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Sanyo PLV-Z60 720p Home Theater LCD Projector Review

Home Theater 720p LCD Projector Review & Buying Guide

By Anthony Marsh – November 6, 2008

Manufacturer: www.us.sanyo.com

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Home Theater LCD Projector

Lulled into a false sense of security by a product that provided a quick and easy setup, along with a terrific host of menu options, I was ultimately left with a painfully bitter taste in my mouth due to an image that lacked any degree of naturalism or realism. Marred mostly by digital-looking imagery that features overly saturated colors and artificial sharpness, the only real remedy here is a professional calibration which could set you back an additional $500 on top of the $1,300 US MSRP projector cost. At this point, you’d be far better off jumping product classes from 720p, and buying a 1080p projector from a different manufacturer altogether.

Overview / First Impressions / Performance / Final Thoughts / Detailed Specifications

  • Available zoom lens ratio (2.0:1) along with horizontal and vertical lens shift make set-up a breeze
  • Unit offers a nice design combined with a portable and lightweight build (only 11 pounds)
  • Stellar connectivity that offers two HDMI and two Component inputs
  • Fully-functional and backlit remote offers a nice blend of one-touch button controls to tweak brightness, contrast, color, iris, and image presets
  • Projectors runs extremely quite during operation (22dB in Eco mode)
  • Motorized lens cover offers great aesthetic value
  • Comes with a CD and hardcopy user manual
  • Tremendous three-year parts and labor warranty
  • Out-of-box image quality provokes the much dreaded “yuck” factor
  • Projector runs very hot during operation which could affect performance down the line
  • Motorized lens cover could prove to be an expensive repair should it malfunction
  • While a professional calibration will yield a nice picture, in addition to the projector’s cost, you’ll likely be adding another $500 to the price tag to have your PLV-Z60 professionally calibrated, at which point you’re better off going with a 1080p class projector


Sanyo PLV-Z60 Highlights:

  • 1200 ANSI lumens
  • Native 720P HD (1280 x 720) resolution
  • 10,000:1 contrast ratio (vivid mode)
  • 0.7” wide TFT Active Matrix type, 3 panels LCD display
  • Features two HDMI and two component inputs
  • 12-bit digital image processing
  • Fully-functional backlit remote
  • Motorized sliding shutter
  • Whisper quiet 22dB during operation
  • Three-year (parts & labor) warranty
  • Lamp guaranteed for 90 days

    MSRP:          $1,295.00 (USD)
    Street Price:  $999.95 (USD)

While 1080p home theater projectors are currently all the rage, the format that initially kicked off this HD goodness was 720p. With Sanyo’s latest entry into the 720p home theater projector category being the PLV-Z60, it allows the budget-conscious a consumer a chance to enjoy high-definition video quality, though as you’re about to find out, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 proved to be the proverbial mixed bag of nuts.


Style & Appearance

Sanyo has done well to go with a black color case finish for their PLV-Z60 projector. While silver and white each have their respective appeal as well, being that this is mainly geared towards the home theater market that’s typified by darkened rooms, a black color case finish better disappears into its surroundings. Style-wise, Sanyo keeps their trademark box(y) finish with just the right amount of rounded edges to keep it feeling too dated. It’s also quite portable and light on its feet, weighing in at a modest 11 pounds (4.9 kgs.) with fairly unobtrusive dimensions of W x H x D: 15.0 x 5.0 x 12.0 inches or 38.1 x 12.7 x 30.5 centimeters.

Looking at the unit head-on, the sliding, motorized lens cover can be found on the right-hand side of the projector. This is typical of most Sanyo projectors, and while it scores points from an aesthetic and lens protection point of view, my pessimism always gets me a little worried about how much more susceptible a motorized lens cover is to malfunction, and the cost entailed for a repair. As such, I personally prefer a good old-fashioned lens cover that requires no automatic engineering to function. While most projectors features air vent slots angled away, upfront, and beside the actual lens, the air vent slot on the PLV-Z60 can be found along the left side of the projector. Along the front-most, right side of the projector you’ll find the manual horizontal and vertical lens shift, as well as a lock shift switch which must be disabled in order to perform any kind of lens shifting.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Projector Manual Horizontal And Vertical Lens Shift

Having both a vertical and horizontal lens shift is always a great bonus because it allows you to set your image up all the easier. To the left, and on top of the projector you’ll find the usual assortment of hard-top buttons that include power, menu, input, and up/down, left/right directional controls. There are also light indicators for power, lamp replacement, and a warning light which lets you know the status of the projector’s internal temperature. The rear of the projector houses all of the inputs as well as Kensington lock slot, and rounding things out, the front of the projector features two height adjustable legs to help you get things projected just right.   

