Although home theater as a whole is moving towards high definition content, there is a big market for low-cost projectors better suited to enjoying DVD movies in the comfort of your living room. For this purpose, the Sharp DT-100 offers a very nice package, with some unique features not found in other projectors at this price point. And all this comes in at street prices well below the $1,299 MSRP.
Specifications. 1000 ANSI lumens, 2,500:1 contrast, native 16:9 widescreen format, 854x480 resolution DLP chip with a 5x six-segment color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i. Full NTSC / PAL / SECAM.
Lens and Throw Distance. 1.15:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 11.7 feet to 13.5 feet.
Lamp Life. 2,000 hours, 3,000 hours in eco-mode.
Connection Panel. One composite video, one S-Video, two d-sub 15-pin VGA ports (RGB and YPbPr), two audio-in ports, one monitor pass-through, and one RS-232 port.
Installation Options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. One year.
The Sharp DT-100's connection panel looks like it was originally intended for a business projector. The connection panel features two VGA-in ports and a VGA-out for monitor passthrough, S-Video, and composite. Despite the lack of either dedicated 3-plug component inputs or some form of digital input, the DT-100 is fairly versatile. The VGA ports accept either YPbPr or RGB signals, meaning that a DVI-VGA adapter is all that is needed to watch HD video signals - however, these signals must be analog rather than digital. The included Component-VGA adapter provides the necessary tools for you to connect your DVD player, as well.
The DT-100 has an upward throw angle measuring approximately 25% of the image height - in other words, for a 100" diagonal 16:9 image, the bottom edge of the projected image will be 12" above the centerline of the lens. This is ideal for a coffee table setup, and is still workable for a ceiling mount. Missing are some of the features present in more expensive home theater projectors, such as physical lens shift or a longer zoom range. This can limit your options for setting up the projector. For example, if you wanted a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen and wished to sit at a viewing distance of 1.5x the screen width, coffee table mounting becomes impossible - You would be seated nearly 11 feet away from the screen, and the DT-100 requires more throw distance than that for a 100" diagonal image.
The DT-100 features a six segment, 5x rotation speed color wheel, which should eliminate color separation artifacts for most (if not all) people susceptible to them. Such a fast wheel is unheard of at this price point, and it is quite the accomplishment that Sharp included one in such a low-cost projector.
Another unusually upscale feature is the DT-100's sealed light path, which keeps dust out of the projector's inner workings. This prevents the possibility of dust spots ever forming on any part of the optical path. This means that there is no filter to worry about cleaning or changing periodically, which makes maintenance on the DT-100 a one-step process: simply change the lamp when necessary.
The DT-100 is among the brightest projectors in its class, pumping out 552 ANSI lumens in eco-mode and a very impressive 667 ANSI lumens in bright mode. If you have any ambient light in your room or a very large screen, the added brightness will definitely help. Brightness uniformity is an excellent 88%, among the best we've seen at this price point.
In the DT-100's preset movie modes, contrast is acceptable, doing a good job of preserving shadow detail in dark scenes and rendering ample black levels. However, it does not have quite the contrast performance of some other 480p units in its price class.
The DT-100 projects a very well-balanced image, with natural looking color right out of the box. No user calibration is required. When watching DVD, colors looked exactly as they should, so set up is easy and you can enjoy it immediately. With high definition signals, the DT-100 produced excellent, natural color that truly does the material justice. We would venture to say that very few if any 480p projectors could match the color performance of the DT-100, and none at this time could surpass it.
The Sharp DT-100 will produce an acceptable image via its internal deinterlacer, but we found better results when bypassing it with a progressive scan signal. Scenes with fast motion tended to present deinterlacing artifacts, while a progressive-scan signal resulted in a much cleaner image. However, compared to other projectors with similar specifications, 480-line signals on the DT-100 looked soft. This is probably the unit's most noticeable weakness. HDTV signals, on the other hand, look excellent. While there is some slight instability in 1080i performance, 720p appears to be nearly flawless.
How does the DT-100 stack up against the Optoma H31, which is another formidable entry level 480p projector in the same price class? The DT-100 offers several advantages, including approximately twice the lumen output of the H31. This is useful for larger screen sizes or situations where ambient light becomes a concern. The DT-100 also offers superior color performance and a more natural color balance, as well as a sealed filterless light path. The color wheel on the DT-100 is also faster (5x versus 4x in the H31).
The H31 and DT-100 have similar zoom and throw ranges, with the H31 having a slightly longer zoom and throw. The H31 can put a 100" diagonal 16:9 image on the wall from 12ft to 14.5ft versus 11.7ft to 13.5ft for the DT-100. It also has a throw angle of 35% of image height, rather than the DT-100's 25%. With a 100" diagonal image, he H31 places the bottom edge 17" above the centerline of the lens rather than 12.25".
The most noteworthy advantages of the H31 are that the image with 480-line video material is sharper than that of the DT-100, and contrast is superior. This means that detail is much more visible, even in dark scenes where the DT-100 sometimes struggles. In addition, it has a DVI port for true digital signals in HDTV, or digital transmission from a DVD player. So the H31 has some serious advantages of its own.
The Sharp DT-100 is a great value for the money. It produces a pleasing though somewhat soft image when projecting 480-line DVD movies, and it delivers beautiful HDTV pictures despite the lack of a digital input. With attractive features such as a sealed light path, fast color wheel, and high lumen output, and street prices well below its already low MSRP, the DT-100 presents a good solid value.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our SharpVision DT-100 projector page.