I got my VP4001 on Friday evening last week from ubid. It was double-packed though outer box was not strong enough and not well-sealed. Inner box (Marantz) was in perfect shape without any signs of FedEX's transit treatment.
Many here already have covered performance and impressions of this projector very well and I have hardly anything new to add; so I'll try to be brief (though I often don't succeed at it). Also, I haven't had enough time to play around it; but I know ubid is tempting many fellow AVS'ers so thought of giving my impressions a bit prematurely for the fence sitters.
Based on my show-room visits and viewing DLP projectors on display there, I learnt that I am moderately RBE sensitive and that prolonged viewing gives me slight eye-strain. So, last year I bought Sanyo PLV-Z5, an LCD 720p projector which is favorably reviewed almost everywhere. It also has 3-yr manufacturer's warranty and I got free 3-year lamp warranty as well. I had zero complaint and all was well with it. However, I always kept wondering why I was not that impressed by DLPs when many (especially in >3K projector forum) were raving about various models, most of them DLPs. Since showroom viewings are often questionable due to many reasons, I decided to try out DLP myself at home. Education is expensive and curiosity kills cats. I started looking for 1080p as I already had a very good 720p and upgrade has to have something higher. I was willing to shed around 5K to 6K for it. So I started research on choosing an appropriate model and short-listed BenQ W10000 (bordering my upper limit) and Sharp XV-Z20000 (double the price I was willing to pay; but I would have waited for another year for it). I came across VP4001 related posts and since everyone was very happy and since some were repeatedly posting its recommendations to many in various threads, I got a bit suspicious and decided to find out how much of an element since I own it, it got be good element in their recommendations. Sorry comrades, just an honest confession! Besides, what did I have to lose? Trying out VP4001 would enable me to taste DLP technology first hand, and if I hate it, it would save me money by not going for BenQ or Sharp that I had in mind for 1080p and ubid's 15% re-stocking fee would be worth for this learning if I would return it.
I exchanged private mails with fellow members as I had few concerns including fan noise which alone can be a deal breaker for me as I am easily distracted by ambient noise; and VP4001 would be used as table-top near seating area; and Sanyo Z5 is dead quiet. In summary, I bought VP4001 with many more question marks in mind; rather than high expectations from it.
Due to my Z5 ownership, the following impressions would draw some comparison between VP4001 and Sanyo Z5. This is not apple-to-apple comparison due to various reasons, like technology (LCD vs. DLP), price (2K vs. 4K MSRP when new last year), hours on bulb (zero on Marantz), differences on options and calibrations. Also, I don't currently have any decent screen - I use my off-white wall for 100 projection diagonally (Marantz being a relatively short-throw; 90 projection for Sanyo). So please keep all these in mind; and take these impressions for what they are worth for.
My video sources are: Panasonic S97 for standard DVD; and Toshiba HD A-20 for HD-DVDs; both set at 720p. Using them one-by-one direct HDMI connection to VP4001 without any external switching. DVDs used to watch: Phantom of the Opera (HD), The Last Samurai (HD), and Amelie (SD).
Theater2 picture mode was what I used for all my viewing. All modes were bright enough for me, even with a 40W bulb in the background. This is definitely brighter than Sanyo in dynamic and natural modes.
Unpleasant surprises: Key-stoned like geometry and image noise around the same scenes as chexi1 mentioned earlier. Sanyo had none of these.
Both of these were easy to fix. The geometry was perfect rectangular by placing projector properly (no need to use its front/rear legs) so that lens center is at 90-degrees to the projection. DNR settings helped mask some noise in those specific scenes; but I still kept DNR to setting 1 (which is default) as these settings would alter sharpness which can be adjusted (if needed) through picture menu. I perhaps will continue some more experimentation on it and further tweaking/proper calibration would have a better handle on this.
Pleasant surprises: Low fan noise, great blacks, good contrast, excellent color (not at all as bad as in that Youtube video of Sharp; perhaps they used RGB with more green bias), and overall great picture!
The WOW factor was better than my Sanyo (unless I got used to it and forgot how I felt when I first saw it). The picture is vivid and 3D like, especially for HD sources. I preferred picture when input to the projector was not interlaced; and I maintained it to 720p. The brightness in its best mode is more than that in Sanyo's best mode; however, Sanyo was a tad sharper. Blacks are far better than in Sanyo and the overall picture is more film-like than in Z5. Colors in Amelie DVD also looked great.
Those who know Z5, know how quiet its fan is. Fan noise in VP4001 is as low in Theatre2 mode as in Sanyo (which is rated 22dB). In brighter (Vivid and Natural) modes, the fan moves faster without adding significant noise. I was sitting 2ft away of VP4001 and it did not distract me (a great relief!).
Placement options are excellent with Sanyo, it also has 2 HDMI inputs, it's a bit sharper. I still need to do proper calibration of VP4001, but my impression with basic tweaking is that Sanyo is sharper by a small margin. Sanyo doesn't get very hot (it's less bright relatively; and its size is slightly bigger allowing better heat dissipation), exhaust side of the VP4001 cabinet gets fairly hot after an hour or so. Sanyo had a motorized lens cover, VP4001 does have a lens cover which manually one needs to use. These are the things I lose with VP4001. What I gain is brighter picture if I need it, better colors, far better blacks, better contrast, and overall more film-like picture.
I don't see any pixel structure at 11-feet from 100 diagonal picture projection (may be I would see if I had a screen). Rainbows are rare unless I sincerely do efforts to look for them, no eyestrain as I had experienced with DLP viewings at showrooms. If anyone is looking for a good 720p, VP4001 is very likely to give great satisfaction as far as the picture quality is concerned; just see if placement would work for you. Unless I find something better post-CEDIA or if/when Z20K drops to around 4K level, looks like VP4001 will stay with me. Thank you.