At this point I should say that I feel like I’ve been rather harsh on the Z700. Maybe the amount of recent time I’ve spent in the company of really outstanding projectors further up the pricing tree has spoiled me. So it’s worth saying now that the problems identified do not make the Z700’s a bad projector by any means. Rather they’re arguably just typical of the sort of performance prices you have to pay for getting a Full HD projector on a shoestring.
And then there are its strengths to consider. These begin with the sharpness of its HD pictures. For while it lacks the colour finesse to deliver quite as much texture subtlety as some slightly more expensive projectors, for its money the amount of detail and noiseless clarity evident in shots like the one where our soon-to-be-ashes ”30 Days” hero stares across a bright frozen landscape is actually very impressive.
After a bad start, I also found myself rather taken with the Z700’s colours. The early problems come from some generally unhelpful factory colour presets, which find the primary colours looking more inclined to PC than video use, and skin tones looking peaky. But after spending quality time fiddling with the projector’s gamma and colour management tools, I managed to end up with a very credible palette. My only problem regarding colours is that I very occasionally spotted minor convergence/uniformity issues.
Motion is decently crisp and fluid for an affordable LCD projector, meanwhile, and the level of fan noise the Z700 produces is extremely easy to live with – even though it varies a little as the dynamic iris goes about its business.
Another rather surprising strength of the Z700 concerns its shadow detailing. Considering the picture is neither especially bright nor especially rich in black level, I wouldn’t have expected it to reveal any significant amounts of shadow detail in dark areas. But in fact there really is enough going on in the dark corners of the town of Barrow in ”30 Days of Night” to give the locations a genuine sense of depth and scale.
I like Sanyo’s thinking with the PLV-Z700. For the world definitely needs a £1,000 or so Full HD LCD projector as a cheap alternative option for anyone who can’t live with the rainbow effect produced by InFocus’s aggressively price X10 and IN80 DLP models. However, while the Z700 is remarkably feature-packed for is money, and has aspects of its picture that have no right turning up on such an affordable machine, there are also picture areas – particularly black level response – where it falls tellingly short of some of its closest rivals. As a result, I ultimately didn’t find it quite as persuasive as the aforementioned InFocus X10 and IN80 DLP models, or Mitsubishi’s slightly more expensive HC5500 LCD model.