Twelve prominent buttons, including four directional buttons, sit on top of the monitor and control the onscreen menu and other settings such as focus, keystone, input, and zoom--along with volume for the decent-sounding 2-watt speakers. You can also control all these functions with the large remote, though we're disappointed that a projector of this caliber doesn't offer automatic keystone correction. The onscreen menu offers many customization options but is hard to navigate due in part to difficult-to-decipher icons that are too large for the menus.
The Sanyo PLC-XP56 started quickly in our tests, throwing an image onscreen in 40 seconds; however, it took well over a minute to cool down. In our lab tests, the PLC-XP56 pumped out 4,340 lumens of brightness--just short of its 5,000-lumen rating, making it one of the brightest machines in its class. Its low-power mode dropped the illumination to 3,420 lumens and lessened the fan noise considerably. While the PLC-XP56 has a relatively good 88 percent image uniformity, the one we tested had a slight hot spot in the upper-left corner and a pink cast on the right edge. Its images were quite sharp, its projected text was easy to read, and its 246:1 contrast ratio was adequate for a lights-on show. Although it can display 247 of 255 standard shades of gray, they appear purple, and many complex patterns add flicker. As is typical for an LCD projector, our color-gamut tests showed the primary colors to be quite accurate, although greens were shifted slightly to yellow.
The projector also ran very hot. It is rated at a little over 1,500 watts, or about what a small space heater puts out. The single large exhaust fan is rather loud and blasts hot air. Two snap-out air filters will need to be cleaned or replaced regularly, as will the lamp, which costs $600 to replace.
Sanyo provides a comprehensive three-year warranty that promises to have a repaired unit on its way in less than three days; most repairs are done the next day. Like those on other projectors, the PLC-XP56's lamp is covered for the typical 90 days. Sanyo keeps its support Web site well stocked with specs, tips, and even downloadable technical drawings and remote-control codes. Should you need attention, Sanyo's projector division staffs a toll-free hotline during business hours, Pacific time. Inside the box, you'll find a thorough 54-page general manual, a 113-page network manual, and a CD of image-networking software, but no quick-setup sheet.