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Epson 720 – Sanyo PLV-Z60 – Mitsubishi HC1600
720p Home Theater Projectors: At A Glance
Anthony Marsh – January 13, 2009


Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 720 LCD Projector

Sanyo PLV-Z60 Home Theater LCD Projector
Mitsubishi HC1600 Home Theater DLP Projector

Verdict: When assessing and comparing the Epson 720, the Sanyo PLV-Z60, and the Mitsubishi HC1600, it becomes quite evident that three's a crowd in this two horse race between the Epson 720 and the Mitsubishi HC1600. While the Sanyo PLV-Z60 scores early points for ease of set-up, a nice blend of thorough and easy to use menus, and a great three year warranty, it fails miserably in perhaps the most important category: image quality, while alternately, the Epson 720 and the Sanyo PLV-Z60 excel and don’t disappoint.

Introduction / Appearance / Set-Up / Performance / Final Thoughts

  Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 720 Sanyo PLV-Z60 Mitsubishi HC1600
Cost (MSRP) $1,299.99 (USD) $1,295.00 (USD) $999.99 (USD)
Native Resolution 720p (1280 x 720) 720p (1280 x 720) 720p (1280 x 720)
Projection System LCD, 0.7 inch poly-silicon TFT active matrix x 3 LCD, 0.7 inch TFT Poly-Silicon x 3

DLP, 0.62 inch 1-Chip DMD, 12 deg. LVDS, DarkChip2 DDP3020

Brightness Up to 1600 lumens (Dynamic Mode)

Up to 1200 lumens (Vivid Mode)

1700 lumens
Contrast Up to 10,000:1 (Dynamic Mode) Up to 10,000:1 (Vivid Mode) 2500:1

HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video, RGB

HDMI x 2, Component x 2, Composite,
S-Video, RGB

HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video, RGB

Lamp Life Up to 3000 hours N/A Up to 3000 hours
Lens Shift Yes (manual), Vertical (plus or minus 100%), Horizontal (plus or minus 50%) Yes (manual), Vertical and Horizontal
(figures N/A)
Zoom Lens 2.1:1 2.0:1 1.2:1
Noise 26 to 33 dB 22 dBA (Eco mode) 25 dBA (Low mode)
Weight 11.5 lbs (5.2 kgs.) 11 lbs. (4.9 kgs.) 6.5 lbs. (2.9 kgs.)
Dimensions (W x H x D)

16 x 4.9 x 12.2 inches

15 x 5 x 12 inches 12.2 x 3.9 x 9.6 inches

2 year parts and labor limited warranty, 90-day lamp warranty, including overnight replacement services and exclusive Epson PrivateLine toll-free technical support (Canada and U.S. only)

3-years parts & labor; 90-days lamp (original); 30-day lamp (replacement) Quick Repair Program under warranty 1-Year Limited Parts and Labor Warranty,
1-Year or 500 hours lamp warranty (whichever comes first)
Homepage www.epson.com www.us.sanyo.com www.mitsubishielectric.com


When it comes to making a home theater projector purchase, there are many things worth considering: LCD or DLP, high lumens vs. high contrast ratio, input connectivity, size and weight, price and bang-for-buck value, warranty, and on and on. In the world of 720p projectors, we're going to specifically look at three different models: the Epson 720, the Sanyo PLV-Z60, and the Mitsubishi HC1600.


In many ways, appearance is the most subjective category that could also be considered the least important factor when it comes to making any kind of a buying decision. But for those of you who value aesthetics and creating a room that offers some sort of visual appeal, appearance can be far more than a mere afterthought.

When examining the Epson 720, the Sanyo PLV-Z60, and the Mitsubishi HC1600, the one projector that immediately jumps out at me from a design perspective is the Epson 720. While it opts to go with an off-white (pearlescent) color chassis as opposed to the now standardized (and preferable) black, it works because it looks modern, clean, and fresh by way of its rounded contours. The PLV-Z60 from Sanyo and Mitsubishi's HC1600 opt to go the more traditional design route of a boxy-looking projector as emphasized by the straight lines and edges, though to Mitsubishi's credit, it does at least offer a twist of sorts with the top portion of the projector meeting the sides and base with a slightly downward curved design.