Getting Connected

The Sanyo PLV-Z60 scores major brownie points by offering a real nice compliment of user inputs. The back of the projector offers connectivity for HDMI (two), Component (two), S-Video (one), Composite (one), and VGA (one). In short: whatever connection you need, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 has it, and offering up a total of four HD connection input options (two HDMI and two Component) is always a great way to maximize your projector’s usage.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Projector Rear Input Connections

Remote Control

In contrast to the color case finish of the projector itself, the remote control for the Sanyo PLV-Z60 comes in a silver color finish. While it’s designed ergonomically well enough, it could be argued that it’s a bit too much on the smallish side of things, thereby keeping it from being classified as ultra-comfortable.

On the plus side, the remote offers great user functionality with all of the usual button control options such as menu, freeze, directional controls, and a whole host of one-touch button access to various image display options for brightness, contrast, color, iris, image presets, lamp control, info which displays all your current settings, and as opposed to an input button to toggle through various connections, they give you the buttons directly for HDMI, Component, PC, Video, and S-Video. The remote is also backlit, featuring a very nice and easy-on-the-eyes green so you never have to interrupt that home theater atmosphere by having to turn on the lights if needing to make any adjustments with the projector.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Remote Control

PERFORMANCE – Sanyo LCD Projector


The precursor to enjoying any home theater projector is the set-up, and the Sanyo PLV-Z60 is no exception to the rule. Thankfully, this projector comes equipped with tremendous options and performance functionality to make set-up a veritable breeze. As mentioned earlier, the PLV-Z60 offers both horizontal and vertical lens shift with a great 2.0:1 zoom ratio that offers tremendous throw and flexibility. I set mine up on a 92-inch screen from about 13 feet back and was able to get a perfectly projected image within seconds. While the aforementioned features all but eliminate the need to keystone, if need be, the PLV-Z60 offers a keystone range of plus or minus 20 degrees. Based on provided specs, the PLV-Z60 is able to throw a hundred-inch image from as close as 9.8 feet, and as far back as 20 feet. That’s impressive any which way you want to look at it.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Throw Distance Chart

Once you’re all set-up, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 augments ease of set-up with a wonderful assortment of user menu options that allow you to tailor virtually anything as it relates to your image. There are a total of seven user menus which are as follows: Image, Image adj., Picture adj., Screen, Input, Setting, and Information. The Image menu offers up a staggering seven image presets that include Brilliant cinema (factory default), Creative cinema, Pure Cinema, Natural, Living, Dynamic, Vivid, and four separate User image options. The Image adj. menu is where you can tweak your image until your blue in the face with a wide ranging list of options for Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, Color temp. which offers you High, Mid, Low1, Low2, and Low3, Sharpness, and white balance for Red, Green, and Blue. Additionally, you also have lamp control that ranges from Normal, Auto1, Auto2, and Eco, as well as options to control your Gamma and Lens iris.

If all of that wasn’t enough, there’s even an Advanced menu section here that lets you adjust the Lamp iris, a Color management section to control the level, phase, and gamma of any color, as well as individual gain, offset, and gamma control for red, green, and blue. The Picture adj. and Screen menus allow you various control options as to how your image is displayed with respect to positioning, aspect ratio, and overscan. The Input and Setting menus are self-explanatory, offering all of the input connection options, keystone, projection methods, language, menu position, and the option to enable the Advanced menu section in the Image adj. menu. Not sure why it was designed as such, as it could prove to be confusing to the average user, but all in all, Sanyo had definitely gone above and beyond to create a thorough and comprehensive array of menu options. The final menu is Information which is solely used to view and display all of the current and active settings you're using with your projector.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Image Menu Display Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Image Adjust Menu Display

