Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports

Watching your new home theater projector is not just about watching film and digital content in a darkened (as fully as possible) room. There are times when friends are over, and it’s time for football, or Olympics, or US Open, or perhaps just lots of spectacular content on channels like Discovery HD, Smithsonian HD, Travel HD, etc. Let’s take a look:

Sanyo PLV-Z4000 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports

I am extremely pleased with the PLV-Z4000’s Dynamic mode. Colors are pushed a bit, but that makes sense, as you would be using the mode to cut through ambient light. Color balance is better than found on most “brightest modes”. In addition, the Sanyo has a couple other “bright modes”, but for most sports, Dynamic is the way to go. Should you be watching something very color accurate off of HDTV, of course, you can use one of the other modes, such as Living – not quite as bright, but a bit more accurate, or even a calibrated Natural, or Brilliant Cinema.

The image above was taken with most of recessed lights in my room on, at moderate intensity. I’d describe the room as reasonably, but softly lit. Enough to party, but hardly bright. The picture to the right is a good representation of the room’s lighting.

If there’s one relative weakness of the PLV-Z4000 compared to a lot of the competition, it’s that, in brightest mode, the Sanyo PLV-Z4000 is still slightly below average brightness among 1080p projectors in “brightest mode.” We consider about 1000 lumens to be average (though the variation out there is all over the place.)

These sports images were shot in my main theater – evening – just using a lot of recessed lighting, but no daylight pouring in from around my window shades. While the room was reasonably well lit (about typical when we’re watching something sports, etc. at night), the Sanyo had no trouble at all, in fact it was downright vibrant!

That said, I did all my viewing of the PLV-Z4000 while projecting image sizes between 100″ diagonal (16:9) and 110″ diagonal (you can see the smaller image on the 128″ screen in the image above, but mostly down around 100″). This isn’t a “big screen projector” so no point complaining about being thin on lumens on a 128″ high contrast gray screen like my Firehawk. Since this projector will work best with smaller screens, that’s the way I viewed the projector!

Image above taken with the same room lighting as the smaller insert above.

Again, one of the best looking Dynamic modes – for example, although the Epson 8500UB is about 50% brighter comparing their Dynamic modes, there’s no question that the color on the Sanyo looks a lot better – the Epson definitely is stronger on greens (and yellows) in its dynamic mode. To have a better comparison, a quick calibration of the Epson Living Room mode, is closer to the Sanyo, but gives up about half the lumen difference.

I did view a wide range of content, including some music videos, plenty of HD content (non-sports) and several pre-season and college games, all on the PLV-Z4000. I’m telling ya, between the better than typical bright mode, and Creative Frame Interpolation (which is not only good for sports, but also all that fancy HD content – scenery, for example, because lots of panning is often used in the “filming”, and CFI definitely is great at smoothing out background pans)!

Other than lack of tons of brightness, consider the PLV-Z4000 to be one of the better projectors for HD / Sports. Oh, don’t get me wrong – a projector like the LG CF181D, has far, far, more lumens to work with, also good color, etc. but costs about $500 more. That would be a better sports projector overall, I would think, but, come movie time, the Sanyo will beat the LG on all those dark scenes thanks to the better black level performance.

That’s right – there are always trade-offs, but if you are a smaller screen owner, the PLV-Z4000 makes an excellent choice for sports and HD viewing, in part due to the superior color (or rather, relatively pleasing to watch color) of it’s brightest mode, compared to many others.

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