Sanyo PLV-Z60 720p 3LCD Home Theater Projector Review: Overview

The PLV-Z60 is a solid, slightly superior replacement for the aging Z5. It offers a slight improvement in brightness (mostly in the brighter modes), a modest improvement in black level performance, and claims the same, very low audible noise levels as the older Z5. The Z60 supports 24 fps content, which means no 3:2 pull-down issues when watching movies “judder”, a real improvement. In a nutshell, the Z60 is an improved version of the Z5, but does not break any new ground, other than 24fps support, and ultimately Deep Color, a feature increasing the color palette size, that will hopefully soon start shipping on Blu-ray DVD titles.

This is not surprising as all the “high performace” improvements seem to be reserved for 1080p projectors, as 1080p now easily outsells 720p home theater projectors. The continuing drop in prices of 1080p projectors now have many manufacturers with only one 720p projector in their lineup, and, typically two 1080p projectors – one, often with similar performance (except for resolution) to the 720p models, and one with all the performance bells and whistles. Sanyo is no exception, with their fall lineup now consisting of the PLV-Z60 at 720p, and the new PLV-Z700 (our next review), as a base 1080p projector, and the just announced PLV-Z3000 as their higher end 1080p projector entry.

It should be noted, that many manufacturers are now replacing their 720p projectors only every other year, instead of annually.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities

Time to take a look at the individual strengths and weaknesses of the PLV-Z60, and from there, I’ll comment on how it stacks up to the competition.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Projector: Pros

  • Very sharp image for a 720p projector
  • Very good “out of the box” color accuracy, in “best” mode – Pure Cinema
  • Although Pure Cinema is not very bright, Creative Cinema does a very good job after calibration and is about 70% brighter
  • Very natural image quality after calibration
  • Very good black level performance
  • Low image noise
  • Extensive color and gamma controls
  • Good, though small remote control
  • Nice menu layout, easy to navigate (just remember many menus have two pages)
  • Very quiet operation
  • Door slides to cover lens when projector is off, keeps dust, etc. off of the lens
  • Designed so an end user can easily remove a dust blob, if dust gets into light path
  • Great placement flexibility, thanks to 2:1 zoom, and lots of lens shift
  • Support for 24fps source material, avoids 3:2 pulldown “judder”
  • Excellent warranty – 3 years, with fast turn-around
  • Least expensive current 1080p projector on the market (as of 10/08)
  • Very good value proposition for those who do not need a brighter projector

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Projector: Cons

  • Other than Pure Cinema, most modes definitely cry out for a basic end user calibration, with the usual AVIA or DVE-HD disc. (it really isn’t difficult – step by step instructions)
  • One of the least bright projectors around

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Projector: Typical Capabilities

  • Manual (on disc only)
  • Lamp Life – an assumption – as Sanyo never publishes lamp life ratings
  • Zoom and lens shift range – compared to other 3LCD home projectors

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Competitive Aspects

I’m going to keep this rather shorter than usual. As I pointed out, while there are still plenty of 720p projectors out there, many companies are replacing them only every two years. Panasonic, in fact, didn’t replace their PT-AX200U this year, and last year, they basically only improved the game mode over the older PT-AX100U. As a result, in the 720p space, there are fewer projectors, and most likely it’s a process of elimination, rather than a battle over the finer points of performance:

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