From an accessories standpoint, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 comes with the bare essentials, offering you the power cord, CD and hardcopy user manual, remote control with batteries, as well as bonus item that, at first glance, appears to be a turkey baster, but which is, in fact, a plastic and rubberized device which allows you to blow dust out of any of the internal openings of the projector which can be prone to dust build-up.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Dust Cleaner

Out-Of-Box Picture

While thus far into the proceedings all appears to be going smashingly well (it has), a fitting subtitle to this review could possibly be: “The Sanyo PLV-Z60 Home Theater LCD Projector – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly,” because for every positive characteristic about the PLV-Z60, there were a couple of flaws to undermine it. For image testing purposes, I used the PS3 for HD playback using a 720p, HDMI connection, and everybody’s perennial Blu-ray favorite, Planet Earth care of the BBC.

When using solely out-of-box, factory-based, default settings, one can expect most any display product to be less-than stellar – or less-than satisfactory, really. But I couldn’t have been less prepared for what visual atrocities the Sanyo PLV-Z60 was about to inflict on me. For starters, the images lacked any degree of a bright, vivid punch that was actually natural or realistic, which would be more than acceptable out-of-box, had it not been combined with gaudy images devoid of any real contrast, sub-par blacks that looked more gray, and color saturation which was clearly off the mark. In general, things looked quite artificial and cartoon-ish despite moments of razor sharp clarity, and it was now time to overhaul an image that was definitely anti-cinema. With such a wealth of image control options at my disposal though, I was about to find out if the proceedings would at least be salvageable.

I adjusted as follows, based on various scenes from Planet Earth:

Image Brilliant Cinema (default)
Brightness -5
Contrast +10
Color +10
Tint 0 (default)
Color temp. Low 1
Sharpness 0 (default)

While things started to look a little better (how could they possibly look worse?), this was clearly a case of not being able to draw wine from a stone, though in fairness to the Sanyo PLV-Z60, it cleans up fairly well. While I at least had a watchable, and even satisfactory image now, the contrast and black levels were still not quite where they needed to be, the images still lacked a natural, cinematic punch (although I’m sure at least some of this has to do with being spoiled by 1080p projector images), and the various image presets that initially had me salivating at the mouth with excitement, proved to be nothing more then a series of shiny-looking diamonds that actually turned out to be cubic zirconiums. They essentially offered up varying degrees of mediocre that was neither here nor there. Another thing that was quite obvious in certain images that I watched was the infamous “screen-door effect.” In laymen’s terms for those not in the know, the “screen-door effect” is when certain parts of the projected image appear as though you’re looking at them through the fine mesh of a screen door. While I’m probably stating the obvious here, this is not really the way you want to be watching movies or television.

In the interests of not totally raining down hellfire on the Sanyo PLV-Z60, I will say that this LCD projector proved to be extremely quiet during operation. It’s rated at 22dB in Eco mode, and compared to most projectors I’ve tested, it was certainly amongst the quietest. But as if to sabotage a pro, the PLV-Z60 runs extremely hot. While I didn’t take an official temperature, suffice to say that after about 30 some odd minutes of use, I could have quite likely cooked bacon and eggs on the air vent. Jokes aside, if a projector runs too hot, it could potentially cause performance issues down the road. That’s clearly never a good thing, though kudos to Sanyo for admirably stepping up to the plate by backing their projector up with a stellar three-year parts and labor warranty, which affords you some much needed peace of mind. 


Trying to shake off the cob webs that came with being subjected to an overall image that left a lot to be desired, I ran a calibration on the Sanyo PLV-Z60. A clear positive for this LCD projector is just how calibration-friendly it is, offering red, green, and blue adjustments in the standard Image adj. menu, as well as gain and offset controls for red, green, and blue in the Advanced portion of the aforementioned menu. There was a blue push evident to most of the imagery out of the box, which isn’t uncommon amongst many projectors, and based on the host of menu options available to me, I decided to run a white balance calibration for the mid-range IRE of 50, as well as the higher end 70 IRE range, and the lower, 20 IRE range. Like a child that knows it’s been bad, the PLV-Z60 calibrated quickly amongst the various IRE ranges, dialing into the ideal color temperature range either a little above or just below the 6500K mark.

