Product Review (January 2005) - Sharp
SharpVision™ XV-Z12000
High-Definition DLP™ Front Projector

Sharp continues their high-performance DLP projector legacy with the introduction of the third generation XV-Z12000, which utilizes the highly regarded Texas Instruments HD2+ Digital Micromirror Device™ (DMD™). Like its predecessors, the XV-Z12000 offers a native resolution of 1280x720 in a stylish chassis with a slightly darker two-tone complexion. The projector is one of the heavier units we've reviewed weighing in at 20.7 pounds. Sharp's latest entry boasts a whopping 5500:1 contrast ratio (in high contrast mode) and a brightness rating of 900 ANSI lumens (in high brightness mode), resulting in unprecedented picture quality. Instead of the manual contrast button used on the earlier design to control the Iris, the XV-Z12000 has a fully Powered Iris Switchover Function (High Contrast Mode/ Middle Mode/ High Brightness Mode) that instantly changes the brightness and contrast settings with the push of a button on the remote control. The cat-eye-shaped apertures is used in both the illumination and projection assemblies to filter off excessive light and improve picture performance. The new design uses a 7-segment, 5x-speed neutral density color wheel and features the same optical lens shift function for ease of installation. In addition to the six conventional filters (RGBRGB), the color wheel design uses a low brightness green filter with a 10-bit drive for green shades that greatly enhances dark scene performance.

The 1.35x zoom lens design, jointly developed by Sharp and Minolta, offers a large aperture to help produce excellent black levels. The fairly long-throw design requires more distance than many of the other projectors we've reviewed in this category, so you need to check to make sure it fits your installation requirements. The light source comes from a powerful 270 watt high-voltage mercury lamp, which utilizes Pulse Overlay Technology that is said to increase the light intensity when the beam passes through the red portion of the color wheel. The result is an improvement in producing vivid reds. Cool air enters the rear of the unit and exits the side for efficient cooling of the lamp assembly. The XV-Z12000 also includes a DFC (Depth of Focus Control) function that is designed to enhance image sharpness.

Setup
We mounted the XV-Z12000 projector inverted using a Peerless PRS Series Projector Ceiling Mount with their Spider® Universal Adapter Plate. This allowed us to quickly remove and reinstall the projector when needed. The image was projected onto our 100" 16:9 Stewart FireHawk filmscreen mounted on a Deluxe Luxus frame. The inside screen dimensions measured 87" x 49" with a 3-1/2" frame covered with the light absorbing black Velux material. The XV-Z12000 can produce a 100" diagonal on a 16:9 screen from a distance of 13'2" to 17'11" from the lens to the screen. Smaller rooms may not be able to accommodate a large picture due to the lens throw, so potential buyers should verify the numbers. Both the focus and zoom are fully manual making it a little labor intensive during the installation, but is only required once during setup. The lens shift adjustment on the XV-Z12000 allows the projector to be positioned anywhere from the bottom to the top of the screen. Ideally, we prefer not to use the keystone correction (due to image degradations), so we placed the projector to produce a perfectly rectangular image.

We took advantage of the DVI input using it for the majority of our review. However, we also tested the composite, s-video and component video inputs to see how well these interfaces perform. We preferred using the native mode whenever possible so that we could achieve a 1:1 pixel mapping when feeding the projector a 720p signal from our outboard iScan HD video processor. We did run some tests with 480i video to see how well the projector performed the deinterlacing functions. Our Samsung SIR-T165 set-top box was connected to our iScan HD video processor and then to the XV-Z12000. The Samsung has the capability to provide us with a DVI signal from terrestrial high-definition broadcasts or from a FireWire™ (iLink™) connection when using a D-Theater capable digital VCR. With this setup we can play our D-VHS tapes and digitally link them to the projector without ever using the analog domain. Long DVI cables can often be a problem, so we installed a Gefen HDTV Extender to take our DVI signals over 50 feet using a pair of CAT-5 cables. However, we did have success using an AudioQuest 20m DV-1 DVI cable, so much depends on the source, cable and receiver. The long analog (HQVGA) cable used with our Home Theater PC (HTPC) came from DirectConnect.

SharpVision Manager V2.0 for Windows is included with the projector. This software communicates with the XV-Z12000 through the serial port on the back of the unit and controls all the projector parameters. When the software is launched, it looks for the projector and initializes the user interface with the current projector settings. A great feature of the program is complete image control.

