Shootout: Three 1080p Front Projectors Page 7

The Short Form

Price $10,000 / sharpusa.com / 800-237-4277
Snapshot
Sharp's flagship DLP offers ultra-crisp images with solid blacks and well-defined shadows, but its performance comes at a premium price.
Plus
•Excellent picture sharpness •Deep blacks and strong shadow detail •Rich, natural-looking
Minus
•Relatively high fan noise
Key Features
•Single-chip model with 7-segment, 5x color wheel •1.35x Zoom lens •Manual Zoom, Focus, and Vertical lens shift •Iris control with three presets •Inputs: DVI-I; 2 HDMI; 2 component-video; composite- and S-video; RS-232C •17.9 x 6.9 x 16.5 in; 25.5 lb Full Lab Results
A set of six picture presets includes a Movie 1 mode that delivers a fairly accurate color balance, and there's a Memory mode to store your adjustments. The settings in Memory mode remain the same for all of the projector's inputs, although the other presets can also be customized and then manually applied when you switch sources. Of the projector's three Iris settings, Medium provided the best mix of deep black and punchy highlights. The Gamma menu provides extensive controls for adjusting color temperature and offers six presets, with Standard delivering the most accurate pictures.

PERFORMANCE The first thing that grabbed me when watching movies with the Z20000 was the image's remarkable crispness and clarity. For example, in a scene from the Blu-ray Disc of The Departed where crooked cop Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) talks to a woman through a screen door, I could see dirt, holes, and even the subtle play of light on the surface of the mesh material. And in a scene where Sullivan approaches a building to start his first day of work, I could clearly see the grooved texture of the concrete structure, even in wide shots.

Other aspects of the Sharp's performance that helped bring pictures to life were its strong contrast and shadow delineation. In a scene where Frank Costello approaches the young Sullivan in a dark garage, blacks looked deep, and a high degree of background detail was visible in the shadowy space. And when Costello's monstrously grinning head emerged into the light, the projector's punchy contrast gave the picture a realistic sense of depth.

Color accuracy also proved to be among the Z20000's strengths. The 6500-K color- temperature preset delivered fairly natural-looking color out of the box, and the Sharp's numerous adjustments helped me tweak it to near-perfection. The benefits here were apparent in a scene where Sullivan peers out from his posh, light-filled apartment at the Massachusetts State House across the way: Damon's skin tone looked natural and balanced, while the green trees, brick buildings, and gold dome capping the structure had a brilliant, vivid appearance. Regular DVDs also fared well on the Sharp, although it proved ruthless in revealing background noise on discs such as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Fortunately, the Sharp's effective noise reduction helped smooth the picture without smearing details.

BOTTOM LINE At ten grand, the Sharp XV-Z20000 is way more than a casual purchase. But for someone demanding something extra from a front projector in the way of detail, clarity, and that elusive sense of "pop," it's a very solid choice. Despite competition from other technologies, Sharp and DLP are very much on top of the game.

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