While the Sanyo PLV-Z60 had a ways to go in terms of reforming its sub-par to average image quality, the calibration seems to have at least somewhat redeemed it. Contrast and black levels were more on par with the comparable class of projectors, and the images offered up a bit more pop and richness that was more in line with the way things naturally look. Here’s the rub though: to get your image to the point where it starts to look good and worthy of its high-def, 720p moniker, you could be looking at an additional cost of about $500 – roughly half the cost of the projector – for a professional calibration. At this point, the onus of buying a comfortably priced, budget conscious, HD home theater projector becomes negligible at best. Bottom line: if you’re buying this projector, save yourself the calibration costs and just accept the image quality for what it is after having tweaked as much of it as you can in the user menus. Or maybe you have the calibration gear and experience to do it yourself, or maybe you have a calibrator friend that can give you a discount or owes you a favor.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Sanyo LCD Projector

The idea of being able to purchase an affordable, entry-level, HD, home theater projector that gives you larger-than-life images, a vast array of user menu options, while offering up simplicity of set-up certainly warrants your attention, upon further inspection, the PLV-Z60 from Sanyo is less than the sum of its parts. Unless you dole out the added cost that comes with a professional calibration, image quality is average at best, highlighted by obscenely obnoxious and artificial-looking images that lack the vivid naturalism and contrast expected of 720p, HD projector, with color rendering that leaves you wanting more and asking why.

Sanyo PLV-Z60 LCD Home Theater Projector Top Shot


Resolution 1280 x 720
Brightness (typical) 1200 ANSI Lumens (vivid mode)
Uniformity 85% (corner to center)
LCD Panel System 0.7" TFT Poly-Silicon x 3 (16:9)
Number of Pixels 2,764,800(921,600 x 3)
Contrast Ratio 10,000:1 (vivid mode)
Projection Image (diag.) 40" - 300"
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Throw Distance 3.9' - 30.2'
Zoom/Focus 1x to 2.0x, Manual driven
Lens Shift Manual (Up/Down/Left/Right)
Up/Down/Left/Right Ratio Up/Down: 3: -1 ~ -1:3 (-1V/Center/+1V)
Left/Right: 10:0 ~ 0:10 (-0.5H/Center/+0.5H)
Digital Keystone Correction Vertical: +/- 20°
Projection System Dichroic mirror & 4P prism system w/ PBS
Projection Lens F2.0 ~ 3.0 / f0.8” ~ 1.7”
Lens Throw Ratio 1.35 ~ 2.7:1
Projection Lamp 145W UHP
Scanning Frequency H: 15~80kHz, V: 50~100Hz
(auto sense/select)
Dot Clock 100 MHz
HDTV signal 480i/480p/575i/575p/720p/1080i/1080p (HDMI input only)
Computer Compatibility WXGA/SXGA/XGA/SVGA/VGA/MAC
Voltage 100V-240V AC; 50/60Hz (auto voltage)
BTU Rating 717
dB Rating 22 dBA (Eco mode)
Power Consumption 210W/185W (Nomal/Eco)
Dimensions (WxHxD) Not including protrusion: 15 x 5 x 12 inches or 38.1 x 12.7 x 30.5 centimeters 
Net Weight 11.0 lbs. or 4.9 kgs.
User Maintenance Clean air filters, replace lamp assembly
Input Terminals
  Component Video 1
Y, Pb/Cb, Pr/Cr (RCA x 3)
  Component Video 2 Y, Pb/Cb, Pr/Cr (RCA x 3)
  S-Video S-Video (Mini DIN 4-pin x 1)
  Composite Video Video (RCA x 1)
  Computer Analog RGB (D-Sub 15)
  HDMI HDMI (19-pin) x 2
  Communication RS-232C/ Service Port (Mini DIN 8-pin)
Included Accessories Owner's Manual(Quick manual & CD ROM); Illuminated Infrared Remote Control; AC Power Cord (6.6’); 2 AA batteries; Air blower
Optional Accessories 610 322 5998– Replacement Lamp
945 087 1451 – Replacement Remote
POA-MCSRL – Serial Control Cable
FCC Rating Class B, UL Listed
Warranty 3-years parts & labor; 90-days lamp (original);
30-days lamp (replacement) Quick Repair Program under warranty

Verdict recommendations are ranked from best to worst as follows:

Highly Recommended                      
Moderate Recommendation            
Take A Pass
Avoid Like The Plague  

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