In terms of size, all three are relatively lightweight and compact, though the Mitsubishi HC1600 takes it to a whole other level of compact and lightweight, offering a home theater projector that weighs just 6.5 pounds (2.9 kgs.), with dimensions of (W x H x D): 12.2 x 3.9 x 9.6 inches. This is ultimately negligible though, unless you absolutely and positively don't have any room whatsoever and need the most compact projector available. But being that we're talking about home theater projectors, the space you'd likely already have allocated would be more than enough to accommodate the Epson 720 or the Sanyo PLV-Z60.

With respect to the lens, all three 720p projectors offer manual focus and zoom rings. The Epson 720 offers easy access to both via the lens rings themselves, while the Mitsubishi offers equally easy to access lens focus and zoom adjustment via the half rings just above the lens. Sanyo, quite perplexingly, has their lens housed in a casing (great for protection), which proves to be frustrating when you're trying to make any sort of lens adjustment and constantly find your fingers/hands blocking the lens and the image being projected. As Epson and Mitsubishi can clearly attest, there is a better way, and Sanyo would be well advised to find, and make use of it. Wrapping things up, the 720 and the PLV-Z60 come equipped with two front (left/right) height adjustable legs, while the HC1600 offers only which is centered and up front as well.


I don't know about you, but when it comes to any piece of home electronics equipment, the easier it is to set-up and start enjoying right away, the better. When it comes to home theater projectors, a couple of features go a long ways towards creating this ease of set-up. The first is the zoom ratio of the lens. In this respect, the Epson 720 is top dog with a zoom ratio of 2.1:1, while following just behind in a Olympics-worthy photo finish is the Sanyo PLV-Z60 which comes in with a zoom ratio of 2.0:1. Lagging well behind is the HC1600 which comes with a 1.2:1 zoom lens ratio. The second aspect which aids tremendously with ease of set-up is lens shift, preferably when it comes in the vertical and horizontal variety. Epson and Sanyo both offer this, while Mitsubishi doesn't. While these value-added bits of convenience shouldn't discourage or encourage you from buying one projector over another, they certainly do add some degree of positive reinforcement when it comes to making your purchase. I will however add that while the HC1600 from Mitsubishi requires a little extra work to set-up by virtue of the fact it doesn't offer the same degree of short-throw capabilities as its 720 counterparts, once it is set-up in your home theater room, you'll likely never need to move the projector again, so it's really just a one-shot deal in terms of needing more time to set up and making use of the aforementioned lens features.

Epson 720  Home Theater Projector Rear Inputs
Sanyo PLV-Z60  Home Theater Projector Rear Inputs
Mitsubishi HC1600  Home Theater Projector Rear Inputs
Epson 720
Sanyo PLV-Z60
Mitsubishi HC1600

Another notable part of the set-up equation is the available inputs and connectivity of your projector. All three of these projectors offer inputs for HDMI, Component, S-Video, Composite, and RGB. And all three offer inputs that are well laid out and clearly labeled so you know exactly what goes where. Sanyo does Epson and Mitsubishi two better though, offering two HDMI and two Component inputs. All in all, whether you go with the PLV-Z60, the 720, or the HC1600, all of your HD, home theater input needs will be met.

Once everything is connected and projecting as it should be, another worthy piece of the buying pie is the amount of control you have over your projected images. For the novice users (or those that simply can't be bothered to tweak things) that just want the basic adjustment controls for things such as brightness, contrast, color, sharpness, and tint, all three 720p projectors will fit the bill. For those that enjoy all of their image presets for specific types of source materials that are being watched, all three of these home theater projectors get the job done, though the Epson 720 and the Sanyo PLV-Z60 lead the pack with seven image presets, while the Mitsubishi HC1600 has four. For the more advanced and seasoned users who just can't get enough of adjusting and re-adjusting every single aspect of their projected image, while all three projectors present their more advanced menu options under different titles or name designations, all of them allow you tailor and customize more advanced settings such as RGB gain and offset. In terms of saving your customized user settings, the Epson 720 allows you to save up to nine, while the other two projectors fall well behind with four for Sanyo and three for Mitsubishi. While overall I'd give the Epson 720 the nod with respect to menu layout, ease of use, and the amount of options available, all three projectors are equipped to appease users of every type of skillset.

