Sanyo PLV-Z4 Projector Image Quality 4

For virtually all of my testing, I had the Sanyo Z4 projector in it’s “best” mode – Creative Cinema. Note, though, that the default iris setting for Creative Cinema is -44. To view on my 128″ Firehawk, I did open up the iris to -28 and put the lamp into full power mode. In this mode contrast is enhanced as best the Sanyo projector can, and colors are generally very good. I did switch to the “Pure Cinema” mode, for a number of scenes, but if there is dark content, the Creative Cinema seems to enhance shadow detail and also provide a slightly more dynamic image.

Shadow Detail

Click to enlarge. So close

Overall, the Z4 projector performed very well, however without doing a full calibration, it did not, for example, show as many stars in some of the Star Wars scenes, as the Panasonic or BenQ projectors did. In other scenes it did compress (lose some detail in near white areas) whites, while at the same time losing some shadow detail (when compared to the Panasonic – it did better in the near white areas than the BenQ). In the extreme dark range there is a shift to blacks looking slightly bluish.

Click Image to Enlarge

DVD sharpness

I pointed out earlier that the Z4 seems to provide an especially sharp image, for projectors in its price range, I also noted that while it excelled on DVD (480p), on Hi-Def it appeared similar to the competition. Here’s something to think about. The Sanyo Z4 projector’s strenth on DVD may relate to the many technologies handling upscaling (to the projector’s native 720p), sharpening, and contrast enhancing, algorithms. Next generation DVD’s appearing shortly, have content stored at higher resolution 720p (which is also the native resolution for the Z4 and its competitors). It may be that the Z4’s sharpness will not be any different than the competition with the new DVDs (Blu-Ray, or HD-DVD, whichever wins the battle to be the next DVD standard.

The Sanyo Z4 Projector Handles Ambient Light Very Well

I really like the various Preset modes. There are what I will call the three “dark” modes; Creative Cinema, Pure Cinema and Natural, (these three modes have the iris stopped pretty far down, -44, -44, and -30 respectively. The remaining bright preset modes open up the iris, enhance color and adjust other parameters. This evening I have been watching Sunday Night Football with various amounts of ambient light on in my room. The “bright” presets are Living, Dynamic, Powerful and Vivid. Each has differing levels, and pay different prices in terms of color accuracy and correct balance of brightness contrast and saturation.

The good news is that they work well. I’m not necessarily sure which are best for what (didn’t have that much time), but in particular, Dynamic and Powerful do very well in brighter room situations. Remember this is a typical home theater projector, not a lot of lumens for bright rooms. Get sunlight pouring into your room, and you almost might have trouble telling that a home theater projector is turned on. But running the lights on in my room, bright enough to read comfortably, I found that the Z4 had plenty of brightness, especially in Powerful mode.

By comparison, for example, the BenQ PE-7700 bright modes do not compete well in handling ambient light.

I will take a close look – side by side at how the Sanyo Z4 and the Panasonic PT-AE900u do with their brighter modes, in my upcoming comparison article. Also, for those who do plan to watch content with a fair about of ambient light, the new Epson Cinema 550 may be even more interesting, as it claims 1400 lumens, vs the 1000 lumens of the Sanyo Z4, and the Panasonic’s PT-AE900u.

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