Brightness. On last year's Z2000 there were seven pre-set calibrations for various types of dark room and ambient light viewing--Brilliant Cinema, Creative Cinema, Pure Cinema, Natural, Living, Dynamic, and Vivid. These selections have been reduced to five on the Z700, with Vivid and Pure Cinema having been eliminated. However, the average brightness in video optimized mode has been increased. In addition there are seven user programmable memories so you can make whatever adjustments you want, calibrating it to your taste preferences.
The Z700 can produce a wide range of lumen potential, from the low 200's up to about 1200 ANSI lumens. In its brightest configuration, Dynamic mode with lamp on full power and lens at wide angle, our test unit measured 1198 lumens, which is spot on with its official spec rating of 1200 lumens. For us, the most satisfying calibration for optimal video was Creative Cinema, which generated 411 lumens. Brilliant Cinema mode, which is a great video alternative if you want more light and less contrast, produced 685 lumens.
As far as lumen output is concerned, you need to be aware of two limiting factors. First, while the long 2.0x zoom lens gives you great placement latitude, you will reduce lumen output by up to 37% if you install it at its longest telephoto setting. At the midpoint of the zoom range, light output is curtailed 16% from its brightest position at maximum wide angle.
Second, low lamp mode also reduces lumen output by 37%, which is quite a bit more than the average of about 22% we find on most home theater projectors. The bottom line is that if you set the Z700 in Creative Cinema mode with the lamp on low and the zoom set to maximum telephoto, you will only get 163 lumens. That is not enough to light up anything more than an 80" diagonal screen in a fully darkened room. On the other hand, there is no need to do this. Most users will not bother to sacrifice the lumen output in low lamp mode-fan noise is very quiet even in full lamp mode, and there is no published expectation of extended lamp life in low power mode.
There are five programmed color temperature options. From warmest to coldest they are Low 2, Low 1, Default, High 1 and High 2. On our test unit, Low 1 was the preferred setting for film, however, you can make whatever adjustments you want to that, or any of the programmed options. As with the Z2000, color accuracy on the Z700 is excellent. It is possible to dial in a picture averaging about 6500K with relatively uniform gray scale tracking.
With 1080p resolution LCD panels, visible pixelation is reduced to just about nothing. Viewed up close there is a distinct pixel structure which contributes to image sharpness. But the inter-pixel gap is small, and the screendoor effect is subtle even at very close viewing. Once you back away to a distance of one screen width, visible pixelation disappears entirely.
The Z700 has a cool 165-watt lamp and extremely low fan noise. Thus it can be installed comfortably in a small room. Projectors with high wattage lamps can raise ambient temperatures in smaller rooms rather quickly, and the Z700 thankfully throws off relatively little heat.
The connection panel is on the rear of the unit. The projector is 13" deep, so add about 3 extra inches for cable connections, and you can install it on a shelf that is 16" deep. Fan exhaust is from the right side as you look at it from the rear, so it is important that there be plenty of clearance for heat dissipation, particularly on that side of the unit. The air filter is located below the connection panel. It is easy to unsnap the grate to access the filter for periodic cleaning, as shown in the photo above.
On any LCD projector it is possible to have dust particles settle on the LCD panels over time, especially if you do not periodically clean the filters or if you have an exceptionally dusty environment. A dust particle on the LCD panel will produce a dull, indistinct spot on the projected image. The Z700 comes with a manual squeeze blower to remove these particles, the nozzle of which is inserted into a tiny hole in the case. Removing dust spots yourself can save you from having to send in the unit for cleaning. Since we've not had any dust spots appear on our Z700, or on our Z2000, we've not been able to test the efficiency of this feature. But Sanyo is the only vendor to provide this capability on its home theater projectors.
Anamorphic mode added. The Z2000 did not have an anamorphic stretch mode to accommodate an anamorphic lens, but the Z700 does.