Sanyo PLV-Z2000

Review

posted 8/11/2008 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
The latest projector to go under the GamingNexus staff’s watchful eye is the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 1080p LCD projo. In what can only be described as a “throwback” design, the PLV-Z2000 is a brute of a projector that has the look of a pure professional grade product. I was eager to understand why the unit was designed with such a large chassis in today’s world of ever shrinking Home Theater electronics. It didn’t take long to find out, and I was pleasantly surprised when I powered it up…


The Specs
Model PLV-Z2000
MSRP $2,495
Best Retail price $1,849
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Contrast 15,500:1 (open IRIS)
Response Time n/a
Lamp Life (Hrs) Not Published - Typically 2,000 - 5,000 (low setting)
Dimensions (in) 5.7 (H) x 15.75 (W) x 13.6 (D)
Weight (lbs) 16.1
Mounting Pattern n/a
Inputs HDMI (2), VGA (1), Component (2), S-Video, Analog, Serial (1 each)
Outputs n/a
ANSI Lumens 1,200
Zoom 2.0x
Screen Size (in) 40 - 300
Throw Distance (ft) 3.9 - 60.4 (724.8 in)


Out of the Box
The Z2000 comes packaged in standard materials, including cardboard protective end pieces and a soft foam bag. The box itself is rather large for a projector, because the PLV-Z2000 is one of the biggest Home Theater projos I have encountered on the market in some time. Also included in the box were the owner’s manual, a warranty card, remote, 2 AA batteries, lens cleaning brush, power cable and DVD/CD.




Aesthetics
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is built about as solid as any Home Theater projector, with a large chassis that is a soft white in color. Despite the unit being large and boxy, it has a very clean appearance primarily due to the motorized lens door on the front. The door will automatically open or close when the power is turned on and off, allowing the front panel to keep a clean and clutter free look.

The top of the unit has nine-buttons and three indicator lights. The buttons are all flush to the surface to create a smooth surface. The bottom has raised feet, an access panel and three threaded openings for a ceiling mount to connect. The side panels contain the two manual lens controls (and lock) on one side, while the other is basically taken up with vents and all the product information plates and stickers. The back panel is very clean, with just the video inputs, power switch, plug connection and some smaller vents.

The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 won’t win any beauty contests, but it does have the look of a professional grade projector. In most setups, the projo is mounted or concealed, so the look of the unit usually doesn’t matter as much as what it produces on the screen. Besides, it’s the picture that counts, right?


Remote
The remote for the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is consistent with what is expected of a projector remote. It is of medium size, backlit and has buttons for just the primary controls of the projector. The upper section contains buttons for the backlight, power, menu, info, screen, reset and the directional pad. The bottom section contains seven Input buttons along the left side, image controls (preset, user, sharpness, temp, etc) on the right and lamp controls on the bottom. Much like other projectors I reviewed, the “Reset” button centered above the directional pad is a bit odd, as this presents the opportunity to undo the custom setting as quickly as your child (or anyone) can pick up the remote.

Ergonomically, the remote fits in your hand very well, and does not have much weight to it. With the lens shift and focus controlled manually from the chassis, there are no buttons on it for these features, which helps keep the size small. The layout, size and backlighting make for ease of use while navigating, even in a darkened room. Pretty basic stuff, yet highly functional.

Setup
I usually have to decide on whether I will mount the projectors we review on the ceiling or on a shelf during testing, but the PLV-Z2000 made my choice easy. The chassis was so large and the mounting pattern so unique, that my universal ceiling mount simply wasn’t capable of handling it. So off it went to be shelf mounted. In order to figure out where to place it, I had to first determine the throw distance for the screen size. The PLV-Z2000 sports a mammoth throw distance range of approximately 4’ to 60’ feet for a 100” screen. We used our same 92” 16:9 screen that requires a throw distance of 9-18 feet. After playing with the distance a bit, I ended up with it at approximately 11’ 5”, which was the same as a previous projector I reviewed. The shelf I used was approximately 6’ off the ground.

By the way, one of the coolest things you will ever encounter on a projector comes standard on the PLV-Z2000. It is a motorized door that covers the projector’s lens. As soon as you turn the projector on…whoosh goes the door exposing the lens. While this mechanism probably adds to the size and weight of the projector, it is a real cool addition that eliminates lens caps and fights off dust collection on the lens.

