California dreaming

Using Kick-Ass on Blu-ray as a test disc shows off the projector's vivid detail and snappy colours perfectly. This excellent disc from Universal Pictures has production values that really kick ass, too, and the polished sheen of the film is reproduced faithfully here with pooling light and reflections that look almost as glossy as they did in the cinema.

Most of the film is shot in cheery Californian sunshine and the colours look suitably vibrant on screen. When the film cuts to darker scenes, such as the night time capture of Big Daddy, the projector struggles a little to resolve detail in the black areas. Buttons on black suits that are plainly visible on an LCD TV are invisible here, for instance.

Sanyo plv-z4000 - motorised lens cover

To pick out more detail you need to completely black out the room and tweak the PJ's brightness. And while the bold colour palette is appealing, I found I couldn't achieve a perfectly natural colour balance.

You can manually shift the red, green and blue levels independently within the menu, but the skin tones always look a slightly sickly yellow whatever the setting. We're not talking The Simpsons hues, but white skin always has a golden glow. It's difficult to achieve pure whites and realistic reds and blues at the same time.

Instead, you'll find yourself opting for warm, pumped up colours and getting used to the whole, slightly yellowy, proceedings.

Fan-tastic

Something that this Sanyo deserves credit for is its fan noise, which is almost inaudible with the lamp in cinema mode, and it's only when you turn it up or switch to dynamic in a lit room that you can hear the fan change up a gear.

It's also easy to achieve a very large image thanks to the short throw ratio and wide zoom range of the lens assembly. That means you can either plonk the Z4000 on a coffee table in front of you, or wallmount it behind your head to beam an image up to a maximum of 300ins.

The only limiting factor here is the brightness of the lamp, which demands complete darkness if you plan to throw an Odeon-size image.

Verdict

A whole new model from Sanyo that really pushed the technology to a higher level would have been very welcome, but what we have here is simply another incarnation of a good projector. The price feels right for this high-spec full HD unit and it has a good selection of key features, so I have no reservations in recommending it.

The optical lens shift, 100Hz processing and incredibly quiet fan are all big plus points, while the automatic sliding lens cover is a nice touch. What it can't do is compete with the similarly priced DLP projectors in terms of natural colour response, and until Sanyo can fix that, it remains a reliable rather than remarkable projector