Sanyo PLV-Z700: Black Level Performance
I can't say that I'm really disappointed, but I had hoped for a little more. I realized going in, that the claimed contrast of the PLV-Z700 is lower than the PLV-Z2000. In reality, that's fair, as the Z700 is considered Sanyo's entry-level 1080p projector while the old PLV-Z2000 is about to be replaced by a more expensive (than the Z700) PLV-Z3000. It would have been nice, though, if the Z700 matched the Z2000, especially since the PLV-Z3000 should have significantly better black levels than either of these two. That is, if specs are any indication.
What we have here, is a low cost 1080p projector with good black levels. It's definitely better than, say the old Mitsubishi HC4900, of that I have no doubt (one of the two least expensive), and it is probably comparable to the HC55500 (replaces the HC4900), depending on the settings you choose. Depending on settings, it should rival some of the basic DLP models using Darkchip 1 or Darkchip 2 DLP processors.
For those enthusiasts - really into pure performance, the PLV-Z700 is certainly not your end all solution, but may serve as a very good choice for those enthusiasts on a tight budget. Almost certainly the step up to the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 will be dramatic, in terms of black level performance.
Perhaps the most important point to discuss here, are all the combinations of dynamic and manual irises - including the lamp functions, and other advanced features. Fire them all up, and black levels are very respectable - but brightness is limited. The brightest settings for Creative Cinema, will limit black level performance. While we measured a good combination at around 675 lumens, I found that better black levels were achievable with more use of iris and advanced features. I would say I got a very respectable result from using both the dynamic iris (mode1), and lamp mode (A1), in combination with their Auto Black Stretch feature (I used low or mid), and the fixed iris at -25. Since we didn't measure that combination, I can only guess, but I put that guess between 450 and 525 lumens. And that is a nice, average brightness.
There are so many features that interreact with each other that the combinations are near endless. Enthusiasts will just love fooling with the different setting combinations and determining which is best for their room and viewing tastes. I only had time to view a handful of combinations.