- Native resolution for 16:9 720-line images
- high brightness and contrast
- vertical lens shift.
- Large and heavy
- on-screen menu is poorly labelled.
No-compromise cinephiles will be tempted by the Sanyo PLV-60, as it's the only projector in this group test to have a native 16:9 resolution. It also features high brightness and contrast and lens shift capability. You don't get this for nothing -– this is a bulky and expensive unit, but its lens shift does allow it to be mounted in a variety of positions without compromising image quality.
Sanyo's PLV-60 is easily the largest projector in our group test, measuring a massive 31.6 by 16.4 by 48cm and weighing an arm-stretching 9kg. It’s going to need plenty of space, especially as its length is its longest dimension. The power inlet and hot air exhaust are also at the rear of the projector, so you won’t even be able to place it hard against the back wall.
The PLV-60 has a native resolution of 1388 by 768 pixels, an almost perfect 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s actually slightly wider than that, so this shouldn’t be a problem. This resolution also allows 720-line wide-screen images to be shown at native resolution, something neither SVGA nor XGA projectors can manage. Unfortunately we weren’t able to use this native resolution with a PC input, even though this ought to be possible if Sanyo were to release an INF file for the projector.
The optical specifications are impressive: 1,200 ANSI lumens brightness and a contrast ratio of 700:1 make this the brightest and second most contrasty projector in our review -– the LG LP-XG2 is the only other projector this bright, but that has half the contrast. Images are clear even in a well-lit room.
The PLV-60 has just about every analogue input you could need: VGA, RGB/component BNC, component phono and S-Video. You can also connect composite video using one of the component video phono connectors. The BNC connectors are unique to the PLV-60 in this review, and represent a nod to the video projection market, such connections being common on professional video recorders.
However, there’s no digital input at all, so you’ll have to use a VGA connection if you want to use your PC as your DVD player. This is disappointing, since the projection system itself is digital, and Sanyo has gone to the trouble of having a non-standard resolution to accommodate wide-screen movies. Having to use an analogue connection between a digital image source -– a DVD -– and a digital playback system isn’t the best use of an otherwise great product.
The PLV-60 has a vertical lens shift capability, with motorised operation. Lens shift allows you to move the image around without creating keystone distortion. The lens can be shifted through a considerable distance, giving you a great deal of flexibility over the height at which the projector is mounted. In particular, there’s more downward shift than upward, so you could mount the PLV-60 on a shelf quite high up and project over the audience's head onto a screen at a suitable height. This mitigates somewhat the amount of space this large projector needs.
The motorised zoom, focus and lens shift may seem like nice conveniences, but there is the possibility that the motors or their control circuits may fail. If you’ve installed the PLV-60 and don’t need to move it, this won’t present a problem –- you’ll still be able to use the projector.
There are infrared receivers on the front and rear of the projector, and we didn’t experience any problems using the remote control from all sorts of angles. However, even if there is some problem with line-of-sight to the PLV-60, you can still connect the remote control using a supplied cable. This is only a metre long, which is a little restrictive, but since the connection uses stereo 3.5mm jacks it shouldn’t be tricky to find a longer cable, or even make one.
The menu system on the PLV-60 bears a remarkable resemblance to that on the Canon LV-S1, two otherwise dissimilar projectors. This can be difficult to navigate at first, since it uses unlabelled icons for each menu item. Only the text for the currently selected item is shown, so you’ll have to scroll thorough the options to find the one you want until you get to know what’s where.
It’s a shame that the PLV-60 doesn’t have a digital input, the only major missing feature. Its large size won’t suit everyone, but if you’re serious about entertainment and perhaps don’t mind building a special shelf for the projector, you’ll certainly get a more than satisfactory result.