Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector Review

The HC3800′s strength, is being far brighter. In fact its brightest mode with Brilliant Color on, is brighter than anything the Sanyo can do in any mode. Like the LG, brightness is a dominant feature of the HC3800. The HC3800 is also every bit as sharp as the PLV-Z4000.

Of course, the HC3800 is a single chip DLP projector with limited placement flexibility and the Sanyo is about as flexible as they come. The HC3800 is fairly noisy, certainly compared to the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 projector.

That makes the Mitsubishi HC3800 a better choice for movie viewers (or anyone) that want a larger screen, but aren’t perfectionists when it comes to black levels. For those with small to medium screens and into having their dark scenes look better, (more dynamic, richer), the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 can deliver on that.

The Sanyo may have a sharper than typical image, but the Mitsubishi’s are even better still. Sharpness, however is close enough to be a non-issue for most.

The HC6800 is theoretically more expensive, and available from local dealers only. The PLV-Z4000 will probably show up in some Big Box house – you know – Best Buy, Costco, WalMart, Fryes, but mostly will sell online, for less than the Mitsubishi. The HC7000 is even more money, but perhaps the closest competitor, in that it is the most similar.

That’s right, both the PLV-Z4000 and the HC7000 are below average in brightness in both modes, both are particularly sharp for LCD home theater projectors, and both are ultra-high contrast projectors with impressive black level performance, though the HC7000 is better at it. Think of the HC7000 as almost the “step up” projector to the Z4000, better, similar, and more money that is pretty much justified by the difference in performance.

One last thought – Sanyo is the winner against all three Mitsubishi’s if you like creative frame interpolation (CFI) to smooth out the action. It’s the only one that has true CFI and can take source material to 96hz or 120hz.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700

This is easy. You get better black levels, up to 120 fps output, and creative frame interpolation from the top of the line PLV-Z4000, just like you did with the Z3000.

Both projectors are similar in brightness.

Bottom line: Get a better overall image with the Z4000, and less motion blur, but overall, these two projectors are very similar, including brightness. If you are image performance oriented, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 will be worth the extra money. But, if you can live without CFI, and not as good black level performance, the Z700 will serve (and save) you nicely for significantly less.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 vs. BenQ W6000

I’m going to keep this one short. Consider what I just said about the Z4000 compared to the Mitsubishi HC3800. Then consider that the W6000 is sort of like an HC3800 but: Sharper, Brighter, Blacker Blacks, Has CFI, and has lens shift and more placement flexibility.

Uh-oh, those “extras” pretty much covered all the advantages the Z4000 had over the Mitsubishi, so what’s it got compared to the BenQ W6000?

Not too much, I’m afraid. The Sanyo is a whole lot quieter than the W6000, and after that, I’m almost scratching my head. Well, not quite. the W6000 calibrates nicely, but I’ll give the Sanyo the overall edge in terms of color accuracy and skin tones. That said, the W6000 is no slouch, but, for example, both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones exhibit better skin tones on the Z4000, in Men In Black. I don’t find the production qualities of the disc to be anything to write home about, and in this case, the W6000 always looks a little off, while the Z4000 seems a little less so…

There are a whole lot of Sanyo projector enthusiasts out there, as Sanyo’s been a leader for years. This latest iteration fits nicely, into why many owners tend to be loyal, but then, those with earlier Z’s including the: 700, 3000, 2000, Z5, Z4, Z3, Z2, Z1, all have one thing in common: None of the Sanyos have ever been overly bright models. Sanyo has always focused on the largest segment of the home market – 80″ to 110″. Yes, you can go a lot larger with a serious high gain screen, but there are trade-offs to consider.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8100 UB and 8500UB

This is pretty easy to tackle both Epson’s at once. After all, the core differences are just two fold: The 8500UB has better black levels, and also offers Creative Frame Interpolation.

The Sanyo fits nicely between the two Epsons in terms of black level performance, but defintely closer to the Epson 8500UB, which still has the best black level performance I’ve seen under $4,000.

They are extremely similar in placement flexibility, and all lens functions are manual with both. The Epsons will out muscle the Sanyo in “best” modes by a fair amount, but not huge. When comparing “brightest” modes, the Epsons will again have the advantage – in fact, a dramatic one between their two Dynamic modes. That said, I like the Sanyo’s color balance better than the Epson’s in “brightest modes”. That said, Epson’s Living Room mode will still be a good bit brighter than the Sanyo’s Dynamic, and look better.

Let’s keep it simple. The Sanyo costs a few hundred less than the 8500UB, can’t quite match the blacks, and can’t work with quite as large a screen, but is sharper, has a longer warranty, and a few other advantages.

The Epson Home Cinema 8100 is far less money than the Z4000, as it is now getting down near $1000. It can’t match the Sanyo’s dark scene abilities, or sharpness, but, like the 8500UB, is brighter. The 8100 lacks CFI.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 vs. Panasonic PT-AE4000

Panasonic and Sanyo have been going head to head for years. That’s interesting in light of the fact that over in Japan, Masushita (Panasonic) purchased Sanyo about a year ago. Panasonic hasn’t indicated if they will replace the PT-AE4000 this fall, we’ll have to wait and see. Last year, Panasonic brought us the PT-AE4000 which was a step of from the older PT-AE3000 I had originally compared the Z3000 to.

Both now have MAP prices of $1995. Likely the Sanyo might street for a little less, however. The dealers have never had much wiggle room with the Panasonic projector.

When it comes to placement flexibility these two are about a tie, both sporting 2:1 zoom lenses (the Panasonic’s zoom and focus are motorized), and lots of manual lens shift.

Relating to the picture aspect ratio, however, the Panasonic is alone out there, with their automatic setup to “emulate” using an anamorphic lens. This is attractive to those wanting a cinemascope (wider) screen than the usual HDTV shaped 16:9 screen. You could actually do the same thing manually with the Sanyo, if you wanted to, but, if mounted, that probably won’t be convenient.

Picture quality wise, I favor the Sanyo slightly in terms of a slightly more dynamic looking image. Their array of dynamic features is still almost overwhelming, so if you like to play… But then the Panasonic has its own magic to play with, in the form of their waveform monitor (and dynamic features). The Panasonic has better CMS, but ultimately they both calibrate nicely.

From a brightness standpoint, it’s really hard to find home theater projectors less bright than the PLV-Z4000 in its Pure Cinema mode. But, in Creative Cinema, which we recommend, brightness is close to average, but still a bit below the Panasonic. The Panasonic again has a slight advantage in brightness in its brightest mode.

Black levels should be roughly comparable, with the Panasonic having the slight advantage (going to the Epson 8500UB, for example, from the Panasonic is a large jump in performance compared to the difference between the Sanyo and Panasonic).

Despite the slightly less lumens, the Sanyo image typically has more punch, with or without comparable dynamic features engaged. I’ve always found the Panasonic a little lackluster – lacking in “Pop and Wow”. It’s a tough call, but if I was putting an 80 or 92″ screen in my bedroom for example, I’d personally probably pick the Sanyo (because of the more dynamic feel, without being over the top), though I realize more would favor the Panasonic overall.

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