Sanyo PLV-80 Widescreen Projector - Overview
5/9/2006 -Art Feierman
Is Sanyo's new PLV-80 a home theater projector? Or perhaps it's a business and education projector for people needing a widescreen front projector?
Background: The predecessor to the PLV-80, the PLV-70, I think may have the record for the longest life as a current projector, of any to hit the market. It has been around since the 2nd half of 2002. (Most projectors are "current" for about a year, and two years is a long life.) Technically, Sanyo hasn't even discontinued the PLV-70 yet. When the PLV-70 hit, is wasn't billed for home theater use, but as a rare widescreen business projector with (for its day) an impressive 2200 lumens. The PLV-70, though, really caught on in those early days as one of the few widescreen projectors available, and naturally found its way into thousands of homes, for home theater.
Today's dedicated home theater projectors are virtually all widescreen, and also are designed to maximize contrast and black levels, at the expensive of brightness. Not so the PLV-80. It's a hybrid projector that certainly has a huge following already in the business world as one of the very few widescreen projectors (without spending over $10,000) that offers more than 1500 lumens. With its 3000 lumens, the Sanyo PLV80 has the "horsepoewer" to perform "brilliantly" in boardrooms and conference rooms. The PLV80, in terms of commercial applications, is already widely used in movie theaters to run movie trailers and commercials before movies start.
And as a widescreen projector, with a great many bells and whistles, it also has a place in many homes. We will discuss the applications in detail, in other sections. At this time I just want to say that the PLV-80 is not a projector for the home theater enthusiast looking for the ultimate in picture quality, primarily for movie watching. Instead it will meet the needs of a great many people looking for a much brighter (than typical home theater projectors) solution, that will function well with a fair amount of room lighting. Traditional home theater projectors are designed to work in fully darkened rooms and do not like significant ambient light. The PLV80, by comparison will probably appeal to those who are big on watching sports, HDTV, and other content with lights on. I'd say that the PLV-80 makes a great Home Entertainment projector, rather than home "theater" which implies a darkened room.
Let's look at the basic specs:
Sanyo PLV-80 projector:
Technology: LCD, 3 1.2" panels, front projector
Native Resolution: WXGA 1366x768
Brightness: 3000 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.3:1 (Power Zoom)
Lens shift: Vertical (Motorized)
Lamp life: Sanyo never publishes lamp life
Weight: 19 lbs.
Warranty: 3 years
The Sanyo PLV-80 comes in a very dark gray case, with center mounted, almost fully recessed (power) zoom lens. There is also an infrared sensor on the front. There are two drop down and screw adjustable front feet, with the drop down releases located right above the feet, on the sides. There are a number of optional Sanyo lenses available for those installations where the standard, provided zoom lens will not work.
Moving to the the top of the PLV80 is an extensive number of buttons and lights on the control panel. You can also see the two small speakers at the top left and right corners.
Relating to the lens, there are three separate buttons toward the left side (looking from the rear) of the control panel area, for power focus, power zoom and power vertical lens shift. Press any of these and the appropriate text and graphic appear on the screen. To adjust any of these features, the Sanyo's arrow keys come into play.
Opposite those three buttons, on the right side, are the Auto PC adjust, the Image button and the Select button (Enter).
In the middle, a large redish power off/on button, and below it to the left, i sthe MENU, to the right, the INPUT, and below them, the four arrow keys. It's a very functional layout, and easy to use and navigate around. We'll explore the PLV-80's menus in the Performance section.
So that takes us to the rear of the Sanyo PLV-80 widescreen projector. The PLV80 is farily well endowed, but as a dual use projector, it could always have more inputs. That said, there is a analog computer input (top left) with a standard HD15 connector, and right next to it is the DVI-D digital input. From the photo, you may note that the area with both of these and Audio 1 is labeled INPUT 1. From the menus, you can select either of those two inputs (analog or digital) for INPUT1. If you want to hook up devices to both, you will need to toggle back and forth from the menu, the Input button on the control panel or the remote only knows it as Input 1.
INPUT 2 offers 5 BNC connectors, and you can select the full set of them for analog computer or video signals, or just use the traditional three for component video. You'll also note a 2nd audio input is there for INPUT 2
INPUT 3 lets you select from three different types of video signals. Use the yellow RCA jack on the left for standard composite video, use the same yellow, plus blue and red for an additional component video input. Lastly, on the right is an S-Video input, and of course a third audio input, in this case two RCA jacks for left/right, and the right jack will automatically take a mono signal and put it through both speakers, if there is nothing in the left audio jack.
As to indicator lights, from left to right; Lamp Replace, Temperature Warning, Standby/Ready, and Lamp indicator.
That takes care of the basic functionality of the hardware, it's time to consider image quality