Sharp XV-Z30000 Home Theater Projector Review

XV-Z30000 Menus

Other than the size of the type being rather small, I mean small enough that it may be tough to read if you are sitting pretty far back, I like the Menu system.  The menus are slightly translucent.  I photographed them in the middle of three menu brightness modes. You can place the menus in different parts of the screen, controled from the menu system.

 

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XV-Z30000 Menu Slideshow

Main menu

The main menu is shown here after selecting the Advanced menu item which adds the extra controls to the bottom of the main menu, starting with Gamma.

Interestingly the Z30000 only has one set of RGB controls not the usual two. Those Gain controls are on the main Picture menu, as is the Color Tem, and both Iris controls. The first has two modes: High Contrast (for blacks) and High Brightness (much brighter). IRIS 2 is simply a dynamic auto iris.

Advanced

Advanced adds the two Color Management Systems, Bright Boost (which defaults on in the brighter modes), and to enhancement controls: Color, and Detail. Nothing like dynamic controls like those to make the image appear crisper and more dynamic. The default settins vary by mode. 3 and 0 respectively in Movie modes but in bright modes like Stage the default becomes an "edgier" setting of 3 and 10. You can see what I mean looking at some close ups in the HDTV section of the image page, where the effects of 10 detail enhancement are evident. Why?

Detail Enhancement

The Detail Enhancement 10 setting (not the maximum by any stretch) is a bit much. It makes faces in real close ups look a bit leathery. I left it on for sports and it was fine except for the closeups of faces where it was too much. I suggest, though dialing it down to 4 or 5, or less, which is still slight, yet noticeable detail enhancement, for much viewing such as sports. Remember, when you engage such features, there are always some trade-offs. For the perfectionist, the goal is to faithfully reproduce, and therefore generally avoiding such controls.

Signal Adjust Menu

It's got the usual manual controls for matching analog computer signal, assuming, for some reason Auto Sync doesn't do the job. This is really the menu you are least likely to ever visit. That said, our next menu below is of more significance. That would be the Screen Adjust menu.

Screen adjust menu

This Screen adjust menu of the Sharp XV-Z30000 projector handles aspect ratio, offers some vertical shift. You can move the digital content up and down on the screen. (If it's a full screen, that means you will be "cropping" some of it, but let's say you are watching a 2.35:1 movie on your 16:9 screen. You've got lettter box above and below the movie content. With this control you could lower the movie so the bottom is flush with the bottom of your screen, all the letterbox is above. Of course with this projector, you could do the same with lens shift depending on how its mounted. There is control for the 12 volt screen trigger, Anamorphic lens (Off/On), and much to my liking you get both Overscan and Masking. Myself, when needed, I prefer to use a Mask, and retain 1:1 pixel mapping, instead of cropping and enlarging the image slightly to be rid of edge noise. I should note that I did not encounter any edge noise except on a brief look at some non-HD content from DirecTV. HDTV and Blu-ray were always clean around the edges (nice but expected!)

Projector Adjus

Our next menu is Projector Adjust - call those mostly operational controls such as various power and energy settings, the ability to rename inputs to your convenience (ie. change HDTV2 to Sony PS3). Of greatest interest by far, is the Memory menu, which was discussed on the first page under special features as LENS MEMORY

Memory menu

As I probably mentioned there are only two memory settings, but that should be just fine.

You can use if you have a widescreen, or, perhaps creating a second, smaller sized image for 3D viewing where brightness is a bit scarce.

Memory menu

Again, the Memory setting doesn't just hold the lens settings (as is the case with the Panasonic, JVC, and Sony models I can think of), but rather, The Sharp XV-Z30000 projector network menu.also ties them to a Preset mode such as Movie 1, and aspect ratio. In other words, a rather "global" memory, not lens specific. I a

That leaves just one more major menu, the Networking menu. It's nice to see a fully network capable projector in home theater space, although this full ability is more likely "left over" from a business projector design. Note this is hard wired networking, no wireless networking abilities.

Folks, that's a lot of menus and features. You should have a pretty good idea of the menu offerings now, and how some of the more important ones operate.

Sharp XV-Z30000 Remote Control

I’ll start by saying I really like the layout, and also the options offered on the remote control, as well as its range. But…I still cannot call this a really good remote!  Why?

I cannot believe the Sharp XV-Z30000 remote control is not back lit.  OK, sure, the buttons all glow a faint greenish white, but it is so dim it didn’t help me a bit.  Perhaps if you “charged” those buttons with a flashlight, then turned off the light the buttons might glow enought to be useful, but wouldn’t that be silly?

Similar to the Z30000 having the network features mentioned above, this lack of a proper backlight is probably a left over from a remote designed for business projectors.  Oh well.  Get used to it, or buy a universal remote to replace, it, or maybe splurge for a whole room, or whole house control system.

It is to me, a bit shocking for a projector that sells for $3000-$5000 to not have good, well lit, backlit remote.  I’m pretty sure there might be other home theater projectors in this price range, without backlit remotes but they are few and very far between.   Oh well.  You’ll get used to it, I trust or consider the options mentioned.  As to the remote itself, the layout is very conducive to memorizing what buttons are where.

