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.
Connection options on the PLV-Z2000 are fairly generous for a front projector. Two HDMI inputs are the most important, and they both support the HDMI 1.3 specification. There are also two component-video inputs, an S-Video and a composite-video input for legacy sources such as VCRs. I was disappointed to find no RS-232 control port or 12-volt trigger for electric drop-down screens.
While not perfect by any means, the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 does have some things to recommend it in the performance department. First off, color decoding is accurate for both SD and HD formats. Video processing is reasonably good with 2:3 pull-down for motion artifact elimination with film-based DVDs, and it also deinterlaces 1080i HD properly, preserving all the resolution in the signal. The projector also passes all of the resolution in a 1080p source at the HDMI inputs, but like many an HD display today, loses some of that resolution at the component inputs. That isn't such a tragedy though, because 1080p sources are rarely allowed to travel via component video because of copy-protection issues.
At first, we thought that the projector was clipping both white and black, but it turns out the factory default in the Settings menu for the HDMI Setting, which is Normal, is the wrong reference. Rather than 16-235 it is 0-255. Sanyo has it backwards here. A projector intended for Video should have the factory preset to Expanded, which is correct at 16-235. This is a common mistake in the industry that costs consumers contrast ratio and detail in black-and-white as a result.
After we found the correct setting, the black level and contrast ratio performance of the PLV-Z2000 looked much better. Blacks were definitely compelling, and on a par with those of other projectors in its class. The lens is of reasonably high quality considering the price, with very few chromatic aberrations. Images from top quality sources such as HD DVD and Blu-ray looked quite sharp.
Seabiscuit on HD DVD looked pretty impressive, with decent skin tone rendition and saturation. We watched chapters 10 through 13, which shows you a variety of different things like blacks on the overnight train ride, natural wood colors in the owner's house, and then outdoor colors in Chapter 13 at the race track. The inaccurate red stuck out when viewing the jockey's uniform, which is supposed to be slightly orange, but appears to be candy-apple red on the Sanyo.
Chapter 4 of The Italian Job on Blu-ray looked very good as well. The dark shots under water and in the building revealed plenty of shadow detail, and the contrasting outdoor boat chase scene showed off the projector's excellent contrast ratio. On our Time Warner Cable feed, we watched some of Happy Feet, an animated feature with lots of bright material. The picture was again impressive, especially for a sub-$3,000 projector.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6,320/5,945K||Good|
|After color temp||6,650/6,570K||Average|
|Before grayscale variation||404K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||207K||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.670/0.323||Poor|
|Color of green||0.304/0.676||Poor|
|Color of blue||0.141/0.056||Average|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down detection||Yes||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|