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Z3 to Z4 - My initial review

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by ROne, Oct 14, 2005.

  1. ROne

    ROne
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    DISCLAIMER: I've had 60 mins with the Z4, not enough for full tweak settings. Also at the moment I'm only interested in HDMI from a HTPC.

    So I've had the Z3 for a year, got it exactly where I want it - filtered & tweaked CC30R and all, so what do I do ... Sell it for £650 thinking getting a Z4 would be a natural improvement for not a massive amount of dosh.

    So let's get it out of the way and this is based on the 60 mins I have spent with the Z4. How much better is it than the Z3? Well I want my Z3 back ...

    It's not so much a case of the Z4 being worse more a case of Z3 being good enough, and some of the changes to the Z4 being disappointing.

    okay the good: The lens lock is nice, as is the automated slidy draw. VB is also banished. (though it was as good as gone on the 3)

    shadow detail seems good, while outright black level looks the same as the Z3 - unless in auto lamp mode where it can squeeze a good black level but see below for the problems with that.

    greyscale tracking out of the box looks better than the 3 but well within the grasp of the Z3 after tweaking.

    the bad: The Auto lamp iris, awful, awful ... there is a delay of about 2-3 secs on this thing - you can see it swing during dark scenes mostly. Admitatedly if you run in the creative cinema preset it's not as bad but being a Z3 tweaker I wanted to explore the Powerful and Vivid modes that had yielded good contrasts on the Z3 and take the benefits of the lamp iris. Well forget it, yes the Z4 can produce a better black level with the lamp iris - for instance dig up a black bars in AVIA and switch from the the black-bars to blackbars with 50% grey for an exagerated example. It's not this bad in films but it's still a complete distraction - this is my first experience of this - if all the singing and dancing over the HS50 was justified and the Iris was transparent in operation I would like to see it.

    HDMI - seems to have got worse in a strange way, with the Z3 set up your 720p DVI out connection reduce overscan to 0 and away you go. On the Z4 there is a odd representation of 1-1 pixel mapping. It seems to carry edge enhancement, a bit like mosquito noise but on your windows desktop. I've tried reducing sharpness and it does help but it's not a patch on the 3. Very disappointing, though at least it doesn't lock up.

    Fan Noise is about the same or maybe a little less.

    The remote control is crap. They've cheapened it, made it smaller and less well laid out. This may seem insignificant but when you are tooling around with these things for hours at a time, it really helps to have a nice big clean lay out with separate user mode buttons: not so this time we have one user mode button that cycle's through. Spacing between the buttons is tight.

    The menu system is also quite messy, the Z3s though far from perfect had a decent logic to it. Though you obviously get used to things like this.

    So a bit of a let down. Coming to the machine for the first time, it would be great - but it just feels like a rushed implementation of a needless featureset - the Z3 is a solid model and I suppose you can turn off the lens iris but in that case, well I guess I should have just saved the cash.

    Anyway, more to come I'm sure as well as a proper tweak thread and measurements over the next few days.
     
  2. Comer

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    Thats very disappointing to hear, guess I'll stick with my Z3 for a while longer. That said I'm sure that you will find a tweeked picture quality you are happy with and which will be an improvement over the Z3.

    Keep us informed.

    Conor
     
  3. Mark_a

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    Hate to say it, but none of this comes as much of a surprise.

    Regards

    Mark
     
  4. PJTX100

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    I'm surprised no comment on pixel structure. The D5's are supposed to be a worthwhile advance in this respect...PJ
     
  5. Demon

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    Wow...

    I've just got my Z4 today, and just been getting it up and running..

    My brother has the AE700, which he brought over last week when I installed the screen, and he helped me to set the projector up today, where we just tried a few quick tweaks to get a feel for the performance..

    I am really impressed, and so was my Brother, we will do a back to back with the AE700 on Sunday, as this also has auto-iris, but the Z4 seems quicker then 2-3 seconds, more like 0.2-1.0 seconds, on switching from a bright to a really dark scene, the iris seems to close really quickly... certainly not too distracting.. This was in creative cinema mode though, which I think is where I would start from.

    Comparing the auto iris of the Z4 to the AE700, it's very much swings and roundabouts, and predominantly dark films, like batman begins, the AE700 gets over eager with its iris, and the contrast keeps jumping around.. the Z4 is slower, but on purpose, it certainly is so much less intrusive on this type of film... a bit of smoke and mirrors, and this is a side effect.. a bit harsh to say its 'awful', but it does take some getting used to..

