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Sharp XR-1X Projector Sharp XR-1X
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2000:1 Contrast Ratio
1200 Lumens
Street Price: n/a
$1,995 MSRP

Sharp XR-1X Projector - A Highly Mobile Solution

David Colin, September 16, 2004

The Sharp XR-1X is a remarkable mobile projector in many ways. Its most remarkable feature is its DLP display technology. If you are not familiar with Sharp as a projector manufacturer, you might wonder why this is so remarkable when 41% of the projector models in the market are DLP.

Until this year, Sharp (SharpVision excluded) has produced only LCD projectors. Even its projector web site was www.SharpLCD.com, which now redirects you to www.SharpUSA.com. As a manufacturer of LCD technology, this made a lot of sense; however, it has kept Sharp out of the highly mobile projector market that demands smaller lighter projectors.

But no more! Sharp has embraced DLP technology, as have several other projector manufacturers. Companies such as IBM, Dell and HP are exclusively DLP; whereas Epson, Sanyo, Hitachi and Sony are exclusively LCD, with most of the rest of the manufacturers being technology agnostics. But, no matter. There are a number of competing display technologies in the market with new technologies always on the horizon. Darwin had a theory that is very apropos of technology.

But, I digress. What did we find that was so remarkable about the Sharp XR-1X projector? It was a combination of things. First and foremost, it puts out a dynamite picture whether you're using it for presentations, data, video or games. For projectors targeting the presentation market, this out-of-box experience was nearly unique. Firing up in Presentation mode almost always meant a lot of light and little color, as manufacturers tend to tune for brightness at the expense of good color settings. The Sharp XR-1X is also optimized for brightness in presentation mode; however, the default color settings are measureably better than many of the projectors we have seen. That's not to say you cannot get good color on other projectors. You'll just have to tweak the adjustments yourself.

Having a very bright presentation mode is done for two reasons. First, most presentation environments demand some room light because of the need to take notes, read, and allow the speaker to engage with the audience. Second, presentation mode typically defines the lumen rating of the projector and lumen ratings tend to be important buying considerations.

A high lumen rating gives a projector more tolerance to ambient light and a greater operating range. It can also produce a brighter large image and from a marketing perspective, you get more lumens per dollar. However, a high lumen rating is not desirable when it is done at the expense of true color. Once color fidelity is restored the image will dim and that high lumen rating is now only theoretical.

This means when you're not in presentation mode, you will likely see better grey scaling, better color saturation, and a dimmer image. For example, you will see dramatic changes in color rendering and lumen output when you switch from presentation mode to cinema mode no matter what projector you use. In the case of DLP projectors, switching from presentation to cinema mode means reducing the amount of light passing through the green and white segments of the color wheel giving the image a softer more natural look.

Projector lumen ratings are based on the primary intended use. For example, two projectors using DLP technology, but targeted for different applications will yield different results. The Sharp XR-1X produces 1200 ANSI lumens using a 3000 hour 150 watt lamp with a 4-segment color wheel and is targeted at presentation applications. If you switch the XR-1X or any other presentation projector to cinema mode, you can expect a 25% to 45% drop in lumen output. Conversely, the SharpVision XV-Z1200U produces 900 ANSI lumens using a 2000 hour 270W lamp using a 7-segment color wheel and is targeted for home theater use. Its lamp has 80% more power yet produces 25% fewer lumens due primarily to the application - cinema. So expect a loss of lumen output when switching any presentation projector to video mode.

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