In fact, post calibration, the Z4000’s pictures have a lot of things going for them. For as well as being punchy, bright scenes look sharp and crisp, with good detailing from high def sources. It doesn’t damage this impression of sharpness that the Z4000’s Smooth Motion mode does a surprisingly good job of reducing judder without either generating nasty processing side effects or making the picture look hopelessly unnatural.
Black levels really do look impressively deep for an LCD projector that’s now essentially 18 months old, and our shadow detail concerns are at least reduced by our more sensibly brightness/contrast balance.
Colours, meanwhile, appear post-calibration with far fewer obvious tonal errors, making pictures immediately more engaging.
Crucially, though, no matter how hard we tried, calibration couldn’t quite remove ALL of our concerns. For instance, we never totally reconciled greens and yellows, with one or the other tone sometimes suddenly looking unduly dominant in certain scenes. Nor did we shake the feeling during predominantly dark scenes that the picture lacks brightness and dynamism versus some rivals, making dark scenes feel too out of kilter with the rest of the images in a film.
This latter point also convinces us that the Z4000 won’t be an appropriate choice at all for anyone trying to fill a screen bigger than 100in. The picture just won’t be bright enough.
Another smaller negative is that while the Z4000‘s fans are superbly quiet with its brightness output limited to its lowest level, with things set so that the Z4000 delivers a punchy image, the noise from the fans increases quite considerably.
Still, even at its worst it shouldn’t distract you except for when you’re watching near-silent scenes – provided, at least, that you avoid using too many of the various dynamic settings the projector provides, since these can cause the fan noise to adjust ‘on the fly’, making it markedly more distracting.
As with the Z3000 with which it shares, well, pretty much everything, the Z4000 is capable of being a very accomplished projector for its money. It’s just a shame it needs arguably professional levels of calibration before you’ll get anything like the best out of it.
It’s also a shame that at the time of writing, the Z4000 actually costs more than the Z3000 did when it first came out, despite changing nothing but standby power consumption.
Judging the Z4000 on its performance credentials, it just about deserves its 8 overall score. Though we admit we were sorely tempted to drop this to a 7, on account of its set-up hassles and its bare-faced cheek at sporting a model number that makes you think you’re getting a genuinely revamped Sanyo projector when it’s really a near clone of something that first appeared in spring 2009.