    Its really the colour tracking etc that stands out, just straight from the box, it was excellent, I can imagine with much tweaking, this may improve even more....

    Black level is also excellent, I have a white ceiling and yellow walls, with a 1.1 gain white screen, and the AE700 struggled to give decent blacks without crushing of dark level detail.. The Z4, or at least mine seems very noticeably better.. although until we have them side by side, we can give a definative answer, but we immediately both noticed the good black levels, and the room is light controlled, so conditions haven't changed since we tried the AE700 last week..

    I can understand that coming from the Z3, fixed iris, that this itself will be a love it or hate it feature, and of course I wouldn't expect a leap in performance.. but remember how much time you've invested in your Z3 to get it 'perfect'.. remember the Z4 is straight out the box, and I am sure with equal time invested, it will be upto the job..

    Oh, SDE, this seems very much reduced from the AE700, which I thought was excellent. My brother was impressed, he thought the Panasonics where always a step ahead in this game.. which if they are, the AE900 will be even better...
     
  6. inzaman

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    It is disappointing to hear.

    ROne you will have to let us know what you think once you have had a bit more time to play with it.
     
  7. sainthalo

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    I posted somewhere on here that I suspected there was a good reason that Sanyo UK got rid of all stock of the Z3 before selling the Z4 - namely because there may be marginal improvement.

    No doubt they cottoned on to ROnes tweak thread and realised how good the Z3 can be...Well ROne of you want to trade back to a Z3 I would relectantly swap with you mate (that slidey door and boxy look is attractive!)

    Im sure you will soon tweak the hell out of it but it will be a shame if you have to switch off the auto iris or use a less favaourable prestart to achieve that. Sanyo seem to be struggling with proper implementation of the auto iris feature.

    Thanks to you we can enjoy our Z3.5's so i hope you will be happy with it soon... if not theres always the distance selling regulations...and the epson tw600 around the corner ;)
     
  8. ROne

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    Pixel structure was not a problem on the Z3 and is not on the Z4.
     
  9. ROne

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    Absolutely not harsh at all to call it awful. The very fact that you can see it means it's there, like all electronic auto things it's inherently trying to get around a problem by averaging the information and making a judgment on content. I really hate things like this. It has nothing to do with an accurate picture. The saving grace is you can turn it off.

    It's interesting that you mention Batman Begins, this is the film that I have tested it with and it's terrible at least in POWERFUL setting, because powerful is capable of bigger swings in contrast you can see bigger differences. CC preset is not so bad.

    However I expect to NOT be able to detect it at all. One bit.

    I never use my auto iris on my video cameras for the same reason.

    It has to be 100% transparent.
     
  10. ROne

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    The thing is - what is better than the Z3 about the machine?

    For people coming to it the first time, it would be fantastic. And I'm looking at it in terms of cash difference over the Z3.

    Like I said right at the start I've only a small amount of time on it, when I've turned that dreaded lamp iris off and set up a decent preset we'll be able to see what it can do.
     
  11. ROne

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    To be honest I doubt sanyo care too much about what we do on here :) as they more concerned with box shifting and new products pushing the corporate line.

    I'm going to keep the machine cos I want to see what it will do standard without the lamp iris messing around with screen content.

    Also the lamp iris does nothing for intra-scene content, for instance there is a scene where Bruce Wayne in BB is sat in a prison cell at the beginning, well the iris crushes the light output right down to the point where BWs face looks none existent against the black background. Sure you can get a good black but what is the point if you also lower the light ouput of the rest of the frame.

    Iris's don't make sense for good ANSI contrast.
     
  12. PJTX100

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    Initial reports of the D5 panel suggested you couldn't see the pixel structure even from quite close, whereas with the Z3 and many of its peers you certainly can.

    Also the pixel fill % is supposed to be improved.

    I'm slightly surprised by all the emphasis on the auto iris / contrast aspects when the lack of VB and improved pixel structure (if it is improved) are advances which probably interest me more.

    When I go to see the TX200 I'll be able to give you a view on this...PJ
     
  13. gingerone

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    It is a shame to hear this, I have'nt bothered to read the projector central review, after all the tweaking Rone's done I'd trust his opinion over a commercial reviewer anyday.
     
