Room setup was very importanat for me, I wanted the throw distance because my room could handle it. The biggest deciding factor though was the input selection available. Being able to pass 100 digital through HDMI or DVI was most important and I would have made my room work either way to have that. After all the image is why you are you buy a unit like this, if it doesn't look good you defeat teh purpose or compound the small problems.
Yes----and No! In my viewing room (11.5' across) the lens of the PJ was only 10' from screen. Because of it's shorter throw distance I could project a larger screen using the Z2. Also since my projector was going to be shelf mounted on the wall opposite the screen and off center vertically and horizontally; I knew the Lens shift feature would make life a lot easier during set-up. As far as picture quality goes- I saw the HS20 and there is no way I could tell the difference unless I had them side by side. I am so pleased with the picture I'm confident I made the right decision. 98" diagional screen viewed from 10' screendoor not a problem.
I haven't seen them side by side. My guess is that the HS20 is incrementally better than the Z2. If they were the same price and throw/installation was not an issue, sure, I'd probably take the Sony. But I don't think it's worth 50% more or an extra grand. An extra grand buys you a lot of stuff or is nice seed money for next year's upgrade!
If the price were equal, I'd for sure choose the HS20. I believe the contrast has been measured a little higher on the HS20. Certainly, the brightness can be significantly higher (996 vs. 615). Also, the HS20 doesn't wash out in bright mode -- so that brightness is definitely usable brightness. This means is will produce a punchier picture. The extra brightness will help the Sony hold up better on a grey screen -- improving it's (apparent) contrast even more -- while enabling deeper blacks and depth.
The power zoom and power focus are also nice features to have. With the 1.3 power zoom, a constant height screen is a possibility. Though many will prefer the installation ease of the lens-shift Sanyo has to offer.
Dust blobs and VB have been the negatives on the Z2 so far. (And, there's no apparent resolution to these issues).
Panel misalignment and start-up problems are the negatives of the HS20. It sounds like these issues are being addresses through repair/replacement. (Minor misalignments are not affecting viewing enjoyment).
After adding these issues up, I decided to pay the extra for the Sony.
Remote zoom and availability are big factors also. If I could have seen a Z2 and been able to get one in December, I may have been swayed. However, VB is definitely an issue for me and I wouldn't have bought one sight unseen. Although VB is not an issue with the Sony, I didn't have to buy it sight unseen.
2) Then I considered the 50% price increase versus a Z2. Reviews over here on this fab board were indicating great results. I started leaning heavily towards the Z2.
3) Then I considered the shorter throw of the Z2 which would allow an easier setup in my room (at the cost of longer cable though). I eventually decided this was neither an advantage or a disadvantage to either.
4) I went to see a Z2 in action and I was sold.
In the end I am very pleased with my decision. The picture is great (though by no means perfect). Whenever i tend to doubt my decision, I just think of 1200 $ I saved and that will be invested in a new, better PJ two years from now!!
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