Sanyo PLV-Z800 review
Sanyo’s PLV-Z800 is fine at displaying bright scenes but doesn’t handle monochrome or dark content well. You can get a better LCD projector for less money.
Review Date: 9 Feb 2011
Price when reviewed: £1,160
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
The PLV-Z800 looks like a white version of every other Sanyo projector we've ever reviewed – boxy, dull and ugly. At least it’s functional, with lens shift wheels that allow you to be more flexible with where you place the projector and a powered lens cover that slides open as soon as you turn on the projector.
The Z800 makes very little fan noise, although the large vent on the left hand side of the case puts out plenty of heat. The remote control is also the standard Sanyo edition: rather cluttered once you get past the navigation buttons towards the top, with the option buttons all clustered together at the bottom. At least you get a decent range of options at your command, including input source, buttons to cycle through either user-defined or pre-set image modes and the usual brightness and colour controls.
The menu system will be familiar to anyone who's used a Sanyo projector before. The Image menu lets you see all the different picture modes, spread across two pages. The first page will display either user-defined modes or default ones depending on whether you last pressed the preset or user image button on the remote control. An Image Adjustment menu lets you tweak settings like colour, brightness and contrast before saving your customised settings them as a user profile. Other menus let you control everything from input sources to fan control.
The Z800 has a typical selection of image modes, but even when we tweaked their settings, we found it hard to adjust them to our satisfaction – strange colour tints were almost impossible to avoid, particularly in dark and monochrome scenes.
Black and white footage looked poor, with a marked bluish-green tint on almost every detail. Even when we tweaked our favourite Brilliant Cinema mode to eliminate most of the cold tint, subtle details of darkness and light were lost and everything looked rather pale and flat. We noticed the same problem in our high contrast test, where parts of the dark surrounding landscape merged into a black night sky.
Colours look rich in Brilliant Cinema mode, but bright highlights tend to suffer from a dazzlingly glary quality. We also noticed some over saturation and lack of subtly in areas of delicate shading, such as a close-up of flower petals. Very bright, intense colours are a characteristic of this projector, even the most muted mode. Living mode was bright, but had a cold blue tint to it that was almost impossible to get rid of. This proved to a problem with most of the other settings.
The projector did well in our real-world motion test – it actually looks good for football matches; despite its low brightness, we had no trouble watching in a partially-lit room, and a football pitch in daylight means there’s no room for the strange colours suffered by darker scenes. Ball and players moved without any conspicuous blur. We noticed a bit of blurring in our more intensive moving image test, around the edge of a fast-moving still of a playing card and at the back of the rollercoaster
The PLV-Z800 is a very reasonably priced LCD projector, but we had great difficulty configuring a colour setting we were really happy with, particularly for watching films. Although it’s not a bad for sport, general TV and other bright content, the Z800 doesn’t compare at all well to the cheaper, more colour-accurate Epson EH-TW3200.
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