Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector
The PLV-Z3000 is one of the least expensive ultra-high contrast projectors out there. This 3LCD projector was first shipped in fall of 2008, so it's into its second year. What I said about the Z3000 last year is still fairly accurate today. Even the selling price hasn't fallen enough to put it in the entry level class:
"The PLV-Z3000 is currently the least expensive of the "ultra-high-contrast" projectors out there, and that alone, should make it a very popular and successful projector. It currently sells for just a little more than the cut-off of $2100 for this category. That also makes it one of the least expensive projectors in the category. Black level performance is not quite as good as the other "ultra-high-contrast" projectors, but it is definitely much closer to those, than any of the more basic home theater projectors, such as the Epson 6100 (now the 8100), or Sanyo's entry level PLV-Z700, and for that matter, better than vitually all of the DLP projectors anywhere near its price.
The PLV-Z3000 offers excellent placement flexibility. Its image is very sharp. In best mode it's a little below average in brightness, so keep it to smaller screens. On the other hand, it has good brightness in brightest mode, so it can handle that same screen with a fair amount of ambient light when needed. Sanyo provides a 3 year warranty."
Back to real time: Even in early 2010, the Z3000 seems to remain popular, especially among the enthusiasts. It offers great placement flexibility, a sharp image, and a lot of different and pretty respectable, color modes to choose from.
Actually, the Z3000, would be more interesting if it was just a few hundred less, so it could be in the entry level class. It would be back slugging it out with the Panasonic PT-AE4000 but have a fairly easy time against many of the other lower cost projectors.
Sony VPL-HW15 projector
The VPL-HW15 is Sony's least expensive 1080p home theater projector. Like the more expensive Sony projectors, the VPL-HW15 sports three LCoS panels. Last year, it's predecessor, the HW10, was the only LCoS projector affordable enough to make this Mid-Priced class. Not so this year. Even with a lower price, $2799 MAP, two other LCoS projectors came in under its price (but both right around $2500). Like all the other LCoS projectors the Sony is a fairly large home theater projector. Color handling is very, very, good. Skin tones are excellent!
Brightness, as is usual for Sony home theater projectors, is not a strong suit of the VPL-HW15 projector. Certainly the post calibration 538 lumens is average, or even a touch brighter, for a "best" mode, but the maximum we could find for a "brightest" mode was 837 rather blue lumens (color temp over 10K). All alternate modes that improve on the color of that brightest mode, measure 664 lumens or less. Like the Optoma HD8200, the Sony typically doesn't have any lumens to spare to deal with any ambient light, for sports or TV viewing. That makes this another projector for the "movies only, or mostly" crowd.
Sony relies on a dynamic iris to get the best possible black levels, and it does a very good job, though not exceptional. Black level performance can't quite match the best "ultra-high-contrast" 3LCD models, but is fine for those less concerned about having great dark scenes. The provided 2 year parts and labor warranty does not include any loaner or replacement program. It is a typical warranty for projectors in this price range. A few have shorter warranties, a few have longer ones. Overall, it's a really good projector for the money, but there's strong competition from other LCoS, 3LCD and DLP projectors in this class.