Sharp XV-Z20000 1080p Home Theater Projector Review - General Performance
User Memory Settings
Lens Throw and Lens Shift
SDE and Rainbow Effect
Audible Noise Levels
Lamp Life and Replacement
Projector Screen Recommendations
Sharp XV-Z20000 Menus
The Sharp's menu layout is extremely good, and navigating it is perhaps, even better. This is a good thing, because the XV-Z20000 doesn't seem to be quite as smart as some of the other projectors. For example, many projectors "remember" the source. The JVC RS1 is a good example. If I switch from my Blu-Ray DVD player (a Sony PS3 for now), to my cable box, the JVC "remembers" and switches automatically from Natural mode (preset) to Cinema mode, remembering which mode that source is in. It also almost always correctly adjusts for the correct aspect ratio.
Not so, the Sharp XV-Z20000. Everytime I switch from DVD to Cable, or back, I have to access the menu (or remote) to change from Movie 1, to Standard, etc.
Of course that can all be programmed in, if you are using a sophisticated room control system, or one of the more capable (and expensive) programmable remotes.
Let's start with the Picture menu, which contains most of the everyday controls for adjusting the image.
First of all, as you scroll down through the items (you can see above, that Picture Mode is highlighted), the Sharp shows you the available settings and highlights the current selection. To change the Picture mode setting for example, you just hit enter, which actually takes you into the sub-menu, and use the up/down arrows to navigate from there. Enter will lock in your new choice.
There are five pre-defined picture modes. I'll start with "best" modes - Movie 1 and Movie 2. Movie 1 is not quite as bright (when both have the same Iris setting), but I found it to be a bit more natural. Movie 2 buys a slight increase in brightness, and offers a touch more "pop" (dynamics) to scenes, but is also a touch less natural looking, notably on skin tones.
The Standard, Natural and Dynamic settings are all similar in brightness and overall, differ as follows. Standard and Natural are fairly similar, with Natural offering what generally could be described as a slightly higher gamma (it looks a bit more contrasty as darker areas are a touch darker than they are on Standard). I'm almost surprised that they didn't reverse the names.) I'll address memory mode below. Next comes the usual Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, and Sharpness. A color temperature control is next with color temp settings such as 5500K, 6500K, etc. The Movie modes default to 6500K while the others default to 7500K. Unfortunately the projector's actual color temperature measurements aren't that close to the numbers shown on the menu. For example, the 6500K setting (ideal for movies), actually measured right around 7000K. More on that below.
Next comes the Gamma settings shown here. You'll note that they bare the same name as the Picture Presets, and accordingly, when you select Movie 1 Picture mode preset, you get the Movie 1 gamma as a default. There is also an area to set a custom gamma.
There are three Iris positions (it is not dynamic). High Contrast gives you the darkest image, and best black level performance, but Middle gives you a quite visible jump in brightness and still provides extremely good black levels. Large screen users are most likely going to choose the Middle setting. High Contrast provides a dramatic jump in brightness, although black levels suffer. Still, even in High Brightness, the black level performance is almost certainly close to the performance of some of the lower cost 1080p projectors in their best modes.
Lamp setting - is basic, choose from Bright or Eco modes.
And, that takes us to the Advanced option. Selecting it and pressing enter opens up your world to a most impressive set of color controls shown here.
This CMS menu (Color Management System), offers detailed controls of Hue, Saturation and Value. Most of the controls are a full six color (primary and secondary colors: red, green, blue, cyan, yellow, and magenta).
The Hue control in particular, lets you control the amount of other colors within the primaries - ie. is the Red, just slightly orangish? No problem you can take that out. As I said, lots of controls, and more to come.
As I mentioned above, the Picture menu has the ability to select gamma choices.
The next major menu (across the top), to the right of Picture mode, is Gamma, which opens up a comprehensive set of additional capabilities to fine tune the picture overall, and gamma specifically:
First, you can select the gamma preset you want, and work from there.
There is a traditional gamma setup (that controls the balance of midrange brightness, relative to the darkest and brightest content). You can adjust all colors together, or specifically alter one of the primary color's gamma curve.
Then below, you get into the heart of fine tuning, with separate RGB (or again, all at once) for White and Black levels.
Pretty sweet - a "tweakers" dream. Those that are perfectionist, and, dare I say it, those that love watching their projector, more than they enjoy the movies and other content they watch), will just love the Sharp's flexibility and control.
