Sharp XV-Z9000U DLP Projector Page 2
Sharp did supply me with Service Mode entry codes, and there are six RGB controls (three bias and three drives) for fine-tuning the XV-Z9000U's gray scale. With a Photo Research spectroradiometer, I believe I could achieve a near-perfect gray scale on this projector. Through the RGB connection, you only get control over brightness and contrast, and you need to set the other parameters via the processor—in this case, the Faroudja. On the Sharp, my settings were +5 for contrast, -10 for brightness, -1 for color temperature, and gamma I for gamma. On the Faroudja, I left the contrast and brightness levels at the center point of 128, while color ended up at 206 and I set detail to 0.
The color fidelity on the Sharp XV-Z9000U is quite good, with particularly exceptional reds. The green seems a little on the lime side, just a bit too punchy. Comparing the XV-Z9000U's color bars and color material with those of an older Runco 980 Ultra CRT projector that uses color-filtered, color-corrected lenses, red looked a little more saturated (read: better) on the Sharp DLP, but green was definitely more accurate on the Runco. Sharp's 5X-speed, six-element color wheel is definitely a major improvement over earlier color-wheel designs for DLP projectors, and the XV-Z9000U's color decoder is impressive. The rainbow effect that's common to the slower three-element color wheels found in previous DLP projectors was not evident at all on this one. White-field uniformity was as good as I have ever seen it; in fact, it was better than that of the Runco 980 Ultra. Looking at a full-white field on Video Essentials revealed an ever-so-slight red tint on the right side of the screen, but I never noticed it with regular program material.
Sitting back and watching DVDs using the XV-Z9000U was a revealing experience. DLP has always been problematic with dark movie material, but that was not the case with this new 1,280-by-720 projector. Specifically, chapter 21 of Fifteen Minutes, which is a very dark scene depicting the aftermath of an apartment fire, looked really good, with little or no low-level noise and deep, rich blacks. While it's not as good as CRT-based displays in terms of black-level performance, the XV-Z9000U is more than acceptable in this area and is hands-down the best in this regard of any fixed-pixel display I've ever seen. Watching chapter 9 of The Fifth Element was jaw-dropping.
I made some adjustments to black level and gray scale using my AccuPel HDTV signal generator in order to optimize the Sharp for HDTV viewing. I watched the DISH Network demo channel and some snippets of different movies on the dish's HBOHD channel, and I was really impressed. The detail in people's faces on baseball fields, etc., was simply outstanding. Throughout the evaluation process, both with DVD and HD material, I had to remind myself that this was a DLP projector. That's a first for this reviewer.
The XV-Z9000U doesn't have the digital-edge-enhanced look I typically associate with LCD, DLP, and D-ILA fixed-pixel displays. CRT-based projectors do give a picture more depth and three-dimensionality, but the Sharp is not far off in that regard, either. Bottom line: I could easily live with this projector. The XV-Z9000U is proof that DLP technology has begun to approach CRT technology in terms of overall picture quality. It's not quite there yet, but it's damn close. Considering the incredible performance, affordability, and freedom from maintenance that the XV-Z9000U offers, I have to rate it as the best value in high-end front projectors to date.
• The best value in high-end front projection
• The best overall picture performance from a one-chip DLP projector to date