Sharp XV-Z15000 Projector Review
June 2009 - Art Feierman
Sharp XV-Z15000 Projector Overview
The XV-Z15000 projector is one of the very best of the under $2500 home theater projectors around. Of course no one projector is "best" at everything, and rarely, best at most things.
The Sharp XV-Z15000, however, is a very well balanced performer. And, like many DLP projectors in particular, its picture quality consistently looks good. After Mike calibrated the projector, I spent a lot of time viewing it on the usual Blu-ray (and standard DVD) movies, general HDTV content, and lots of sports (mostly NBA playoffs, but also my stored football on DVR for outdoor sports).
Color was extremely good, with very good skin tones. Many of you will have noticed the ultra-high contrast ratio of 30,000:1. The XV-Z15000 delivers, with black levels approaching or equaling the best of the LCD projector competition. Of the immediate 3LCD projector competition (Epson, Sanyo, Panasonic), only the Epson has a slight edge in overall black level performance. The Mitsubishi HC7000 just might beat it, but it's far more expensive, so not a direct competitor.
For those of you who hate "maintaining" a projector,( i.e., changing filters), this Sharp, as a DLP, offers a sealed light path, and no filters to change. A sealed light path is a good thing, but no filters - is questionable. I prefer even DLP projectors to have a filter that gets changed infrequently - say every 1000 hours (i.e., BenQ). If you've ever looked inside an electronic device such as a desktop PC, after a couple of years, dust covers everything. The more dust, the harder to dissipate heat. While it shouldn't be considered a real problem, I'd still rather see all projectors have filters.
The Sharp XV-Z15000 has a dynamic iris to achieve its best black levels. While the iris' action is more noticeable than some of the very fast irises, it does perform rather smoothly. You will be able to spot the iris operating on some transitions between scenes, and even within scenes when there are quick brightness changes. That said, I found that it wasn't likely to be annoying, unlike a couple other dynamic iris projectors in the same price range.
This Sharp projector is designed for ceiling mounting (or placement on a table top). There is no way to place it on a rear shelf, due to lack of lens shift, and a relatively short throw zoom lens, with very little (1.15:1) manual zoom lens. With a placement range of 10.4 to 12 feet for a 100" diagonal screen, it is likely to be mounted just in front of your seating.
All considered, the XV-Z15000 is the kind of projector that once properly installed, will be thoroughly enjoyed by its owner. Just keep in mind that if you are a highly critical enthusiast, or even more demanding - a purist, this projector probably isn't your cup of tea. By the same token, I'd have to say it's an excellent starter 1080p projector. I believe many that buy it as their first projector, will really love it, probably get hooked, and be in the market for a more expensive/better projector down the road. In other words, its picture quality is more than good enough to hook people, and make them want to raise their standards. Not because it is weak, but because after watching the XV-Z15000, and enjoying it, the question becomes something like: Wow, this is great - I wonder how much better the viewing experience will be if I upgrade in a couple of years to a much better home theater projector.
XV-Z15000 Projector Highlights
- Overall a very well balanced home theater projector
- Good color out of the box, very good after calibration - this projector has that classic DLP "look and feel" to its image that DLP fans swear by
- Full color management system though color temp controls are more limited than most other projectors
- Brightness in "best" mode, a little below average - 355 lumens
- Brightness average in "brightest" mode, a bit over 1000 lumens
- Extremely good black level performance! Comparable to the better ultra-high contrast 3LCD projectors!
- Very limited placement flexibility
- Not too much lens offset - a good thing! Unlike many DLP models, this one mounts only slightly above the top of the screen surface. Many other DLP's need to mount higher still, and won't work in rooms with lower ceilings or with average ceiling height and larger screens
- Dynamic iris is slow (so detectable) but smooth - one of the better "slow" dynamic irises
- Very good in terms of minimizing the rainbow effect for those sensitive to it, with 5x, 6 color - color wheel
- Remote control - no backlight - that's strike 1 and strike 2... small, cramped. It's not the first time a really nice projector has a relatively poor remote, but that's no excuse. Range, however, is good.
- Good price/performance, but definitely not as good as some others
Specs for Sharp XV-Z15000
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1600 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.15:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 3000 hours in eco-mode, no published spec at full power, expect 2000
Weight: 12.8 lbs. (5.7 Kg)
Warranty: 1 Year Parts and Labor
Sharp XV-Z15000 Special Features
Sharp XV-Z15000 Color Wheel
Like the Optoma HD8200 recently reviewed, this is one of the newer DLP projectors that as Texas Instruments promised, makes the rainbow effect less noticeable to those of us who are sensitive. I can still spot it once in a rare while, but it's less of an issue than on some others, such as the BenQ W5000, one of its direct competitors. The color wheel is a 5x, 6 segment. That's good to start, but other things are going on as well that reduce the rainbow effect. Bottom line, I'm moderately sensitive, but rarely spot rainbows with this projector even on scenes that are most susceptible (bright white moving quickly on a dark background).
Image below - from Quantum of Solace