The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Sharp XV-Z17000 3D Projector – A First Look Review

The Sharp XV-Z17000 looks like it's predecessor

The Sharp XV-Z17000 looks like it's predecessor

Wow, a practical 1080p home theater projector.  I set the Sharp XV-Z17000 down on the table in my theater, plugged it in, connected it to my PS3, and DirecTV box, and dropped in Alice In Wonderland in Blu-ray 3D.

Eureka!   It works – in “living” 3D.   My PS3, and the disk recognized the projector as a Blu-ray 3D device, and everything fired right up.

So, what have we here?  The XV-Z17000 projector from Sharp is essentially a slightly updated (overall) version with 3D, of the existing XV-Z15000 which has been around more than a year, and which is a very nice home theater projector (Hot Product Award), that sells for about $2000 and has an MSRP of $2495.

If there is an “unfortunately”, it’s the price.  The Sharp XV-Z17000 has an MSRP of $4995, which is double that of the older 2D projector.   This projector is just about to start shipping (not quite yet, as of this writing), so I cannot make any determination as to what the street price will be initially.  I imagine the Sharp Z17000 could sell for close to the MSRP, or, considering that the street discount on the older projector tends to be around 20%, then the same would have the Sharp XV-Z17000 available for close to $4000.

Either way, this is the lowest MSRP 3D 1080p projector we’ve seen to date, although the JVC DLA-RS40 which is starting to ship, is also $4995.   We will be reviewing that projector as well, but probably at least a month out, as JVC is now sending an RS60 as the first one we get for review.

Ahh, let’s stay on target here, which is the Sharp XV-Z17000 projector.

I won’t discuss 3D picture quality but to say, sure, there’s a little crosstalk, and other minor artifacts, but I have yet, including the $15,000 LG CF3D, or the $6000 Lightspeed Modulator to see a truly clean 3D image.  That is to say, for those of us playing with home theater projectors 5, 7, 10 years ago, we were used to all kinds of minor noise types and artifacts.  Over the years, the processing has gotten cleaner and cleaner, to the point that today’s basic $2000 home theater projectors probably produce a cleaner overall image than most of the very expensive projectors only a handful of years before.

Most likely it will take the 3D projector industry a couple of years to start refining the 3D aspects and deliver a truly clean 3D image.

But, the Sharp projector is very watchable.  I watched about an hour of Alice (forced my wife to watch some as well), then we switched to an hour long 3D program from the Universe series from TV, now shipping on Blu-ray 3D.  The solar system visuals in 3D were nothing less than stunning. Again, not perfect, but definitely knock your socks off type of “wow” material.

Finally, I put on Monster House in 3D, afterall, probably more than half of all 3D movie titles right now are animations.   That was fun too.

I should note, my theater still has a temporary screen – a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 Elite HC gray surface.   I don’t think it’s ideal for even active glasses 3D such as the Sharp.  I will be trying out the projector on several other screens, including the Carada Brilliant White, and the Da-lite 3D surface.  If the Stewart silver 3D screen arrives on time, that one too (it should be here before Superbowl).

Yes, the 3D looks pretty good, but what about overall?

Dim!   I started in Movie 1 mode, with Alice.  Forget that idea.  Movie 1 mode is dim.  Period.  The Sharp has never been a particularly bright projector especially in “best” mode, in fact the opposite.  The older model measured just barely 300 lumens in “best” mode, but a much more respectable 1100 lumens at its brightest.

In Movie 1 mode, the projector was unwatchable – too dim on Alice, on the dark scenes, to be acceptable.  Now, Movie 1 has the manual iris stopped down for max contrast, and the dynamic iris feature off.

Next I switched to Dynamic mode.  Oh what a joy by comparison.  Alice was now definitely reasonably bright.  I won’t say that some extra brightness wouldn’t have been a little better, but then my screen isn’t as bright as a normal white surface. A better match in a screen would help.

In other words, I’ll go out on a limb to say that in brightest mode, the Sharp does have the muscle to fill a 100″ diagonal 16:9 screen with 3D content.  (Though not a lot to spare).  Forget having a nice, really, really, bright image for sports, or Discovery HD type 3D content, but if you have your room lighting control, you do get a good 3D showing!

Next I tried Movie 2, which defaults to dynamic iris on, manual iris maximum open (brightest).  That was still down from brightest mode, but a huge jump from Movie 1.  When Mike gets done calibrating a best mode based on Movie 2, we’ll see how “bright enough” it is.  Let’s say that probably you’ll view in “brightest” mode for 3D, for the max lumens, but for some viewing, or on a smaller screen, Movie 2 just might do the trick.

The experience:    Sorry to many of you.  I am a big 3D fan.  I don’t call for 3D everything, but I have been enjoying 3D in the theaters and here at home.  I don’t care if 95% of what I watch is 2D, 3D, to me, is often truly worth watching.  I found the Universe programming in 3D to be right up my alley.  And I’m just about to start watching some sports in 3D!

