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The Sanyo PLC-SU20 multimedia projector is one of the best projectors in the world. Immediately, you are now going to be wondering why?!?!?! It's bulky, it's not very aesthetically appealing and it's hardly the best spec. in the world. But this is such a reliable projector!
I have owned several of these projector and not one has let me down. They just seem to go and go without fault. The projector's are very robustly made as it has been designed for portability.
The projector has a very handy fold out handle. This is very strong so you have no worries about it breakig after continuous use, When it's not in use, the handle folds away and sits flush with the side of the projector and is hardly noticeable.
This is one of Sanyo's earliest portable projectors. You can understand Sanyo's ranges quite easily. Every sanyo projector model's name will begin with PLC this is then followed (usually) by either SU or XU (these two are the most common). There will usually be and SU and an XU fo every model, for example a PLC-SU20 and a PLC-XU20. These will both fundamentally be the same, but the XU20 would be slightly better specification and therefore slightly more expensive. The XU models tend to be more desirable and achieve higher prices when it comes to resale, however, many models are no different to one another specification wise, so you may as well save abit of money and just buy the SU model. Sanyos ranges then go upin 10's accordingly. So the earliest are the SU10's, thenthere is the SU20's, SU30's and so on. You can then have a PLC-SU20, a PLC-SU21, a PLC-SU22 etc. with slightly different specifications. But the important thing you need to know is the first number, the higher the number, the newer the model. The last to be produced following this was the PLC-SU86, there are several projectors that don't follow this pattern, but as this review concerns second hand projectors, we'll leave it at this. I'd like to point out at this point that if you have a PLC-SU60 model that you aren't using, then this is one of the best projectors Sanyo ever made and is very rarely seen in the second hand market. If you have one, then they fetch a small fortune comparative to other projectors. Even new they are very hard to find.
The projector has an estimated bulb life of 2,000 hours which is good. Many projectors of this age only had a life of 1000 hours which is half this. However the downside to this projector is that there is no lamp counter in the menu, so you can't keep track of the useage. This is why regular servicing is crucial.
This projector has a brightness of 1200 lumens. Now if you are new to the projector world, then you are probably wondering what on earth lumens are. Well, put simply lumens
Pictures of Sanyo PLC SU20
PLC-SU20 Projector In Action
are just a measure of brightness. You may notice that with torches they often measure the brightness with the number of candles it is equivalent to. Well it's a similar thing with projectors, the more lumens the brighter the bulb. Over use, a bulb gradually loses brightness. We have a special device that we place in front of a projector that measures it's current brightness. By putting the data from it against a chart we can work out roughly how long the lamp is going to last and whether it should be replaced. So what is a good brightness. Well, I always recommend going for a projector with a brightness of 1500 lumens or above for most projectors. This is a good guideline to go by. However there are some exceptions to the rule, for example the Sony VPL-CS1 with its brightness of just 600 lumens yet can cope perfectly well and is as good as a 1500 lumen projector. This all comes down to the lens and how effective it is at getting the brightness from the bulb onto your wall/screen. As you will see, the SU20 (If I just use SU20, it's just to abbreviate as all Sanyo's are PLC-.... so I mean to say PLC-SU20), the SU20 has a nice big lens. This is very effective at getting that light from the bulb onto the wall/screen. I'll admit I would like it to be just a little brighter, so it could cope in a well lit room. But if you can switch the lights off, then this is a great projector.
The great lens also means that the picture is very clear and of good quality. Most projector companies endeavour just to produce the most compact and stylish projectors and as a result, the image quality suffers. Sanyo have been very bold with this projector putting in a great big lens that covers a great deal of the front of the projector.
The projector weighs a little under 4kg, which adds to it's portability. Most portable projectors now are under 3kg, though we do now have some "micro" projectors that can well under that. But you can see that Sanyo was really well ahead of the game when they produced this projector as years later, not much has changed weight wise. The projector isn't too big either at less than 10 cm tall, just 24cm wide and 32 cm long it's not too big to carry around with you. So this really is a great choice for anyone looking for a projector for office presentations.
This projector can be desk mounted or ceiling mounted. If you are desk mounting, then the legs on the front of the projector can be extended outwards so they raise the front of the projector. This angles the image upwards slightly towards a screen.
