Shootout: Three Budget HD Front Projectors Page 3

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The Short Form

Price: $1,700 / / 888-337-1215
An affordable 720p LCD projector that combines solid performance with a high level of setup flexibility.
•Extensive setup features •Bright, clean pictures •Good black depth with twin-iris feature engaged
•Somewhat soft 1080i HDTV downconversion •Screen-door effect
Key Features
•1,280 x 720-pixel LCD display •2x zoom lens •Manual zoom and focus and horizontal/vertical lens shift •Auto and manual dual-iris settings •Lens shutter door •Inputs: 2 HDMI and component-video; VGA; composite-and S-video •15 x 5 x 12 in / 11 lbs Full Lab Results
SETUP The Z5 offers a dizzying array of features for adjusting its picture. Too many, in my opinion - home theater newbies and old hands alike are bound to get lost in the confusing cascade of menu options. After using its lens-shift features to set the picture squarely in the center of the screen, I selected the Eco Lamp mode. With this option enabled, the Z5's fan noise was minimized to the point where I barely noticed it. After spending a long time toying with innumerable Lamp and Lens Iris permutations, I settled on an Auto 2 Lamp and -22 lens setting as the best pairing for watching movies and also adjusted Gamma to its middle (0) setting.

Seven picture presets are available, along with four customizable User presets that you need to call up when switching inputs. The projector's Low 2 color-temperature setting delivered reasonably accurate out-of-box colors. But by making further RGB gain and offset adjustments in the Advanced picture menu I was able to get the projector's grayscale performance near perfect. Intrepid tweakers will also want to check out the Color Management menu. Among other things, it enables you to adjust the level, phase, and gamma of individual colors and save your results in a custom color "list." It's often tricky to get good results with this type of advanced feature, but I was able to use it to correct for some color imbalances (see Test Bench).

PICTURE QUALITY Two things became immediately apparent to me when watching movies and high-def TV programs on the Sanyo. The first was that, as with the Sony VPL-AW15 LCD projector, screen-door effect was a definite factor at seating distances closer than 13 feet. The second was that getting satisfactory black levels and picture contrast on the Z5 depended greatly on careful tweaking of its twin-iris adjustments.

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