1080p Home Theater Projector Comparison Review:
Sharp XV-Z20000 and JVC DLA RS1:
Summary, Pros, Cons
Summary: Which one is for you: RS1 or XV-Z20000
Here are two really excellent home theater projectors, capable of producing a phenomenal image in your home. The picture quality that these two home theater projectors can produce is one that will make you wonder why you would ever want to frequent the local theater ever again. (OK, there are some movies we have to see NOW, and not wait for them to go to DVD).
On one hand we have the Sharp XV-Z20000, which appears to be as good a single chip DLP projector as has ever hit the market with a selling price around $10,000.
And, on the other hand, there's the JVC's RS1, also sold as the JVC HD1 by some dealers. With performance every bit the equal (but slightly different, naturally) to the Sharp, it sells for significantly less (that can always change of course).
[Editor's note: I've scattered a number of images from the individual reviews, around this page, to add color, rather than commentary. I will only identify which projector its from. Also remember, there are so many steps from what the eye/camera sees on my screens, to what it looks like on your low contrast monitor, that you shouldn't try to choose one of these over the other based on the slight differences in the pictures. What may look like a slightly too redish look on one photo while I'm reading this review on my laptop, might look much better on your screen. There is no good way to faithfully and accurately capture exact color balance or contrast.]
Above: JVC RS1, image from Phantom of the Opera, HD-DVD
The JVC is something a bit new. It has 3 newly designed LCOS chips that may be about to revolutionize the balance between LCD, DLP and LCOS projectors. Up until now there haven't been many popular LCOS models (Sony's LCOS projectors, like the Pearl, are called SXRD, while JVC calls their LCOS - D-iLA.) It may well be that LCOS starts to dominate the middle/high end of the home projector market. That is certainly possible now that we have seen what JVC is capable of. Time will tell!
The key points are as follows: The JVC and Sharp projectors both produce excellent picture quality, with better black levels and shadow detail than the competition.
The JVC projectors, though, offer more perfect color balance right out of the box. Though the Sharp is very good, it can use some adjusting, although the less critical might never notice. Still, once properly calibrated, the Sharp and JVC are definitely in the same class of color accuracy and overall performance.
Above: Sharp XV-Z20000, from Space Cowboys on Blu-ray DVD
The success of the two company's distribution models, dealer networks, and marketing campaigns notwithstanding, the JVC should easily be the better selling projector.
This is not to say it is hands down the better projector, nor, the best projector for everyone comparing these two. With overall picture performance being so close to each other, the JVC should simply win the sales battle by virtue of a much lower price and more placement flexibility.
Where to start?
Look first to your room. The JVC RS1 is so much more flexible in terms of where it can be placed. It can be placed closer to the screen, further away, higher up, lower down, etc., and not by small margins. You may just find that the JVC, works so well in your room in terms of placment, and then, if the Sharp is far more problematic, you can then quickly decide on the JVC.
Next, (or maybe this should be first), it seems like the JVC street pricing is $2000 to $3000 less than the Sharp. All else considered, that is going to quickly eliminate the Sharp for many. Just think what an extra $2500 can buy you in terms of a better screen, improved audio, etc.
"The Hobby Effect" (OK, I just coined that.) If you visit the home theater forums, it is quickly evident, that there are many folks who take such joy in the perfecting of their home theater's performance, that I suspect some of them are more into the technology, than the content. If you are one of those that just loves to "tweak", and get every last ounce of performance out of your projector, then the Sharp, with its far more extensive color management system and other controls, will be the projector for you. You guys know who you are, you'll probably be wondering which future projector you will replace your new Sharp with, before you even finish getting it set up!
Above: Sharp XV-Z2000, House of the Flying Daggers, Blu-ray DVD
And conversly, if you are the "I just want a great home theater system, and don't want to be bothered with all that technical stuff" person, then the JVC is likely perfect for you. Get someone to install it, and bingo - a killer picture, no fancy adjustments to make!
Computer users - look out! As mentioned, the JVC RS1 and HD1 have no good way to input a standard analog computer signal. The good news, is that if you have a Mac computer, you've probably got a DVI (HDMI compatible) output, and can output your computer that way to the JVC. Some of the higher end laptops and more powerful PC desktops too, are sporting DVI/HDMI, but certainly not most. So, for the rest of you, if you want to interface your computer to the JVC, you need a plan. The good news is that all you have to do is throw some dollars at it. There are several ways to go. Adding a graphics card to your computer that has DVI/HDMI out, or buying a converter box (a couple/few hundred dollars). Since the JVC is so much less expensive than the Sharp, even if you spend $300 (about the maximum) to solve this problem, you are still spending far less. So, while the Sharp is better in this regard, it shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Above: JVC RS1, DTS Blu-Ray sample disk
More on interfacing: The Sharp also just has more inputs and outputs than the JVC, in fact, it is exceptionally capable. On the home front, with the JVC you are more likely to need a current AV receiver so you can switch between all your digital sources (ie. cable or satellite, standard DVD player, hi-def DVD player, and maybe a computer with digital output. The Sharp, on the other hand, has enough inputs that few would even need a receiver or other switching solution, to handle all the sources you have. (Either way, you need an AV receiver for audio.) As an example, my older THX certified Marantz receiver has only two DVI inputs and one out. With my digital "footprint" (cable box, DVD player, Blu-ray DVD player, HD-DVD player, and digital computer output), the combination of my Marantz and JVC's combined switching wasn't enough, so I bought a $200ish HDMI switchbox. In all fairness, even the Sharp and my Marantz would have come up one HDMI short, unless I went to analog for my laptop.
