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Sanyo XP21N Review

275 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  piney
Here are my initial impressions of the Sanyo XP21N. I've watched it over the weekend on a variety of material. I have seen a Sony 10ht and JVC G15 at 1080i (both uncalibrated out of the box) as well as an occasional FP CRT at local stores. Input sources were DVD using Panasonic RV-80 and a Dell Inspiron 4000.

Color and contrast - Excellent. Colors are bright and vivid. I'd say it looks better than the G15 did. I did not attempt to adjust gamma for accurate color rendition.

Brightness - Very good when seen with ambient or no lighting at night. Good when seen with full room lighting at night. Washed out but watchable when seen during the day with semi-opaque curtains. I consider this impressive.

Blackness - Good enough for me. Except in very dark scenes such as those in Dark City, the black level seems acceptable because the contrast and brightness are so high. However, it does not compare to CRT or monitors - there is a faint but noticeable light area above and below the 16:9 image. In a completely light controlled environment, this may be objectionable.

Scaler - When the source came from the PCs VGA output, the image was very smooth as expected. When fed from the DVD, the internal scaler produced enough artifacts that it detracted from the movie. This usually happens on moving images, but can happen in a big way in blocks of 2 - 3 pixels. I'd consider this unacceptable at closer viewing distances.

Noise - Marginally acceptable. I didn't realize 39 db was so loud. The noise level is similar in noise and volume to the humming sound from my not so quiet desktiop PC. A hush box is a consideration for this unit.

Screen door - For me, this is the achilles heel. The great contrast ratio and brightness ironically mean that the screen door is razor sharp too. Distances in my setup:

Screen size 8' x 4.5'

Screen to audience 14'

Screen to projector 19'

At 1/2 distance (9') the screen is obvious. At 3/4 distance (14'), the screen is apparent on light regions, such as text and other bright objects. At 17', the images become silky smooth.

Unfortunately, I cannot easily change the viewing positions or move the projector. Besides, an 8' screen is just about the minimum for my theatrical experience. Any experience with depixelization lens or other suggestions would be appreciated. Otherwise, this projector may need to give way to a DILA.

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i think your problem is that you are only using 598 of the horizontal pixels. if all of your watching is in 16:9, which it sounds like it is, the new PLV-60 or the Sony 10HT would give you 768 horizontal rows of pixels. Maybe that would fix your problem. You could use the whole panel instead of just a part of it.
Wow - thanks for taking the time to post this review.

Would you say the "screen door" is similar to the Sony 10ht?... for me that would be acceptable... I just didn't like the Sony's black level performance during dark scenes.

Jaron: The PLV-60 crossed my mind as well but it seemed to have some tradeoffs on brightness. At 16:9 though, it's worth considering since it would have 78% more pixel density even though it's only 70% as bright as the XP21N at 16:9. Giving up 30% of the brightness for 80% more pixels would be a no brainer if the pixel fill factor is the same.

Tropical: The screen door depends on the viewing position relative to the projector distance and the material being shown. As I recall, the Sony screen door did not seem as pronounced but I'm not positive.


Thanks for the "screen door" info.

I will quote Projector Central - "An important feature of the XP21N is that it has Micro Lens Array (MLA). This increases the fill factor on the LCD panels and reduces the visibility of the pixel grid to almost zero."

Is it possible that your Sayno does not have the MLA installed?

If you think your unit is not defective it looks like we better wait for the PLV60.

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Here's a close up of a projected image. It would take a darn good explanation to convince me that the fill factor is better than 80% based on this.


[This message has been edited by piney (edited 04-16-2001).]
Quoting PC again:

"An important feature of the XP21N is that it has Micro Lens Array (MLA). This increases the fill factor on the LCD panels and reduces the visibility of the pixel grid to almost zero."

As a new XP21n owner, I'm sorry to say that this is an absurd claim (with all due respect to PC). The pixelization is quite pronounced. Obviously, the pixels are visible within a few feet from the screen, but their visibility is still a factor at long viewing distances. At 20 feet, for example, the individual pixels are obscured, but the black lines between every pixel affect the overall quality of the image. That's the way it is, period.

Two caveats:

(1) If you don't want the screendoor effect, don't buy an LCD projector.

(2) If you want blacks that are truly black, don't buy an LCD projector.

On the other hand, if you want great color, saturation, brightness, and contrast, the Sanyo is hard to beat. My long-term plan is to sell the Sanyo in 2-3 years, and purchase a D-ILA machine. I expect by then that the current shortcomings of D-ILA technology will have been addressed, and companies other than JVC will join the fray.