I’ll discuss more, in the full review, who I think, of  different types of people, with different enthusiasms for 3D, and with different viewing habits, and different budgets might consider this XV-Z17000, as a good move now, who should wait, and who might find other 3D alternatives better today.

Let’s just say that for the first time I’m looking at $4000 – $5000 for a 1080p 3D projector that is pretty capable.  Yes, in a year, 3D pictures will probably be a bit cleaner (including less crosstalk) but I’m figuring two years probably to get to a clean approaching what us enthusiasts have been used to,  the last 2-3 years with 2D projection.

I’m well familiar with the performance of the basic XV-Z15000, and have always liked it among the lower cost ultra-high contrast projectors, though it never had the brightness in best modes to handle my larger 128″ screen.

Considering all of that, this Sharp XV-Z17000 may be one of only a small handful of 1080p 3D projectors being rolled out, that can, a) get the job done, in 3D – at a fairly reasonable price.  (A price though that will get a lot more reasonable in a couple of years, though as more folks start buying 3D).

Mike should be calibrating the Sharp 3D projector tonight, so I’ll be back viewing it again tomorrow afternoon.  I’ll be doing some 2D viewing as well, but I expect that to be very much like the older projector, so not too much new to support there.

Let me say this – after about 5 hours of total viewing last night, all but minutes, in 3D, this Sharp Z17000 looks to be viable for those wanting a respectable image in 3D without going and spending a lot more, for say the Sony 90ES, the LG, or the higher end JVCs.

I look forward to completing this review, and trying to build out a method for you all to figure out if 3D is for you, or rather, when 3D will be for you.

BTW my wife passed the LCD shutter glasses test.  She wasn’t initially happy, but she got used to them.  I should note, they are not the slickest, or the lightest of the 3D shutter glasses out there.  The projector, I should note, came with two pair of active shutter glasses, as part of the price.

Finally, since I failed to mention this above.  This Sharp XV-Z17000 projector is a Sample, definitely not production, though physically it’s well finished since it’s built on the year and a half old Z15000 projector design.

For those of you who want to better familiarize yourself with the other aspects of the Z17000, here’s a link to the review of the older, 2D, Z15000 projector.

3D – at home – that works!  In 1080p!  Blu-Ray 3D compatible!  $4995.  Definitely doable for those of us with the budget.   Stay tuned!  -art

News And Comments

  • Chuck Albert

    Do you still plan to post XV-Z17000 expanded review before Super Bowl, as indicated in one of your previous Blog posts?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Chuck!

      As much as I can. I’m writing it right now, just taking a break to answer a few blog comments. I will endeavor to have as much done as possible by late tonight – with 40 folks here tomorrow for Superbowl, however, my wife has a long list of things we must do to get ready, so it’s not like I have “all day”.
      So far, the tour page, and about half of the index are done. I will have some commentary regarding the 3D in the first batch of pages I post.

  • Zack

    Do you know if the Z17000 will convert 2D to 3D? (The Sony and upcoming Samsung will, but the JVC doesn’t).

    • Lisa Feierman

      No it doesn’t. I’m curious to see what the Sony can do with that. It’s one thing to take 2D games almost all of which are created in 3D to start, and re-render them on the fly in 3D like Nvidia and the other card makers now offer. It’s a whole different thing to take something purely 2D, and make it 3D… Can’t wait… Of course I don’t know what Sony says it can convert, and what it can’t. (even turning on CFI adds “depth”… -art

  • Redslim

    Art, when are you going to finish the review? I´m very excited about the rest of it. Seems to be a great projector for 2D and 3D material. I just want to know two things:
    First: Is the crosstalk equal to the JVC RS or lower.(at same terms like room, screen an of course movie)
    Second: How many lumens you get behind the glasses.(@6500)

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Redslim, I think I’m about done. there isn’t a competitor’s option without any other competitors reviewed yet. I didn’t watch the two projectors side by side, so can’t answer that about crosstalk. Crosstalk wasn’t the dominating issue. While the JVC image was obviously better, comparing 2D, in 3D, the Sharp blew it away – no contest – not because of crosstalk, or any other artifacts, or color, or shadow detail (where it is certainly no mach).