I expected the Sharp remote to have pretty good range, and it does.  I was able to get a good bounce off my screen, with the total distance of about 28-29 feet.  Beyond that it starts getting iffy, you’ll have to find exactly the right angle.  The first clue to good range was the two AA batteries.  Some remotes use two AA’s, some use the thinner AAA batteries.  I’ve always suspected that as a group, the remotes with the AA’s would have more range – as that’s one trade-off.  Remotes with AAA batteries, have less “juice” so likely have less range or shorter life before the batteries need replacing.  Of course older projectors likely are a bit less energy efficient, so the remote of a 4 year old projector with AA’s might not be a match for a new projector with AAAs.  OK, that’s too much time spent on minor conjecture, so, let’s take a close look at the remote.

From the top of the Sharp XV-Z30000 remote control:

Top left button is Standby.  Press it twice to power down the Sharp projector.  On the top right is the power button, press just once to power on the Sharp.

The next two rows of 4 buttons are direct control of four popular image controls.  You get up/down (+/-) buttons for Contrast, Brightness, Color (saturation) and Tint.

Then there’s a space, and an area with four buttons for direct input to:  HDMI 1, 2, Component Video, and Computer.  Note that the Computer input is affected by a menu item.  Default is auto, but you can select RGB (computer) or Component Video.

The next group of four buttons include the Picture Mode (toggle between the many provided preset, (and user) modes, two buttons, one to control each Iris.  The last of the four is the Resize button, which toggles you through the different aspect ratios offered, unless you are using a computer, in which case it should work on the syncing.

Below those buttons comes the typical Navigation area.  The four arrow keys organized in a round layout, with Enter button in the center.  The Nav ring is surrounded by:

Above to the right:  Menu
Above to the left:  A toggle for Anamorphic vs 16:9 (this is only for those using an external anamorphic lens)
Below to the left:  The Return button
Below to the right: Menu/Hide

That last one is interesting.  Over the years I’ve cursed many projectors with really large menu areas, in that it can be very difficult to “eyeball” settings, when you can’t see a good deal of the screen, including the part you are basing your adjustments on.

With this Menu/Hide, the open Menu you have dissappears as long as you hold down the Menu/Hide button.  The menu immediately dissappears when you release it.

I really like that feature.  I’ll recommend it to all manufacturers.

All considered, if it weren’t for the lack of a backlight, I’d be shouting the accolades of this remote control.  When I do consider the lack of backlighting though, I can only say that it’s an overall decent remote.

Click Image to Enlarge

Sharp XV-Z30000 Lens Throw

The XV-Z30000 offers a 2:1 zoom lens.  For the typical 100″ diagonal 16:9 screen, you can place the front of the projector as close as 10 feet 4 inches or as far back as 20 feet 9 inches (3.1 to 6.3 meters).

If you plan a larger or smaller screen, it’s easy to calculate the new distances.  For example, if you plan a 120″ diagonal 16:9 screen, then the distance numbers would be:  10.4 *1.2 = 12.48 feet, and as far back as 20.9 * 1.2 = 25.8 feet.

It’s a rare thing to see a DLP home projector with a 2:1 zoom lens.  In fact I’m really trying hard to think of another.  (I must have reviewed at least one other?)  Most DLP projectors have 1.6:1, 1.5:1, 1.2:1 or 1.1: zooms.  Give this Sharp an A for zoom lens flexibility.

Sharp XV-Z30000 Lens Shift

Lens shift has always been a bit of a problem for DLP projectors.  For years, almost no home theater DLP projectors offered lens shift under $5000!  Today, I can think of only 1 or two under $2000, whereas virtually every over $1000 LCD or LCoS home projector has lens shift.

It’s more than that, too.   The amount of lens shift range – the ability to raise or lower the image on the screen optically, to work best with where you want to mount it, tends to be more limited with DLP designs.

All that said, this Sharp XV-Z30000 projector basically has what’s called a “0″ offset.  That is, the projector can be placed so that the lens/projector can be lined up even with the top of your screen, or even with the bottom of the screen, or anywhere in between.  More flexible lens shift might allow a projector hitting a 100″ diagonals screen to be mountable up to about 25 inches above the top, to 25″ below the bottom.   In other words, with typical ceilings (8 or 9 feet), it matters little, but if you have, say a 12 foot ceiling, you probably will find yourself having the projector hang down a couple/three feet from the ceiling, whereas a more flexible projector might still be mountable withing inches of the ceiling.

All considered, very good lens shift for a home theater DLP, but still shy of what the 3LCD and LCoS competition offers in this regard.

Anamorphic Lens - Wide Screen

Yes, the Sharp XV-Z30000 supports an anamorphic lens. Not only does it support using a 3rd party anamorphic lens, better still, it has power zoom, focus and lens shift allowing you to go with a 2.35:1 “widescreen” (Cinemascope…), without springing thousands for the optional lens (and perhaps motorized sled).  Yes, I’m again talking about Lens Memory.  Few will actually consider an anamorphic lens for this projector.

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