Sharp XV-DW100U LCD Projector

Better than I pixelled it.

The first step in overcoming any problem is admitting that you have one, so I'll admit that I don't normally like LCD projectors. There's no point in hiding the fact—it was bound to come out. Of course, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm prejudiced against an entire class of display devices. This is America, after all, where products should be judged on merit and not the composition of their pixels. But, you know, they're fine for other people. It's just not the kind of projector I'd have in my living room . . . . So, I was fully prepared not to like Sharp's XV-DW100U LCD projector. Sure, it can accept input signals from an analog NTSC tuner all the way up to 720p and 1080i from an outboard DTV tuner. So what if it easily connects to your computer, too? All right, it is amazingly easy to set up. OK, it works as a front or rear, floor or ceiling projector. I'll even give you the fact that it's a blast to watch. But, hey, it's still an LCD projector, remember?

Somehow, I'd forgotten just how incredibly easy these things are to set up. The XV-DW100U came out of the box and was throwing a jumbo-sized picture on the wall (I didn't even have the screen up yet) in less than 15 minutes. If you've worked with three-tube projectors, you know just how amazing that is. The projector itself is small (10.28 inches wide by 5.08 inches high by 14.02 inches deep) and very lightweight (under 16 pounds). It can be used in floor- or ceiling-mount, front- or rear-projection installations. I went the easy route of front projection with floor mounting.

Once I'd placed the projector in position, getting the right size and proper focus was easy with the power-zoom and power-focus lens adjustments. The speed of the motor making these adjustments was perfect—not so fast that I overshot where I wanted to stop and not so slow that it took forever to get there. Using a SharpVision 84-inch screen, I had these two main adjustments done in no time. In fact, it was so quick that I kept going back over it, thinking I'd missed something.

If you want to, you can make adjustments using the control panel on the top of the projector.
The projector also offers an easy-to-use digital keystone adjustment, but you'd run from the room shrieking in utter terror if anyone decided to use it. When the plane of the projector is not perpendicular to the plane of the screen, the picture's geometry skews. Instead of a nice 4:3 or 16:9 rectangle, you get a trapezoid with a parallel top and bottom but sides that angle inward or outward. When installation constraints make it impossible to mount the projector in the ideal position, the keystone adjustment does indeed bring the image shape back to a rectangle. Unfortunately, it also destroys the continuity of straight lines in the picture. This is not always noticeable with a static image; however, in scenes with movement, it will become painfully obvious, as lines stair-step their way up (or down) the screen. You can avoid needing to use the keystone adjustment by taking the time to plan your installation in advance. In the XV-DW100U operation manual, Sharp includes a very helpful chart that gives you size ranges and distances for proper setup. Thanks to the zoom lens, there's quite a bit of flexibility in how far the projector can be from the screen, but the aim of the projector and height of the lens are critical.

Although I didn't like the effects of the keystone adjustment, I loved the projector's remote control. (Yeah, I know, I need to get a life.) Although simple and straightforward, it's an exceptional piece of work. The moderate size and sculpted form fit very comfortably in my hand. All buttons were within easy reach of my thumb, and there's even an "undo" button underneath the remote that sits right at the tip of your index finger. The simple layout lets you take total control of the projector using nested menus that pop down onscreen. The keys are backlit, with the icon for each key clearly visible. In addition to an unusual switch that turns off the remote control, there's also a 3.5mm jack that allows you to hard-wire the remote for installations where infrared is unreliable.

COMPANY INFO
Sharp
XV-DW100U LCD Projector
$10,995
Dealer Locator Code SHA
(877) BE-SHARP
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