Both front projectors and flat-panel HDTVs are plummeting in price while offering more and more in the way of features and performance. Sanyo's LCD-based PLV-Z2000, is an extremely well-priced, 1080p resolution projector that delivers reasonably good performance for the dollar. It has a solid feature package for setup and fine tuning of the picture, and also offers comprehensive connectivity. Its flaws in picture quality, while notable, are generally shared by most front-projection systems, particularly in the sub-$10,000 price range.
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000's outward appearance belies the fact that little or no effort or money was invested in its physical design to make it attractive in any way. It's basically a squarish box with a relatively small footprint, and our review sample was finished in white. Both the intake and outtake vents for cooling are located on the right side of the chassis when in a floor-mounted configuration, or on the left if ceiling-mounted. The unit does sport a cool electronic trap door that opens automatically when it is turned on and closes when powered down. All told, the projector measures 15.8 by 5.8 by 13.6 inches and weighs 16 pounds.
The remote control is an intelligent design and is relatively intuitive and easy to use. It has direct access keys for all inputs and picture controls. Thankfully, it is also fully backlit with the touch of a button on the upper-left side. Internally, the menu system is quite simple and straightforward to use.
As we mentioned earlier, the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 has a native resolution of 1080p, which translates to 1,920x1,080 pixels available to produce a picture. That's especially important in a projector, because the big screen size makes the benefits of 1080p more apparent.
Like many projectors, the PLV-Z2000 has a few picture-affecting features that are best left turned off, as they keep the projector from delivering its best performance. These include Auto Black Stretch, which automatically changes the black level depending on the content of the picture; Contrast Enhancement, which simply lowers the black; Transient Improvement, which appears to do nothing at all; and Dynamic Gamma, which we take to mean gamma that changes on the fly. Finally, there is a complex Color Management System, but it actually doesn't work well at all. You can improve primary color accuracy, but it ruins color decoding, which is a problem we have seen before. All of these features are located in the Advanced menu on the second page of the Image Adjust menu.
With that said, Sanyo does offer a few features that actually help in setup as well as the fine-tuning of the picture. Topping our favorites list here is the inclusion of both horizontal and vertical lens shift, which greatly eases the difficulty of the physical installation of the projector relative to the screen. The PLV-Z2000 has perhaps too many picture modes. We chose Natural as it was the only one that didn't negatively effect color decoding; the others seemed to introduce red push.
Selectable color temperatures are, of course, available and include Default, Low 1, Low 2, High 1, High 2, and User, the last of which appears if you use the three grayscale controls to adjust the color of gray. There are four settings for the amplitude of the lamp, while the Iris, which attenuates the lamp output, has a Normal and a Fast setting in addition to offering a fixed mode with a range from -63 to 0. We left ours at -30, which is the default setting for Natural.