Review: SharpVision XV-Z15000 1080p Home Theater Projector
For fans of DLP technology who have been waiting for prices on a very high contrast 1080p DLP projector to drop to street prices below $2,500, the wait is over. The newly released SharpVision XV-Z15000 is Sharp's most aggressively priced 1080p home theater projector to date. With a contrast rating of 30,000:1, it is one of the highest contrast DLP products to come to market. And it has some unique portability that is not found on competing 1080p models.
Now, don't pay much attention to the star ratings, because the Z15000 might be the exact right choice for you. The fact is, it is a barebones implementation of a 1080p DLP projector for a very low price. Since it lacks many features of its competitors, we cannot give it high marks for features or ease of use. But it excels in certain ways, and has its own distinct advantages that don't show up in our summary rating system. Please read on for details.
Though the official MSRP is set at $2999, at this writing Sharp is selling the Z15000 on its website at $2,499. Lower prices may be available elsewhere through dealers.
Overview of Features
Brightness. There are more ways to adjust picture brightness on the Z15000 than just about any projector we've ever seen. Like other projectors, it has a variety of operating modes that are calibrated to deliver different lumen outputs, gammas and color balance. They each have defaults for lamp power, manual iris position, and a utility called Bright Boost. But having selected an operating mode you can manually override any of those settings. You can select a lamp setting (normal or eco), a manual iris setting (open or closed), and the optional Bright Boost (on or off). Choosing among all these controls gives you an almost unlimited range of lumen output.
The brightest configuration on our test unit was achieved by selecting either Game, Dynamic, or Standard modes, putting the lamp on normal, the iris on High Brightness, and turning Bright Boost on. At these settings, these operating modes all measured about the same in brightness, measuring 1090, 1078, and 1055 ANSI lumens respectively. Putting every lumen-related control into overdrive took maximum lumen output to about 1250, but nobody would want to watch the projector with those settings active.
Normally, when you select the eco-mode on a projector, lumen output drops by about 20% to 25%. Not on the Z15000. Selecting the lamp's eco-mode knocks lumens down by a whopping 48%. It buys you an additional 1000 hours of lamp life, and it quiets the fan down to almost silent, but this is a radical reduction of lumen output compared to industry norms.
A more modest adjustment in brightness is available with the manual iris. It has two positions-open, and a little bit less than open. The open position is called High Brightness, and the smaller position is High Contrast. Selecting High Contrast has much less of an impact on lumen output, reducing brightness by only 18% from what you get in the High Brightness setting.
Bright Boost is similarly a more modest adjustment than eco-mode. Turning it off reduces lumen output by 21%.
Normally the zoom lens setting will affect potential lumen output, but the zoom range is so small (1.15x) that it has a relatively minor impact. If you have the projector set to maximum wide angle, you get the brightest image from any operating mode, but moving it to maximum telephoto reduces brightness by 7%.
The Z15000 has two operating modes for cinema, called Movie 1 and Movie 2. These have warmer color temperature calibrations and gamma settings more conducive to quality film viewing than do the brighter modes. Movie 1 is very bright, as it causes the projector to default to the open iris, full lamp, and Bright Boost. We measured brightness on Movie 1 at a brilliant 936 lumens. Switching to Movie 2 shuts down all of the light boosting features, and gives you a net of about 325 lumens. This is much more appropriate for a low gain 120" screen in a very dark, light controlled viewing space.
In addition to differences in brightness, color temperature, and gamma, the Movie modes on the Z15000 produce a much smoother, cleaner video image than you get from the other modes. Judder is reduced, and digital noise is less apparent. Overall, the Movie modes deliver a prettier, more well integrated image.
|Review Contents:||Features Overview||Features Continued||Limitations||Conclusion|