Sanyo PLC-XW60

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The Sanyo PLC-XW60 is a small projector promoted as being able to fit into a briefcase or handbag, albeit a very large handbag. While not the perfect picture, it is extremely portable and reasonably priced.

Test Procedure
Projectors are placed at a distance of three metres from a test screen and zoomed to a screen size of 100 inches where possible. (In the case of short throw projectors the distance to screen will be substantially less, but we still measure expected brightness figures for a 100-inch screen.)

Brightness is measured around the screen in order to determine average brightness and variance. We also use a chequerboard pattern to measure the contrast ratio of black to white regions. Ambient light is subtracted from all brightness measurements before calculations and comparisons are made.

DisplayMate software is used to assist in assessing colour quality and sharpness of static images. We also consider the performance of the machine with video output. Fast action and animated films are used to assess the refresh times, skin tones, solid and graded colours, and borders.

We assess the usability of the device including the menu, set-up and connectivity. Fan noise is also a consideration. In the case of a network projector such as this, we also do a simple check to ensure that a wired network connection can be achieved simply and with acceptable results when linking a single projector to a single computer.

Design and Features
Described by Sanyo as being small enough to carry in a briefcase or handbag, the XW60 is certainly a very light and compact unit. Of course, if you did carry it in a (large) handbag there would be room for nought else but your lipstick or car keys, and your bag will be 1.6kg heavier. In any case, the XW60 comes with its own satchel.

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While modest in appearance, it is nonetheless an attractive machine. The casing is mainly pale cream and has a silver base. Black focus and zoom controls are recessed into the case, yet readily accessible. Controls on both the projector and the remote control are clearly labelled.

While quality is certainly important to Sanyo, portability was the priority in the development of this device. It features an LCD projection unit with a rather modest resolution of 1024x768. The 2000 lumen lamp is great for smaller rooms, but you will need a very low ambient light level if projecting large images at a distance. While a portable device will normally be set on a table and projected onto a wall, this machine also supports rear projection and can be mounted on the ceiling.

The huge focus range of this machine allows it to be used in large or small rooms, but be aware that projecting to a closer wall will produce very small images. Screen distances of 1.1m to 8.2m produce images from around 40 inches to a massive 300 inches respectively. (Remember that image brightness will be less for larger images.) Image size can also be adjusted a little with the 1.2x optical zoom.

Video input can be provided in VGA, composite, S-Video, or component. The last two options require adapters so that the signal can be directed to a standard VGA plug. A second VGA port can be used as either an input or an output to an auxiliary screen. Audio signals are via stereo PC audio jack or 2x RCA plugs.

The air filter could not be easier to replace — the cover clips in and out easily, but not so readily that it can occur accidentally. Replacing the lamp is straightforward. A single Phillips head screw secures the hatch and three more secure the lamp itself.

The menu system contains all the options one could wish for in order to control inputs, image size, colour brightness and more. However, changing settings can be counterintuitive. There is a handy digital zoom to complement the optical zoom and of course keystone correction. Controls on the remote and the machine itself correlate well. The electronic manual provides good detail and clear explanations of all functions.

Verdict
As with many data projectors we have seen, the green component is far too bright — you will want to adjust this before use. The lower-centre part of the screen is about 25 per cent brighter than other parts due to the extra distance light must travel to the screen, but this is not particularly noticeable to the viewer. Otherwise the Sanyo provides a bright, sharp picture with pleasing contrast. The modest resolution may not excite, but it is perfectly adequate for most purposes. There were bound to be trade-offs with such a portable unit.

The menu system is extensive and navigation is generally not bad, but having found the setting we wanted we were not so sure how to make changes. The select button seemed liked the obvious choice, but it gives no meaningful response until pressed a second time.

The warranty on the main unit is two years (with complementary pickup in most areas) and the lamp has a 500-hour or three-month warranty. Expected lamp life is 3,500 hours in economy mode and 2,000 hours in standard mode. Sanyo was unable or unwilling to provide replacement lamp costs so we were unable to assess expected running costs.

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