Sanyo PLV-Z700 1080p 3LCD Home Theater Projector Review

Sanyo PLV-Z700: Post Calibration

Creative Cinema mode (“best”) (lamp on Normal, Gamma -3, Iris fixed, all advanced features off) 675 lumens
Brilliant Cinema (same individual settings as above) 887 lumens
Dynamic (same individual settings as above) 1157

Of note, the post calibration measurement of Dynamic “brightest mode” is 12% lower than pre-calibration, and a bit below the average 1080p projector in brightest mode.

Z700 Brightness: Bottom line

With the PLV-Z700 you have a huge number of options. Let’s just say, that with iris and lamp in their “dynamic” adjusting modes, the projector can produce slightly better black levels, but at the expense of significant brightness. As you can see from above, we have a range on Creative Cinema, that is as low as 350 lumens and as bright as 675 lumens. That’s pretty extreme.

Perhaps more to the point – at 350 lumens, that makes the PLV-Z700 one of the least bright projectors in terms of “best mode”, and on the other hand, 675 lumens makes it definitely brighter than average. Currently, I would say that the average for best modes on 1080p projectors is right around 500 lumens.

Depending on how you set it up, will be a factor in how large a screen you can use. Down near that 350 lumen mark, you’ll want a screen 100″ diagonal or less, but defintely can go larger, with at least one of the irises not functioning dynamically.

PLV-Z700 Projector: Light Leakage

The Sanyo PLV-Z700 has only one notable light leakage issue. Light escapes from the left side (assuming you are looking from the front), from the fan exhaust. It’s not bright, but, if you are placing the Sanyo on a table (not likely), you wouldn’t want to sit on that side (actually, the hot air from the projector’s exhaust would be much more bothersome than the light).

PLV-Z700: Audible Noise Levels

The Sanyo Z700 is one of the quietest projectors around. Let’s just put it this way. If you aren’t happy with the audible noise levels of the Z700, then of the roughly 50 home theater projectors under $10,000, there are at most, 5 or 6 that are quieter, and only two or three, that are significantly so. Even with the lamp on full power, the Sanyo PLV-Z700 is quieter than most projectors running in their “low lamp, eco-mode”.

In other words, this shouldn’t be an issue, except for a very few who are fixated on even the tiniest bit of audible noise. As noted in the Sanyo PLV-Z60 review last week, my Sony PS3, that I use for playing Blu-ray discs, is dramatically louder (probably at least 6-8 db louder). Also noticeably louder, are the sound of heating or air conditioning coming out of the vents in the room.

PLV-Z700: Projector Screen Recommendations

Well, the Sanyo PLV-Z700 is an entry level 1080p projector. What that translates to, overall, is black level performance well below the best 1080p projectors under $10,000. You will have to make a trade-off decision, against overall brightness, in which your room layout (ambient light, and where it comes from), will be a factor. For those looking for the best image from the Z700, brightness issue notwithstanding, I’ll recommend any good High Contrast Gray surface. This type of screen will lower those black levels a bit, and make them more acceptable, than with a white surfaced screen.

I’ve viewed the Sanyo on both my Firehawk G3 (HC gray), and on my Carada Brilliant White (1.4 gain white surface). I definitely preferred the Firehawk for this projector, and that means HC gray surfaces in general are my recommendation.

Take your pick, every major manufacturer makes high contrast gray surfaces. If you need the lumens, go for one with a light gray, if you don’t, a darker gray will do even better on those black levels.

If your budget is tight – and you are looking motorized, look at screens from Elite, Da-Lite, Draper, Grandview, etc.

For fixed wall, all of the above, and you can add in Carada.

If budget is not a huge issue, definitely consider the Firehawk G3 or Greyhawk from Stewart. They are pricy though, with motorized screens costing far more than the Sanyo projector.

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