Menus
The on-screen menu system is still one of the most impressive I've seen in a projector. The user has a vast array of parameters to adjust. There are seven sections to choose from including Picture, Gamma, C.M.S., Fine Sync, Options, Language and Status. The Picture menu has the standard settings for Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint and Sharpness. Also included in this menu are adjustments for Color Temperature, Predefined Gamma and Video Processing modes. The Gamma menu allows the user to fine tune gain, offset and gamma for any of the red, green, or blue primaries. The C.M.S. (Color Management System) menu allows the user to adjust the color of the projector. This includes adjustments for Lightness, Chroma and Hue as well as the six target primary colors (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta). The Fine Sync menu allows the user to adjust the internal sampling of the video data from analog sources and position the image. Adjustments include Clock, Phase, Horizontal Position, and Vertical Position. Also included in this menu is an information screen that displays the resolution along with the horizontal and vertical scan rates. The Options menu controls many of the general features of the projector including Lamp Timer, Signal Type (Component or RGB), On-Screen Display, Economy Mode, Background Color, Serial Baud Rate and Projector Orientation. The Status screen fills a large portion of the field-of-view with the details of the projector's settings. This is by far the best menu system I have seen on a projector.

Aspect Ratio Control
There are five possible aspect ratio modes depending on the incoming video scan rate. They include Side Bar, Smart Stretch, Cinema Zoom, Stretch and Dot by Dot. The Side Bar mode displays a 4:3 image within the 16:9 screen with side bars. The Smart Stretch mode tries to preserve the correct geometry in the middle of the screen while stretching both the left and right sides to fill the 16:9 screen. This makes the majority of the picture look correct while preventing side bars. A slight vertical stretch is also applied to the image. The Stretch mode, which is intended for letterbox video, stretches the image vertically to compensate for horizontal stretch from the 4:3 to 16:9 screen difference. The result is a picture that better fills the 16:9 screen with fewer horizontal bars on the top and bottom. The Normal mode scales and fills the screen with side bars when viewing computer (VESA) signals for a true 4:3 image. Finally, the Dot-by-Dot mode displays the image without any scaling. Each incoming pixel gets mapped to a DLP pixel. This mode is useful when using a source that has the exact native resolution of the projector such as an outboard scaler.

Remote
The slim compact remote is well designed and very similar to the older design with large backlit buttons, each identified with unique symbols and colors for easy identification in the dark. Separate On (green) and Standby (red) buttons are provided to prevent inadvertent power down of the unit. Five dedicated Input (green) select buttons make it convenient to switch between inputs. All other buttons illuminate orange in the dark. Left, Right, Up and Down navigation keys surround the Enter button used for menu navigation. There is also an Undo button that backs out of the menu selections. Auto Sync (computer), Resize (aspect ratio), RGB/Comp (color space) and Picture Position (Standard, Natural, Dynamic, Custom 1, Custom 2, and Input 5 Position) are also provided. The Resize button allows the user to select from Side Bar, Smart Stretch, Cinema Zoom, Stretch, Normal, or Dot by Dot. The Dot by Dot mode allows for true 1:1 pixel mapping, making it ideal for outboard scalers. The new Iris button, controls the Powered Iris Switchover Function that cycles through the three Iris control settings (High Contrast Mode, Middle Mode, or High Brightness Mode). This allows the projector to produce three contrast variations using a mechanical iris with two lamp brightness settings for a total of six combinations. The Light button is located in the lower center of the remote and illuminates all of the buttons in the dark. Each input has the parameters stored in memory.

Though rarely needed in home installations, the projector has a flip-up or flip-down panel located towards the rear of the unit, that reveals many of the same controls found on the remote. Navigation and menu controls along with input controls and power buttons are available. Indicators for Power, Temperature and Lamp Replacement are located on the top front of the projector. When the lamp has had 1900 hours of use, the indicator turns yellow signaling a warning to replace the lamp. After 2000 hours, the indicator turns red and shuts down the projector. This prevents the projector from being turned on again until the lamp has been replaced.

