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My Sanyo PLV-Z3 Home Theater
by Norbert Eng

Projectorcentral.com was my main source of information when selecting the projector, screen, and their vendors. Thanks for the valuable information on this site. My home theater is set up in the basement. The room is 13' by 20'. The room was finished with sound isolation in mind. The wall separating the home theater room and the adjacent rooms are double walled with fiberglass insulation in between for soundproofing. Because of wiring and plumbing on the ceiling, suspended ceiling system is used. This offers the opportunity to use acoustic tiles to significantly reduce the sound to the upper level. Suspended ceiling also makes wiring the home theater system a lot easier. There are two windows on one side of the room and a rear half glass door leading to the breezeway connecting the garage. I use room-darkening shades on the windows and the door to control the light for daytime viewing. The entrance to the room at the front is a full glass door. With this door closed, sound is confined to the theater room, except the occasional low frequency rumbles from the subwoofer if it is turned up high enough.

The room is an existing TV room with a 42" standard definition rear projection TV and a surround sound system, purchased about 4 years ago. We have decent sound, but a 42" 4:3 format TV just does not look right, especially when showing widescreen format DVDs. With the price of front projectors dropping to a more affordable level, and the availability of high definition program sources, it seems to be the right time to acquire a larger screen TV. I bought the system in November. A 108" Elite Screens motorized projection screen is installed to come down in front of the existing TV. I can still use the TV for watching news and other non-high definition TV programs. The source of high definition programs is from the cable TV tuner with a built in high definition Digital Video Recorder. The DVR is a wonderful feature. It records high definition programs with Dolby Digital surround sound as well. The cable tuner/DVR is rented from the cable service provider. It does not seem to make sense to buy this type of equipment, since technology moves so fast. The quality of this Elite Screens model seems unbeatable for the price. Before the installation of the screen, the center channel speaker was placed on a shelf on top of the TV. With the screen lowered, it muffled the center channel sound. Instead of spending a lot more on an acoustically transparent screen, my solution is to place the center channel speaker on the bottom shelf of the TV stand. It is not the ideal position, but it is a compromise.

When choosing the projector, I narrowed down to the Panasonic PT-AE700U and the Sanyo PLV-Z3 based on the reviews on the projectorcentral.com web site. The final decision was an easy one once I decided to mount the projector on the ceiling. The wider lens shift range of the Sanyo Z3 made flush mounting the projector to the ceiling possible. I did not want to use keystone correction.

I did the installation myself. I rewired the recess lightings in the room into 3 groups controlled by dimmers. When lights are turned off, the two rear lights can still be dimmed to a comfortable level, and yet post virtually no effect on the screen. I also wired one power outlet for the projector and another one for the screen inside the ceiling. The Peerless ceiling mount is mounted to the ceiling joist through the ceiling tile with a 2.25" threaded pipe and pipe flange purchased from the home center. The projector is mounted about 12 feet from the screen. The screen is also mounted directly to the ceiling joists through the ceiling tiles, using quarter inch threaded rods and angle irons. The nicely designed mounting system of the Elite Screens HOME series model makes the screen installation quite simple. I did not want the expense of the home theater seating. I kept the sofa and love seat set already in the room. I just replaced the legs of the sofa and love seat with chair casters, so that they can easily be moved around if needed for more comfortable viewing position. The sofa is positioned about 13 feet from the screen.

The audio system is about 4 years old and they are in great shape and produces excellent sound quality. All the speakers are Polk Audio speakers with models that maintain proper voice matching in the surround sound setup. Having a large screen is great, but I cannot stress enough that a decent Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound system is the other half of the home theater enjoyment. They complement each other.

Equipment:

The prices for the AV receiver and the speakers are prices from 4 years ago. Models with similar features today are priced about the same or even lower.

Sanyo PLV-Z3 projector $2,000

Peerless universal ceiling mount $ 150

Elite Screens HOME120IWH, 108" 16:9 motorized screen $ 790

Onkyo TX-DS787 A/V receiver $1,000

Polk Audio RT800, front left and right speakers $ 800

Polk Audio CS-400 center channel speaker $ 350

Polk Audio RT f/x rear left and right speakers $ 400

Polk Audio CSi40 rear center channel speaker $ 350

Polk Audio PSW450 12" powered subwoofer $ 500

Toshiba SD5970 DVD player $ 150

Motorola cable TV tuner/DVR rented from cable provider

Sony 42" standard definition rear projection TV

Sony RM-AV2000 touch screen programmable universal remote control

Connection from the Toshiba DVD player is via its HDMI output to the HDMI input of the Z3, using a 30 foot HDMI cable. The DVD player has a built in up-converter sending 720P or 1080i signal through the HDMI output. The cable TV tuner has a DVI output, but the Z3 only has one HDMI input. I do not want to spend a few hundred dollars on a HDMI switch, so the DVI output on the cable box is not used. I settle with connecting the cable TV tuner to the Z3 using a 30 foot component video cable. I was a bit uncertain about the 30 feet of long cable going to the projector at the beginning. The HDMI and component video cables are also not the high priced widely marketed brand cables either. However, the high definition picture from the cable box just comes out perfectly on this projector and screen combination with these cables. The DVD picture also looks great. I am extremely happy with these choices. The cable box also connects to the 42" Sony TV via the s-video connection and the stereo output to the TV audio. The digital audio from the DVD player and the cable box are connected to the Onkyo receiver using 2 optical cables for surround sound hookup. The Sony programmable touch screen remote controller bought 4 years ago is a great gadget to control everything, including lowering and retracting the motorized screen. I also have two remotely controllable recess lights in front of the screen. I can control those two lights at the beginning and at the end of the show, also with the Sony remote control. I programmed the macro function switches on the remote, so that the whole setup can be turned on and off with one push of the macro buttons. It did require some time and patience to program the macro control sequences.

The whole family really enjoys this setup. With the size of this screen, the picture is stunning, with brilliant colors, and still with ample brightness, even in low power mode. Watching football and basketball games broadcasting in high def is like being there!! I am extremely satisfied with the outcome of this setup.