Frank Maiello
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Piney, great review!

I am assuming that you weren't using a gray screen. This might help with both pixel visibility and black level, although you did find the black level quite good.

I saw a post about the Panamorph anamorphic lens and I believe I read that it also reduces pixel visiblity considerably with LCD projectors. This might be worth investigating. I have just spent some time with a LCD projector with 1800 ANSI lumens and there are some definite advantages (versatility) to having this amount of brightness.

I think one of the reasons that PC liked the Sanyo so much was the gray screen being used! PC also thought that the NEC 155 solved the pixel problem - it was a major issue when I spent some time with the LT155! My experience with LCDs is that you are forced to use a smaller screen or move further back than with the other digital projectors. I agree with Frank's assessment of the pixel problem - even at distances where the pixels aren't visible there is still a negative hangover effect. I should add that I have seen the Sony with the set screen a good distance away and it looked very good!

I would love to see the Sanyo XP21N with the Grayhawk and a Panamorph run through a good HTPC. I think this would be a dynamite combination.

What I am learning is that if you take a so so digital projector (I think the Sanyo is probably an exceptional projector) and bypass its internal processing (usually a projector's biggest problem)with a good progressive scan DVD player or HTPC and combine this with the optimum screen and then tweak the room you will obtain an amazing image. The whole is often greater than the sum of its individual parts!


Grant Smyth

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Many thanks again for the picture post.

I'm rapidly loosing faith in what Projector Central has to say about anything!... I have yet to hear anyone agree with them.

I think you and others here have convinced me to wait for the PLV-60. If those reviews are not good I will be lost again... maybe have to wait for the new Toshiba or Sharp.


Still waiting on the PLV-60 to arrive....

In the meantime, I'll throw this out:

After some research, I cannot find definitively MLA and high contrast (700-1) in the same Sanyo unit. Projector Central says the XP-21 has MLA but the pics don't seem to support it and the Sanyo specs don't mention (i.e. trumpet) it as they do on all the other products with the MLA feature?

After some thought the following curiosity came to me: MLA (micro lens array) is used, of course, to condense (and presumably re-expand) bits of the light stream thru the individual pixels to increase efficiency and increase the aperture ratio (less screen door). Any lens assembly mounted on the LCD panel should slightly diffuse this light including the vertically polarized light arriving from the first linear polarizing plate. In my limited experience, even slightly depolarized light will "leak" thru the LCD TN layer at a higher rate ruining good black level. Anyone care to speculate on this??

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The XP21 pixel, I viewed had a soft edge that could be attributable to the MLA, but the projector convergence was slightly off. The contrast was measured and reported by Don Stewart and was better than 600:1. The screen door was improved compared to the normal LCD but screen door was still highly discernible.

Screen door is more easily visible on super-bright projectors like the XP21N because the eye has lots of light to define detail.

This is the theory behind bright reading lights. Try reading 4 point text in dim light, then bright light. (Assuming you can read it all.)


Ken Elliott
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It depends alot on your eye site. But I think with a 2:1 viewing to width ratio you'll be O.K. for the most part.

I watch my friend's XP18n from 12 feet away on a 80" wide (not diagonal) screen without seeing much pixelization, but I only have about 20/40 vision for that viewing distance and his doesn't have the MLA which should help some.

Take your glasses off and watch how smooth your image gets http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Mr. Powell over at PC gets a little too excited about new technologies sometimes. I remeber last year when he said the 10HT had such a high resolution that the screen door was invisible.

BTW, I think all LCD owners should consider an IMX. Yes it is a ~$800 add on but it does wonders to make the image less digital looking.

-Mr. Wigggles

Ps. Joe, take a look at the Fed EX thread and give your legal input on the situation.


The Mothership is now boarding.
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excuse my ignorance, but what is a IMX? I was going to get a Iscan Pro with mine. Is that close?
The IMX goes over the lens of the projector and provides adjustment. It blends the pixels, thats probably not the correct terminology but, you can visit their web site for more info. I'm not sure what it is though. I think it may be www.cygnus.com

Your ok with a Iscan pro, as long as your not happy with the projectors deinterlacer.

I had contacted Cygnus today regarding the IMX, but haven't heard back. Have you had a chance to see the IMX lens in action against a 1024x768 LCD? If the screen door could be reduced by 1/2, that would produce the perfect image for me.

I've simulated this by standing 24' back and the screen door truly melts away... along with the image of course.


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