Sharp XV-Z20000 and JVC DLA-RS1 1080p Home Theater Projectors Reviewed: Image Quality
Going back and forth between the XV-Z20000 and the DLA-RS1, in my own theater, I just can’t find a substantial difference in overall image quality. Let’s say, that in this regard, the Sharp and JVC projectors are truly, direct competitors.
JVC DLA-RS1 and Sharp XV-Z20000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail.
Both offer superb black levels, and shadow detail. After much comparison, and after both projectors have been adjusted, I have to give the slightest advantage to the RS1, but, and I will repeat many times, these two are so close, that when comparing them, watching one for a while, then switching to the other, I normally couldn’t tell which was which. In fact, when I could tell them apart, it was often on the slight differences in skin tones, not black levels or shadow details. Considering that further adjusting the Sharp (the RS1 has less fine tuning controls – but also, doesn’t seem to need them), you can get them closer and closer on color accuracy. In other words, I might recognize slight differences, but tweak the Sharp a bit more, and it might look more like the RS1, so that skin tones differences would only be noticeable in a direct side by side comparison.
But, back to black levels, and shadow detail. On close observation, especially comparing photos I have taken of both, using the same frames from some Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD movies, I have to give the slightest advantage to the RS1 on shadow detail. Note, please, though, that I could not tell which was which on black levels and shadow detail, when watching one for 30 minutes and switching to the other.
JVC RS1 and Sharp Z20000 Projectors - Image Sharpness
If there is one area where the Sharp Z20000 has a visible (though slight) advantage over the JVC RS1, it is image sharpness. While the JVC is average in terms of sharpness, among the 1080p projectors, the Sharp is, well, sharp! You can clearly see the differences in these two extreme close-ups of the DTS logo, from the DTS Blu-Ray demo disk.
Is this a big thing? Afterall, when looking at a full screen, the difference is extremely slight. That depends on you. In my decision to purchase the RS1, let’s say that sharpness was one of my biggest concerns, with the RS1. Now please understand; I sit closer to my screen, than the majority of home theater projector owners – just over 11 feet to a 128” screen, whereas most sit about that distance from a 100" screen. To make matters worse, I happen to be lucky enough to have excellent eyesight (corrected to 20/15, in both eyes). So, to say that I’m a stickler for sharpness, that would be a pretty accurate statement. If I was sitting another 4 to 5 feet further back (where most would sit), I seriously doubt that I could tell the difference in sharpness (that would be about the equivalent of about 12-13 feet from a 100 inch screen). And, if your corrected vision is not 20/20 or better, I doubt you would be able to discern a difference even sitting as close as I do.
That said, in purchasing the JVC, I knew that would be its one area of concern for me. I’m pleased to report, however, that now having the JVC RS1 with over 400 hours of viewing time, and with my seating position, I find the sharpness very acceptable. That doesn’t, of course, prevent me from wishing it was that little bit sharper that the Sharp XV-Z20000 provides.
So, consider your seating distance to screen size, and for that matter, how good your vision is (someone even with 20/20 at my distance/screen size, for all I know, might not be able to see any difference in sharpness between the two). Of course both of these projectors put up a sharper, more detailed image than any 720p projector. The difference between the RS1 and the XV-Z20000 is very slight – perhaps I should say inconsequential – compared to, say, the RS1 vs. the sharpest 720p projector on the market.
Bottom line on sharpness, while this is an advantage of the Sharp, I don’t see it as a deal breaker for those considering the RS1. It might be a deciding issue for perhaps, at most 5% of those choosing between these two. If I can live and be satisfied with the RS1’s sharpness, I suspect just about everyone else can too.
JVC DLA-RS1 and Sharp XV-Z20000 General Image Quality
Tie! There are differences, but when I watch 30 minutes of one projector, then switch and watch the same 30 minutes of content on the other one, I am barely aware of differences in overall image quality, let alone being able to pick a winner. I love my JVC’s picture quality, but would be just as happy with the Sharp.
There is one differentiating factor that favors the Sharp. Whereas the JVC has limited controls over picture quality (basic gamma, color temp, etc.), the Sharp has some serious features which, lets say, won’t give you a more perfect image than the JVC, but, in the right situations, may give you a more enjoyable viewing.
