Projector Performance - OtherSanyo PLV-Z4 projector review: Overview
Sanyo Z4 projector - Image Quality
Sanyo Z4 Warranty
Sanyo Z4 Summary, Pros, Cons
The Sanyo PLV-Z4 Projector Remote Control
Sanyo provides a small remote. Power as at the top left and the Light button at the top right. Generally the buttons are very tightly packed, the backlight not particularly bright, and most annoying, the remote doesn't seem to have much range. With the projector set up in my theater about 17 feet from the screen, and sitting 12 feet back, I find it almost impossible to bounce the IR signal off the front wall or screen, and get the projector to react. Instead, I have to essentially point the remote over my shoulder pointing it toward the projector. Of course there's a solution for this: Invest in a good learning remote and program all your equipment into it.
What I do like about the remote is that it has a freeze frame, and that you can directly control most functions from buttons on the remote, bypassing the menus.
Some of the key features with their own buttons: Lamp power, Preset modes, Lens Iris, Brightness, Contrast and Color, and the User button which brings up the 4 savable User settings.
The remote control is organized into four groups. Most of the controls are laid out in an intelligent fashion although I'm not sure why one or two buttons (Lamp and Reset) were placed where they ended up. They are near the top, but I would think they should be with the rest of the Image control buttons, below the arrow keys.
When you hit the Light button all the buttons light up for something like 8 -10 seconds.
But I digress, so, moving on to the next row, you'll find the Lamp button to control Lamp Brightness (Low or High), a Freeze image button and a Mute.
Then comes the all important Menu button, Enter (OK) and four arrow keys to control all the menu operations. Note though that the most commonly used menu items have their own buttons on the remote - in the Image Adjust area below the arrow keys.
Single button operation will allow you to enter menus for adjusting Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Iris options, and selecting the preset, or user savable options.
At the very bottom of the remote, are the 6 buttons for the six different sources that the Sanyo Z4 projector supports: two component inputs, one HDMI, S-video, Composite and Computer (PC).
All in all a perfectly respectable remote control, perhaps not the best layout, (and it lacks the learning remote functions that the Panasonic PT-AE900u has to control your other devices), but one which does a good job, and won't aggrevate anyone.
As I indicated at the beginning of this projector review, this new Sanyo home theater projector is sporting a number of feature/benefit enhancements compared to the older PLV-Z3.
The most significant physical difference between the Z3 and the new Z4 projector is Sanyo's move to a 2:1 zoom. Simply stated, that means for any given sized screen, the closest you can place the projector, is half the difference of the furthest away you can place it. With a zoom range that long, this projector will work in just about anyone's room. It also means, that unless you have an extremely long room, you likely have the option to place the projector on a shelf at the back of the room, instead of ceiling mounting or placing it on a table.
But while we are on the subject of the lens, this new Sanyo projector has a door that closes automatically when the projector is powered down. Nice touch. That will keep dust from accumulating on the front of the lens for the 80%-90% of the time that the projector is not used.
To focus the projector, simply turn the outer lens ring. I suggest powering up, and selecting the menu button, which will put some nice sharp text on the screen that will make it easy to get the focus right (concentrate on the part of the menu closest to the center of the screen).
There is a small bar, on the projector barrel which controls the zoom in and out.
As mentioned in the Overview section, lens shift allows you to maintain a rectangular image, avoiding the keystone effect. The Sanyo Z4 has more adjustment range than any other projector in its class, and that will allow you to mount the projector slightly above the screen if ceiling mounted, or below the screen on a table. The projector can be placed right side up (ceiling mounting is upside down), anywhere between the top and bottom of the screen.
Sanyo PLV-Z4 Lens shift:
The Sanyo has a great deal of range in terms of lens shift. You can basically place the projector anywhere from about half a screen height below the bottom of the screen, all the way to about a half screen height above the top. This wide range is a benefit for those who want the projector on a low table, or wish to keep it as close to flush to a tall ceiling.
Unlike the older Z3, which some units have a problem holding the vertical lens shift you dial in, the new Sanyo Z4 projector adds a Lens Shift lock control next to the vertical and horizontal lens shift dials. It seems to do the job as intended.
