The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Home Theater Projectors in the Pipeline: Sanyo PLV-Z4000…

Greetings, just a quick couple of notes –  folks.  We had received an Optoma HD8600 to check out their new dynamic iris software, but the unit arrived apparently freight damaged.   A replacement arrived today.  I hope to  post my findings by next tuesday, as to whether Optoma has tamed their occasionally annoying iris action.  I sure hope so, because if it does, we have an excellent home theater projector, instead of a decent one.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector

I’m writing up the Sanyo review right now.  If it wasn’t for a very busy Labor Day (and birthday) weekend, I’d say look for it on Monday… Instead, I’m really going to try to have it posted this Friday night (tomorrow).  Wish me luck…

BTW for those wondering why there’s been no Sanyo PLV-Z4000 projector – First Look, that’s easy.  If you want a “first look” just read the old Sanyo PLV-Z3000 review.  The Z4000 is an update.  I assume a lot of firmware has been improved since we reviewed the Z3000.  The Z4000 is essentially a “refined” product compared to the older model, but still very much the same.

I’ll leave you with this thought.  Both Mike and I agree, after he calibrated the Z4000, it does look better than the Z from the old review.  We never could get rid of some yellow green shift with the older model, and so noted in the review.  This PLV-Z4000 does not suffer the problem.  Whether this is luck of the draw, or refinements in the color tables, etc. hard to say.  I can merely report better looking, more accurate colors, especially skin tones.

OK enough.

My next review isn’t really home theater, but it is the LightSpeed 3D solution, oeming an InFocus projector.  Those interested in 3D for home will find a few tidbits there, and more in the 3D report of which part will be on home theater 3D…

I’ve also got one mystery projector in house, calibrated , which I’ll start viewing in a few days.   All I can say is that it is a 1080p projector, and you know the brand.  Sorry, I’m under Non-Disclosure until right before CEDIA (Sept. 22nd.).   I’m hoping they’ll let me post the review a few days before the show opens…

That’s the story for now.  After CEDIA, of course, it will be one home theater projector review after another…  hang in there! -art

News And Comments

  • Eli

    And I bet that the mystery projector is….(drum roll).

    The new EPSON LCDR projectors!!!

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Eli,

      Wrong, I only learned about the new Epson’s with the IFA announcement last week… Nice try though… I’ve had that other projector here for more than two. Watching Sunday Ticket football on it right now (8 games up at once, and on a 128″ screen you can actually see what’s going on on all of them, (if your eyes are fast enough)… -a

  • Peter Miller

    Sounds like the new Epsons to me!

  • PatB

    This comment is in response to your review of the Optoma’s new dynamic iris.

    As I understand it there is some sensor which measures the light in any picture and then signals the mechanical iris to adjust. This would mean that the iris would always be a little behind because of processing speed and mechanical inertia.

    What if you played the movie through once and the projector stored the adjustments? Then when you played it again the projector would be ready for a suddenly dark or bright scene and thereby minimize the lag.

    It would be easy to improve on this basic idea. The preview runthrough could be at high speed and/or the disk could include the iris information in some standarized time code format.

    If for example the lights in a scene go out at frame one million, you anticipate slightly and close down the iris at frame 999,995. No lag.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Greetings PatB,
      There you go thinking again! That actually does make sense. But, no, no sensor would be used, the data is already digital, no need to convert to light, and back to data again, to compute iris action. And speed should not be a problem, or not much of one, processing is very fast, and should continue to not to be, as both the sophistication of the image analysis software (to figure out what to tell the iris to do) and the processing capability both increase. The fundamental problem is what a dynamic iris actually does, and why it inherently isn’t a great substitute for native contrast.

      Reaction time is normally slowed down or the iris would be jumping around many times a second. Different irises use different algorthims. With one, the iris may not be allowed to close at all, if there’s any part of the image that’s full white, if that white is more than 2% of the screen. Another may not even engage if there’s any part of the image over 90% brightness. And so on. Different types of scenes, and transitions between scenes, all pose different problems, and the firmware is going to have to get a whole lot better to provide the high levels of deepening blacks while keeping the iris action unnoticeable, or, as close as possible.
      In your example, what happens if all the lights go out except for one street lamp in the upper left corner – down the block… Do you shut the iris down anyway? Your example is easy. Real world is tougher.

      I still like your idea, though of pre-processing. Actually, it could be taken to still another level – which is for iris instructions to be embedded in the content – with the assumption that dynamic irises are out there in the market – but it would also work to a limited degree with dynamic code designed to emulate iris action (ie. Dynamic Black on entry level Optoma home projectors).