The projector has a resolution of 800x600. At the time of manufacture this was probably the resolution of your computer, things have advanced since then and your resolution on your computer has probably been changed. So when using with this projector you may have to change the resolution down to 800x600. This is easy to do on the control panel, the only slightly annoying thing about it is that it tends to move your icons around to fit them all on, so you'll probably have to rearrange them, but it isn't a major thing. The resolution of a projector is just like the resolution on your computer, the higher the resolution, the more detailed the imagery.
The Sanyo PLC-SU20 has a built in speaker which is handy as it reduces the number of things you need to connect up. But, as with most projector speakers, it quality isn't great. Though in a home cinema setup you will probably be using a surround sound kit for that full home cinema experience. So I don't really see this as an issue. The speaker is perfectly useable and in an office environment where sound during a presentation is very limited, it compes fine.
The projector can produce an image size of up to 7.6m which for a Sanyo Projector is their standard size. But to achieve this size you have to be the maximum distance away, which is 10.8m. Therefore, this projector size for most people will be unachievable. But 7.6m is a huge size. My lounge is probably I would have though an average size as it is 12" by 12" which is 4m wide. So if we say 2.5m tall, then this would give a diagonal span of 5m, so you could more than cover the whole wall if you could get 10m away, so that should hopefully help you grasp just how big that sort of size is. Most people will have an image size of 100" which is just over 2.5m diagonal, which this projector will cope with fine.
As this projector is a Sanyo, the range of inputs is as always very good. I cannot understand why other companies decide it is a good idea to just put a single RCA (video) input, so you have to put the audio source through a 3.5mm jack when using a dvd player for example. Well Sanyo don't do this, you get the full three RCA (also known as video composite) inputs (these are the red, white and yellow inputs), this makes connecting a dvd player, or a sky box etc. that much easier. The projector also has an S-Video (also known as S-VHS) input. Also there is a 3.5mm audio jack input, then a very handy audio output. What this allows you to do is connect your sound to the projector then output it to your speakers. You can then control the audio with your projector remote as you would if you were using the built-in speaker.
The Sanyo PLC-SU20 has a VGA input (for computers) as you would expect. But being a Sanyo, it also has a monitor output. What this allows you to do is connect your computer to the projector and then the projector to the monitor. This will then put the image onto both the projector and your monitor. This is very important during presentation, because the audience will normally be in front of you with the projection being behind you. This poses the problem that if you need to look at the projection or read something from it for example, then you have to options, either strain your neck to view it, or turn around to view it, turning your back to the audience which is very unproffesional. Having your monitor also on, means that you can just look at this and never have to turn away from the audience.
The remote control is very simple to use. And is very comfortable to use too. The best feature is the built in laser which is common on many Sanyo remotes. This allows you to point out things during a presentation and is a lot more professional than the old "stick" pointers!
So overall I think that this is a very good projector. Once you look past it's not so great looks and it's age, you will see a very reliable, very robust, very high quality projector. Being a few years old, and not the most attractive projectors in the world means that when they come up for sale,the prices are usually very cheap. Expect to pay between £120 and £150 dependent on condition and for that money this really is a bargain.
Updated, I've just added a few pictures to backup my review. The picture of the projector running was done in a dimmed room, yet is projecting direct onto my chocolate brown wall - there is no screen! As you will see, a good image size is easily achievable. the projector is setup 3m away from the wall for that photo. Please accept my apologies for the quality of the picture, I couldn't turn the flash off on my digital cam as it has an automatic sensor, so when it's dark the flash automatically comes on. I was forced to use my camera phone, but I hope it gives you some indication of quality and image size. The next picture shows the inputs on the projector, you probably wont be able to tell from the picture, but the inputs are located at the back of the projector on the right hand side. The third picture shows the projector's built in handle folded out for carrying. If you then look at picture 4, the handle is folded in and you can see that when the handle is folded away it really is unnoticeable. From picture 3 you will also see the controls on top of the projector. These allow you to still control the projector should you lose the remote. It may seem like there is a lot of buttons, but they are really very simple and you'll quickly be able to use them all. If you're in a permanent installation then once setup all you'll really need to change is the volume and the input.
I hope these pictures give you a better understanding of my review. If you'd like any further pictures then leave a comment with the parts/areas you'd like a picture of and I'll see what I can sort out.
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Exceptional review! Well done! The only thing I'd think to say is that it would be easier to read if you inserted some headings between different sections. Well done though - a thorough review! E from me!