1080p Home Theater
September 30, 2008
Consumer-friendly package. The Z700 offers a smooth filmlike picture, very quiet fan noise, and no pixelation or screendoor effects from a normal viewing distance. It is about as easy to install as it gets. Sporting a long 2.0x zoom lens, three full picture heights of vertical lens shift, and two full picture widths of horizontal shift, you can install it just about anywhere you want. And the Z700's low price includes a three year warranty. Overall, the Z700 represents an excellent value in 1080p projection. It lets consumers on a budget step up to this ideal resolution format without breaking the bank.
The clean casework has an understated elegance that will make it a welcome addition to any living room or multipurpose family room. It is relatively small compared to many 1080p home theater models, so it can be installed unobtrusively. Its white coloring makes it virtually disappear against a white ceiling, so it can be installed in a typical living room without calling attention to itself. When not in use, there is a shutter that automatically closes over the lens to protect it from dust accumulation. This door also hides the lens and makes the unit less obvious as a projector. If it is combined with a motorized retractable screen, the entire video system can be made to pretty much disappear when not in use. This is a huge plus for those who don't want their living room to be permanently dominated by a video system.
ANSI Contrast. On our test unit, ANSI contrast measured 277:1, which is in the typical range for a number of LCD-based home theater projectors we've tested in the last year. By comparison, the Mitsubishi HC5500 measured 260:1, and the Panasonic AE2000 delivered 305:1. So the Z700 is competitive with some popular models where ANSI contrast is concerned.
Nevertheless, the Z700 is a step down in contrast from the Sanyo Z2000, which we measured at 350:1. The Z2000 in fact produced the highest ANSI contrast reading of any LCD home theater projector from last year. This fall it's a different story of course. The new high contrast LCD projectors like the Panasonic AE3000 and Mitsubishi HC7000 are producing readings in excess of 400:1. Their superiority in contrast is obvious in side by side viewing with the Z700. They are much more expensive than the Z700, but you can see what you get for the additional money.
However, until you set a higher contrast side by side with the Z700, you don't really know what you are missing. Standing alone, when the Z700 is used in a dark room, there is nothing muddy or flat about its picture as long as you don't go too big with the screen size. For optimum contrast and color saturation, we'd suggest keeping screen size to about 100". You can certain go larger if you want, but you begin to sacrifice too much contrast for our taste as you push to image sizes larger than about 110" diagonal.