Sharp XV-Z15000 Projector Review

A summary of the Sharp XV-Z15000 projector’s pros and cons and capabilities.
6/9/2009 – Art Feierman

Sharp XV-Z15000 Projector - The Bottom Line

Click to enlarge. So close

Dr. Jekyll meet Mr. Hyde!

Most certainly, the Sharp XV-Z15000 is a projector with two personalities. One personality relates to the general picture quality, and the other, to, well, almost everything else. (I’ll say now that the projector’s brightness – which is average – not a bad thing), doesn’t really fit either personality.

Fortunately, with the Sharp XV-Z15000, Dr. Jekyll has the stronger personality.

Let’s start with the good Dr. Jekyll:

For a projector that likely is selling as I write this, in the low $2000 range, the picture quality is extremely impressive. The combination of excellent black levels, very good shadow detail, very good skin tones, and, a generally dynamic rich looking image (pop and wow!), without looking over the top, has made my viewing a great many movies and other content, most enjoyable. (Don’t worry, I still like my JVC RS20 a lot better, but, hey, it’s three times the price.)

Click Image to Enlarge

For those old timers – who have owned one or more home theater projectors, and swear by DLP for its look and feel, this Sharp will make them feel young again. They’ve watched dynamic iris driven LCD projectors surpass the DLP projectors in what was their claim to fame, black level performance. They can rally behind this projector though, it can give all but a small handful of much more expensive projectors, a serious run for the money, in terms of deep dark blacks.

The XV-Z15000 is even very good relating to the Rainbow effect. I see rainbows with DLP projectors. (I’m only moderately affected.) For me it’s normally not enough of a problem to eliminate a projector from consideration, but enough that it does impact my choices. This Sharp does well in this regard. I know TI has said the new projectors do better than older ones, even with the same speed color wheels, and I can attest to that. For me, the Sharp, like the Optoma HD8200, are almost rainbow free. I know for sure I would see more rainbows if I was watching the BenQ W5000. Of course only a small percent of the population has any issue with this, but, I can say, that for me, this one pretty much takes the rainbow effect off the table as an issue.

There is one weakness though, worth mentioning, in terms of picture quality. That relates to the dynamic iris. It’s slow. You will see it change from bright scene to dark (or the other way), or even within the same scene as a bright object enters or leaves an otherwise not overly bright scene. Most home theater projectors these days, with dynamic irises have either fast ones, or offer fast or slow. (Fast irises aren’t perfect either, btw.) I will say this, I think the Sharp XV-Z15000 projector’s iris is pretty smooth, so I never found it really annoying (which can happen, i.e., some Optoma models), but I would say it could stand some improvement. If you ever encounter a scene where a bright object (on an otherwise moderately dark scene), turns off and on, such as a flashing traffic light, you will be able to see everything else brighten and darken in time (or slightly behind – to be more accurate) with the flashing.

Then, there’s the other personality of this projector – not exactly evil, like Mr. Hyde, but a number of traits, we’d rather not see. It’s a whole different story. I can almost say, that this second, less desirable personality relates to the physical, and performance, as opposed to the “good Dr. Jekyll” that represents image quality.

There are a number of issues. Some small, some medium, nothing drastic though, to dampen my enthusiasm.

Its placement flexibility is one of the weakest out there. This projector will either work in your room or not, so start there! It just won’t work for a lot of people. Of course no shelf mounting, but there’s more. Unless you plan to just plop it on a table, this projector is going to ceiling mount, and it’s going to have to be exactly “right there” with only 19″ of front to back mounting range for a 100 inch diagonal screen. For those that like larger screens and to sit fairly close, that’s going to limit you to placing it pretty much right over your head, or just a little closer. It’s 1.15:1 zoom ratio is the smallest I am aware of of the 1080p projectors (not that most other DLP’s are much better with 1.2:1). Still very limiting in terms of ceiling mounting. On the plus side, though, its lens offset is less than some of those DLP projectors so it doesn’t have to be mounted as much above the screen, making it more viable for low ceilinged rooms, or average ceilings and larger screens. No lens shift, and minimal zoom, it’s not even in the same league as any of the 3LCD or LCoS projectors.

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