      The Sharp blew it away – from sheer brightness. The brief time I had both on, in the same room (only one projecting at a time), I couldn’t get a single person to watch the JVC. They’d see 30 seconds of JVC, then I blocked the lens, switched over to the Sharp and continued (about 30 seconds for the switching)… Not one person would let me switch back to the JVC. Now, a different screen might have made a difference, but the point is, if you are looking an image you find TOO dim, crosstalk is the least of your worries… The JVC could have been otherwise perfect, and no one would have watched it anyway, for lack of brightness.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Oops, one more thing. I’m not even going to try to measure from the eyeball side of the glasses, who knows what issues might affect that, response time of the light meter, other issues… Until the folks at XPanD tell me otherwise, my belief is that you can’t get more than 25% of the total light into your eyeballs. Lightspeed puts the max number at 23%, but that was a few months ago, and supposedly the latest active glasses area little brighter…-art

  • redslim

    Hey Art,

    you wrote that the Sharp 17000 blew away the RS40 in brightness in 3D.
    What kind of settings du you use with the Sharp?
    Iris on high brite or high contrast? Bright Bosst on or off? Normal or Eco?

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Redslim,

      When you are playing with 3D and projectors, the simple rule of thumb for now is – everything set for maximum brightness (and there still isn’t as much as we’d like)… So, more specifically: Hi Brite, not high contrast, Bright Boost On, and Normal, not eco. In other words every last lumen you can wring out of the Sharp, and all the others I’ve seen so far on the home side. The 90ES is adequate on smaller screens, in fact its quite decent with a brand new lamp… But no one’s going to accuse it, of being a bright image.

      My lecture to every projector product manager I who’s ear I get a chance to bend, is always the same. Let’s start talking at 2400 lumens, and see how much higher would be nice. Oh hell, I would like nothing better than a 140 inch screen for 3D. And that’s with an 8 foot ceiling. I want at least 75% of my wall height to be image. 3D is about serious immersion. I look to a future where the image is not flat anymore, but rather, (and in 3D projector onto your front wall, but as well as projecting 3-4 feet onto the ceiling and side walls and ideally floor. We have the edge blending technologies, that’s easy several projectors could combine to project a 3D image covering an 8 foot wall, so that if you are standing 4-5 feet from the wall (and piece of ceiling walls…), you aren’t even aware of the room you are in. You still may not be able to fully integrate like a star trek holodeck, but damn, skype your buddy across the country, and it will be like you are standing in his room, and he, in yours… very cool. Lecture over. -art

  • Jason

    Art – I have a 142″ Dalite 2.8HP cinema contour for use with 3D. I use the JVC RS50 and Acer 5360 3D DLP. Both with fairly new lamps can handle this screen size because I have the projector just a few inches above eye level for maximum gain.

    The 3D is quite immersive at this size. I am afraid when the lamsp start dimming even more, it will be the end of the 3D enjoyment. Do you know what the Sharp puts out in lumens when D65 calibrated?



    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Jason, Without looking, with the lamp on high (boost), High Bright on the Iris, etc. I think the Z17000 was about 670 lumens in Movie 1 and 2 before calibration, and something like 10 lumens less (movie 1, after D65). Dynamic was the brightest getting close to 1200 lumens, and the best compromise between brightness and color, Standard, did real well at over 900 lumens.

      Yep, my guess is your setup now, is “bright enough, but could use more”… Da-lite is sending me a 2.8 HP screen. BTW, other readers, that screen design reflects maximum brightness along the line of the projector, which is why Jason says “projector just a few inches above his eye level”. In other words with an HP screen like the 2.8, you normally don’t want to ceiling mount, because the brightest image will if your eyes are right at the same level as the projector lens.

  • Nils Olin

    I got a Sharp XV-Z17000, and its outstanding.
    I have a homemovietheater with black cieling
    and padded walls and total blackout.
    I put Dynamic picturemode for 3D
    and movie 1 or 2 for 2 D.
    And in 100″ is perfect, outstanding, Super.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Nils,

      Yep we really liked it too, and said so, but I do tend to get a bit jaded, with all the toys here. Still, with the current selling price of the Z17000, it is going to do a fine job, and make a lot more sense to folks watching their cash, than the more expensive JVCs and Sony…
      In fact, since it runs more 3D than the JVC or Sony that I’ve received, I’ve even asked for Sharp to send me another one, to leave with me as a reference. They are working on it. I hope to see one back here, (as my everyday 3D solution, and something to compare to), for the next few months.

      Enjoy! -art

  • Con Dinh


    I’m moving into a new house in a month and hope to have my basement HT built by summer’s end (I love my wife :)). That said, I’m in the market for a projector. Is it better to get this projector vs buy 2 Epson 8700UB, and run a set up for dual projector for 3D? Dual 8700UB’s would take care of the brightness issue?


    • Lisa Feierman

      I have yet to see a 3LCD projector running in stacks on the home theater side. I did recently see a pair of business Epson projectors s at Infocomm, and it was nicely bright – but, they were rated 4000 lumens each. I’m sorry, I’m mostly in wait mode. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but since you are really interested in 3D, I would definitely suggest at least holding off until after CEDIA (early Sept), to see what all the new 3D projectors look like. We already know Panasonic will be showing one, hopefully Epson? Or, with the recent announcement of the new lower cost Sony… But it’s the surprises that may be worth the wait. -art