Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector Review

Sharp XV-Z17000 Projector Overview

Let’s start with a few core points about the new 3D projector from Sharp, the XV-Z17000. It’s February 2011 and this projector is just starting to ship. That makes it one of the few 1080p 3D projectors now shipping, and, perhaps the least expensive. Ok, the XV-Z17000, in terms of price, ties with the JVC DLA-RS40. The rest of the 3D projectors out there sporting 1080p so far are all more, mostly, a lot more.

This Sharp XV-Z17000, or, for short, the Z17000, is a single chip DLP projector using TI’s Darkchip3.. It is based on Sharp’s XV-Z15000, in fact, looks just like it. We reviewed the Z17000′s predecessor about a year and a half ago. It is a projector that sells for around $2000 and change, so adding the 3D brings a big jump in price to $4,999. Since the XV-Z17000 is essentially a newer, and a 3D capable upgrade to the Z15000, which will remain in the lineup, it has a lot in common with it’s older sibling.

Placement flexibility, as we discuss, is limited (typical of many DLP projectors), but picture quality really did impress. Like the older Z, the Z17000 has very respectable – ultra-high contrast black level performance. Of course 3D is a whole different world when it comes to discussing blacks, as we will get into later, in discussions of brightness.

Of course the projector has HDMI 1.4a inputs, that’s a cornerstone to the Blu-ray 3D spec (though there are work arounds). I want to mention also, that this Sharp at least supports some of the optional 3D modes as spec’d by HDMI 1.4a.

I mention this right now, because, as it turns out, ESPN 3D, coming across DirecTV, as of early ’11, happens to be using one of those optional 3D modes, and not all projectors support it. To clarify, I believe this is a DirecTV issue, not ESPN 3D’s.

This hasn’t bothered this Sharp projector – it’s perfectly happy as proved by the fact that I have been watching the Winter X-Games 3D today (previously recorded). Not so lucky, is JVC’s top of the line 3D projector, their RS60 (at $12,000). The JVC doesn’t support that optional modes (at least not yet?) Basically when it comes to viewing 3D over DirecTV, today – Feb. 2011, the JVC is a boat anchor. JVC owners with cable instead of DirecTV may or may not have this problem. Meanwhile, the far less expensive Sharp does it no problem!

Back to the Sharp projector itself. Thanks to 3D viewing, projector brightness achieves a whole new level of importance. Sorry folks, many home theater projectors coming out simply aren’t really bright enough to watch 3D, certainly not regularly. Looks like this Sharp Z17000, so far, is one of the brighter ones. My initial impression is that it’s watchable in 3D on a 100″ screen, but brighter would be a lot better.

Before we all despair over the 3D brightness issue, there may be a solution, and that is, screen selection. There are many aspects to that, but it is a way of significantly upping a 3D projector system’s overall brightness.

The big decision for many of you, won’t be whether this Sharp projector is worth the bucks compared to other 3D capable projectors, but whether this is the right time to go 3D. Like anything else new, it will improve a lot in the next couple of years. Some of us (including me) don’t want to be without, for another year or two- even if we only watch a small amount of content in 3D, Also I’m a big fan of Discovery HD type of content (and History HD, and ScyFy HD and Travel HD…) and we’re going to see 3D content explode in that segment. I’d be surprised if there isn’t well more than 1000 hours of great “hdtv channel” type 3D content out there, before 2012 rolls around. (The time equivalent of 500 movies!) While I don’t think the 2012 Super Bowl will be in 3D, the BCS championship game will be, and tons of other sports.

After all, if you really do enjoy some things in 3D, a lot better than 2D, then how long are you prepared to wait?

For those of us used to changing out projectors (because we’re hobbyists and enthusiasts) every year or two or three, may want to make the move sooner, in which case if the XV-Z17000 projector is in your price range, it could prove to be a most tempting choice, for a 3D projector today. For those wanting 3D, or thinking maybe you will, but in no hurry, a wait and see attitude may be the right approach. Read on, we’ll try to paint an accurate enough picture of the 3D experience with the Sharp XV-Z17000, to help you make a good decision.

Let’s get started, first some basics, then special features – specifically; 3D

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