Connectivity
The rear panel of the XV-Z12000 contains all of the video inputs for the projector. One DVI (with HDCP) input, two sets of RGB/Component inputs (via 5 RCA connectors), one composite and one s-video connector are available. An RS232 serial port that allows the projector to be commanded from an external controller is provided. A wired remote input (3.5mm) can also be used with the handheld remote. There is a 12VDC output jack for triggering an external device when the projector is turned on. The detachable power input jack is also located on this panel. All connections are neatly labeled making it easy to connect the cables. Sharp includes a panel cover to hide the unsightly cables that exit the back of the unit.

Display Primaries
We measured the primaries produced by the projector without making any adjustments to the color management system. While virtually all HD2+ projectors seem to have excellent color performance, they do differ somewhat from one another with each manufacturer choosing slightly different primary colors on their color wheels. In addition, the number of color panels vary from 6 to 8, depending on the model. The primary colors produced by the XV-Z12000 were measured from our 100" Stewart FireHawk filmscreen using the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Spectrophotometer along with the Milori ColorFacts software. The CIE chart shows where the ideal primaries are located with the smaller three points joined by the darker lines. The measured primary colors are indicated by the red, green and blue markers connected together with the white triangle. Only colors inside the triangle can be produced by the projector. The primary colors were very close to the ideal values with green slightly shifted towards yellow. Red and blue were right on target. Sharp's CMS (Color Management System) allows users to adjust the primary colors of the projector. Independent control of luminosity, chroma and hue for the six colors (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow) can be adjusted to correct for errors. We were able to shift the green towards cyan to get a more accurate primary green. Right out of the box the XV-Z12000 produced beautiful colors and the measurements confirmed this. As a result, colors appear more natural with realistic looking flesh tones.

Color Tracking
We calibrated the DVI input using our Sencore VP403 HDTV video generator running in the native 720p mode. Using the high contrast iris setting, we set the black level using the PLUGE pattern and checked the stair step levels to ensure we had properly adjusted the display. Using the menu selection, we set the Color Temp to 6500°K. The user has a choice of 61 predetermined color temperature values ranging from 5000°K to 11000°K in 100°K increments. Our color temperature measurements were taken using our Sencore CP5000 All-Display Color Analyzer. The pre-calibrated color temperature values we read were a bit on the low side averaging near 6100°K. Through the user interface Sharp provides the user with both gain and bias control for all three primary colors, making it easy to correct errors at both the high and low light levels. There are also gamma adjustments for each of the primary colors. Once calibrated, the XV-Z12000 tracked 6500°K very well across all measured IRE levels. The final color temperature measurements deviated only about 100°K from the ideal 6500°K target.

Performance
With fond memories of the XV-Z10000, our expectations were high for the new XV-Z12000 model. Sharp continues to use their own image processing LSI (Large Scale Integration) chip for exceptional performance. Similar to other high-end processors, the Sharp chip is motion-adaptive and correlates data based on scene content to remove jagged lines, resulting in natural looking images. Noise reduction is also built into this processor. Sharp’s proprietary CV-IC System II is a 2nd generation video scaler process that converts any incoming signal to the native 1280x720 resolution. The projector also has 2-3 pulldown detection and it works great on the film-based material we sampled resulting in virtually no artifacts. The user can select the IP Mode to optimize the video processing for fast moving images (2D Progressive), slow moving images (3D Progressive) or for film-based material (Film Mode).

The front-end video processing continues to be very good with a 3D Y/C Digital Comb Filter for separating color and luminance from composite sources. Although most users will probably never use it (except for possibly VCR or laserdisc applications), high performance processing exists. The introduction scene from Star Trek's Insurrection and it did better job than what we have seen with most other projectors. The color decoder appeared to be very accurate as well. The analog component video inputs produced the best analog performance and in all cases the deinterlacing and scaling was excellent.

High quality sources really shine on this projector. Master and Commander on D-Theater D-VHS tape has some very dark scenes that revealed excellent shadow detail in the high contrast mode. The inky blacks were the best we've seen with an HD2+ projector thus far. Other 1080i material from over-the-air programs looked wonderful on this projector as well. Film-based DVDs benefited from the excellent video processing. One thing we noticed was how smooth movies looked during scenes that pan. There was virtually no judder in the video. Sharp has done a great job with their CV-IC II system.

We measured 17.6 foot-Lamberts in the High Brightness mode from our Stewart FiewHawk filmscreen. The Medium setting produced about 8.1 foot-Lamberts and the High Contrast mode produced 6.4 foot-Lamberts. While the High Contrast produced the best image quality in our opinion, it does require a perfectly dark viewing environment. Ideally, we would have liked to see the high contrast mode produce around 12 foot-Lamberts.

