Sanyo PLV-Z4 Projector Review: Overview
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.
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.
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