The next Main menu, is Fine Sync, for adjusting analog computer signals.
And then comes the Options menu (shown here). Most noteable on the Options menu is the Overscan control.
There are, however, a variety of other controls you can see here, that I just won't get into. These include more white and black level controls, some dynamic range options, and more "physical" controls like those relating to the menus themselves, economy mode (features, not lamp brightness), PRJ mode (front, rear, ceiling, ceiling rear), and RS232 for command and control.
The manual for most of these (and other) options provides basic info. Those not familiar with the finer points, and terminology, will find the manual a bit thin on advice. Unfortunately that is so typical of home theater projector manuals. "Why provide a useful, detailed, paragraph description of something, when you can do it in one sentence and leave most people confused" seems to be the industry standard.
(An amusing side note, in the manual that came with the projector, like most manuals, is in multiple languages (with English first, in this case). The pages on the Gamma controls, in the English section, were, unfortunately in French. Oops!
The good news, is that it is correct in the downloadable manual on the Sharp website. I expect they will fix that little problem sooner or later.
The last menu let's you select the menu language choice.
Sharp XV-Z20000 User Memory Settings
Sharp has the Memory setting option for Picture mode, and also for gamma, etc. As a result you can just modify existing settings, or save a new one, as needed. Best I can tell, you are limited to just one new preset. but the manual is almost worthless. There is no mention if the projector will recognize different sources, so that a different group of settings can be saved for each device, or failing that, for each input. I must apologize, as I didn't explore this further. I will try to update!
Sharp XV-Z20000 Remote Control
The XV-Z20000's remote control is a very good one. First off, it has plenty of range. No problem in my theater even with a bounce off the screen totalling almost 30 feet.
From the top, on the right is the power on button, and on the left, the off button (press twice). Sharp refuses to label it Off, instead chose Standby. I assume that the logic is that the projector is still on (lamp and most electronics off, but, the infra-red sensors are alive so that the remote can power the projector on).
Immediately below, on the right is the Menu button. Nice, by itself, easy to find without looking for it, or moving your hand. Next comes the four arrow keys for navigation in the usual circular layout, with a center Enter button. Below that, on the left, is the Return button which moves you back out from sub-menus to main menus, to menu off. I would call this a right handed person's remote, as the Return button is high to the right, and as your thumb sweeps an arc lower, it naturally moves to the left. This will probably drive left-handed people a little crazy, but, fortunately, I'm not one of them. (And if that's the biggest complaint left-handed people have with the XV-Z20000, then, they too will be thrilled with their choice).
The next block of buttons are for the seven sources, including the two HDMI's and the DVI-I.
Below that, are three rows of three, covering everything else. These are going to be hard to memorize or access without looking. Most notably, down the right, the three buttons are Picture Mode, Contrast and Brightness. Picture Mode lets you toggle between the various modes, while the other two, let you adjust using the left and right arrow keys.
At the top middle of the three rows is the aspect ratio control, and I like the choices there. You can toggle between them. Besides the usual 16:9, and 4:3, there is a "dot by dot" - one to one pixel matching (thus, a 720p source would only use 1280x720 of the 1920x1080 pixels, for a smaller image). There is also a 14:9 (about half way between 4:3 and 16:9), and something I am most pleased to see, which is a smart stretch mode, for those that want to use the full screen with a source that is not 16:9. The Sharp has an aspect ratio to support an anamorphic lens, for those that want to do full 2.35:1 Cinemascope on a Cinemascope screen, without letterboxing.
There's also an Auto Sync, for computer signals an RGB vs Component toggle button, and on the lower right, is the Iris control. Next to it, is an Input button, which calls up the input menu, to select a source. Whether that is really needed, since there are direct buttons for each source, I just don't know.
Finally, at the bottom is a night glow Light button. The remote's backlight is nice and bright (I hate dim ones). The light stays on for about 5 seconds (but stays on if you push another button before then). Five seconds is a bit short, but livable.
Sharp XV-Z20000 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
As mentioned in the Overview, the XV-Z20000 has a pretty limited zoom range of only 1.35:1. Fortunately, the throw range is what I would describe as medium, and as a result, many who want to will be able to shelf mount in the rear of their rooms, but many others will not.
For a 100" diagonal screen (16:9) measured from the front of the lens, to the screen surface, the closest it can be placed is 13 feet, 2 inches, and the furthest, 18 feet, 2 inches.
