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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Sharps 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).
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
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.
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.
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.