Sanyo PLV-80 W idescreen Projector - Image Quality
Bright! That's what the PLV-80 projector is all about. With more and more widescreen computers - especially laptops, in the hands of consumers and businesses, there is a definite need for widescreen projectors with more "horsepower" than the traditional under 1500 lumen rated home theater projectors (few of which even come close to 1000 lumens in their brightest modes).
I've split this section into areas for Home Entertainment and for Business use. If you are thinking about business usage, scroll down to the PLV-80 for Business
PLV-80 for Home Entertainment
If you are looking for the best possible home theater image quality for watching movies in a dedicated home theater or another room which you can fully darken, or have only extremely minimal ambient light, the Sanyo PLV80 is not the projector for you.
On the other hand, if you have a room you can't fully darken, or want to watch sports, HDTV, TV with a fair amount of lights on or even some outside light coming in, the PLV80 is probably exactly what you are looking for.
I used the Sanyo projector for many hours in both my viewing room, on a 128" diagonal screen, and on the 106" diagonal screen in my testing room. The PLV-80 did a very respectable job with my six recessed halogen lights pointing down, at full brightness. They are positioned so that very little light directly hits the screen. Still you can see from the image below, how brightly lit the chairs are, along with other objects lower down. The 2nd image is under the same lighting but is better adjusted to show what the projected image looks to the eye. You can see that the image is washing out just a little, and is very watchable. If I lower the dimmers in the room about half way, the room still has significant ambient light and the projector looks noticeably better. (Sorry, these are short time exposures, and I have no way to freeze HD cable signals, thus, the blurs.)
You will see a number of images below, with descriptions (and pictures) of the room lighting at the time of the various photos.
In the image immediately above, the projector is off, and the same six recessed lights are on. It gives you the best idea of how bright the viewing room is, when lit up.
I want to point out now, so I don't have to repeat it several times below, that trying to photograph the room with lots of ambient light, while there is an image on the screen, is tricky. If the room is exposed normally, so it looks right, then the projected image, is fully overexposed in the photo, so it looks blown out. That's why you'll see some images where you can see the ceiling lights are on, but the walls look very dark, so that the image on the screen looks correct.
Darker scenes in movies do not hold up as well, with the room's full lighting. Here is another pair of images - this time from Chronicles of Narnia. The first is with the same, full lighting on. Don't forget, too, that my screen is particularly large at 128" diagonal. If the screen was just 100" diagonal, then the image would be about 70% brighter. The second image is with lights off. (The color shift of the first photo, is not apparent when viewing the image, but an artifact relating to the exposure).
As you can see, the image is much richer below, but again, even under adverse lighting, this dim scene is watchable, although not great.
Now, I don't have any sports images for you, but I did do a number of images in the testing room, with the full lighting in there (a 10x16 foot room). These are bright images comparable to most TV content.
The first picture (right) is the opposite side of the room to indicate lighting. In a couple of the images you can see the front two recessed lights are on, but the walls look almost completely dark. That's because the exposure was set to best capture the projected image.
The next two images are Hi-Def from D-VHS tape at 1080i resolution. The first one of the Philadelphia boathouses is with lights in the testing room off, the second, the same fram with full lights on.
As you can see, even the image with lights on still looks very good (and the room is bright enough that you can comfortably and effortlessly read a paperback novel with really fine print).
Next is an image with room lights on, where you can see the walls/ceiling around the screen. The lights are full on, but the exposure as mentioned above, makes the room look dark. Look how good this image from the Grand Canyon looks.
I think by now I have made my point that the Sanyo PLV-80 can handle a decent amount of ambient light and still be a great solution for bright images associated with watching sports, typical TV, or for that matter gaming like X-box, PS2, etc.
Lets take a break from that now, and look at some of the image quality shots. Please note, I only had access to the Sanyo PLV-80 projector, for 3 days, and since I do not consider this a perfect movie watching device, I did not prioritize, or get around to calibrating the PLV80. So these images from DVD movies are all shot in Cinema mode, but all other controls are at default settings (brightness, contrast, RGB colors, gamma, etc.).
Flesh tones are very good for "out of the box" no adjustments, and should easily be further improved. You can tell from the last image - of Gandalf - that there seems to be a slightly greenish blue cast to the image (easily correctable).
Black Levels and Shadow Detail
Where the Sanyo comes up short is in black levels. Blacks come out a dark gray that is very noticeably lighter grey, than you find with the home theater specific projectors. As a result, you will notice the difference. In star scenes. Instead of black, or something very close to it, you have a visibly brighter background.
Despite the more limited ability to do blacks, the Sanyo still shines on most scenes. Consider the Chrysler building above. Any suble loss of detail in shadow areas that are hard to see, seems rather minor compared to the exceptionally bright and saturated overall image.
Because of the much higher threshold of black, more near blacks are lost in the background than are with better suited pure home theater projectors, but only in a fully darkened room. If you have even a small amount of abient light reaching the screen, a projector with much higher contrast and blacker blacks, will lose most of its advantage.
The two images above are good as a shadow detail test. The second (overexposed) image lets you see what details look like in the shed area on the right. You can find this same image on many of the other home theater reviews, for comparison.
So what we have here, in terms of the Sanyo PLV-80 widescreen projector, is a solution that can work extremely well in a home, for those seeking a projector that will do a decent but not exceptional job on movies, in fully darkened rooms. And you get a projector ideal for watching with some ambient light, notably sports, gaming, most television programming. (And who wants to watch football with a bunch of friends in a pitch black room). The Sanyo has enough brightness to do exceptionally well with modest lighting. I've known people who have put a plasma on the wall, and a drop down screen and projector in front of the plasma. They use the plasma for daytime viewing and the projector for movies at night.
A projector like the Sanyo PLV80 is probably a very good alternative to that two display solution!
PLV-80 for Business
That makes the PLV80 ideal for businesses needing a respectable amount (3000) lumens, for really good images in conference rooms, boardrooms, training rooms, churches, and so on.
In this regard, the PLV-80 really doesn't even have any competition, as there are no other widescreen projectors other than the older PLV70 with 2200 lumens or more that are under $12,995 list price (almost twice the PLV80), except for the company Eiki, who OEM's the PLV80 and sells it under their own name (with a $1000 higher list price).
Image quality on spreadsheets was excellent in native mode, with everything razor sharp. Colors were bright and accurate. The PLV80 does not suffer the problem of most DLP projectors of having very poor reds and yellows. Instead, the Sanyo PLV-80 has bright vibrant reds and yellows (as well as greens, blues, etc.) Most DLP projectors tend to have reds that look more like a red wine, and bright yellows tend toward a mustardy greenish yellow. DLP's when optimized for home theater give up a large amount of their brightness, and in doing so, are able to properly balance the colors. But when they go all out for brightness the problems with reds and yellows are obvious.
In addition the contrast is exceptionally good for a "business" LCD projector. Claiming 1000:1 in a world where most lcd projectors designed for business have between 350 and 700 to 1 contrast (most are 400:1 - 500:1), the contrast has to be considered superb for an LCD projector not designed specifically for home theater.
Color accuracy was also very, very good on business content fed through the analog computer port. This is a projector that would most likely meet the needs of companies extremely concerned with color accuracy, such as an architectural firm, graphic design company, perhaps even a post production house. The projector does perform very well (as mentioned on the first page), in theaters to show movie trailers and advertising.
So, if you have a business application, for a widescreen projector, need more than 2200 lumens, and don't want to spend $10,000, the Sanyo PLV-80 projector is not just the best game in town, but the only game in town.