Sharp XV-Z2000 DLP Projector Page 2
Other than the usual horizontal and vertical image position adjustments and front/rear and ceiling/floor image-orientation modes, that's it! Perhaps Sharp figured that most potential buyers will have a DVD player with good de-interlacing, scaling, etc., and perhaps a progressive-scan set-top receiver as well. Is the Sharp's lack of such amenities a bad thing or a good thing?
It didn't take long to determine that a diet of 480i video is not what this projector likes to eat. I played Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark test DVD from my Panasonic DVD-RP56 DVD player, operating in 480i mode, and found big problems with both interlaced video (lots of scan line and motion artifacts observed) and 3:2 cadence detection (or, more accurately, the lack thereof).
These problems are barely tolerable using component and S-video sources, but they become ruinous to video quality in composite mode. Sharp usually excels at composite video processing, employing 3D adaptive comb filters to preserve image detail and keep cross-color and cross-luminance artifacts out of the picture.
Not so this time around! The Zone Plate test pattern from Video Essentials was a disaster, with loss of detail at 300 and 400 lines plus truckloads of color moiré in abundance. Worse, 3:2 material was consistently ragged. Do not use this projector to view 480i video!
As expected, turning on the DVD player's 480p processor instantly cleaned it all up. The waving flag sequence from both the VE and HQV DVDs was essentially free of artifacts. The Zone Plate target slid merrily around, devoid of moiré and full of detail at 300 and 400 lines. The rotating bar sequence from the HQV DVD clearly passed the test.
Switching to 720p sources made an even bigger difference in image sharpness and motion smoothness. I played back numerous clips from Fox's recent 720p HD broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX, and the XV-Z2000 did a great job with both fast motion and static shots. Considerable detail in both the player's uniforms and long shots of the field was clearly apparent.
Unfortunately, the XV-Z2000 suffers from constricted bandwidth like many other home theater projectors. Using a luminance-multiburst pattern from my AccuPel HDG2000 signal generator, I could only see detail out to 18.5MHz in 720p mode, and 12.5MHz in 1080i mode. Indeed, switching to 1080i video content from Discovery HD revealed it to be somewhat soft in appearance when compared to the 720p footage from Fox.
In effect, the XV-Z2000 is really a souped-up 480p projector. Granted, HD looks more detailed than widescreen DVD content. But it could be sharper still with some improvements to frequency response in all video-processing circuits.
Oddly enough, the Faroudja video processor built-in to many expensive home theater projectors is sometimes the culprit when looking for causes of clipped bandwidth on high definition material. As a result, I have often lobbied for an HD component input that bypasses this signal processing completely. Well, I got my wish with the XV-Z2000, and yet there's still not enough bandwidth through the component inputs. (You can't win. . .)
Bandwidth and detail issues aside, the XV-Z2000 really shines when it comes to color rendering. I found flesh tones and pastel shades to be very close to what I saw on my reference Princeton AF3.0HD monitor, once I calibrated the projector's red and blue gain settings.
I discovered that the contrast control must be set carefully to prevent grayscale clipping at the high end (white and near white). Otherwise, you will see some rather strange hot spots in areas with high luminance levels. It's best to do your brightness and contrast adjustments with the iris function off (highest image brightness) and then switch to iris-on mode for actual viewing.
The XV-Z2000 has both plusses and minuses. If you are going to use this projector with a quality outboard video scaler for SD programs and/or view 720p and 1080i content, then you don't need to worry about the minuses. Simply set that scaler to 720p output for all input signals (use the DVI connection to the projector for optimal bandwidth performance), calibrate for best grayscale and color, and you will be quite happy with the images you see, not to mention the money you saved by purchasing the XV-Z2000.
If, however, you want to view the occasional 480i source and don't have a video scaler, you're better off spending the extra dollars to have a projector with the onboard 480i decoding and de-interlacing. Or, simply invest in one of the newer lower-cost video scalers such as iScan's HD Plus. Combining an HD Plus with the XV-Z2000 is a reasonable way to get good-quality video up on your screen.
Highs and Lows
* A very good picture (though some bandwidth limitations with high definition sources), with good contrast and black levels close to those of the best digital projectors
* Two iris and two lamp settings, plus a High Brightness mode, provide a wide ranged of light output and contrast options
* Excellent remote control
* Few video control and setup options compared to higher-end (and higher-priced) DLP projectors
* Color temperature calibration adjustments very limited
* Poor 480i deinterlacing; recommend 480p or higher resolution sources, or a good outboard deinterrlacer/scaler and/or progressive scan DVD player