I'm going to start this review with a plea, if you don't mind. And that plea is to all manufacturers to think twice before doing as Sanyo has with the PLV-Z700 and ditching ‘paper' instruction manuals in favour of disc-only manuals. For while I appreciate the green heart that possibly lies behind the paperless manual concept, there really is no replacement for being able to have a hard copy of the instructions to hand when you're setting the thing up. Plus I'm sure I'm not alone in tending to thumb through instruction manuals when I'm sat on a train or the toilet. Or, um, maybe I am... Anyway, moving swiftly on, as they say.
Despite its Full HD resolution, the Z700 is Sanyo's new entry-level LCD machine, as reflected by a startlingly low price of £1,005.66. I can't help but recall that InFocus's X10 DLP projector also delivers a Full HD resolution for around the same kind of money. But if the Z700 can get close to the X10's performance while also doing away with DLP technology's rainbow effect interference, it should still come out looking like a serious bargain.
The Z700 both looks its money, and doesn't. Which is to say that although it's surprisingly big and reassuringly heavy for a budget machine, it's also a bit bland thanks to some unimaginative rectangular sculpting and a slightly plasticky and drab matt white finish.
There is one thing I like about the Z700's appearance, though: its promisingly large lens. It's nice to discover, too, that this lens is protected by a sliding cover when you turn the projector off.
Setting the Z700 up really couldn't be easier. For starters it's got all the connections you could reasonably expect for its money, including twin HDMIs, two component video inputs, and a PC port.
Even better, though, is the superb amount of optical image shift available. Simple wheels down the lens's right hand side enable you to shunt the picture up or down by as much as three full screen sizes, or left and right over as much as two screen sizes. This means you don't have to place the projector directly in line with the centre of your screen, making it much more accommodating of weird shaped rooms than your average budget projector. As if all this wasn't enough, the Z700 also offers a x2 optical zoom, which enables it to adapt itself to an unusual variety of room sizes as well as shapes.
The only time things start to get a little complicated - but mostly in a good way - is when you start delving into the Z700's on-screen menus. For these contain a really remarkably long list of features for such a cheapo projector.