Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
Check out how the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 fared in our comparison report.
First, some comments before we get into the usual categories in this section.
The Sanyo relies on both dynamic lamp and iris to improve black levels. As is usual, little can be done to enhance an image where there is any significant amount of white or a fully bright color (such as brightest red), in a frame, but when frames are mostly dark with no very bright areas, the Sanyo is very effective.
The Sanyo projector also has a number of enhancement controls, each which impacts the basic image, and many jazz up, or make the image look more dynamic, richer, etc. Ultimately my goal is to first, identify how faithfully the projector handles content. Those other controls, including Dynamic Gamma, Auto Black Stretch, Contrast Enhancement, and Transient improvement, can do interesting things, but the trick is to start with a great, film-like picture.
That doesn't mean that it's bad to use these many controls. Ultimately, they are there so you can put the most enjoyable image possible on the screen. It's like listening to music. Some sound systems have too much bass, or are too forward in the mid-ranges. You are allowed to like such things. It doesn't make you a less wonderful person, but it does mean that you aren't a purist. The Sanyo is just loaded with such goodies. Since use of most of them is subjective, you'll have to play with them, and figure out what works for you.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Menus
PLV-Z2000 User Memory Settings
PLV-Z2000 Remote Control
Lens Throw and Lens Shift, Pixel Structure...
SDE and Rainbow Effect
PLV-Z2000 Projector Brightness
Z2000 Audible Noise Levels
Projector Screen Recommendations
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Menus
Sanyo's menus are extensive. That is a good thing. The layout is okay overall, but I have a complaint in trying to navigate the menus. Most notably, the Image menu has two pages, Image adjust menu has two pages (and then there's the Advanced menu), off the 2nd of those pages. The Setting menu, is worse, with 3 pages to scroll through to find what you are looking for. As such, I consider the menu structure to be okay, but nothing great, even though, it is very complete.
The first main menu, is the Image menu, which is very basic. It allows you to choose between the seven Preset modes (Pure Cinema...). Scoll down past them and you are on page two, where you can select from the user savable modes.
The Image Adjust, is where most of the adjustment action takes place. The first screen has the usual suspects - brightness, contrast, color (saturation), Color temperature, and separate R,G, and B controls. moving to the second page, you find some really choice goodies. Sure, Sharpness is there, and Noise reduction, but the big features are Lamp Control, Gamma control, and the Advanced Menu. From this screen,you can save settings.
The Advanced Menu is dripping with advanced controls. Here you can control the Iris, setting it to either Dynamic, or Manual, and you can adjust the manual range. Auto Black Stretch, Contrast enhancement, Transient improvement, and Dynamic Gamma, are all found here. Also, Color management.
The Transient Improvement feature caught my attention. It certainly has an impact on a scene. You'll have to be the judge as to whether it works for you. Here are two images, with just a difference of default (0), and a minimum difference set to 1, of the same frame:
Upon close inspection of these two images, you will note differences in what stands out. For example, running vertically about 1/3 from the right, the display of blue jewelery, looks different in the two images, in how it stands out from other objects to the left and right. Increasing the setting to 2, further changes the balance of the image.
I should note, that the Dynamic Gamma is a powerful tool, and one worth looking at, although the high setting is definitely a bit much. Note also, that too many dynamic tools, and they become more visible. With dynamic gamma engaged, along with dynamic lamp, and dynamic iris, and you'll start seeing their impact on scenes, to the point of too much going on. The goal is to have the best picture, but without visible artifacts from these features.
But, back to menus:
The next main menu is the Picture Adjust mentu, which controls Overscan, as well as the usual manual adjustments for an analog computer signal, if the projector doesn't do the best job automatically.
The Screen menu (not shown) is straightforward. It offers you a choice of each of the aspect ratios. There does not seem to be one for support of an anamorphic lens, but that may be hidden elsewhere, though I couldn't find any mention in the manual either. One interesting feature that few projectors have, is the type of stretching that are typically found on plasmas and LCDTVs to fill the whole width of the screen, when you are dealing with a 4:3 source. These modes typically stretch the image horizontally, but with more stretch on the left and right, than the center where it's more likely to be noticed. With a feature like this, you can fill the whole screen, but at least if you are watching basketball, if Shaq is in the center of the screen, he won't look like a 5' 8" dwarf with 4 foot wide shoulders, as is so common when you see regular definition TV in a sports bar, on a plasma.
