Regular readers may have spotted the review of Sanyo’s PLV-Z800 entry-level LCD projector a couple of weeks ago. And if you read it, you’ll know that we were rather startled to discover that despite boasting a completely new model number, following Sanyo’s typical ‘annual progression’ format, the PLV-Z800 was essentially the PLV-Z700 with reduced standby power consumption.
To be honest, this seemed a bit cheeky to us - and certainly didn’t help us feel any better disposed towards the Z800 than we were towards the rather average Z700.
So it’s with a feeling of suspicion that we position Sanyo’s PLV-Z4000 on our projector stand. Will this step-up three-LCD model turn out to just be last year’s Z3000 with a lower standby power consumption?
Actually, yes. Or at least that appears to be the case from detailed scrutiny of both its performance and its spec sheet. It’s possible Sanyo might have introduce the odd firmware tweak here or there since March 2009‘s Z3000 review, but if so, nobody’s boasting about it.
Upon discovering all this, we actually considered not reviewing the Z4000. But then the more we thought about it, the more a review seemed necessary. For a start, we really felt that Sanyo’s dubious policy of using a completely new model number to signify what is, in truth, the very tiniest of changes needed to be highlighted.
Don’t forget by way of comparison that when BenQ launched a revamped version of its W1000 projector recently, it just stuck a + sign on the end of the original name - despite the fact that in reality, the new W1000’s innards were quite a radical improvement on those of the original model. Sanyo’s ‘improvements’ to the Z3000 are so minute by comparison that frankly we don’t think they warrant any change in the projector’s name at all.
In other words, if you can find a Z3000 going cheap on account of the ‘new model’ hitting town, get that instead...
The other good reason for looking at the Z4000 is that it’s worth seeing how its performance holds up against the competition that’s emerged in the 18 months or so since its chassis first appeared in Z3000 guise.
The first thing to say about the Z4000 is that it’s arguably even uglier than the Z800. It’s just a big lump of plastic, really, with its grey finish having even less charm than the cream finish of its cheaper sibling.
The only slightly cool thing about its design is the way a cover slides automatically over the lens when you power the projector down, or slides open when you turn it on. Woo.
The Z4000’s connections live up to today’s projection standards. Most significantly, you get two HDMIs for receiving digital HD sources. But there are also notably a couple of component video inputs, and a D-Sub PC port. A 12V trigger output is perhaps the only thing missing from the connections list that we might reasonably have expected to find.