AE900u Image Quality and Color vs Competition

AE900u Image Quality and Color vs Competition

The Sanyo PLV-Z4, like most home theater projectors, does not offer exceptionally accurate color, fresh out of the box. If you get a Z4, I recommend immediately buying a basic calibration disk, like the AVIA Guide to Home Theater. It will require an investment of about an hour of your life (just about anyone can follow the instructions), and it will allow you to enjoy much improved color accuracy and image quality! Of all the projectors mentioned in this article, the Panasonic comes with notably very good out of box color, and the BenQ would be second. The rest all need that bit of calibration, to shine.

There is another important aspect, referred to as black levels, “blacker blacks”, and shadow detail. All these projectors, including the Z4, cannot do a true black. Their attempt comes out dark gray (true also of plasma displays and lcd displays). Some get closer to black than others, and that means you can see more details in areas that are very dark. DLP projectors still have the advantage (slightly) in achieving “blacker blacks”, but some LCD projectors such as the PLV-Z4 now rely on “AI” to improve picture quality. The Sanyo makes particularly good use of both an automatic Iris that adjusts frame by frame to provide the best picture dynamics and black levels, and also a lamp that brightens and dims frame by frame for the same purpose.

Together these two features help explain the claimed 7000:1 contrast ratio. From a practical standpoint, I found the black levels achieved of the Z4, to be second only to the Sony HS51A of the LCD projectors. In certain circcumstances, the Z4 could rival the DLP projectors – scenes fairly dark without any fully bright areas, which lets the iris and lamp dimming do their thing. On rare occurences, I could actually spot the effects of the dimming/brightening lamp, and in the full review recommended that some people might want to turn off the Auto Lamp feature for that reason.

Bottom line, Considering its price point at the very bottom of this group of projectors, and given a “consumer” color calibration, the Z4 can offer impressive color accuracy, and better than average black levels.

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