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The Amazing SharpVision XV-Z9000U

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SharpVision XV-Z9000U Projector SharpVision XV-Z9000U
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1100:1 Contrast Ratio
800 Lumens
Street Price: n/a

Sharp has taken a major step forward in digital projection price/performance with the release of the Sharpvision XV- Z9000U. It is a breakthrough product that sets a new benchmark for video quality at the $10,000 price point. Featuring the industry's first 16:9 widescreen format DLP chip, a sparkling 1100:1 contrast ratio, and extremely precise onboard scaling, the Z9000 is capable of delivering astounding film-like video images with virtual CRT quality.

The Z9000 is perhaps the first digital projector we've ever seen that is worth every penny of its full retail price (technically $10,995 in the press release, but effectively $9,999 as it is being advertised by Sharp's authorized dealers). That is a good thing because Sharp, like a number of other vendors who sell to the high-end home theater market, is distributing the Z9000 through a limited number of dealers and specialty retailers. So don't expect much discounting from the authorized resellers. (more on this below).

Product Overview

At the heart of the Z9000 is Texas Instrument's 16:9 widescreen 1280x720 DLP chip and a 5x speed color wheel, illuminated by a 250-watt lamp. The projector is rated at 800 ANSI lumens with an 1100:1 full on/off contrast ratio.

The Z9000 is obviously designed for ceiling-mounted home theater applications. In other words, despite the fact that you can hook your laptop to it, this is not a projector that can do double duty as a mobile presentation unit. At 21 lbs and with a 19"x18" footprint, it is relatively large and heavy as digital projectors go. That is great for stifling fan noise (the projector is almost silent in operation) but lousy for shlepping around town. So if you are looking for a multi-purpose machine, look elsewhere.

The Z9000 will accept 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i, component, S-video, and composite video. It will take computer signals up to SXGA (1280x1024). The inputs on the Z9000 include two sets of 5 RCA jacks for component/RGB, one 15-pin Dsub for data input only, one composite video RCA, one S-video, an RS-232 serial port and a wired remote minijack.

This projector has all of the image adjustment controls the videophile would want for optimization of the picture including gamma correction, color temperature adjustment, and independent controls for red, green, and blue contrast and brightness. A variety of aspect ratios can be accommodated.

The Z9000 offers a remarkably clean digital keystone adjustment capability. On most digital projectors, digital keystone adjustments introduce compression artifacts that render the video image fuzzy an often almost unwatchable. Thus we routinely suggest that you leave the keystone adjustment set to zero and forget about it. Though we would offer this advice for the Z9000 as well, the image that it produced with keystone adjustments active was largely free of compression artifacts.

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