Sharp XV-Z2000 DLP HDTV Front Projector Page 2

Picture Quality With a Bravo D2 DVD player upconverting pictures to the 720p format and connected to the Sharp's DVI jack, DVDs like After the Sunset looked crisp, with strong contrast and plentiful shadow detail. For example, in a scene where Pierce Brosnan unexpectedly finds Woody Harrelson hiding in his shadowy villa, I could clearly see details in dark wood furniture even as bright sunlight was streaming in from openings in the villa's windows.

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Colors on the island - like the sky's clear blue and the green of the foliage - also looked natural in a subsequent scene where Brosnan talks to his girlfriend (Salma Hayek), and the difference between her olive-tan and his reddish-tan skin tones was plain to see. But some objects, like the purple and red flower arrangements inside the villa, looked slightly pale after the projector had been properly set up with test patterns. Normally, I'd have tried to boost the color control, but the Sharp doesn't permit that adjustment when its DVI input is used.

I didn't get nearly as good results when I used the Sharp's standard (480i) connections. A quick check of some movie DVDs showed that the projector lacked 2:3 pulldown processing - a feature that compensates for the different frame rates of film and video to deliver solid-looking pictures. (This won't be an issue with DVDs, however, if you have a good progressive-scan player.) The same DVDs had also lacked detail, and when I tuned in a baseball game on ESPN's analog cable channel, the combination of picture softness and grainy noise patterns on a 105-inch screen was not a pretty sight.

Fast Facts
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 12.25 x 3.5 x 11.125 inches; 4.125 inches high with terminal cover WEIGHT 9.5 pounds PRICE$4,500; optional ceiling mount, $180 MANUFACTURER Sharp, www.sharpusa.com, 800-237-4277
Key Features
•Native 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution •DLP light engine •High Brightness and High Contrast iris adjustments •rear inputs DVI; 2 component-video; composite- and S-video; RS-232

On the plus side, a high-definition Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies basketball game looked mouth-wateringly good when I used the projector's DVI input. The 720p-format ESPN2-HD picture had a lifelike sense of depth, and the Sharp rendered details so crisply that everything from the court's hard-edged graphics to the player's terrycloth towels popped from the screen. I could even make out the fine lines in one guy's bird-of-prey tattoo during a close-up shot.

When I watched the same 720p-format transmission via the Sharp's component-video input, it looked crisp, but a bit less detailed compared with the DVI connection. However, I was able to adjust the color. Also, 1080i-format HDTV programs viewed through either input looked softer than 720p programs. That's probably because the Sharp's internal processor - like that on some other projectors - downconverts 1080i programs to 540p before bumping them up to 720p. This roundabout sort of processing inevitably tosses out some picture detail.

Bottom Line High-definition DLP front projectors used to cost $8,000 and up, but with the arrival of Sharp's XV-Z2000 you can now spend only a grand or so more for an HDTV model than you would for a rear-projection set using the same technology - and enjoy a much bigger picture. Compared with the company's feature-packed higher-end projectors, the Z2000 is a bare-bones model. But when you consider its chief purpose - projecting a gigantic image that shows off the exquisite clarity and detail of HDTV programs - it's definitely up to the task.

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