Once we had the unit powered up with a test grid I started adjusting it to fit the screen. Unlike the previous projector I tested, this one reverts back to manual controls for zoom and the vertical and horizontal lens shift. Honestly, I am beginning to really dig the manual operation of these controls. Granted, it is nice to be able to use the remote to adjust the lens and focus (especially when the projector is mounted in an out-of-the-way spot), but there seems to be more precision with the hands on approach to manual operation. One issue did arise while adjusting the Lens Shift as I noticed that the dials had a certain amount of “sloppiness” to them. It essentially took a quarter inch of rotation on either dial before the lens began to adjust in that direction. Once I quit moving the dial, it regressed a bit in the opposite direction of the rotation. I had to turn it a bit past the point of where I wanted the lens to be adjusted to in order to compensate for the play in the adjustment dials. While this didn’t really cause any issues, it should be noted.



The cooling system in the Sanyo is one of the best I have encountered. With little to no heat emitting from the unit, you would expect some serious ventilation, and all the noise that comes with it. However, the PLV-Z2000 fan is whisper quiet, to the point where you are straining to hear it even in a room devoid of sound. Toss in the audio from some games, movies or TV, and the fan is never, ever heard.

There are a few other observations I noted during the setup process. One of which is that the PLV-Z2000 has ample video inputs to choose from. There are two HDMI, two component, VGA, Serial and both S-Video and Analog connections. In addition, the menu system on the Z2000 is very easy to navigate and adjust the projector’s setup. The menu icons are big enough to see and quickly work through the process of making the appropriate adjustments on-screen.


Video Performance
To start the video testing, I popped in Ratatouille on Blu-Ray to see how the Sanyo stacked up against another projector I tested it on. I was particularly interested in the opening sequence, as the previous projector showed quite a bit of sluggishness while vertically scrolling. It turns out that this appears to be an issue within the movie itself, as the Sanyo, the other projector and my personal DLP Rear projection TV all had the exact same issue with the vertical scrolling.

One of my favorite scenes to test with is the whole sequence in Chapters 5 and 6 when about 300 rats make a break for the river from the old lady’s cottage. In particular, the scene where Remy stops to swipe the cookbook is a great test. In this scene, there are tons of rats racing across the screen independently, which shows how well the projector can handle a lot of fast moving objects and whether it will struggle or get sluggish. The Sanyo was almost flawless in these chapters, displaying a nice smooth image as well as the detail of each rat’s fur and the surrounding cabin environment. All of which was at a breakneck pace. The detail of Remy’s fur in particular was amazing, easily rivaling the Animals in Open Season, which is one of the finest looking 1080p movies on Blu-Ray I have seen to date. In Chapter 6, Remy makes his way into the storm sewer on the cookbook, and the Sanyo did a fantastic job of transitioning from light to darkness, as well as showing off the rapids and angry water that were flashing by at full speed. Once again, I saw no issues whatsoever, just a nice smooth clean image. As Remy pops out into the river, the details of the rocks and reeds along the bank also just pop out, even with the image still moving fast.

One side-effect of watching a movie on Blu-Ray is getting to check out Blu-Ray trailers for upcoming films precede the movie. I was especially impressed with the Wall-E teaser trailer, as it was a bit different than the HD version from Xbox Live Marketplace that I usually test with. The one scene that caught my attention in particular was the close up when Wall-E looks toward space. You could tell how magnificently rendered Wall-E is, with every scratch and scuff very detailed and highly visible.

I was also able to catch some HD network programming as well, and was pleased with how the Sanyo responded. I watched shows including CSI: Miami, Discovery HD Theater and some NHL in HD on both NBC and Versus and was impressed with both the quality and accuracy with which the images were shown. I never once ran into any lag, screen tear or issues that sometimes plague LCD based projectors. All-in-all, the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 provided a large and excellent image regardless of what type of video source I tested on it.

