The Sanyo PLV-Z800 is an entry-level 1080p home theatre projector with a quoted contrast ratio of 10,000:1 and ANSI brightness of 1200 lumens. It needs a dimly lit room to really shine, but we were impressed by its performance given its price.
The Sanyo PLV-Z800 closely resembles other Sanyo home theatre projectors we've previously looked at, like the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 and Sanyo PLV-Z5. Instead of requiring a fiddly lens cap, the PLV-Z800 uses a sliding door to cover the lens — this is an excellent idea. The 2x zoom lens has vertical and horizontal shift using the side-mounted manual controls, and a lock switch allows the lens' position to be fixed to prevent any unwanted creep. On top of the Sanyo projector you'll find a grid of controls, but we preferred using the backlit remote control for making adjustments.
If you've got multiple video devices, the Sanyo PLV-Z800 should be able to accommodate them all. Two HDMI 1.3 ports support 1080p devices like Blu-ray disc players or home theatre PCs, while older analog video devices can be connected through the composite, S-Video, component and VGA ports. There's also an RS-232C serial port for integrating the Sanyo PLV-Z800 into a home automation system.
Setting up the Sanyo PLV-Z800 was a breeze. The 2x zoom lens means getting a correctly sized projection image is easy, and focus is well weighted for small adjustments — however, it is manual rather than electronic, so you'll need to go to the screen to check focus and then back to the projector if any tweaking is needed.
Image quality is excellent — when you're in a dark or dim room. The Sanyo PLV-Z800's 1200 lumen brightness rating is enough for it to excel in darker environments, but with fluorescent downlighting or sunlight the picture is quickly washed out and contrast is lost. In an appropriate viewing environment, though, the Sanyo PLV-Z800's projected image displays great levels of fine image detail from 1080p content.
Our The Dark Knight test Blu-ray footage was crisp in close-up scenes, and good detail was displayed in darker areas of the screen. When the movie flicked from bright to dark scenes we did occasionally notice the dynamic iris lowering brightness levels, but for almost all other movie watching this wasn't a problem. Colour is also handled extremely well by the Sanyo PLV-Z800, with no banding or poor gradation that we could see.
One feature of the Sanyo PLV-Z800 that impressed us was the almost silent operation of the fan. Even when we had the lamp at full brightness, we weren't able to hear the fan over low volume movie dialogue. Switching the lamp to economy mode, which lowers brightness and heat levels, means the fan is all but inaudible even with no audio playing.
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