Setting the Z4000 is superbly straightforward – or at least, that’s the case when it comes to simply getting the right sized image looking geometrically accurate on your screen. There’s plenty of optical zoom to cope with different throw distances, while really simple horizontal and vertical image shift wheels down the projector’s side remove the need for nasty digital keystone image manipulation. In an ideal world, the wheels’ response to your turns would be less baggy and so allow for more precise movements. But this is a pretty small point really.
After this impressively straightforward start, though, the Z4000 careens in totally the opposite direction when it comes to picture calibration. For a start, its presets are uniformly, inexplicably rubbish. The ‘cinema’-based settings all remove too much brightness from the picture, so images lack ‘pop’ and look low on subtle details in dark areas. Yet the Dynamic and Living settings, with their emphasis on brightness, both feature rank colour settings, with far too much emphasis on yellow.
The remaining ‘Natural’ mode, meanwhile, injects too much red and orange into pictures for them to even remotely live up to the preset’s name.
Of course, it’s not especially unusual for a projector’s presets to be pretty unsatisfying. But the Z4000’s are particularly bad – making it all the more aggravating that the Z4000 is also unusually tough to calibrate.
Part of our frustration stems from the way the projector doesn’t provide separate colour gain and offset controls. But the colour management tools it does provide are also unusually presented and seemed to us to be rather tortuous, making correcting the numerous out-of-the-box errors a chore.
The Z4000 also feels a bit cumbersome in the controls it offers for contrast and dynamic iris settings. Ultimately we ended up really welcoming the bounty of options available, but they don’t seem to be ‘joined up’ as sensibly in the menus as we’d have liked.
We didn’t time exactly how long it took us to get the Z4000’s pictures looking as good as we could get them, but the period can safely be characterised as ‘absolutely bloody ages’…
Just as well, then, that our considerable efforts yielded pretty profound levels of improvement.
The single greatest of these improvements came with predominantly bright scenes, which went from looking either pallid or radioactive (depending on preset choice) to looking punchy without appearing forced or ‘flared out’.
We also achieved a setting where predominantly bright scenes with a bit of dark content managed to look dynamic and vibrant without leaving the dark parts of the picture looking unduly greyed out.
As for predominantly dark scenes, we also achieved a markedly more gratifying balance between deep black colours on the one hand and punchier bright elements on the other.