Sharp XV-Z9000U 16:9 dlp projector Page 2
A variety of outstanding sources were available to me: DirecTV HD, over-the-air HD, D-VHS HD tapes, and the Ayre D-1 and Camelot Round Table progressive-scan DVD players. Before ISF calibration, the XV-Z9000U's color reproduction and overall picture quality were already among the best I'd seen from any technology. After calibration, it was simply breathtaking, though the differences made by calibration were the smallest of any display device I've reviewed.
Washed-out blacks and "rainbow" artifacts are thought to be the two biggest problems associated with DLP displays, and though I'm particularly sensitive to the former, the SharpVision's claimed contrast ratio of 1100:1 proved sufficient to allow me to never wish for blacker blacks, though I'm sure some CRT device offers them. On Dark Cityone of the toughest challenges for a bulb-driven display deviceI never felt that low-level detail was washed out, or that the overall picture took on a gray cast. A black car in one of the opening night shots was subjectively black when compared to the gray street and other dark surroundings. Gradations of gray and transitions from light to dark were handled without noticeable problems or loss of detail.
Switching to an HD D-VHS tape of PBS's Piano Grand, the black piano, tuxedos, and other black images had a naturally rich, dark nothingness about them, and never looked gray or washed-out. Could they have been blacker? Perhaps, but if the blacks looked black, and could have looked blacker only by comparison, that's black enough for meand, I suspect, for most viewers. If you concentrate on blacks in a movie theater, you'll find that they're usually not as dark as they are at home with a good CRT projector. The bottom line: The SharpVision XV-Z9000U's black-level performance rendered the issue moot to my eyes, though I'm sure diehard CRT devotees will disagree, even as they ignore CRTs' low light output and convergence and geometry problems.
As for the "rainbow" effect . . . because I'd never reviewed a DLP projector before, I didn't know what to look for and I almost didn't see ituntil I began shaking my head back and forth violently, hoping to induce it. Then I could see it, a trail of colors following bright white objects . . . but I don't watch movies that way. While in certain high-contrast scenes in Sleepy Hollow, for instance, the rainbow color-separation effect was more apparent, I still had to shake my head to see it. I suspect that the bigger your screen and the closer you sit to it, the more you'll see rainbows; your eyes will be doing more darting around as you try to take in details at either end of the screen. But you'll have to judge for yourself; some people are more sensitive to rainbow separation than others. For me, it was a non-issue.
The SharpVision's 250W high-pressure lamp produces 800 ANSI lumens. According to the owner's manual, a warning light comes on after 1900 hours of use and the projector shuts down after 2000 hours to prompt a mandatory replacementwhich can be performed by the user. (But remember: No DLP projector should be used in a smoky environment, and the SharpVision's filter must be cleaned every 100 hours to ensure optimum bulb life and picture quality.) The XV-Z9000U's combination of brightness and high contrast ratio helped produce an intensely vivid 3-dimensional picture, as long as ambient light levels were kept reasonably low. Overall color purity and saturation were exemplary, with among the reddest, least orangey reds I've seen from a projector. There was a very, very slight bit of red push evident when viewing the color bars through a red filter, but it was so minor as to be trivial.
The SharpVision's color performance was almost sexual in intensityat times I felt a sensory overload in need of another outlet. Toy Story and other animated movies seemed almost hallucinatory. As for image dimensionality and palpability, my neighborwho has an ISF-calibrated 57-inch RPTV HDTVtook one look at Toy Story and involuntarily exclaimed, "My God! Look at that potato!"
Mark Cuban's new HDnet hi-def sports channel on DirecTV offers some of the finest HD images I've seen, with none of the MPEG compression artifacts visible on CBS's HD sports broadcasts, which themselves are quite good. The "window on the event" phenomenon was as visceral and believable on the SharpVision DLP as I've seen from any CRT projector. My 55-inch Philips RPTV, a very accomplished performer in its class, looked soft and milky by comparison.
I ran the Ayre D-1's S-video output into the SharpVision to check the performance of the projector's internal deinterlacer. It looked impressively smooth and filmlike, with no prominent artifacts visible on a variety of films. But I doubt many buyers of this $11,000 projector will be using it with non-progressive-scan DVD players.
The picture quality through the Sharp-Vision's S-video input was generally not nearly as transparent or as well-resolved as through the Ayre's 480p output. I didn't have a high-performance outboard scaler on hand to compare to the SharpVision's built-in one, but I assure you that's not what you'll be thinking you'll need when you experience the XV-Z9000U's outstanding performance.
I simply can't contain my enthusiasm for this projector and its technology. To finally watch a widescreen HDTV picture of such superb resolution, brightness, contrast, clarity, color saturation, and differentiation was thrilling, almost hypnotic. Having witnessed a string of disappointing DLP demos ever since TI introduced its DMD chip in 1996 (in consumer products from other companies), this came as a wonderful surprise. DLP for high-end home theater is now, officially, a mature technologyno excuses necessary.
The SharpVision XV-9000U did not meet or surpass the overall performance of the finest CRT projectorsits images didn't look quite as creamy-smooth, nor was its resolution quite as high, nor were its blacks quite as dark and rich. But considering its impressive light output (which will remain basically consistent over the bulb's lifespan), perfect geometry and convergence, size, price (I've seen the XV-9000U for sale online for less than $8000), ease of use, how close it came to matching CRT performance in areas where the DLP technology is not quite as accomplished, and how handily it beat CRT performance in areas where DLP is superiorI conclude that, for a majority of home-theater enthusiasts, the competition is over. DLP wins. Let's hope a future generation of projectors from other manufacturers will follow Sharp's lead and use Texas Instruments' new HD1 DMD chip.
Of course, you should check out the SharpVision XV-Z9000U for yourself before dropping this kind of money, and if you're concerned about the lack of a DVI input, you might want to wait. But if you go in prepared to write a check or drop a credit card on the counter, I predict that you will. The home theater enthusiasts at Sharp were clearly working overtime when they created this baby. Even the fan is quiet.