|Sanyo PLV-Z2000 3LCD Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors LCD Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
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There is no doubt that HDTVs in general are getting more affordable, meaning more accessible to the masses, while performance and features are improving to a degree. Front video projectors are no exception to this trend. Enter Sanyo’s latest 1080p 3LCD front projector, the PLV-Z2000, which is a perfect example of just such a projector. The PLV-Z2000 delivers reasonably good performance for the dollar, offers generous connectivity and has a solid feature package to boot. Set-up flexibility is quite good with some features that are usually found only on much more expensive projectors.
The look of the projector is not attractive, to say the least. You may want to take pains to camouflage it on your ceiling. It is a squarish box with a relatively small footprint, measuring nearly six inches tall by 16 inches wide and 13-and-a-half inches deep, weighing in at a reasonable 16 pounds. My review sample was finished in white; the projector is not available in black or a variety of other finishes. Both vents (intake and outtake) for cooling the unit are located on the right side of the chassis when in a floor-mounted configuration, and on the left if ceiling-mounted. The one cool design feature is the motorized door that opens when first powered up to expose the lens, and closes when you shut off the projector, presumably designed to protect the lens assembly and to reduce dust issues. The manual states an extremely low 19dB noise level from the fans; I believe the spec, as it was nearly whisper quiet.
The remote control has an intuitive and intelligent design. As such, it is relatively straightforward and easy to use. To my pleasant surprise, it is also fully backlit with the touch of a button on the upper left side of the unit.
Direct access keys for all the inputs and picture controls make adjustments on the fly quick and easy in the dark. One caveat is that there is a reset button near the very top of the unit, which could cause you to undo all your work inadvertently. Internally, the menu system is quite simple and straightforward to use.
The feature set on the PLV-Z2000 is quite extensive. However, as with many budget-priced displays and projectors, the PLV-Z2000 has a few features that are better left turned off or unutilized. These are the types of features that marketing departments often dictate to design teams and, rather than enhancing performance, actually keep the projector from delivering the best performance. You’ll find all these dubious features in the Advanced menu on the second page of the Image Adjust menu. They include Auto Black Stretch, which automatically changes black level depending on the content of the picture, Contrast Enhancement, which simply lowers the black level, Transient Improvement, which appears to do nothing at all, and Dynamic Gamma, which if it’s anything like a dynamic iris, would change gamma depending on picture content, which is a feature you definitely don’t want to engage. Gamma is similar to black level. It always has to be constant, no matter what is going on in the picture.
Finally, there is a Color Management System, which is fairly complex. This is a feature that virtually no manufacturer has been able to make work properly by my standards, and one that has the potential to correct color and make a huge improvement in picture quality. I was excited to try it, but ultimately disappointed as it doesn’t work well at all. While you can greatly improve the primary and secondary colors, it ruins the color decoding in the process. I have seen this exact phenomenon on other HDTV displays, both flat panel and front projection.
Of course, there are some features worth talking about, as they help in the set-up and fine-tuning of the picture. The most useful of these features is definitely the horizontal and vertical lens shift, both of which greatly ease the difficulty of the physical installation of the projector relative to the screen. There is such a thing as too many choices, and the PLV-Z2000 has perhaps too many picture modes in what Sanyo has labeled Image. It complicates the decision-making process and may in fact be confusing. I found Natural to be the best choice of the seven preset Image settings. There are another seven User Image settings as well. Talk about flexibility. It turned out that Natural was the only mode or Image that didn’t negatively affect color decoding. The others negatively affected the color decoding.
The Sanyo has four settings for the level of the lamp’s light output that are symbolized by a half a light bulb to indicate half power, a full light bulb to indicate full output, and A1 and A2, which appear to be the same as the other two settings. There is also an iris that can be set to Fixed, which has a Normal and a Fast setting, and also has a range from -63 to 0. I left it at -30, which is the factory preset in the Natural Image mode. A variety of user-selectable color temperatures are of course on board and include Default, Low 1, Low 2, High 1, High 2 and User. The User color temperature shows up in the menu when you utilize the three grayscale controls, Red, Green and Blue, to calibrate the grayscale.
Connectivity options on the PLV-Z2000 are fairly generous for a front projector. Two HDMI 1.3 inputs head up the connections. There are also two component video inputs. To insure backwards compatibility, an S-Video and a composite video input for legacy sources like VCRs are also on tap. I was happy to know that the 8-pin Mini DIN can carry RS-232C communications but, disappointed to find no 12-volt trigger for electric drop-down screeens.