Gameplay Tests
I pulled out the Playstation 3 to switch up the games that I have been reviewing the projectors with. First on tap was Resistance: Fall of Man. I played the Burning Bridges section and the projector really showed off the contrasting textures around the town. From the brick facades to the burned out buildings and rubble, the Sanyo did a nice job of replicating the game area. There is a lot of action going on in this game both up close and in the background, so I was pleasantly surprised at how well the PLV-Z2000 handled these varying levels of activity on the screen. They were clean, detailed and easily discernable. After playing Resistance on a normal 720p LCD, it was quite an upgrade to play it utilizing the 1080p output to maximize the image quality.

I also played quite a bit of Rachet and Clank: Future Tools of Destruction with the PS3. I was specifically looking for how the Sanyo rendered the brightly lit and colorful environment as well as getting a good gauge on how the projector would handle a lot of activity on the screen at one time. As I worked my way deeper into the opening levels of the game, two things really stood out. The first was the texture of Ratchet’s fur and Clanks metal skin. I wasn’t specifically looking at this, but it was detailed enough that it caught my eye despite this game being a colorful menagerie of robots, plants, bombs and boxes that were also drawing my attention. These items in the environment lead me to the second thing that caught my eye, which was how well everything worked together on screen. Much like Resistance: Fall of Man, there is always something going on somewhere in your view. There is always a nasty robot working their way toward you, little fur balls trying to blow you up or stuff just getting scattered around in both the background and foreground. Just like my results with Resistance, The Sanyo projector displayed Rachet and Clank as very detailed and clean looking, while the beautiful and vibrant landscape stayed true no matter how many things were getting blown up on the screen.



While everyone on the face of the Earth was playing Grand Theft Auto IV, I was getting messages on Xbox Live from friends asking me if I was sick or crazy. This was due the last game I tested being The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on the Xbox 360, which has become my preferred benchmark for video device tests. I spent a good long time playing through various levels of Oblivion primarily to get a feel for how the projector handled various lighting situations. Anyone familiar with the game knows that the environment is quite dynamic, so the weather changes constantly and as the sun rises and sets the image reacts accordingly. All these variables create a gaming atmosphere on screen that changes constantly, meaning your video output needs to be able to keep up with extreme brightness, darkness and everything in between. Again, the Sanyo was nearly flawless producing a fabulous gaming image and experience.

The overall gaming performance of the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 was excellent, providing me every detail and image I expected to see, and a few that I had not seen before (a good thing). Despite the unit not having any specific mode or circuitry to eliminate lag from the console, the LCD-based projo never felt like it was falling behind or getting out of sequence while playing. While reviewing the Sanyo, I had some of my all-time best gaming experiences to date.


Miscellaneous Items of Note
• The PLV-Z2000 has a large chassis that will require an extended shelf space.
• It includes a three-year, limited part and labor warranty and a 90-day lamp warranty.
• Capable of a varied screen size for both short and long throw distances.
• Replacement lamp costs around $300-$400.
• Requires large size ceiling mount.
• Low heat and whisper quiet fan technology.

Pros Cons
Motorized Lens Cover Large Size
Excellent Image Unique Mounting Pattern
Whisper Quiet Manual control dials "sloppy"
Great Value  
Lots of Inputs  



Testing Methodology
Items utilized in the testing of the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 included, but not limited to:

Xbox 360 Elite, Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, Sony PlayStation 3, Sony Blu-Ray drive (PS3), amplified Off-air antenna, DirecTV Satellite feed, and a 92” 16:9 Da-Lite fixed screen.

Testing was done at a throw distance of 11’ 5” from a 92” 16:9 screen with a bookshelf mount location (approx six feet off the floor.) Seating was at a distance of nine feet from the screen.


The Conclusion
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is a fantastic looking Home Theater projector that delivers excellent picture quality for gaming as well as normal and HD TV viewing. The large size of the chassis, sloppy dial construction and inability to mount it with most universal mounts are negatives, but not enough to override the excellent picture it produces. For anyone that does not have space limitations and is looking for maximum flexibility in the size of the projected image, the PLV-Z2000 is an ideal solution at $2,499.

A special thanks to Automated Visions/AV Homes here in Hilliard, Ohio for the use of a 92” fixed Da-Lite screen.






B+
The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 is a big box that delivers an even bigger picture. Images were crisp, set-up was easy and the gaming and TV viewing fantastic. Despite the size issue, it is one of the best performing projectors on the market under $2500.