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.
Out-of-the-Box - The out-of-box experience was very satisfying with each of the preset selections for data, presentations, games, and cinema. Six separate color temperatures allow you to personalize your viewing experience, if you're so inclined. If you're a videophile, you can fine tune red and blue color components in RGB mode. The Sharp XR-1X also supports sRGB, the international standard of color reproduction. When operating in sRGB, color adjustments are not allowed.
The Basics - The XR-1X provides 1200 ANSI lumens and 2000:1 contrast making it an excellent choice for a small to medium conference room. Weighing in at 3.2 lbs (1.5 kg) makes it highly mobile and with a volume of slightly more than 1/15th of a cubic foot you can put it in your coat pocket. At 3000 hours it has the highest lamp life rating of sub 4-pound mobile projectors. Suggested retail price of the lamp is $379 giving it a lamp operating cost of slightly less than $0.13/hour at full brightness and slightly more than $0.09/hour with the lamp in economy mode.
Lamp Economy Mode - This is one of the nicer features offered on projectors today with several benefits that are frequently overlooked by users. We tend to buy projectors for their big bright images and in many instances we don't need all the light output or we would prefer to have a little less fan noise while watching a movie. Lamp economy mode gives us both while increasing the lamp life. At 39 dB the audible noise level of the XR-1X is higher than others in its class; although none of the highly mobile projectors are quiet due to the small packaging constraints. In lamp economy mode the XR-1X drops fan noise to 36 dB, lumen output from 1100 to 940, and increases lamp life from 3000 to 4000 hours giving it the longest lamp life in its class. So when you're done with a presentation at full brightness and you're back at home, plug into the cable box and enjoy a quiet movie on the big screen in economy mode. You won't be disappointed.
Remote Control - The remote control is compact and intuitive with direct access to each input source and easy control of a comprehensive menu system. Computer based presentations can be controlled using the infrared remote. Simply connect the USB cable provided by Sharp to your computer and you're ready to roll. While this remote mouse works well for presentation slide control, navigation is a bit tedious as the mouse is limited to horizontal and vertical movements only.
Packaging - The packaging of the XR-1X projector is attractive and clean with feet for adjusting throw elevation. I/R sensors for picking up the remote control signals are located at the front and back of the projector.
Video Processing - The Sharp XR-1X progressive video processing handles NTSC, PAL and SECAM and will frame convert film formats shot in 24 frames/second to 60 (3:2 pulldown) or 50 (2:2 pulldown) frames/second depending on the video source. Sharp uses a proprietary deinterlacing chip for fast action video Sharp offers two modes of operation: 2D progressive scanning for fast action video and 3D progressive for slower moving video.
No Ceiling Mount - Although not stated in the User's Manual, the Sharp XR-1X is not suitable for ceiling mount due to the limited air flow when the projector is inverted. Sharp does state the constraints on the bottom of the projector and the User's Manual demonstrates a number of ways to do front and rear projection from a table or floor. Since this projector is intended for mobile use and sharing, we do not consider this a limitation. However, if your needs require a ceiling mount, seek another projector.
Automatic Keystone Correction - Automatic vertical keystone adjustment is included and allows for a fast setup, but you may not need it as the Sharp XR-1X projector throws an image above the level of the projector. So if you set it on a conference room table for example, it can project a 100-inch (254 cm) diagonal image 7.4 inches (18.5 cm) above the level of the table from 11.5 to 13.4 feet (3.5 to 4.08 m) using a 1.16:1 manual zoom lens. The keystone adjustment can "square" the image automatically if the projector is within 13 degrees of perpendicular to the screen and manually up to 15 degrees. Our advice is to minimize or avoid keystone correction when showing small text from documents or spreadsheets, as you will see some artifacts in the scaled part of the image. These artifacts are far less evident in video and large text presentations.
Ins & Outs - The XR-1X projector has 6 inputs and 5 connectors including an audio input, a USB mouse input, an analog RGB port that serves dual purpose for data and component video, and 2 video connectors for S-Video and video. Expect image quality to be in the same order with RGB giving the highest quality image and video giving the lowest quality. This will be true on any video device as quality is all about information. RGB has the most information and video has the least.
Carrying Case - The projector comes with a soft carrying case that includes a separate pocket for the remote control, tie wraps for the cables, and an Operation Manual in both hard copy and CD. The whole package looks like a small purse that is easily carried in one hand. Well, small compared to what my wife carries.
Security - For security you can apply a secret key code to enable the projector for only those who know the secret handshake. However, don't forget it or lose it as you will have to pay a fee to get it unlocked. The Kensington security connection that is common on nearly every projector these days gives you the ability to secure it with a cable to a table or large object to discourage theft.
Other Nice Features - An interactive problem-oriented help menu provides quick solutions to common problems - ideal for the new user and handy for the veteran user. Auto Power off will automatically shut your projector down if your source signals are absent for 15 minutes.
Warranty - Sharp offers a 2-year warranty that is nice for mobile users. The first year includes a 24-hour express replacement with freight paid both directions.
Summary - The Sharp XR-1X is well done. Designed for the mobile presenter the XR-1X is neatly packaged and easy to transport. Priced at $2,495 retail, it is neither the least expensive nor most expensive in the class of high contrast sub 4-pound 1000 lumen plus XGA projectors, but it is clearly one of the better performers. With a street price of $1,699 it is highly competitive and represents a terrific value.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Sharp XR-1X projector page.