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Sanyo PLV-Z1 Projector Sanyo PLV-Z1
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800:1 Contrast Ratio
700 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

Sanyo PLV-Z1: Economy High-Performance HDTV

Evan Powell, December 18, 2002
Sanyo recently commenced shipments of their new PLV-Z1 economy-class widescreen LCD projector. It features a completely new physical resolution of 964x544. This format is designed specifically to deliver the best HDTV 1080i picture quality for the money. As such it is getting a LOT of attention and buyer interest.

The 960x540 resolution format has been designated "1/4 HD" both in other industry literature and on our site. This is truly unfortunate because though it is technically accurate it is highly misleading. The "1/4 HD" format was created because a native 1080i HDTV signal which is 1920x1080 can be scaled quite efficiently into a matrix that requires a compression of precisely 50% in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. Notice that 960 is one-half of 1920, and 540 is one-half of 1080.

Predictably, the term "1/4 HD" has produced more confusion than excitement in the minds of consumers. The typical buyer would quite understandably object, saying, "Hey, why would I want a projector that does only 1/4 of an HDTV signal? I want one that will do all of it." The reality is that there are no digital projectors on the market capable of producing a good looking, high contrast HDTV image in native 1920x1080 physical resolution. So they ALL compress HDTV 1080i into their reduced native formats. Picture detail is always lost in the process, no matter which resolution you are dealing with.

To put it into perspective, a WXGA format projector (1365x768), compresses 1080 lines of HDTV information into 768 physical lines. A WVGA projector (848x480) squeezes 1080 lines into 480 physical lines. Now, the results end up looking amazingly good, and quite a bit better than DVD. But in no instance are you ever seeing 100% native HDTV.

The advantage of the 960x540 format is that scaling down precisely 50% in both dimensions generates a comparatively clean compression. The result is that the HDTV 1080i image on a product like the PLV-Z1 can look equal to or better than that which you'd get on a higher resolution WXGA projector. And you get it for a fraction of the cost.

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