Features within the Z5’s tidy onscreen menus aren’t particularly expansive by today’s standards, but that’s not to say there isn’t anything of interest. I certainly got good mileage out of a couple of well-judged gamma presets, for instance, and an unusually long list of progressive scan options. Plus there’s a solid contrast booster, and a system for improving the appearance of colour transients.
Getting the Z5 to produce a perfectly proportioned image on my screen proved winningly simple too, thanks in particular to an excellent vertical and horizontal image shifting system, a stonking optical x2 zoom, and digital keystone correction.
Obviously the $64,000 question as I settle down to watch the Z5 has to be whether or not its performance still holds up, given that the best part of 18 months have passed since it was first launched. After all, 18 months can be a heck of a long time in AV terms – especially when it comes to projectors.
The first thing to strike me is how pleasingly deep the projector’s black level gets. This was actually the area where I’d expected the passage of time to have had the most damaging effect on the Z5’s chances, but actually the darkness of Barbossa’s treasure cave in ”Pirates of the Caribbean” is rendered with much less of the usual grey murk than I’ve seen on even some much more recent sub-£1k projectors.
The respectability of the Z5’s black levels also helps the projector produce a surprisingly believable colour palette. Decent justice is done to the lush, fully saturated tones of animated fare like ”Ratatouille” on Blu-ray, while the subtle, varied and often low-lit skin tones of ”There Will Be Blood” are handled with the sort of accuracy that’s completely beyond most rival mega-budget models.
Yet more good news finds the Z5’s pictures looking strikingly free of video noise of any sort, be it grain, dot crawl, colour moiré, or whatever. This makes standard def material more watchable than is usually the case at this price point, while high def’s clarity shines through superbly.
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