Sanyo PLV-Z4000 - Review Summary
A summary of the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
9/7/2010 - Art Feierman
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector - The Bottom Line
First things first. By the time I got to this page (the very last), the PLV-Z4000 is now shipping. Moving on - the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 as a solid projector is unquestionable. The real question for each person, is, does this projector make sense for you. Although this Z4000 is just the latest tweaking of the Z3000, keep in mind that originally the Z3000 sold for a bit over $3000. For this review, I watched the Z4000 for more than 30 hours in my primary theater (though never projecting larger than a 110" diagonal image). The Z4000, of course, may not be match for my JVC RS20 (3x the price), but, for example, in its Creative Cinema mode the way I have it set up, it's putting more lumens on my screen than the JVC, which is now due for a new lamp (2000 hours on the lamp).
A really beautiful thing about the Z4000 became obvious while I was watching pre-season football. This Sanyo projector may not be designed for larger screens, but keep it to an average size or smaller one, and its colors are in better balance and more pleasing than a lot of other projectors out there in their brightest modes. For example, I'd take the Sanyo's color over the Epson 8500UB, when comparing brightest modes. And of course, with Sanyo's "ultra high contrast" caliber black level performance, the Sanyo does very well on movies, especially compared to the older Z3000 which we just couldn't calibrate to have as good color as the PLV-Z4000.
The PLV-Z4000's Dynamic mode measured 873 lumens in brightest mode (mid-point on the zoom lens, just over 1000 lumens at wide angle). That may not cut it for a 128" screen like mine, but when I dialed the zoom down to about 100" diagonal (the most popular screen size out there I believe, for home theater projectors), the Sanyo performed "brilliantly". Well think of it this way. To fill the entire 128" Firehawk, I would need almost 70% more lumens to do just as good a job. That means, even the brightest projectors in brightest modes that we have reviewed, typically can't do any better on a 128" than the Sanyo can on a 100". So, if you get little else out of this review, consider that this Sanyo is a projector for smaller and medium sized screens. It's a fine product if you don't try to make it something it isn't (extremely bright). OK?
For movie watching, most of us will favor Creative Cinema mode, for the better looking dark scenes, but users likely want to set the Lamp to full, to maintain brightness, and possibly adjust the iris setting upward from -20, to perhaps -10, or even 0 for more lumens, if needed. If you aren't a "purist" try out some of the many dynamic controls. They all have "trade-offs" but learn what you like. (And try to avoid too much "over the top").
The Very Bottom Line: Sanyo PLV-Z4000 1080p 3LCD home theater projector
OK, it's not a mostly shiny new projector. It's just an improvement of "last year's model" at a new lower price. Let's talk about price at this point. From an MSRP standpoint, there actually hasn't been any movement of late, from the Z3000's last MSRP of $2495. But, MAP, the Minimum Advertised Price, is now $1995, and MAP tends to set the high online price. This puts the Z4000 in what was, in this past spring's Home Theater Projector Comparison Report, our entry level price class of 1080p projectors. It will still be on the high end of that category, but, for example, there was only one projetor in that class that could match the Sanyo's black level performance, and that one also MAPs at $1995. All's fair, it would seem.
There will be lots of new projectors coming out, but I'm encouraged by the much improved final color we were able to get from the PLV-Z4000, and the downward moving price.
The very bottom line, of course: If you are going to be sticking to small to mid-sized screens, the Sanyo is a well balanced projector, with a lot going for it. Look, if you want tons of lumens, this isn't the projector for you, but if what you are looking for is a projector that's nice and quiet, has impressive black level performance, is sharper than most, offers great placement flexibility, and has some pretty good (and vivid) color in both "best" and "brightest" modes, and if you've got the right sized room, and screen then: Bingo - you'll definitely want to seriously consider this Sanyo PLV-Z4000.
The PLV-Z4000 gets an award. Sanyo may have improved only little things, but the result was a better projector at a slightly lower price - more value. I considered at length our Hot Product Award, but, sports fan that I am, even with my points about this projector having plenty of lumens for a smaller screen, that it was still below average brightness in "brightest" mode, prevented me from doing so. The end result I am pleased to give Sanyo's PLV-Z4000 a Special Interest award. With an extra few hundred more lumens, though, the Z4000 could appeal to us larger screen folks too, and not just be a projector for "small and medium" screen folks.
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Pros
- Good color accuracy post calibration in "best" mode (extremely minor yellow push)
- Rich, dynamic image in "brightest" mode, with extremely good picture quality, for a brightest mode
- Excellent shadow detail performance
- Black level performance better than most projectors but not quite as good as the other ultra high contrast projectors, but it is low priced
- Images really "pop" on bright scenes, and mixed scenes with a good amount of bright areas
- Two HDMI 1.3 inputs,
- Creative frame interpolation for smooth fast motion, with 96/120fps frame rate
- Support for an anamorphic lens
- Very sharp image
- Plenty of user savable settings
- Excellent remote control
- Excellent placement flexibility with 2:1 zoom and lens shift
- Audible noise is extremely quiet in low power, and quieter than average in full power mode
- Very good menus
- Sophisticated gamma controls (Mike did not play with). Gamma was very good
- A lower cost ultra high contrast projector
- Quite respectable price/performance (9/2010) (These things change over time!)
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Cons
- More difficult to calibrate than most, and lacks separate color gain and offset for grayscale calibration
- Slight yellow/green push, noticeable on skin tones, may be correctable with adjustments in the Color Management section
- While black levels are most impressive the Z4000 is still at the lower range of what we call "ultra high contrast"
- Limited brightness - best with screens smaller than 110" diagonal
- Image tends to look a bit flat on dark scenes in Pure Cinema modes (I think that mostly due to running out of lumens)
- Documentation is weak in terms of explaining the effects of the many dynamic features, and how they interact with each other
Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Selection of inputs
- Physical appearance - basically a box, but with nice edges, monotone dark, flat gray, a clean look
- Lamp life (unpublished)
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