- Good colour reproduction, great lens shifting capabilities,
- Illogical automatic dimming, Colour bleed problems, Convergence issues.
A good projector, but not quite as good as the Z3, and with a few minor annoyances.
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
The GoodGearGuide team has been eagerly anticipating getting our hands on the Sanyo PLV-Z4. We were fans of the Z3 and enjoyed the evolutionary leap it made from the early days of the Z2. However, the Z4, while reasonably good, isn't the outstanding performer we were hoping for and was no match for the Panasonic AE900, currently number one on our list of LCD projectors to drool over.
The Z4 has undergone some huge design changes. It has tossed aside its stylish visage in favour of a much boxier industrial design, reminiscent of many business projectors on the market. The front of the unit sports a large lens door which automatically slides open and closed when the projector is powered on and off. This feature was very impressive and added an air of sophistication to the unit. The left side of the Z4 has lens shift controls giving the user full control over the horizontal and vertical position of the image on the screen. Once the position is correctly adjusted, it can then be locked in place with another switch which disables the lens shift functions. This was an extremely useful and brilliantly implemented feature. The rear of the unit houses all the connections and the Z4 is far from short on those. It has a HDMI port and 15pin D-Sub, S-Video and RCA video inputs and two component video connections. There are no audio connections on the unit, but that is by no means a disadvantage. Most projectors with in-built audio offer appalling sound quality and most people buying a home theatre projector probably have a surround sound setup anyway.
As a whole, the image quality of the Z4 is quite good although we did find a few problems - some minor and others quite severe. Before our formal testing we ran the projector over a two week period in a home environment watching various DVDs and playing Xbox games. DVDs looked great with quite reasonable colour reproduction and brightness and video games worked quite well without much of the motion blurring usually seen on other projectors in the market. However, the Z4 seems to have an automatic dim feature which kicks in at odd and mostly inappropriate moments. The dimming seems to be attempting to compensate on-the-fly for image brightness but it seemed to do it in a very illogical manner. Rather than tone down whites in a bright image and brighten up darker elements, it seemed to do it in reverse, dimming when images became dark, making them harder to make out. It is also really noticeable when the whole picture gets darker in the middle of a scene then suddenly for no discernable reason becomes bright again a moment later. We searched for a way to turn this off but found no reference to it in the menu system. We attempted to compensate by choosing one of the pre-set image schemes but it made no difference.
The menu system on the Z4 is extremely simple to understand and quite powerful in its calibration options. It gives the user a series of pre-set image schemes such as vivid, natural, cinema and the like while also allowing calibration of brightness, contrast, colour temperature, individual colour channel tweaking and the like. Optimising the image to your home environment is very easy and possible for amateur projection enthusiasts and professionals alike.
We tested the HDMI and component connections using our Digital Video Essentials test DVD run on a Denon DVD player. While the HDMI connection looks slightly better than the component, the test results were consistent across both connections and as such we will discuss them here as one set of results.
We noticed some colour bleeding between certain colours in our colour block tests and SMPTE bat tests. In the block tests the defined edges of the green and purple blocks tended to bleed together forming a third colour, a mix of the two. This bleeding was also prevalent in the SMPTE pattern mixing yellow and red, purple and cyan and once again affecting green against purple. We also noticed a pulsating black square of pixels that would intermittently blink on and off within the purple blocks. We thought it may have been an aberration of that particular part of the screen or the signal from our source but found it happened in all instances of large amounts of purple even when playing the menu screens of our The Incredibles DVD via various source devices. This particular problem was specific to the component connection though as there was no incidents of it occurring via HDMI.
The black on white block tests were flawless and delivered rich blacks and bright whites which were soon thereafter dimmed by the projector. In grayscale the projector did well but we did notice a pink hue to the lighter gray registers.
We connected to the projector via D-sub to our test laptop and ran Display Mate Video Edition at 1280x1024 resolution to mixed results. The geometry and distortion tests were fine with no noticeable pixel draw inaccuracies in simple line geometry. However, in our Sharpness and Pixel Tracking tests, we noticed the projector has serious problems drawing complex geometries. We used a test pattern designed to test moire distortion which consisted of hundreds of vertical lines and tested the performance in all the primary and secondary colours, one at a time. The results were disastrous. In every colour the projector produced serious distortion of the lines, often dissecting them at three separate points and mis-aligning them to the right. The overall effect looked like serious banding in the shape of the famous Atari logo. This extended to all other tests where fine detail was required from the Z4.
We also noticed fluctuating noise patterns on these finer patterns in grayscale ad discovered several convergence issues whereby gray images would be fringed in a slight colourisation, usually purple or green.
The Z4 is not a bad projector by any means but it is not as good as its immediate predecessor or many of its competitors. It sits squarely mid-range. For the average user, it is ideal as it is simple to use and set up, but the dimming issue will annoy people especially those that are purists when watching their favourite movies. We were also happy that the exhaust didn't seem to give off as much heat as other projectors that we have tested and the power down cycle wasn't as long either. The cost is a little high for the quality of this projector but with street prices being how they are, you will more than likely be able to find it available for much less.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Sony’s new liquid-cooled 4K home video projector delivers 5000 lumens of brightness, costs $60,000
- BenQ targets Epson with revamped home entertainment projectors
- LG's new Laser Display gives you 100in of full HD glory
- Win an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab in the 2012 PC World Media Usage survey
- Vivid Sydney 2012 gets some love from will.i.am
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTJava Developer - Fixed Term ContractQLD
- FTOracle Forms PL/SQL Analyst ProgrammerQLD
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaQLD
- TPIteration ManagerNSW
- FTWeb Developer/ReportsNSW
- FTSales Account Manager | Cloud Solutions | Global Tech GiantNSW
- TPiOS Developer (Mobile)NSW
- FTHR Payroll ConsultantQLD
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- CCSME in Openstack, AWSNSW
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- CCCyber Security ArchitectNSW
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)ACT
- CCSalesforce - Functional Analyst (BA)NSW
- TPICT Project CoordinatorQLD
- FTPart Time - IT Service Desk AnalystVIC
- CCNetwork Engineer/ Network AdministratorQLD
- TPBusiness Analyst - Technical BackgroundQLD
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD
- TPMaster SchedulerNSW
- FTDeveloper - XML & JavaVIC
- CCUnix AdministratorNSW
- FTSenior Project Manager - PERMANENTACT
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW