Sanyo PLV-Z5 Home Theater Projector
Review, Basic Setup and Buying Guide
Stylish and modern
Hugely adjustable picture settings
Best in class image quality
Adjustable if sloppy horizontal and vertical
Can be prone to dust contamination with long
Out of box image settings arenít impressive
Initial picture set up can be time consuming
Silver case can be distracting
This is the latest in Sanyoís class leading home
projector models. Itís a 720P HD Home Theater video projector that has
earned itís reputation.
Sanyo PLV-Z5 gets great reviews and for good reason Ė itís great
value for dollar. The Z5 features an incredible range of adjustments
combined with an easy to use well laid out menu system. Itís
inexpensive, but donít let the price fool you; this is a carefully
laid out well considered projector. Itís not all good though, the Z5
has itís limitations.
of the box, setting the unit up is a breeze, after youíve done it the
The Z5 is very forgiving for placement, with vertical and
horizontal lens shift, and has an impressive 2:1 throw lens. The feet
are also height adjustable, making even a table top a good enough
place to set it up.
Next, turn in on. Notice the impressive lens
cover slide silently away. Sanyo says this is to protect against dust
on the lens, but donít kid yourself, itís all about the cool factor.
Nice touch on a projector in this class. Like most projectors, it takes
a few seconds to power up. The next important thing to notice is what
you donít notice - the sound. This is a very quiet projector; a
plus if you want to take it to take this projector on the road. Even
in full lamp mode, the noise is hardly discernable.
Like any good Home Theatre projector, the Z5 responds best
to an HD video signal. And, like some good 720P HD projectors, a micro
lens array provides for a certain amount of ďscatterĒ around the edges
of the pixels. The picture is smooth textured and holds together very
well, even relatively close to the screen. Have fun. The Z5 has 2 HDMI ports, one for your HD-DVD (or Blu-Ray) and one for your HD
video source (digital cable or satellite), 2 component video
connections, and even a 15 pin for your PC, further enhancing the Z5s
The 2:1 throw ratio means you can have an
impressive screen size, even at modest throw distances. Our was set up
for a 106Ē picture a mere 11 feet from the screen. At that distance,
the screen can be shrunk to a tiny 55Ē diagonal with a
correspondingly brighter picture. The horizontal and vertical offset
allows you to move the light patch significantly up or down, left or
right, without moving the projector. You can actually be a foot or two
off center (left to right) and still throw a nicely angled rectangle
An especially nice touch is the customizable logo
screen. The PLV-Z5 can capture any image itís displaying for use as
the start up screen, from your Need for Speed high score to a still
from Lord of the Rings. Another nice touch for a projector in this
Colors have a lot of impact without being over
saturated. Field sports, like soccer and football, look great. Whites
are clean and bright on our 106Ē, but the blacks arenít quite deep
enough, although weíve been spoiled by the 50HD and 55HD from Studio
Experience. A little fine tuning gets acceptable black levels, given
over 15 levels of Gamma adjustment. A nice addition is the ability to
adjust white balance for individual red, green and blue channels.
The remote is worth mentioning. Itís compact,
heavy, and fits well into your hand. Button layout is intuitive, with
many commonly accessed Menu commands with their own buttons.
Especially handy is that the buttons on the remote light up.
If thereís one drawback that we see with LCD
projectors is that theyíre prone to dust accumulation. They donít draw
dust out of the air like your TV, and the amount of dust weíre talking
about isnít much, but you donít need a lot. LCD video projectors
typically donít have a sealed light path. All that protects the 15 or
so lenses and polarizing filters inside the projector is the projector
housing and an air filter. Any dust that manages to work itís way past
the filters or through the housing can end up attaching to one of the
internal optics, and cause small imperfections in the picture. Sanyo
alleviates much of this using a two stage process. The first line of
defense is an electrostatic air filter that literally snags small
particles out of the air. The second defense is a small air bladder
that, optimistically, is used to squirt air into the light path to
dislodge smaller particles. Our demo unit hasnít acquired any dust
particles yet so we havenít actually had a chance to try it. Weíre
thinking itís bound to take a lot of squeezing.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of a wide open light
path is saved for the smokers. Weíve seen LCD projectors with low
hours come in with significant nicotine stains on the internal optics.
Nothing will kill your LCD projector faster than smoking. Keep cigars
and cigarettes away, unless you like your picture with a faint yellow
As well, the lens shift feels imprecise. Minute
adjustments take patience, as a small horizontal adjustment in likely
to require a further horizontal adjustment. Itís a small price to pay
given the functionality provided by the lens shift, just donít expect
precision engineering on something like this at this price point. The
bottom line? Adjust it once and forget about it.
Overall, picture is impressive
given the price. Itís not the best projector youíll ever own, but
given the value represented by Sanyoís silver Z5, it should at least
be considered in virtually any budget minded home theatre installation. The out of box
settings arenít great and tweaking the unit can be a time consuming
process, but given the easy to use interface and well laid out ownerís
manual, subsequent adjustments are easy to do.
Color Temp Mid (to taste)
Progressive L1 (for moving pictures)
Lens Iris 0
We encourage you to make adjustments in the
Advanced Menu, but remember to read the ownerís manual!