Sanyo's 3LCD projector may look more plasticky than the contents of a gimp shop, but it's got hi-def cred in spades and a bargain price
Don't be put off by the cheap and nasty looks – this HD-ready Sanyo projector may well be the company's best projector yet. Packed to the rafters with imaging tech and connections, the deal clincher is you can get your mitts on it for less than half its original launch price.
Like all good offspring, the fifth-generation 3LCD Sanyo takes the best bits of its predecessors and adds a little magic of its own. Making a reappearance in the PLV-Z5 comes 12-bit digital image processing, Sanyo's proprietary twin-iris lens system, and 3D colour management (going under the snappy moniker of 'TopazReal').
But there are some tweaks, too. Brightness has been bumped up from 1000 to 1100 lumens, while the claimed contrast ratio has jumped from an impressive 7000:1 to a potentially altogether more jaw-dropping 10,000:1.
More than ready for HD
When it comes to the thorny issue of HD, the PLV-Z5 grabs it by the proverbials. As well as offering two HDMI inputs, there's twin component inputs and a 1280x720 screen resolution, making it not just HD-ready (accepting signals up to 720p/1080i) but flexible enough to be used with several sources without resorting to the switching in an AV receiver.
Horizontal and vertical lens shifts allow plenty of room for adjustment, with the lens itself protected by a motorised cover that can be operated from the backlit remote. It's a smart touch if you intend to mount the unit out of reach – or if you're just too lazy to get off the sofa.
The colour balance and definition do sterling work on Blu-ray discs, and there's plenty of detail, even in those devilishly tricky blocks of dark hues. OK, so the resolution's not quite on a par with the very best here, but the Sanyo still offers highly enjoyable viewing.
Lacking a steady hand
Our main concern is the handling of fast motion. This Sanyo doesn't have the steadiness of an InFocus or Panasonic, suffering from distracting smearing on anything faster than a light jog. If motion instability is a major bugbear for you, this probably isn't your perfect bedfellow.
That said, it still remains a largely capable projector - especially now it's had such a substantial price cut. Factor in its versatility, and the PLV-Z5 is a tempting proposition.
Sanyo PLV-Z5 review
The PLV-Z5 has plenty going for it and an enticing price, but can't quite match the performance of the best