the latter, you need to go to HDMI set-up and change it to Expanded from its factory setting of Normal. This threw me for a loop at first, as I wasn’t getting below black or above white. Sanyo has it backwards here, unless their primary market is the professional market, where PCs would be the predominant source material. A projector intended for video should have the factory preset to Expanded, which is correct at 16-235. Unfortunately, this is an all too common a mistake in the industry, which ends up costing the consumer, as it results in a loss of contrast ratio and detail in white and black.
In any case, this revelation changed my opinion of the black level and contrast ratio performance parameters of the 2000. Blacks suddenly became richer and deeper, and shadow detail was much improved. The lens on the machine is reasonably good, considering its price, with very few chromatic aberrations. This was evidenced by the fact that images from top-quality sources, like HD DVD and Blu-ray, were quite sharp. White field uniformity, while not perfect, is reasonably good on the Sanyo. This is an inherent performance issue with LCD-based projectors, and I was therefore pleasantly surprised by its performance in this regard.
To test blacks, I looked at some scenes from the excellent HD DVD transfer of Batman Begins (Warner Home Video). The jail scene, where Christian Bale’s Batman meets Liam Neeson’s character for the first time, revealed excellent shadow detail. Seabiscuit (Universal Studios Home Video) on HD DVD looked pretty impressive, with good skin tone rendition and good color saturation. Chapter 13 at the race track is a really good scene to get a handle on a projector’s color reproduction. At one point, when they are all lining up for the race, almost all the primary and secondary colors are represented in the different jockeys’ uniforms all at once. As an example, the inaccurate red stuck out when viewing the Tobey Maguire character’s jockey uniform, which is supposed to be slightly orange, but appears to be candy apple red on the Sanyo. Also on HD DVD, scenes from the remake of King Kong (Universal Studios Home Video) were impressive. The T-Rex fight scene looked pretty good. Since this is all CGI, and the colors used are really muted, the projector’s less then perfect color accuracy on red and green is not so apparent.
Chapter 4 of The Italian Job (Paramount Home Entertainment) on Blu-ray looked impressive. This is a good sequence for evaluating black-level performance, contrast ratio and color saturation simultaneously, as part of it takes place in a dark, murky underwater environment, and part of it is in broad daylight during a boat chase through Venice. This scene showed off the projector’s good blacks and high contrast ratio, as well as good color saturation. On my Time Warner Cable feed, I watched a variety of dark and bright material. Of course, cable HD can’t compare to our optical formats in sharpness and detail. Nonetheless, the Sanyo availed itself well with 1080i and 720p cable sources.