  14. ROne

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    Well I've have 80" width screen, viewing from about 11feet which is just under what you would consider comfortable. You wouldn't want to be any closer.

    The Z3s pixel structure was not visible at this ratio.

    The Z4s is not either, though I don't doubt fill rate has probably improved, but I've not had my nose up to the screen yet. Put it like this, mpeg artifacts would be more of a problem at this distance than SD.
     
  15. ROne

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    Do give me a bit of time with the Z4 to see what can/can't be done with it.

    PCs reviews are always the bloody same but I suppose they have vested interest.
     
  16. ROne

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    Reading a few of the reports over on AVS, it's being demonstrated that the iris reacts differently when you start from different pre-sets.

    So Vivid, Dynamic and Powerful all have much more sensitive swings based on screen content, whilst Pure Cinema and Creative Cinema it seems to have a higher threshold. Which would explain what I saw.

    I will get some CR ratio measurements tonight, but it looks like the Iris effectively doubles the inherent CR.

    This EE is nagging me though, maybe I need to just try VGA to see what happens.
     
  17. Liam @ Prog AV

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    Couldn't have said it better. Buyers need to be aware that the contrast figure these LCDs are quoting, asides from being hugely exagerrated and measured in totally unuseable configurations, are a result of a dynamic auto-adjustment that in itself adds flaws to the image and discomfort for the viewer. Still great budget buys, but can't be expected to produce a *realistic* high-contrast image. More an exercise in taking the answer you want to achieve (massive CR), and working out how to fiddle the measuring system to acheive it (dynamic measurement and unrealistic configuration).

    In other words, I'm not brilliantly surprised either. Good report ROne :smashin:
     
  18. z5461313

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    From reading this topic there seems to be a problem with the dynamic iris

    Can this feature be turned off? or made so its static iris?
     
  19. ROne

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    Yes it can be turned off, and you are left with a reasonable contrast. How reasonable though is your call. Better than the Z3 - remains to be seen.
     
  20. sainthalo

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    Oh you'll be surprised ROne, I know Dick Flood and the chaps at Sanyo UK technical definitely read these forums :)

    That scene you describe in Batman Begins - well if that is the effect of auto iris - what a load of pants. I could not put up with that. Get that switched off, get the spyder and the filters out and let the Z4 be transformed back to a Z3.5! ;)

    Seriously ROne if you need my LEE Filters swatch to sort out your Z4 let me know.
     
  21. ROne

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    Okay a few things after spending several hours on it ...

    Firstly I've measured contrast ratio on the different presets, at first it seemed very disappointing but I think I've realised what sanyo have done.

    The contrast ratio of the Creative Cinema Preset comes in a steady 656:1 without dynamic iris. eeek you all say, ah but the colour balance has improved out of the box such that I reckon (to be proved by the spyder) it's close to D65. This would put the Z4 on a par with the Z3 using CC+filters to get to D65 without filters if that makes sense.

    So they've sacrificed a bit of true contrast ratio to get color balance better - I would go along with that.

    So the D5 panels to me don't seem to be any better CR wise at all. The most I can get without filters/dynamic iris is 1100:1 about the ballpark of the Z3.

    Things do get interesting when measuring CR with dynamic iris, in poweful mode I managed to record 6895:1, so it can get there, the only trade of is this movement in iris ... but there's more. The iris when in auto mode can suppress black level loads more than in manual mode, so manual closed is different to auto fully closed to a huge degree. This is auto's undoing, because perceptibly at about 30IRE and above you can't really see the iris adapting, and it works best 30IRE upwards! The problem with below 30IRE is that the shifts are too drastic and serve no purpose other than to give a really low black level that when used in a film scene is so low as take away to much light.

    Basically if the Iris was less fussy below this level we could re-evaluate this iris business.

    I wonder if we can tune there iris ....?

    Not quite ready for a tweak thread yet, and that HDMI EE is still a nag, though -3 on the sharpness limits it a little.
     
  22. paul_mowbray

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    Sounding more positive, also interested to hear how the 1:1 mapping via HDMI problem is going as this could be a pretty fundamental flaw which seems bizzare when the Z3 didn't suffer from this AFAIK

    Planning on ordering either the 900 or Z4 on monday so look forward to more feedback over the weekend.
     
  23. ROne

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    Yep and I've made a bit of progress, I've found a starting point that doesn't over excite the iris.

    See the tweak thread.
     

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