The Sharp offers only vertical lens shift. The range is good, and typical of many home theater projectors, allowing the lens/projector to be even with the top of the screen surface, the bottom, or anywhere in between. Again, good for shelf mounting. Those who are ceiling mounting, with a high ceiling room, will which it had more range, so that the Sharp projector wouldn't have to hang as far down on a pole. By comparison, most of the other 1080 projectors have a bit more range. The BenQ's have the same amount, the Optoma has no lens shift at all.
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Sharp XV-Z20000 SDE and Rainbow Effect
The Screen Door Effect (SDE) is a non issue, with a typical DLP 1080p projector, at normal seating distances. If you sit close you might be able to see a bit of pixel structure in titling, and an occasional large bright white area. Overall, I consider SDE not to be an issue.
Here's a closeup of the DTS logo, the thumbnail shows you about 20% of the whole image, and clicking on it brings up a large version of a very, very small portion of the screen:
As the XV-Z20000 is a classic single chip DLP projector, it uses a spinning color filter wheel. As a result a very small percentage of the population can detect rainbows. The rainbow effect is most visible are dark scenes with a fast moving white or near white object moving across the screen, or a fast moving very dark area moving across a bright backdrop.
I am slightly sensitive to rainbows, but, as is typical for a 5x color wheel DLP projector, I rarely see them. No one seems to know what percentage of the population is sensitive, but it is probably somewhere between 1/2% and 5%, and most likely toward the lower end of that range. Of the many dozens of people who have been in my theater, only 3 of them ever noticed rainbows. (I never ask until after they are done viewing.)
Sharp XV-Z20000 Light Leakage
In this regard, the Sharp XV-Z20000 is about as good as it gets. No issue at all. There is the usual tiny amount leaking out the lens, but not visible at all unless the image being projected is all black.
Sharp XV-Z20000 Audible Noise Levels
OK, you've been thinking that overall, the Sharp has no real weaknesses. Wrong!
While the XV-Z20000 is only moderately quiet in its eco-mode, it definitely is not quiet in its Bright mode. I'd have to say it is the noisiest of the 1080p projectors in Bright mode. Those who demand a virtually silent projector, are not going to be happy with Bright mode, and those who are the most noise adverse, may not even be satisfied in eco-mode. Officially, Sharp quotes 31db in eco-mode (and no spec for Bright mode, but, assuming the 31db is correct, I'll put Bright mode at 35db). Most of the competition is in the 26-28db range in low power mode, and some much quieter still (down to 20db). Sadly, most of the other 1080p projectors are quieter in full power mode, than the Sharp in low power. The quietest of all the 1080p projectors so far, is the Mitsubishi. I would guess that it would take four or five of them in their bright lamp mode, to make as much noise as one Sharp in eco-mode.
The Sharp projector is a large box, which normally makes it easier to keep the noise down. In general, the DLP projectors are the noiser ones, (for reasons we won't get into here), but the BenQ's (not quite as big) are definitely quieter, and even the very small Optoma HD81 DLP is quieter, as well.
Mind you, we aren't talking LOUD, but on very quiet scenes hearing the fan is not going to be difficult at all. Of course the fan noise is steady so it tends to drop out of your conciousness, but there are plenty of people who want to keep the noise under 30 db, and lower, especially those ceiling mounting where the projector is almost overhead.
Sharp XV-Z20000 Projector Brightness
Projecting almost 110" diagonal on my Firehawk was not a problem in Movie 1 (best) mode, and with the overall great black levels, kicking up the iris to medium should let the Sharp do a respectable job on a screen approaching the size of mine (128"). There seem to be dozens of possible combinations, of features that will provide different brightness measurements, but I'll concentrate on the key ones.
Overall, the XV-Z20000 would be considered just average in brightness among the 1080p projectors tested so far.
Since I watched most of the DVD content in Movie 1 mode, I'll start there:
With Lamp on Bright, Iris in HC (high contrast) the darkest iris setting, the Sharp measured a mere 258 lumens. Drop the lamp into low power, and the lumens drop to 204, a drop of 21%. That difference of 21% should be fairly consistant in the different modes. The Sharp manual indicates a 20% drop.
For all the other measurements, the lamp is in Bright mode, so decrease by 21% for Eco-mode.
Switching the Iris into the Medium mode, nicely increases lumens without any significant change in the excellent black levels. Lumens however now measure 367 lumens (that's less than half of the JVC RS1 in it's best mode).
