Projector Reviews

Sanyo PLV-Z3000 projector – First Look

Greetings everyone!  Hope everyone enjoyed the long Thanksgiving weekend (US only…).

The Sanyo projector has been in use since the weekend.  I still haven’t spent a great deal of time watching movies and movie segments, but have logged a fair amount of time on HDTV and sports.  The Z3000 has an MSRP of $3295, but I’m still waiting to hear the MAP price, which tends to indicate the online sales price.  I’ve emailed Sanyo, and waiting to hear back.  Since I haven’t heard, my thought about pricing is that Sanyo will match, and maybe beat, the Panasonic MAP pricing of $2499 for their PT-AE3000.  Sanyo loves to slug it out with Panasonic, and rarely lets Panasonic under price them.  We’ll know in a couple of days!

I’m hoping to publish the full review on Friday, or more likely, this Saturday.

The PLV-Z3000 has surprised me in a few ways.  First, and most significantly is in terms of brightness.  While the measured brightness in “best” (Pure Cinema) and other movie modes (Creative Cinema and Brilliant Cinema), are very similar to last year’s PLV-Z2000, but the shocker is in its brightest mode.  While we never managed to measure much more than 600 lumens with the Z2000 –   

The PLV-Z3000 is almost twice as bright, in brightest mode!  Mike came up with a measurement of just over 1100 lumens.  This moves the Sanyo from a below average projector in brightness to one that is still below average in best mode, but solidly average in brightest.  This change should allow the PLV-Z3000 projector to appeal to a much larger number of home theater projector buyers.

Black level performance is definitely a real improvement over the PLV-Z2000 it replaces, and the lower cost PLV-Z700 (which isn’t quite as good as the Z2000).   That’s the really good news.  

The PLV-Z3000 is superior to the Z700 and other “entry level” 1080p projectors (like the Mitsubishi HC5500 and most low cost DLP projectors), in terms of black level performance. It looks so far, though, to not be a match for the old Epson 1080 UB, or for that matter, the new Panasonic PT-AE3000 (and almost certainly the newer Epson UB projectors shipping later this month.

That said, it is in the same class, in terms of black levels of these other projectors with similar high contrast specs, being much closer to any of those, than, say, to the PLV-Z700.  In other words, it passes a threshold of black level performance that I consider good enough that other factors become more important.

What I’ve just written above about black levels is still just opinion based on early viewing.  Later this evening I’ll be running the PLV-Z3000 side by side with the Panasonic PT-AE3000U, and probably at least one other projector.  In addition, the full photo shoot will be done tonight, which will allow me to compare actual black level performance on different scenes.

At the same time, I’ll be comparing the Panasonic and the Sanyo in terms of creative frame interpolation.  I’m still not sold on creative frame interpolation.  I can spot the improvement when looking for it, but, still not sure, that, for example, you are watching someone’s face, while the background is panning by, that anyone is actually watching the background.  Keep in mind, the cinema photography techniques used by directors assumes the problems of 24 fps, and so they tend to limit the speed of pans, unless they really want a seriously blurred effect.  That holds true for the focus of a scene, be it a person’s face, or someone walking/running.  Normally the camera will follow the “target” to avoid the blur.

But, I digress. Back to the Sanyo.

This time around, Mike did the measurements and calibration, and Pure Cinema looks really good, but not very bright.  He did what we call around here, a “quick calibrate” of the Brilliant Cinema mode, which has over 500 lumens, and which many Z2000 users reported they favored over the dimmer cinema modes.  I’m not completely satisfied with that (Brilliant Cinema) mode yet (a bit oversaturated, etc., so am still tweaking that one).

Looking at the basics, the Z3000 is a 3 LCD projector with the latest Epson D7 C2Fine inorganic panels – the same ones in the Panasonic PT-AE3000, the Mitsubishi HC7000, and the forthcoming Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB (and Pro Cinema 7500 UB).  it has a manual zoom lens with 2:1 zoom ratio – and lots of lens shift, both vertical and horizontal, making for excellent placement flexibility.  

The Menu system is classic Sanyo, with multi-page menus.  Not bad, but takes some getting used to.  I keep looking for things, until I remember that Image Adjust, Picture, etc. all have multiple pages to scroll through.   

The Z3000 has 2 hdmi 1.3 inputs, with full support for 24 fps and Deep Color.  I already mentioned creative frame interpolation, which means 96/120 fps output.  The Sanyo, Panasonic, and the two forthcoming Epson UB’s are the only lower cost projectors so far to do creative frame interpolation.  The Mitsubishi HC7000, which otherwise is a direct competitor, only doubles 24 fps to 48, and without creative frame creative.

The Sanyo is not only brighter (at its brightest) than the older Z2000, but also the lower cost, new Z700, another surprise.

For the first time I can recall (ok, since the old Sanyo PLV-70 of years ago), I got to watch a Sanyo projector and not feel starved for lumens.  I had the PLV-Z3000 filling almost all of my 128″ Firehawk G3 for an afternoon of football, and it not only did well with my moderate ambient light, but had lots of punch to the image.  An even bigger surprise, it was a pretty “clean” bright mode.  Sure, greens and yellows were strong (as is typical of brightest modes) but not pushed anywhere near as “over the top” as most other home theater projectors.  In other words, just over 1100 lumens, but pretty good looking ones.  I have my Epson 1080 UB putting out about 1650 lumens – a step up in brightness (in its Dynamic mode), but the Sanyo, though dimmer, produces a distinctly more natural looking picture.  (I’m impressed).

OK that’s enough for now.  I realize most of you really want to hear about how it stacks up to the Panasonic, but you’ll have to wait for the full review, since, as noted, I’m just about to start observing that.

One more thing – Sanyo still comes with a 3 year warranty.  The Panasonic, at the moment is offering a 1 year, but with a mail-in “rebate” for a second year of coverage.

Stay tuned.

BTW, in addition to the Sanyo review this weekend, I’m going to try to get a short review posted on the new Elite fixed screen, with their new acoustic material surface.  Their first attempt I found somewhat lacking, this one is much improved.  Adios – for now. -art