Sharp XV-Z10000U DLP Projector Page 2

After experimenting with a variety of setups, I settled on positioning the projector on a table about 16 feet from the screen. This placed it about 4 feet behind the viewing position, thus minimizing the fan noise. As mentioned above, I set the High Contrast/High Brightness control to High Contrast and turned the Economy mode off. On my 80-inch-wide Stewart FireHawk screen this produced a center-screen peak light output at the main viewing seat of about 8 footlamberts. While this seems low, I assure you it was not, as long as the room was dark. This level of light output is more satisfying from a DLP than from a CRT because the DLP illuminates the screen much more evenly, all the way to the edges of the picture. As a result, the total amount of light coming from the screen is greater.

Nevertheless, when set up to produce the best picture it could in other respects, the light output of the Sharp was a little less generous than from a number of other projectors we've tested. But unlike most others, more light output is available, without too much image compromise, if you really need it. (See "Calibration" for more on the projector's light output.)

I encountered one strange problem with the Sharp XV-Z10000U. Fresh out of the box, it emitted a very pungent odor in my not-too-well-ventilated home theater. This problem gradually dissipated with extended use, but I put well over 50 hours on the projector before it ceased to be annoying.

All DLP projectors run hot, and I suspect this heat produced an unusual amount of outgassing from the Sharp's internal components. But we haven't noticed this to such a degree in any competing projector we've tested. If you have this problem with the Sharp, don't panic; it should go away eventually. And in a room with better cross-ventilation than mine, it probably won't be a problem at all.

Before calibration, the Sharp's red was unnaturally deep and rich, though the deviation wasn't necessarily unwelcome after the too-orange reds of most video displays. After calibration, it proved as accurate as any red I've yet seen from a DLP. Blues were a bit too deep also, but this didn't bother me very much. But green, while not far from the correct color point, was off in a way that produced a too-bright, electric green. Sharp isn't the only manufacturer featuring this "fresh" green, which appears to be the color deviation du jour. It really jumps out at you on brightly lit foliage and—perhaps this is the intent—on a football or baseball field. Since a DLP's color output is produced largely by the bulb and the filters selected for the color wheel (plus the supposedly well-defined color-decoding algorithm), I see no reason why it can't be done correctly.

But the green was an only occasional distraction, and all things considered, the XV-Z10000U's overall color reproduction was as good as anything I've seen from DLP. Judging from the objective measurements (see "Calibration and Performance" sidebar), it's not significantly bettered by any video display we've tested to date.

Sharpness? You've got it. Whether we're talking DVDs or high-definition programming, the Sharp was, well, sharp. Full-bandwidth HD is available from any HD-compatible input—RGB, DVI, and component. But the XV-Z10000U's picture was only as sharp as the source; the projector added no artificial enhancement of its own as long as I didn't lay a heavy hand on the Sharpness control. (I used a Sharpness setting of –12 for most of my DVD watching, though this may not necessarily be optimal for all samples.)

Blacks? With the High Brightness/High Contrast switch set for High Contrast, they were nearly as deep as we've measured to date from any non-CRT projector. Still, as with most such projectors, there was a region in the deep shadows, short of complete black, where shades of gray sometimes looked slightly crushed or mottled. Attempts to alleviate this made the picture look slightly washed-out; there was no middle ground. The best, most consistently filmlike shadow detail I've yet seen with a DLP projector came from the Marantz VP-12S2, largely because its blacks most closely approached those of a good, properly calibrated CRT. But the Sharp wasn't far behind, and it did have a number of advantages of its own over the Marantz (see "Comparisons," below). The blacks from the LCoS and LCD projectors I've seen remain inferior to DLP in my judgment, at least for now.

The XV-Z10000U offers three deinterlace modes. The deinterlacing is Sharp's own, not the increasingly ubiquitous DCDi from Faroudja. One mode is Film (with 3:2 pulldown recognition for NTSC sources), and two are for video (3D Progressive, said to be best with slow-moving images, and 2D Progressive for faster motion). The manual doesn't call these "video" modes, but that's what they appear to be.

With the projector set to Film, artifacts were never a distraction in the more than 250 hours of film-based DVDs I watched, though on certain specific, difficult tests, such as the waving flag on the Video Essentials DVD, jagged edges appeared. But DVD menus (usually produced in the video domain) were riddled with artifacts. You can get around this by choosing one of the video modes, but then you'll see artifacts in the film. Unfortunately, there is no auto mode that automatically switches between film and video. If this proves to be a concern for you, you can avoid the problem by using the XV-Z10000U with a good progressive-scan DVD player.

I also saw those dreaded rainbows on the Sharp. Of the HD2 projectors I've reviewed or at least spent serious time with (the SIM2 HT300 Plus, Marantz VP-12S2, InFocus ScreenPlay 7200, and Yamaha DPX-1000, the last still under test), the XV-Z10000U's susceptibility to this effect was higher, for me, than that of the SIM2, Marantz, and Yamaha. Rainbows showed up intermittently on dark scenes with bright highlights—for example, street lamps on an otherwise dark street. They didn't turn up often enough to spoil the fun, and I found them tolerable, but I'd still rather not see them at all. We're still hoping for a complete cure to this problem, but it may have to wait for a home-theater–friendly, three-chip DLP.