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Top Five Most Popular 1080p Projectors

Evan Powell, August 1, 2008

Sanyo PLV-Z2000

Every time we fire up the Z2000 and look at it fresh, we end up looking at each other and saying the same thing: this really is an amazing projector. Somehow, the Z2000 is much greater than the sum of its parts. And now that the Mitsubishi HC4900 has been discontinued, the Z2000 stands alone as the only 1080p projector on the market selling for under $2,000.

Since everyone assumes you get what you pay for, the big question is, what do you sacrifice by going with the least expensive model? The answer-not much. The Z2000 really is an outstanding value in 1080p.

Key advantages

• A rich, well-balanced picture in with both HD and standard definition signals. The Z2000 probably edges all other 1080p models in its ability to render smooth, natural DVD and other standard definition material.

• Solid but not exceptional contrast and black levels.

• Extensive 2.0x zoom and 3.0x picture height lens shift.

• Very quiet fan.

• A unique lens door that shuts automatically when powered off (no other projector has this feature).

• An understated and rather elegant white case that blends in against a white ceiling when the projector is ceiling mounted. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, but we think the Z2000 is the best looking projector in the group in terms of aesthetic design.

• Industry-leading 3 year warranty---none of the other models have it.


We have never cared too much for Sanyo's menu layouts, and the menu on the Z2000 is no different. It is functional once you get to know your way around it, but it can be confusing when you first get into it. And from an ergonomic perspective, the remote control can be somewhat uncomfortable, with the menu button in a uniquely awkward location. It just does not fit the hand as comfortably as do the remotes of competing products.

The Z2000 has a variety of controls over contrast, sharpness, gamma, and basic controls over the relative intensity of red, green, and blue. But it does not have independent gain and bias controls for each color channel, so the ability to fine tune color adjustments is limited. Videophiles who use color calibration systems to tweak their displays to perfection will miss these controls. However, we believe the large majority of users will feel that the controls available on the Z2000 are adequate for their purposes and will never miss the more subtle color controls.

All things considered, the Z2000 is one of our favorite projectors of all time. It certainly does not have all the extras that come with the Panasonic AE2000. Nor does it have the contrast of the BenQ W5000. But it is selling for a lot less money than both of those, and it delivers a beautiful, thoroughly well-balanced, natural picture. Contrast and black levels are sufficient to give the picture a lot of snap, and as mentioned above, mid-tones are richer and more open than they are on the BenQ W5000. Overall, the Z2000 with a selling price of under $2000 is one of the spectacular values in the market today.


All five of the 1080p projectors in this summary will deliver a picture that you can easily get immersed in. The differences in image quality between the LCD models are not huge; rather they are to be compared more on features and price. Meanwhile, the image characteristics of the BenQ W5000 are notably different than the four LCD products. It is clearly higher in contrast, and side by side with any of the LCD projectors it appears incrementally sharper and more three dimensional. For many buyers, these are the critical factors, and nothing else is as important.

The LCD projectors, while lacking the contrast of the W5000, they all have more strength in mid-tone definition than does the W5000. The result is that in side by side viewing, the LCD projectors can look more natural or realistic, whereas the W5000 can on occasion look artificially enhanced as if there were too much contrast and not enough middle tone strength to integrate the entire picture.

These aesthetic interpretations will vary based on the inherent contrast in the scene being displayed. For example, the same viewer might easily prefer the W5000's display of a high contrast cityscape at night, while preferring one of the LCD projector's rendering of a lower contrast scene with warm, natural flesh tones.

No projector that we have found does everything perfectly, at least not anywhere near this price range. But this group of five 1080p models delivers great values in high resolution for not a lot of money. Each has its own set of features, price, and value proposition. We hope this commentary will help you identify which of them may be right for you.

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Panasonic PT AE2000
Review Contents: Intro and BenQ W5000 Epson HC 1080UB Mitsubishi HC5500 Panasonic PT AE2000
  Sanyo Z2000

Buy the BenQ W5000 online here:


Buy the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 UB online here:


Buy the Mitsubishi HC5500 online here:


Buy the Panasonic PT-AE2000U online here:


Buy the Sanyo PLV-Z2000 online here: