Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector Review

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector Screen Recommendations

The PLV-Z4000 from Sanyo, being almost identical to the older Z3000, gets the same basic screen recommendations.

I prefer to recommend a high contrast light gray type screen to improve black levels slightly, if you are a movie/home theater enthusiast. If you’re not an enthusiast, you are probably happy as a clam (why are clams thought to be happy?), with the PLV-Z4000 projector’s black levels on a white surface screen. Still, as long as screen size doesn’t become an issue, I’d recommend the HC gray screens. Let’s say that, in general, a high contrast gray screen would be ideal for screen sizes below 100 inch diagonal. For over 100 inch diagonal screens, better to stick with a white surface with some gain if you want to use Pure Cinema mode, but I recommend Creative, so you can go larger. If not concerned with the already very good black levels, you’ll get more bang from a white surface with some gain, like the Carada Brilliant White (gain 1.4) Stewart Firehawk (about 1.3 depending on version), and so on.

Of course, if you are stuck with some side ambient light, the High Contrast gray screens are the way to go, but keep in mind the screen size limitations.

If you are a bit less critical about ultimate image quality, you can run the PLV-Z4000 in Brilliant Cinema mode as your “best” mode, and now you have a projector with above average “best” mode brightness.

You can, of course go with higher gain screens, but remember they reduce the viewing cone – best seating – in terms of where you can sit (from left to right), before the higher gain really starts impacting the evenness of illumination. I wouldn’t recommend going above 110″ diagonal without a very high gain screen, but the Sanyo, again, for best mode movie watching, is happy at 100 inch diagonal, and will struggle above that in Pure Cinema mode. Using the almost as good and more fun Creative Cinema mode, 110 inch diagonal, becomes most reasonable. I strongly suggest dark walls, etc. if you are going above 100″ diagonal.

Some people, however, may choose to rely on the not quite as good Brilliant Cinema mode for movie viewing, as it’s about 50% brighter, which allows you more choice in screen options and can take you up another size if needed. Doing some adjustment is needed though. Brilliant Cinema is too cool, and improving will cost some lumens.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 - Competitors

How does the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market?

This section compares the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 home theater projector to the competition. Here you will find our quick impressions of the Sanyo projector as it stacks up to other popular projectors we have reviewed.

PLV-Z4000 vs. LG CF181D

So, here we have the Z4000 which is pretty much been around for almost years as the Z3000, but produces much better color than its predecessor, going up against the LG CF181D, which is pretty much a new projector. (If there were older projectors in the LG series, I don’t think they’ve made it to the US.)

The LG, if nothing else, is a whole lot bigger projector, and brighter too. The Z4000 is pretty small, about as small as good home theater projectors get (that aren’t single chip DLP’s – as some of those are a bit smaller still). The Sanyo has a very slight placement advantage by virtue of a touch more zoom lens range – 2:1 vs. 1.8:1. The LG and Sanyo can be similarly close, but the Sanyo can sit a couple feet further back (for a 100″ screen) if need be. Both have lots of vertical lens shift, but the LG doesn’t offer any horiztonal shift. (Using horizontal limits the amount of vertical, and vice versa.)

When it comes to brightness, the LG, when comparing “best” modes, smokes the Sanyo. It’s got about 3x Pure Cinema (not that we’re concerned with that), but it’s still far brighter than Creative Cinema on the Sanyo. I don’t consider Sanyo’s Brilliant Cinema to be a serious “best” mode compared to the LG.

When it comes to how bright you can go, the Sanyo is a bit below average, while the LG is one of the brightest around, anywhere near the price.

When it comes to the picture, I like the LG’s big, wide open, kind of “looks right”. The Sanyo is perhaps a bit more critical, the LG the more forgiving of the two. Both, however, have great looking skin tones.

Where the Sanyo takes over is on those dark scenes. The Sanyo dynamic iris, first of all, is one of the smoother ones. Well, they’ve been working this setup for a while. The LG’s iris also is pretty good. The Sanyo, however does deliver the blacker blacks. While the Sanyo is toward the low end of what I consider “ultra high contrast”, the LG, couldn’t make the cut. While we’re talking image, I’ll also give the Sanyo the slight advantage in image sharpness.

Between these two you have some key trade-offs, the LG being a very bright projector in “best” movie mode, compared to just average, and the Sanyo a tad sharper, and delivering better black levels, will “shine” on dark scenes. The Sanyo CFI works with 1080 60 signals for motion smoothing, the LG’s foolishly does not. That’s when you want it most (HDTV sports). If you are a large screen person, obviously you are leaning toward LG of these two, but for an average to small screen, the Sanyo will have a good following. And for the cautious, Sanyo offers the longer warranty – three years vs. two.

The raw power advantage really works fo the LG CF181D making it a no contest on larger screens, but on small to medium screens, and decent lighting control, the Sanyo is prepared to do a better job by virtue of sharpness, and better blacks.

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 vs. Mitsubishi HC3800, HC6800, HC7000

The Sanyo is available online, only the lowest cost of the three Mitsubishi projectors – the HC3800 is available online. The other two, the HC6800 and HC7000 are local dealer only, and significantly more expensive.

The Sanyo easily wins the black level wars against the HC3800 and even the HC6800, (which I ran very quickly side by side with the Sanyo, before shipping it back), while the HC7000 will best the Sanyo Z4000 as it did the Z3000.

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