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Sanyo PLV-Z5 LCD Home Theater Video Projector Review

Manufacturer: www.sanyo.com

Sanyo PLV-Z5 Home Theater Projector

MSRP: $1,995

Projector Review

This is the latest in Sanyo's class leading home theatre projector models. It's a 720P HD Home Theatre video projector that has earned it's reputation.

The Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector gets great reviews and for good reason – it's great value for dollar. The Z5 features an incredible range of adjustments combined with an easy to use well laid out menu system. It's inexpensive, but don't let the price fool you; this is a carefully laid out, well considered projector. It's not all good though, the Z5 does have its limitations.

Out of the box, setting the unit up is a breeze, after you've done it the first time. 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 don't kid yourself, it's 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 don't 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 “scatter" 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 functionality.

The 2:1 throw ratio means you can have an impressive screen size, even at modest throw distances. Our was set up for a 106" picture a mere 11 feet from the screen. At that distance, the screen can be shrunk to a tiny 55" 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 of light.

An especially nice touch is the customizable logo screen. The PLV-Z5 can capture any image it's 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 class.

Colours have a lot of impact without being over saturated. Field sports, like soccer and football, look great. Whites are clean and bright on our 106", but the blacks aren't quite deep enough, although we've 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. It's 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.

The Rub

If there's one drawback that we see with LCD projectors is that they're prone to dust accumulation. They don't draw dust out of the air like your TV, and the amount of dust we're talking about isn't much, but you don't need a lot. LCD video projectors typically don't 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 it's 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 hasn't acquired any dust particles yet so we haven't actually had a chance to try it. We're thinking it's bound to take a lot of squeezing.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of a wide open light path is saved for the smokers. We've 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 tint.

As well, the lens shift feels imprecise. Minute adjustments take patience, as a small horizontal adjustment in likely to require a further horizontal adjustment. It's a small price to pay given the functionality provided by the lens shift, just don't 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. It's not the best projector you'll ever own, but given the value represented by Sanyo's silver Z5, it should at least be considered in virtually any budget minded home theatre installation. The out of box settings aren't great and tweaking the unit can be a time consuming process, but given the easy to use interface and well laid out owner's manual, subsequent adjustments are easy to do.


Brightness -2
Contrast +21
Color +6
Tint 0
Color Temperature Mid (to taste)
Red 0
Green 0
Blue 0
Sharpness +2
Gamma -3
Progressive L1 (for moving pictures)
Lens Iris 0

We encourage you to make adjustments in the Advanced Menu, but remember to read the Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector's owner manual as well!

Pros and Cons


  • Stylish and modern
  • Quiet
  • Hugely adjustable picture settings
  • Best in class image quality
  • Adjustable if sloppy horizontal and vertical lens shift
  • Great connectivity


  • Can be prone to dust contamination with long use
  • Out of box image settings aren't impressive
  • Initial picture set up can be time consuming
  • Silver case can be distracting


  • Panel 3 x 0.7" TFT p-Si (16 : 9)
  • Projection Lamp 145 W UHP (LMP-94)
  • Brightness 1,100 ANSI lumens
  • Lamp Life 2,000 h (Normal Mode), 3,000 h (Eco Mode)
  • Fan Noise 22 dB (Eco Mode)
  • Standard Lens F = 2.0 – 3.0/f = 21.3 – 42.6 mm
  • Aspect Ratio 1.36 – 2.76:1
  • Throw Distance 1.2 – 9.2 m
  • Contrast Ratio 10,000:1
  • Resolution in Pixels 1,280 x 720 (HDTV)
  • Uniformity 85%
  • Bandwidth/Frequency 100 MHz, horizontal 80 kHz, vertical 100 Hz
  • Colour Systems PAL, SECAM, NTSC, NTSC4.43, PAL-M/N
  • Connections
    • Input 1: D-Sub15 (RGB/SCART RGB)
    • Input 2: HDMI (HDCP)
    • Input 3: HDMI (HDCP)
    • Input 4: 1 x RCA (Composite)
    • Input 5: Mini DIN 4-pin (S-Video)
    • Input 6: 3 x RCA (Y-Pb/Cb-Pr/Cr)
    • Input 7: 3 x RCA (Y-Pb/Cb-Pr/Cr)
    • Control Input: Mini DIN 8-pin (RS232 compatible)
  • Audio Function –
  • Keystone Correction Vertical +/–20°
  • Lens Shift/ U/D Ratio Manual
  • 1 image height up/down
  • 1/2 image width left/right
  • HDTV Compatibility 480i/480p/575i/576p/720p/1,035i/1,080i/1,080p (via HDMI input only)
  • Computer Compatibility XGA/SVGA/VGA
  • Zoom/Focus Manual/manual
  • Power Consumption 210 W/100–240 V
  • Lenses 2x wide angle zoom lens
  • Warranty 3 years
  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 382 x 126.8 x 304.3 mm
  • Weight 11 lbs. (5 kg)
  • Standard Accessories IR remote control (illuminated) incl. battery, power cable (2 m), video cable (RCA x 1), operating manual, vacuum pump

Review by Mike English

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