      On the other hand, if next gen LED light source projectors can actually map the light source to the display – so that each HD (1920×1080) pixel has it’s own light source, then the whole dynamic iris need should go away. -a

  • Greg Gallaway

    Perhaps panasonic skipped an IFA release to release a new 3d capable replacement to the 4000u at CEDIA? ;-)

    • Lisa Feierman

      That sure would be nice. My connections at Panasonic are almost nil since the reorg in the spring. I’m in touch with both their PR firm, and ad agency, and the most I’ve heard is that they may have some advertising dollars later this fall. That strangely sure doesn’t sound like a company planning to roll out some interesting new products, more likely updates to last years. Is there a PT-AE5000 coming? I have no idea.

      That Epson has new reflective panels however, means I’d be surprised if Panasonic didn’t have anything to say of interest (about projectors). On the other hand, especially if Panasonic were to go with the Reflective LCD’s from Epson for next gen, then it’s quite possible we wouldn’t see product until January (I’m just guessing), in which case Panasonic which has a truly HUGE presence at CES, might actually wait.

      I also have no clue yet, if the reflective panels will solve the problem for 3D, which is that 3LCD traditionally uses extremely heavy polarization techniques to get good contrast (plus the irises). Since 3D is now basically based on polarization, that’s why you’ve yet to see a single 3 panel, LCD projector doing 3D. But I’m sure hoping for some 3D 1080p projectors. -a

      I don’t think so, but, all conjecture… your guess is probably (almost) as good as mine. -art

  • Eli

    If it isn’t the Epsons, then its the Sim2 or Runco LED projectors? Maybe the TruVue Vango LED? I can’t think of any other projector other than the new ones that will be shown at CEDIA soon. Though I hope its the new Mitsubishi HC4000 given that you are watching sports on it for a while now!

    • Lisa Feierman


      Hmm, to paraphrase the Sundance Kid – “keep guessing, that’s what you’re good at”… What the hell is the TruVue Vango LED. Darn, I’m going to have to do a search (or are ya joshin me!?!)
      Actually I know the folks at Entertainment experience – (a number of old Kodak folk involved). I’ll be getting one of those to play with (one of these days). I’ve been yakking with them since they were first launching the company about 3 years or so ago. Interesting to see that the Vango is LED. Of greater interest though is will they be able to provide the Cinema quality content that their whole concept has been around. In other words, no “crappy” quality blu-ray, rather the same content that will be sent to the theaters. Expensive licensing, etc., but, you know the drill – garbage in, garbage out… and theoretically Blu-ray may be a big step from traditional DVD, but it’s still not up to the digital cinema versions.

  • Ryan Smith

    Any chance we are going to see this review the day before CEDIA? Less than 2 days to go but I still am in limbo. Just noticed the Epson8500UB dropped to $1799 today at one online retailer, but curious as to the pricing and reviews for the upcoming models. The waiting game….

    • Lisa Feierman

      show starts tomorrow… I’ll be doing a couple of blogs with my thoughts. Just no time now to do any long answers. -a

  • Jim dim

    hi Art (and all) I’m newbie on HC projectors. I’m planning to get one for my (light controlled) room and place it to a distance of 2,60(->84″) and connect it to a HTPC. so I have a short distance, not a very big screen but less problems with brightness..
    I don’t have much experience so I need your advise. I can find in my country the Sanyo PLV-z700 in a good price. i know it’s an old one but capable to get 1080/24p (which 24p is important to me). Otherwise I have to spend double and order (from other countries) a newer model (i.e. mits HC4000 or sanyo-plv-z4000 and others)
    Does it really worth for my case?
    (ps sorry I didn’t find any appropriate place to write my question)

    • Lisa Feierman

      Jim dim,

      That Sanyo is a nice projector it’s two years old, and it sounds like compared to your other choices, a real steal. It should make a great first projector. BTW, you mention the Mits HC4000 – as per the review, it’s basically the same projector as the HC3800 which was out at the same time as the Z700.

  • Lisa Feierman

    Glen, No, it’s not, but it’s not that big a deal. I can tell you that it’s the replacement for an existing model. And it definitely appears to be a good value.

  • Lisa Feierman

    No problem, I’m not in competition with them… (avs)

    I’ll be visiting SIM2 in a couple of days (at CEDIA), I’ll know more then. Look for blogs… -a