Posted on March 12, 2007 By Art Feierman
Well if you just read the previous section about the PLV-Z4, the Z5, is an evolutionary product. It is better than the Z4 in a number of ways, including improved black levels and shadow detail. It shares much of what made the Z4 so popular (and it too is one of the best sellers out there), of particular note; an extremely sharp image, excellent placement flexibility and a 3 year warranty!
Like the Z4, it too, needs some tweaking out of the box to get the colors just right, easily done by any non-techie person with a $40 basic calibration disk like the AVIA disk.
Back to sharpness for a second. The Z5 is so sharp, that I can only think of one, maybe two other 720p projectors that can match it, and the one that I’m sure of, sells for more than twice the price. In fact the PLV-Z5 almost seems closer to some of the less sharp 1080p projectors than it does to many 720p projectors when it comes to resolving details, and just having that “razor sharp” look.
n reality, current pricing allows the Z5 to just slip into the high side of the $1000 – $1500 price range, which, in this guide, separates it from competing with its arch-rival, Panasonic’s PT-AX100U, which commands a few hundred more dollars on the street. Since the Sanyo and Panasonic entries have been major competitors for years, here’s the rundown. With the Panasonic, you get a significantly softer image, but no pixel visibility at any watchable distance, and a significantly brighter projector. Sanyo’s 3 year warranty has a big edge on Panasonic’s one year
Interestingly the Epson Cinema 400 fits neatly between the Sanyo PLV-Z5, and the more expensive Panasonic PT-AX100U. While the Sanyo has the advantage in brightness, the Epson is almost as bright as the Panasonic, and definitely a step up in brightness from the Sanyo. Like the Sanyo, the Epson Cinema 400 has excellent placement flexibility.
The Epson is definitely a bit noisy in full power mode, enough to bother those particularly noise adverse, although it is just fine in its best (low lamp) modes. To counter Sanyo’s 3 year warranty Epson has a 2 year, but with an overnight replacement program in place for both years. When it comes to reliability, and support, Epson’s reputation is 2nd to none.
Overall, the Epson is a very good price/performance projector, that is sort of middle of the road in terms of positioning – not quite the brightest, not the sharpest, etc. But overall, it has no real weaknesses, produces an excellent image, and, from followiing the Epson 400 on the forums, is, overall extremely appreciated by its owners. It’s hard to go wrong with the Cinema 400! As an added bonus, it is one of the best looking affordable projectors out there.
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