Regarding the remote controls, all three share similarly positive traits such as being fully-functional and offering a nice collection of one-touch button controls. In this respect, the Epson 720 gives you one-touch access to color mode, gamma, color temperature, contrast, and memory, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 gives you said access to features like brightness, contrast, color, iris, and image presets, while the Mitsubishi HC1600 gives you access to contrast, brightness, gamma, and color temperature. While the remote controls for the Epson and the Sanyo feature a convenient backlight feature, the Mitsubishi opts to go with in-the-dark illuminated buttons instead. From an ergonomic standpoint, the Epson proves to be the best of the bunch. The other two remotes, especially the one for the HC1600 prove to be a little on the small side which can create some unnecessary finger crowding, thus requiring you to be a little more precise when pressing the buttons. This can be easily rectified by making a larger remote control that’s not geared towards infant and toddler-sized hands. Are you listening Sanyo and Mitsubishi?


Aside from perhaps ease of set-up and cost, the most important aspect that factors into any buying decision when it comes to a home theater projector – or any piece of electronics for that matter – is performance. While the Epson 720 and Sanyo PLV-Z60 are LCD-based, the Mitsubishi is a DLP-powered projector. Without getting into the whole debate of LCD vs. DLP (it's almost like comparing red wine to white wine), I will say that through the course of our testing, one thing became crystal clear: two of these three projectors performed very well, while the other left a lot to be desired.

Epson 720 and Mitsubishi HC1600 step forward and take a bow. Both of you did a great job presenting images with bright, vivid punch and stellar contrast detail. While black levels and overall image vibrancy leaned slightly in favor the Epson 720, the HC1600 has nothing to be ashamed about considering the fact that the Epson 720 is one of the benchmark performers in the 720p home theater projector class. That leaves us with the Sanyo PLV-Z60. I don't want to sound too harsh here, but it seems like the folks over at Sanyo confused obnoxiously-bright and artificially-looking sharp images with quality images that are full of depth, texture, and naturalism. While I'm sure there are more than a few people out there that will enjoy this brand of image, upon steady viewing it becomes evident that the PLV-Z60 is an unfortunate blend of oversaturated colors and artificial clarity that resembles nothing in real life, and moreover, it quickly loses that initial eye candy appeal you may be foolishly taken in by. Compounding matters is the "screen door" effect that unfortunately rears its ugly head with the PLV-Z60. While calibration seemed to agree with the Sanyo PLV-Z60 and its gaudy images, is it really worth dropping some $1,300 on a projector, and then turning around and having to spend another $500 or so dollars to get it professionally calibrated? With the Epson 720 and the Mitsubishi HC1600, you get performance right out of the box, and they only require some tweaking via the standard user menus to make things look even better.

In terms of projector noise while in operation, the Sanyo gains a modest measure of redemption here as it was the quietest of the three, while the Epson was the loudest. It's worth noting though: while the Sanyo was the least noisiest of the trio, both the Epson 720 and the Mitsubishi HC1600 posed no issues or distractions whatsoever during usage. And when you add in that not-so little tidbit that you'll be watching and listening to a movie or some other form of entertainment, the dB ratings of each projector becomes even less of an issue. From a functional standpoint, it certainly bares mention that of the three projectors, the Sanyo PLV-Z60 runs the hottest. So hot in fact that you could probably use it as an alternate stove top. Lame wit aside, a projector that runs this hot could potentially face performance issues down the line due to a variety of internal components becoming compromised over time to more than the usual amount of wear and tear.


Simply put, if you're looking for a 720p class home theater projector, skip the Sanyo PLV-Z60. The Epson 720 and the Mitsubishi HC1600 should be where you start.

While the Sanyo PLV-Z60 offers ease of set-up, a simple and comprehensive array of user menu options, and an excellent 3-year parts and labor warranty, it's inferior and artificial image quality just can't be recommended – unless all you plan on watching is animated cartoons were loud and super-bright images are usually the norm. Alternately, the Epson 720 and the Mitsubishi HC1600 offer high-quality images that are sure to please any home theater enthusiast that's looking to get his feet wet with a 720p projector. While picture quality on the Epson 720 gets an ever-so slight edge, and it's ease of set-up trumps that of the HC1600 (although you probably only have to set up and mount your projector once), when you consider that the HC1600 comes in at about $300 less than the 720, the debate is a little more open-ended and not so cut and dry, making both of them very attractive and worthwhile purchases.

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