The latest wave of 3LCD 720p home theatre projectors is slowly making their way Down Under. This time round, we have a representative from Sanyo's established Z-series, which first debuted back in 2002. Now into its fifth iteration, the PLV-Z5 is more than just an incremental update of its predecessor, with improved picture-centric performance and connectivity. That, of course, includes the customary motorised lens shutter unique among its rivals of similar class and make.
The Z5 boosts a high 10,000:1 contrast ratio, an almost 43 percent enhancement over the 7,000:1 performance delivered by the Z4. This step-up figure is delivered by a twin iris optical system integrated with lens and lamp apertures, dynamically controlled real-time by selected image mode and actual video footage. There is also an update in video-processing capability from 10- to 12-bit, giving the projector improved calculating precision for resolving minute details, while reproducing richer colours.
This beamer is also one of the rare gems with not one but two HDMI terminals future-proofed with 1080p-compliancy. If this is not enough, there are also another two sets of 1080i component-video sockets. In all, you have up to four HD-ready inputs at your disposal. That's easily twice the norm featured by its peers such as the Epson EMP-TW700 and Panasonic PT-AX100. This is also in addition to the usual spread of legacy jacks for the standard-def A/V boxes.
Continuing the tradition of most, if not all, LCD-based entertainment projectors, the Z5 sports wide lens shift capability for added flexibility in home installation. This enables users to install the projector off-centre, up to three and two times the screen size vertically and horizontally, respectively. Couple this handy feature with a powerful 2x zoom and you will be guaranteed a truly theatrical 100-inch projection with relative ease, from a comfortable 3m throw distance.
If you are one of those fashion-conscious home entertainment buffs, we are pretty sure the Z5's boxy outline will hardly inspire. Though its design is far from outright distasteful, some addition curves or perhaps a touch of glossy finish -- the likes of the InFocus Play Big series -- would be a welcome change. On a lesser note, the cosmetic 100 ANSI lumens increase in brightness is quite insignificant. This pales in comparison with the 900 lumens leap offered by Panasonic which beats the Sanyo hands down with almost double the light output.
The PLV-Z5 is going for a light AU$3,299 price tag. In terms of value, you will be hardpressed sourcing for a better deal to match this feature-packed Japanese product. There is no better time to upgrade your 480p beamer with such affordability, unless you are eyeing the full-HD route for the ultimate visuals.