Brilliant Color, TI’s algorithms for enhancing the image, work very nicely on the Sharp. It does seem to shift color temperature to the cool (blue) side, but the point is, it adds “pop” to the image, at the expense of faithfulness of reproduction I found this particularly nice when watching SD (standard definition) TV, and also with SD-DVDs. The Brilliant Color puts in some of the “wow”, that the source content simply lacks with low def sources. True, one can increase contrast, color saturation, etc, with the JVC, but Brilliant Color (and other controls) on the Sharp, give you sort of an instant, one button, “pizzazz on” capability. I found that using such controls actually degrade the naturalness of the image, but sometimes, a little more “wow” even if less accurate, makes for a more enjoyable experience. In other words, I do wish the JVC had a few similar features.
When I did use Brilliant Color, with the Sharp, on hi-def content (Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, and HDTV), I wasn’t impressed, images got a bit “hard” looking (less film-like). As a result, I stopped using it with such sources. I will say though, that watching HD sports, with moderate ambient light, Brilliant Color did help. It might be plus for those with more than the minimum acceptable ambient light. With my JVC, I can adjust contrast, color saturation, and gamma, for more “pop” as well, but one button operation for what is the equivalent to Vivid on my old 32 inch Sony TV, is a nice touch.
JVC RS1 and Sharp Z20000 – Brightness
In standard, single projector reviews, I normally deal with brightness in the General Performance page, but in comparisons, of late, I prefer to treat brightness as a component of image quality. Why? More often than not, the best cure for image quality being washed out by ambient light, either intentional or otherwise, is simply more lumens.
The JVC, in its best mode (remember, no dynamic iris), is much brighter almost (800 lumens) than the Sharp in its best (just over 250 lumens). Fortunately for the XV-Z20000, it performs almost identically with their iris set to Medium instead of High Contrast. This jumps lumens up to 367. Even the Bright iris setting, and the Sharp still retains very impressive black levels though, set for bright, it definitely comes up rather short, and not in the JVC's class, on black levels. With Bright iris setting, the Sharp musters up about 880 lumens (regardless of whether you choose Dynamic, Natural or Standard picture modes.
So, the bottom line in terms of brightness, is that for the Sharp to rival the JVC in black levels and shadow detail, it still needs either High Contrast, or Medium iris modes. And, in those modes, the Sharp outputs half or less, of the lumens of the JVC in its best mode.
When you need maximum brightness, however, the two projectors are virtually identical in terms of lumens, both close to but not exceeding 900 lumens (based on my measurements).
This difference in brightness when you are looking for every last ounce of image quality for movies, gives the JVC a distinct advantage over the Sharp, especially for those planning on larger screens. Of course when you want to put on your favorite football game in hi-def, with some light in the room, their brightness becomes a tie!
Images time. I'll start with the closeup of the computer monitors from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray DVD) 1080p. First is the Sharp XV-Z20000, and to the right, the JVC RS1:
Click on the thumbnails below for large images of this Warner Bros. logo.
In order from left to right: Sharp XV-Z20000, JVC RS1, Mitsubishi HC5000, and the last one, the Epson Home Cinema 1080.
Below are thumbnail images of the full DTS screen (from my DTS Blu-Ray demo disk). Click on them for closeups of about 20% of the screen area. For your consideration, I've added a similar image from the Sony Pearl. The order, from the left: Sharp, Sony, JVC. You can definitely see that the Sharp, is, - well, sharper. Remember you are looking at a closeup of about 15% to 20% of the area of the whole screen. The question is can you see the difference under normal viewing distances. The answer is - yes, in a side by side, you could, but it is unlikely that you could tell them apart in terms of sharpness, if you viewed one, and then another 10 minutes later. Still, while every last ounce of sharpnesss is a good thing, it is most unlikely that the difference in sharpness will be a critical factor in most decisions - even for folks who like to sit as close as I do.
The next pair of images are again from this DTS test disk. The first one (click to enlarge, from the JVC RS1, the lower one, from the Sharp XV-Z20000:
Note: the exposures, as usual are not identical, in this case, the Sharp is just slightly overexposed (note the slight blurring in the DTS logo in the lower right, caused by the overexposure). Still, it's easy to see how similar the image quality of these two great projectors are.
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Now, another pair, good for shadow detail (Sharp first this time):
From Phantom (Sharp is first again), clicking brings up the overexposed larger version for each projector, to look at shadow detail.
And one last pair from the DTS sampler again, for bright vivid color comparison (JVC RS1 is first): (again exposures are somewhat different)
OK, one last comparison set of images:
This time, without looking at the URLs, can you tell which is the Sharp, and which is the JVC? The answer lies a few lines below the lower image.
The top one is the JVC. Note, the two images are not the identical frames (maybe 1 second apart), the lower one, you'll note has Gandalf a little closer (as the camera zooms in, filling a touch more of the frame.