If you do use a lot of vertical lens shift (near the maximum), you will note a bowing of the image (it curves down very slightly from the upper left and right corners to the top center (if the projector is below the screen, and the reverse if it is above). This is the normal result of using a lot of lens shift, and should be similar to other projectors, however, the combination of a very wide range zoom and large lens shift, may make it a bit worse, than a projector, that has merely a longer throw and similar lens shift. The bowing will be more noticeable if the zoom is in wide angle mode (projector closest to the screen). Please note, virtually all projectors (even those without variable - that is - adjustable - projector lens shift), do have a fixed amount of lens shift. Otherwise the lens would need to be even with the center of the screen height to get a rectangular image. (Yes, you could use keystone correction, but it is far more detrimental to the image quality than the slight bowing caused by lens shift.)
When you power up the Sanyo PLV-Z4 home theater projector, a motorized door slides out of the way in the front to reveal the lens. This is a nice touch, and keeps dust from accumulating on the lens when the projector isn't in use.
Cleaning the projector
Sanyo PLV-Z2 users often complained that dust would get on the LCD panels and leave small soft smudges on the projected image (the opposite color of the LCD panel filter, so if dust got on the blue filter you would see a yellow blob...
With the Z3 projector Sanyo added three holes on the bottom to blow air across the three LCD panels. The new Z4 continues with this feature. To clean the panels, you can further improve the ability to clean the panels by first going to the settings menu, and follow the manual's instructions to run the fan, with the image muted, and then user the bulb blower to do the individual panels. Having the fan running, Sanyo says, makes the cleaning more effective.
Note: One of the advantages of DLP projectors over LCD projectors is that DLP projectors typically have a "sealed light path" which prevents any dust or dirt from getting in between the lamp source and the front of the lens.
The Sanyo is extremely quiet comparable to the Panasonic. That puts the noise levels down in the 22 db range in low lamp mode, and 26 db in full power. Noise is a non issue unless the projector is about 24 inches from your head, and even there it likely wouldn't be noticeable with any sound coming from your video source.
In low power mode, standing 5 feet in front of the projector, it is virtually silent.
Projector Screen Selection
In the Creative Cinema mode, the Sanyo Z4 (with the default -44 Iris setting) has just barely enough "horsepower" to handle my Stewart Firehawk (128" diagonal), with its 1.35 gain. Since some of the high contrast claimed by the Sanyo is "artificial", I still would recommend a high contrast screen, and wouldn't be opposed to recommending something like a Grayhawk (darker gray high contrast screen), for smaller venues - say, less than 100" diagonal. Generally, though, for about a 100" screen, if you have no ambient light, and dark walls, a matte surface screen should work fine. With light walls, you might want to have a screen that will at least reject some of the side light.
I viewed the projector on both a 100" Stewart Matte white surface, and also my 128" Firehawk (high contrast - light gray surface). Out of the box, the Sanyo appears a little dark on the Firehawk, but in calibrating the projector brightness and darkness, the overall result was very pleasing.
I would think for that 110" size, something like a Da-Lite HC Cinema Vision surface, (or Firehawk would do nicely). Ultimately though, this projector does do pretty well without the HC (high contrast) materials.
If you have a bit of ambient light (and light walls), and if some of that light is coming from the sides, a screen like the Firehawk should be an excellent matchup, although I would say that even with the large Firehawk's 1.35 gain, the Sanyo had to be in it's brighter modes to do a good job, and with the iris opened up, etc., the Sanyo does not perform at it's best. I'd say with whiteish walls, 110" would be almost as large as you go and still maximize image quality. Note, the Firehawk - a high contrast light gray screen has a higher gain, and reject's more side ambient light than most other HC projector screens, such as Da-lite's HC Da-Mat (1.1 gain). On the down side, the Firehawk is a more expensive screen, so you will have to wrestle with the tradeoff's in your own viewing area or dedicated home theater.
The addition of a 2nd component video input is a plus. With the direction of the industry heading toward digital, however, I would have preferred a second digital input (HDMI) instead of the 2nd Component input. You probably will be buying a home theater receiver that will have component switching (most over $300) and Digital switching (some starting at $500). Having a good receiver and its switching, negates the need for lots of extra inputs.