Conclusion
The Sharp XV-Z12000 continues to outperform its predecessors with reference quality video. The excellent black level performance and high contrast this projector is capable of producing should put it on your short list. Color accuracy was excellent and the video deinterlacing and scaling performance should please picky videophiles. The picture brightness on our 100" Stewart FireHawk screen was good, but being able to control room lighting is essential for this projector to perform at its best. The high brightness mode will help improve the picture when there is some ambient light, but at the expense of contrast. Fan noise was fairly low, but certainly not silent. This should be considered if the viewers are located just below the projector. The performance of the Sharp XV-Z12000 was excellent in our viewing environment and produced a picture with virtually no distracting artifacts.

- Kevin Nakano






OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts



Review System

Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer

D-VHS VCR #1: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
D-VHS VCR #2: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
DVI Extender: Gefen HDTV Extender
HDMI Cables: Accel Corporation HDMI Adapter and Cables
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP403 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer


Review at a glance
SharpVision™ XV-Z12000 DLP™ Front Projector

Specifications

  • HDTV Compatible: 1080i (in advanced intelligent compression), 720P, 480i/p
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3/16:9
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 Pixels
  • Brightness: 900 ANSI Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 2600:1
  • High Contrast Mode
  • Component Inputs
  • Component/RGBx2(5RCA)
  • Video x 1 (RCA)
  • S-video x 1
  • Computer RGB Exclusive x 1 (D-sub 15pin)
  • Wired Remote Control x 1 (3.5mm Mini Jack)
  • RS-232C Serial Port x 1 (9-Pin D-Sub)
  • DVI/HDCP
  • Anamorphic DVD Capable
  • 3D Y/C Digital Comb Filter
  • Optical Lens Shift: 1 Full Screen Height
  • Film Mode: 24 Hz Progressive Format
  • Number of Pixels: 921,600 (1280x720)
  • Computer RGB Input Signals: SXGA, XGA,SVGA, VGA, VESA
  • Mac 21, 19 (in advanced intellegent compression) Mac 16/13
  • Video System: NTSC/PAL/SECAM
  • Lens Type: 1-1.35x Zoom Lens
  • Projection Lamp Type/Life: 270W SHP/2000 Hours
  • RGB Input Type: 15-Pin Mini Sub Connector
  • Component Input Type: RCA Connector
  • S-Video Type: 4-Pin Mini DIN Connector
  • Composite Video Type: 1.0 Vp-p
  • Wired Remote Control Type: 3.5 mm Minijack
  • RS-232C Serial Port: 9-Pin D-sub Connector
  • Gamma Correction
  • Active Digital Keystone Correction
  • Color Temperature Adjustment
  • Detachable AC Cord
  • Wireless Remote Control
  • Digital Decoder Required for HDTV
  • Power Source: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz (Multi-Voltage)
  • Power Consumption: 365W
  • Weight: 20.9 lbs. (9.5kg)

    Features

  • 3D Y/C Digital Comb Filter
  • Optical Lens Shift
  • Gamma Correction
  • Film Mode, 24 Hz Progressive Format
  • 921,600 (1280x720) pixels
  • 270W SHP/2000 Hours (Type/Life) Projection Lamp
  • Active Digital Keystone Correction
  • Color Temperature Adjustment
  • 1-1.35x Zoom Lens

    Connections

  • Component Inputs Component/RGBx2 (5-RCA)
  • Video x 1 (RCA)
  • S-video x 1
  • Computer RGB Exclusive x 1 (D-sub 15pin)
  • Wired Remote Control x 1 (3.5mm Mini Jack)
  • RS-232C Serial Port x 1 (9-Pin D-Sub)
  • DV1/HDCP

    Dimensions
    With terminal cover: 18.7" x 7" x 19.5" (457 x 178 x 496mm) (w x h x d)
    Main body only: 18.7" x 7" x 16" (475 x 178 x 406mm)
    (w x h x d)

    Company Information
    Sharp Electronics Corporation
    Sharp Plaza
    Mahwah, New Jersey 07430-2135
    Phone: 800-BE-SHARP
    Fax: 201 529-8425
    URL: www.sharpUSA.com

    Source: Manufacture loan
    Serial Number: 406312972
    MSRP: $11,999.95
    Warranty: 1 year parts/labor

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