OK, I'm starting to repeat too much from the previous pages and the individual reviews. Here's how I see them stacking up, overall.
Sharp XV-Z20000: Advantages
- Has a slightly sharper image
- Excellent Color Management Controls - a hobbiest's delight, offers very practical, and effective options
- Aspect ratio support for anamorphic lenses (JVC needs an outboard proesssor ($$) to work with an anamorphic lens
- Good aspect ratio support, including Smart Stretch
- More hi-res inputs: 2 HDMI inputs + DVI-I (for a max of 3 digital inputs) compared with two on the JVC.
- Support for an analog computer input (using one of the "component video"inputs). The RS1 lacks an analog computer input (there are workarounds - see the RS1 review)
- Warranty comes with 1 year of "In-Home" service
- 12volt screen trigger
- Slightly better looking projector physically - if anyone cares
- Has a true overscan control, better than JVC's masking control (a minor point to most of those who care at all)
- Remote has better button layout for navigating the menus
Above: Sharp XV-Z20000, Aeon Flux, HD-DVD
JVC DLA-RS1 and HD1: Advantages
- A significant step up in brightness in "best" movie modes, in fact the brightest "best mode - Cinema - of all 1080p projectors tested so far
- Near perfect out of the box color performance
- Slightly more shadow detail in dark areas
- Definitely quieter. Although it has verage audible noise levels, it is definitely quieter than the Sharp
- Far superior zoom lens range (2:1 vs. 1.35) for placement flexibility
- Greater vertical lens shift range, plus horizontal lens shift, the Sharp lacks
- Multiple built in test patterns
- Significantly less expensive than the Sharp
- Overall setup and ease of use (especially due to the superb out of the box performance)
- Remote has more direct controls, for quicker changes of common settings (color presets - cinema, natural...), gamma, and more.
Above: JVC RS1, Superbowl, HDTV/Cox DVR, 1080i
JVC and Sharp: Similar Capabilities
- Remote controls - both are very good, and well backlit, though each has slight advantages
- Overall color handling once the Sharp is adjusted
- Lamp Life
- Lamp replacement without unmounting projector
- Good manual overall, but thin on descriptions of key adjustments
- Brightness in brightest modes are almost identical
- HDMI 1.2, not 1.3 (only a couple of projectors with 1.3 are currently shipping as of this writing), however having 1.3 is a good thing
- Wow factor - everything looks pretty great on both projectors
- Warranties - you make the call - the XV-Z20000 has only one year, but with in-home service (in-home service is a rare feature), compared to the JVC RS1 and HD1's 2 years parts and labor, no in-home service.
- Physical size and shape
- User memory options - they are markedly different, but, when considered overall, no clear winner
- Overall black levels (the JVC seems to have a very slight edge, but both are excellent)
OK, that about covers the similarities and differences.
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The Bottom Line: JVC RS1 vs Sharp XV-Z20000
Each projector has loads of strengths, and a few weaknesses. Overall, the JVC RS1 has to be the winner, but not because it produces a significantly better picture - I consider the image quality to be definitely comparable between these two. The JVC wins by virtue of a lower price point, brighter picture, better performance out of the box (without adjusting), and that it will be quieter, and easier to place in your room. The JVC should fit well into about any room, in that regard, but more to the point, it can sit or mount anywhere the Sharp can, while the Sharp is far more limited, overall.
The Sharp, on the other hand, has more inputs, far more controls for fine tuning the image, and a touch more styling. Perhaps the biggest reason, though, for some to choose the XV-Z20000 over the RS1, will be its slightly sharper image. The other "biggie" is if you are planning to go full anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) for Cinemascope with no letterboxing at the top and bottom. The Sharp supports anamorphic lenses while the JVC does not, out of the box. Even if that is your plan (2.35:1), that doesn't eliminate the JVC, though, since you can use it with an anamorphic lens, too, but you need to spend a couple thousand for an outboard processor. If you do that, though, the price advantage of the JVC will be lost.
In our spring projector comparison, (before we received the Sharp for review), the JVC RS1, took the Best In Class Award for over $5000 1080p projectors. I have been tempted to share that Best In Class Award with the Sharp, since it rivals the RS1 in picture quality, the JVC just has too many other advantages, so hangs on to exclusive ownership of the award (for now).
In a more perfect world, there would be one projector, combining the strengths of these two excellent projectors. Of course, that may only take another year or so. Hopefully these (and all) manufacturers learn well, as they go, and add the little extras missing on these two.
The really great news - whichever you choose - JVC RS1 (or HD1) or the Sharp XV-Z20000 the picture will blow you, your friends, your distant relatives, your neighbors, your pet iguana, and total strangers... AWAY!
Above: JVC RS1, Tonight Show, HDTV, Cox Cable/DVR, 1080i
Two great choices. I've done my part - now - it's up to decide which one is right for you.