Sanyo PLV-Z3 – Overview

I really am impressed with the image quality of the Sanyo Z3 projector. Like many projectors designed for home theater, the Z3 has a wide assortment of preset image modes, with names like Creative Cinema, Video, Dynamic, to name a few. One of your biggest challenges is figuring

out which one (or two) worke best for you.
As I varied sources, I often found a different setting seemed to be better. Not surprising as contrast, brightness, color saturation, the variable aperture and other items can change from one setting to another. For most of the D-VHS tapes, I preferred Creative Cinema, but Video and Natural also did very well, as did Cinema when viewing DVDs.

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I suspect that video generates a bit less contrast, but provides a brighter dynamic image than most of the other “highest quality” settings. Other settings, like Dynamic, can be the right one to use, when there is a fair amount of ambient light, as you might choose to have if viewing sports, or other content lacking dark scenes.

On flesh tones, in general, I found the Sanyo Z3 to be overall better, out of the box than the Panasonic AE700u, which tends to have a yellowish cast. Of Above: Very good shadow detail – note the openings (on right side) in the parking structure (dark gray building in upper center 
course properly calibrating the projectors with the Avia or other calibration disk, will tend to diminish any differences. I am able to project two projectors side by side onto a custom Stewart screen. Here you see the Sanyo Z3 on the left and the Panasonic AE700u. Although you will see side by side the same images from both projectors, at the time I shot those, I was working with a different Panasonic AE700u. For “fairness” both projectors were in their default settings, with Creative Cinema selected on the Sanyo projector, and Cinema 2 selected on the Panasonic projector.

For overall color handling, I find the Sanyo to be the best of the $2000ish selling price projectors I have worked with, which include the older Sanyo Z2, the Panasonic L500u and AE700u, the InFocus Screenplay 5000. BenQ’s 7800, a somewhat more expensive, but one notch lower resolution projector that uses the Matterhorn (1024×576) DLP chip, edges out the Sanyo on color realism, and image immediately above: Rocks on Panasonic(right) have yellowish cast. “film-like” qualities, but the Sanyo definitely appears to offer a sharper image.

Pixels are somewhat more visible on the Sanyo than the Panasonic AE700u, but you should be comfortable with the Sanyo, as pixels get very hard to spot at all, at 1.25x screen width, and at 1.5 times, they are basically gone on all but credits. If you go with a 100″ diagonal 16:9 screen that translates to 9.2 and 10.9 feet respectively.

Image on the left does an excellent job on greens, and the pooling water captures the color of limestone enriched water.

Overall, once you calibrate (it’s pretty easy, but will take you an hour – mostly to figure out how to follow the disk’s instructions – I speak of the AVIA disk which I use), you will be extremely satisfied with the image quality of the Z3 home theater projector. The Z3 is an excellent demonstration of how today’s $2000 projector has surpassed projectors selling for 4 – 5 times the price just 3 years ago.

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