SharpVision XV-Z17000 3D Projector for Home Theater
The new SharpVision XV-Z17000 is the first production-run 3D projector to make its way to our offices, and it is a sight to see. This 1080p DLP projector uses active-shutter glasses to display full 1080p 3D images from Blu-ray disc, broadcast, or PC sources. Infrared sync keeps the glasses under control without adulterating the image. Seamless 3D switching makes the whole process hassle-free. The projector produces some of the best 3D we've seen thus far. At street prices under $5000, the Z17000 is available, affordable, and the picture is certainly agreeable.
3D is the hot topic in home entertainment, and the SharpVision Z17000 is among the first 1080p home theater projectors under $5,000 to bring it home. This projector is built for the 3D enthusiast, the same person who watched Avatar five or six times based solely on its technical merits as an immersive 3D film. It is a first-generation product and has some typical first-generation quirks, but early adopters are already used to this.
The Z17000 can handle any modern 3D signal, from frame-sequential Blu-ray 3D to side-by-side broadcast/satellite. In other words, you're not limited to the 120Hz frame-sequential format required by the inexpensive, lower resolution DLP 3D-ready projectors. As these standards are established in the HDMI 1.4 specification, there is a measure of future-proofing built in to the system; these standards are likely to be in use for a number of years.
The Z17000 has a fixed 16% upward throw offset and minimal zoom range, so you can either ceiling mount the projector or place it on (or under) a coffee table. Rear shelf mounting is more or less impossible without using keystone correction, which reduces the usable resolution of the projector. Ceiling mounting has the advantage of appearing more professional, but the mount itself adds expense and some might object to having a large black object strapped to the ceiling. Coffee table placement is simple, straightforward, and requires no additional equipment. A "coffee table" could be an actual coffee table, a low table between the seats, or even placement underneath a table to keep the projector out of harm's way. The Z17000 also has an anamorphic stretch mode for those hoping to use the projector with an anamorphic lens and a 2.39:1 cinemascope screen.
When used in 2D, the Z17000 has a smooth, natural picture. While the projector has two image modes labeled Movie 1 and Movie 2, we preferred Natural mode for its higher brightness and more pronounced contrast. Color temperature in Natural mode is slightly cooler than in the Movie modes, which are too warm at their defaults. Natural mode is also brighter, which is useful if you have a large screen and want something brighter than the Movie modes. While the Z17000 has two irises (one manual and one automatic), black level is not quite up to par with other projectors in this price range.
In 3D, the brighter Natural mode becomes even more useful due to the brightness reduction inherent in 3D technology. Because of the way shutter glasses work, each eye only sees half of the light from the projector. This immediately lowers brightness by 50% assuming perfect efficiency. This does not take into account the tint of the glasses, which blocks more light (though this also deepens blacks and helps to reduce ambient light, so it's not all bad). The bottom line is that 3D display is more dependent on good ambient light control and high projector lumen output than 2D is, so the Natural mode is highly beneficial.
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