The Input menu (also not shown) is next. It allows you to select the source, from the menu. This, I'll assume is primarily for those controlling the projector by computer or room controller, because the remote already has a separate button for each source.
The Setting menu is as extensive as the Image adjust. It starts with choice of menu languages, menu positioning (I moved it to the lower right), projector positioning (ceiling off/on, rear off/on), and a choice of Normal or Enhanced settings for each HDMI input. I was surprised at the effect on the image. By comparison, on my JVC, switching between the two settings seems to have virtually no impact on the image.
Lastly (not shown) is a very nice Information menu, which shows source, and resolution, and also aspect ratio, preset (or saved) mode, and Deep color (12 bit - HDMI 1.3), as well as lamp status (full bright, low, and two dynamic modes, aptly labeled A1, and A2. There is also lamp timer, and filter change timer reporting.
OK, that covers the menus. As I said to start, there's no shortage of options.
PLV-Z2000 User Memory Settings
Seven separate user savable modes, is more than enough. I usually complain that anything less than 4 is too few (unless the projector is near perfect out of the box). Seven, though does the trick for me, and should for you. Once you have created an optimum viewing setup, you can save it from the Image Adjust menu, on the 2nd screen.
PLV-Z2000 Projector - Remote Control
Sanyo offers up a very nicely laid out remote. It is medium, in terms of size, with the major controls and navigation in the top third, and tons of smaller buttons below. From the top:
Power is top left (press once for on, twice for off). Across from it, is the backlight button. Hit it, and all the buttons light up red. The red light is reasonably bright, although it's not as good a choice of color for making out the text on the buttons, as some others. Still, the backlight scheme overall, is better than most. (I hate dim backlights.)
Between those two buttons, and slightly below, is a Reset button. I'm not a fan of Reset buttons being in the "middle of the action", but I never managed to hit it accidently, so, maybe it's just fine.
Next comes the Menu button on the left, and complementary Back button to the right. Immediately below are the four arrow keys for navigation, in a circular layout, with the enter (labeled "OK") in the center.
Below the arrow keys to the left, is Screen, for toggling through the aspect ratio choices, and opposite it, the Info button, which brings up all the info I mentioned in the Menu section above..
That takes us to the array of small buttons. Moving down the remote on the far left are separate buttons for each source. That, by the way, is a nice way to do it.
To the right of the first source button are two image mode buttons. The first lets you toggle through the seven presets, and the second, through the seven user savable modes.
Below those two, a series of buttons allowing direct access to control brightness, contrast, sharpness, color temp, color saturation, and also a button marked Image Adjust, which lets you toggle through each of those adjustment areas.
Four more buttons, and we're done. Down toward the bottom, one for toggling between lamp modes (bright, low, A1, A2 dynamic modes), a Logo button for bringing up a user savable logo, a Freeze frame, and lastly, a No Show button for muting the screen.
Overall, a very good remote, better than the majority. It also had good range. By comparison, I found it to be a much better remote than that from the competing Optoma HD80 / HD8000.
PLV-Z2000 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 has a 2:1 zoom lens which is typical for home theater projectors using LCD technology.
In order o fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, the front of the projector needs to be between 9 feet 10 inches, and 20 feet.
The Sanyo has excellent vertical and horizontal lens shift range, although the manual doesn't provide specifics other than a poorly labeled chart. It looks like the vertical lens shift is +/- 100%, which means that the bottom of the screen image can be one half screen height above the top of the lens (or if ceiling mounting the lens can be 1/2 screen height above the top of the screen surface). For that same 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, I estimate that the projector (measured from the center of the lens), can be placed approximately 24.5 inches below the screen surface, or the same amount above the top of the screen surface, or anyhere, in between. Those who are ceiling mounting and have higher ceilings, will appreciate the huge vertical lens shift, as it will mean you can keep the projector up higher, so that it doesn't have to hang down on as long a pole, as almost any other projector would require.
As always, use of horizontal lens shift impacts the range of vertical lens shift, but since few people need more than a couple of inches of horizontal shift, it shouldn't be an issue.
Both the lamp and filter can be changed without removing the projector from a ceiling mount (assuming you are using one.) Access to both are on the back of the PLV-Z2000.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 SDE and Rainbow Effect, Pixel Visibility
Since the PLV-Z2000 is an LCD projector, and therefore lacks a spinning color filter wheel, there is no annoying Rainbow Effect (RBE), that does bother a small segment of the population when watching DLP projectors.
