Mitsubishi HC4900 vs Sanyo PLV-Z2000

Projector Pricing

Talk about more similar than different, these are, at this moment, the two least expensive 1080p home theater projectors on the market. Due to different promos and rebates, which is the least expensive can change from one month to the next. Let’s just say, that they are typically very close – within $200 of each other. In that regard, life is simple. You end up with the one that works best for you, since they are similarly priced.

Projector Value

Value in this case, will be determined by what is important to you. Overall, each has very distinct advantages over the other. Essentially, the Mitsubishi is brighter, and the Sanyo, a better overall picture quality, due to its significant advantage in black level performance.

In terms of picking the Sanyo for the Runner-up, Best In Class Awaqrd, and the Mitsubishi getting the Special Interest Award, it required some serious debate on my part.

What it really boiled down to, is that, while the Sanyo is never really bright, even in “brightest” mode, I, personally would rather watch movies in Sanyo’s Brilliant Cinema mode, than give up the black levels of the HC4900. Sanyo’s Brilliant color may not be as good as their Pure Cinema, but it manages that 572 lumens, which pretty much levels the playing field with the HC4900 in brightness.

For some though, the extra 300 lumens of the HC4900 in brightest mode will be a determining factor, definitely more punch for sports, etc., with some ambient light.

I should note that several people who have bought the PLV-Z2000, have emailed me to say that, while they realize the image is “more perfect” in Pure Cinema mode, they favor the Brilliant Cinema – brightness wins over black level performance. Even in Brilliant Cinema, the Sanyo does blacker blacks than the HC-4900.

Projector Warranties

You would think this would be clear cut – 3 years for the Sanyo, and 2 for the Mitsubishi. There is one aspect of difference, however, or rather, two.

Unlike most manufacturers, Sanyo does not believe in DOA projectors. They don’t take defective ones back from the dealers/end users, and replace them, even if they have a problem fresh out of the box. Instead, Sanyo’s three year warranty includes paying freight both ways, and guarantying no more than 3 days as the service center. In other words, you are typically back up and running with your projector repaired, in a week or less. (Sanyo tells me repeatedly, that most often, they turn the units in one day, at the factory, which is fairly consistent with my experiences as a dealer).

So, while Sanyo gives you the longer warranty, and pays freight both ways, when serviced under warranty, some will be turned off that if their projector comes in with a problem, they have to deal with Sanyo directly, and not exchange at the dealer level.

Art's Two Cents

Of these two, the Sanyo for those more critical of the technical picture quality, by virtue of black level performance. That means enthusiasts, and “hard core crazies”, but also those whose rooms can only support a smaller screen. It may also include some that will decide they need more brightness, but will solve that problem by choosing a true high gain screen, say 1.8 gain, which of course, makes the projector seem 80% brighter, when sitting straight back from the center of the screen, but rolls off quickly as your position moves to the outer edges of the screen. (Also, overall, the evenness of illumination is not as good as more standard gain screens).

The HC4900, on the other hand, is simply a really nice projector, but with black level performance on par with a typical 720p projector, not the 1080p competition. Many of you have come from there, and know, that for all the hype, that’s not such a bad thing.

Truly the Mitsubishi is the more “consumer” model, in that it’s the easier one to just buy one, with a decent sized screen, have plenty of lumens for movie watching (more than all but maybe four other projectors in this comparison report). Certainly it makes a good family room projector, where some ambient light will destroy most of the difference between two projectors, one with better black levels, and one with less impressive black levels.

Bottom Line: Two similarly priced projectors, both sharp and quiet, but with some really distinct differences, that should make chosing between them a clear choice, if not necessarily an easy one.

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