Screen Door Effect, due to visible pixels really isn't an issue either, since this is a 1080p projector with inherently small pixel structure. You'll have to sit closer than what anyone would consider normal for this to be a problem. While we're on the subject, as an LCD projector (3 LCD panels) (and this is also true, for LCos projectors like the Sony Pearl, and JVC RS1, RS2, or for that matter, also 3 chip DLP projectors), mounting of the panels can cause some mis-alignment. The Sanyo was off slightly with the blue panel being slightly off to the right, but by far less than one pixel width. On my test unit this is definitely well below visibility at anything resembling normal seating distances.
Evenness of illumination of the image was also very good. In some instances with LCD and other three panel projectors you might detect differences in color temperature on different parts of the projected image. The Sanyo was very good.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Projector Brightness
The most significant complaint I have of the Z2000, is its brightness, which is below average. We haven't yet tested the new PT-AE2000U from Panasonic, whose predecessor, the PT-AE1000U, was last year's "King of Dim", of the 1080p projectors. The new PT-AE2000U is supposed to be a notch brighter. We shall see.
These measurements were all taken with the zoom lens close to the middle of its range. As a result, at shortest (wide angle) distance, the projector will measure about 25% brighter, and almost 25% dimmer in full telephoto (where the projector is the furthest possible from any given sized screen).
If I recall correctly, he Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is a little brighter than that Panasonic AE1000U, but that's about it. Everything else out there can produce more lumens, in its best mode, and for that matter, also in brightest mode. Here's how the Z2000 measures out:
Pure Cinema Mode: 363 lumens (lamp on full), 248 lumens in low lamp. That's about a 30% drop, which should be fairly consistent in any mode. 30% is also a larger drop than most projectors which drop 15-25%. For the other modes, I'll only report full lamp, and you can figure out low power if you desire.
Creative Cinema: Not much brighter, with 398 lumens
Brilliant Cinema: 572 lumens, pretty good, but then image quality isn't quite as good as Pure Cinema. Still, I imagine many buyers of the Z2000 will spend plenty of time watching in Brilliant Cinema mode, and still throroughly enjoy the experience.
Natural mode: 521 lumens (a good mode for general video viewing, as opposed to movies).
Living Room: At 324 lumens, this mode, the best of TV/HDTV viewing modes, was, surprisingly, not very bright.
Dynamic: At 487 lumens, this mode, was definitely very cool (bluish) as is typical of modes designed to cut through ambient light. Watchability was respectable, and can be improved with little loss of brightness
Vivid: This is the brightest mode of the PLV-Z2000, and its ugliest. I measured 601 lumens, but could never stand to watch anything on it. With some good adjustments, this could probably be turned into something significantly more watchable, without giving up more than maybe 50 or so lumens.
Even in full wide angle zoom, the projector never got close to its claimed 1200 lumens. Tsk, Tsk. (Of course, if it did, it would be brighter than average, not dimmer.)
I should note, that several of the dynamic or transient features I've previously mentioned, do impact brightness, and will increase the lumen output, but never drastically.
To give you a good idea of the relative brightnesses of the three movie modes, here is the same image photographed at the same exposure for all three. I started with Brilliant Cinema, so the other two look much darker:
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PLV-Z2000 Projector - Light Leakage
Excellent. Never noticed any stray light coming out the front, through the lens. There is a tiny amount of light coming out of the venting on the left side (looking from the front) of the projector. No issues.
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Audible Noise Levels
Ahh, LCD projectors. For the most part, they are much quieter than the DLP competition, and the Z2000 is no exception (Epson's have, in the past been the noisiest of the LCD models).
The Sanyo is about as quiet as projectors get. Their claim of 19 db, in low lamp mode, rivals the Mitsubishi HC6000, and is much quieter than anything else out there. In full lamp power, the PLV-Z2000 is still pretty quiet, in fact about as quiet as almost any DLP projector in low power mode. Bottom line - no worries here.
PLV-Z2000 Projector Screen Recommendations
I really like a high contrast light gray screen to complement the PLV-Z2000 home theater projector. Problem is, the projector has few lumens to spare. Since my own HC gray is a Stewart Firehawk G3, which does high contrast gray differently than other less expensive screens, it has the tendency to make the projector seem brighter than other "similar" type screens. (Most gray screens claim gain (brightness factors) of 0.6 to 0.9 gain, while the Firehawk claims 1.3 gain).
What my Firehawk screen brings to the party is deeper blacks, which are much appreciated. As I've said, the black levels of the Sanyo are about average, and this screen definitely helps. For those with tighter budgets for screens, you'll have to weigh improving black levels against extra brightness. Watching at about 100" diagonal on my 106" Carada Brilliant White, (1.4 claimed gain), I found the blacks to be just a bit too gray. You are aware of the "grayness" of the letterbox blacks.
If you were to go with the largest screen I can recommend - about 110" diagonal, with something like the Carada, that should work well, because at 110" diagonal, the overall image is a little less bright than at 100", and that means the blacks are just a little blacker, and that, for me, crosses the threshold, making it more acceptable.
So, Firehawk would be my top choice, if you have the budget. If going 100" diagonal or less, I'll stick with recommending other HC Gray screens, including those from Elite and Da-lite, but stick to those with lighter gray surfaces, and higher gains. On the white screen side, The Carada will work, at the larger size. I might especially recommend, also, the Da-lite HCCV (High Contrast Cinema Vision), with its 1.1 gain, which should be an excellent choice, even though I don't have one here for comparison.
For those wanting larger screens that 110", you are going to definitely go with some really high gain screens, say 1.8 or higher, which will limit your viewing cone (where you can sit for a good image).
PLV-Z2000 Projector Measurements and Calibration
The Sanyo actually was pretty good out of the box, in Pure Cinema mode. Ideally we want D65 - 6500K color temperature for movie watching.
The color temperature varied a lot from white (100 IRE) of 7036K a bit cool, but the middle ranges from light gray to medium gray were dead on, while dark grays had a slight shift to red (that' should read extremely slight, essentially unnoticeable:
80IRE (light gray) 6575K
50IRE (medium gray) 6500K
30IRE (dark gray) 6240K
Even the 7036K for white, is considered fairly close, so the only adjustment I ended up making was to reduce the green value to -1. How easy can you get?
Removing that small amount of green was all it took to end up with beautiful skin tones, and overall color. There is, however extensive color controls, so one should be able to reduce the white's color temp, and bring up the 30 IRE, for a much tighter range. Still, it looked great like this.
For the other modes, as is usual, I made no attempt to fully calibrate the grayscale. Here are the white temperatures, for each:
Creative Cinema: Rather too cool, 7673K, but changing color temp, to Low 2, worked wonders, and resulted in 100 IRE of a near perfect 6548K. Dropping green to -7 solved an overly strong green problem in this mode.
Brilliant Cinema: Set also to Low 2, resulted in 7152K, and green needed some work here as well.
Natural: White measures 9420K, way too cool for good viewing of TV, etc., dropping the Color Temp, once again, to Low 2, really helps, with a very respectable color temp of 8249. Still slightly high for good TV, HDTV, it looked pretty good.
Living Room: This setting demands Low 1, for best grayscale, which reduces the color temp, from a default 8896K, to an excellent 7695K!
Dynamic: Hmm! A surreal 11,178K temperature for white, and even Low 2, only reduced that to 10196K, this mode, for optimum performance will need further adjustment, using lower level controls. Still, it is a typical Dynamic type mode, where accuracy is sacrificed for the horsepower and dynamics to cut through ambient light.
Vivid: Ugh! 11674K. And so far from anything realistic that I couldn't watch it without performing major surgery on the settings. Life is too short. Way too much blue and green. Way, way too much.
PLV-Z2000 Image Noise
Very nice. I ran the usual HQV HD test disk, and the PLV-Z2000 performed well on every test. For all my viewing of DVD/hi-def DVD, I used my Sony PS3. I tested at both 1080i input from the Sony, and 1080p. Both produced excellent results. I briefly tried 480p upscaled from my old Oppo DVD player (971), on the standard HQV disc, and that too was good. I did not try 480i - which is the only output available on older cheaper DVD players.
Let me put it this way. If you have a DVD player that can't even output 480p, find another room for it! Go spurge $50-$100 for a higher quality newer set, and many of those are upscaling DVD players. You just can't expect great results with your $2000+ projector from a 3 or 5 year old DVD player, who's performance level today, is worth about $24.95.
We're all done here. Your next stop is a couple of brief paragraphs about warranty, and then, from there, to the Summary page, where we'll talk more about strengths and weaknesses, and competitive issues, and summary with The Bottom Line.