Switching the Iris to Bright, and bingo, now the lumens pour forth. Still in Movie 1, lumen output is 873 (which is just a handful of lumens short of the brightest the JVC can do.)
Movie 2, is just slightly brighter, (but has a touch less natural), and a bit more dynamic look. Movie 2 is better if you have a little (very little) ambient light to deal with. Lumens rise (Iris in high contrast) to 298 lumens. Because Movie 2 mode has that little extra "pop" to the image, many people will prefer it, both for the "pop" and the extra lumens. Despite my comment of "a touch less natural", keep in mind I am still talking about an excellent overall image.
Moving to the Brighter modes for non-movie watching (Iris on Bright):
Dynamic: 886 lumens
Natural: 879 lumens
Standard: 881 lumens
I should note that those differences are less than my metering system can accurately determine. The bottom line, is that all three modes are basically identical in brightness, but each has different other characteristics.
You can easily compute the brightness for the Medium and HC Iris settings for these three presets, as it seems to be the Iris, that is the key determining factor. All Picture modes, as you can see, are within just a couple of percentage points of each other - 873 to 886 lumens.
The good news is that, thanks to excellent black levels, the Sharp seems brighter than other competing projectors with fairly similar lumens, such as the Mitsubishi, or BenQ (depending on modes).
And that brings me to TI's Brilliant Color setting, which I mentioned earlier. Kick that in, and while the image is a somewhat less natural than without it, the Sharp looks like it just took some steroids. The overall effect is that your projector cuts through ambient light a bit better, or simply has more "pop" and wow. Many will just like this setting. Those after the most realistic, will not. If you are already dealing with more than a minimal amount of ambient light, however, by all means, turn it on. It helps!
Sharp XV-Z20000 Lamp Life and Replacement
Sharp rates the lamp life at 2000 hours, whether in Bright mode. The XV-Z20000's lamp life rating increases to 3000 hours in Eco-mode (about 20% less bright).
Sharp XV-Z20000 Projector Screen Recommendations
Once again, when you have a projector with really great image quality performance, the projector screen decision is more about the room than the projector.
Projecting about 110" diagonal onto my Firehawk G3 (high contrast gray) screen, the image was downright beautiful. An excellent match, although no lumens to spare. My walls are still off white (not much longer), so I would say with a dark walled (and ceiling/floor) environment, you could go with a slightly larger screen, but I don't think I would recommend more than the 110" with lighter walls.
In my testing room the Sharp was just brilliant when filling most of my 1.3 gain Carada Brilliant White. That screen, the classic Stewart StudioTek 130, or similar screens, would be great choices, for most rooms with no ambient light issues. Again, the Sharp is just going to look great on almost any good screen, if there are no ambient light issues, and you don't pick a screen/gain, combination that doesn't have the horsepower to fill properly.
Now, personally, I like a brighter image than many, but I try to keep my recommendations in line with typical users. I would say that if you are considering a larger screen - say 123 or 130 inches, than I would have to suggest a high gain screen in the 1.8 to 2.3 range. That will give you the brightness needed, but, at the same time, it will dramatically narrow your viewing cone. You'll want to sit as close to dead center as possible, and Never, outside the left and right edges of the screen. You'll also have some hotspotting and visible corner brightness roll-off with those high gain screens.
Another alternative, of course is one of the "ambient light capable" screens, like the Screen Innovations Visage, that I reviewed almost 2 years ago. (I'll be reviewing the dnp SuperNova screen soon, it is similar but offers a further improved surface.) The downside to these screens (Gain 2.0, contrast 10:1+), is that they are expensive, at least compared to mainstream brands like Da-lite, Draper, or the Carada and Elite screens. Their prices for fixed wall screens are even higher than Stewart screens like the Firehawk, and are typically over $3000 for a fixed wall screen.
Bottom line, find the right screen for your room, and the gain you need to fill it, and the Sharp should be most happy.
Sharp XV-Z20000 Measurements and Calibration
The Sharp XV-Z20000 is the second of the 1080p projectors reviewed, that actually for their color temperture adjustments, label them using the Kelvin temperatures, instead of warm, medium, cool, or Movie, TV.... What is amusing about that, is neither of the projectors was particularly close in terms of measurments. In this case, the Sharp projector was definitely a bit cool (bluish) on the 6500K setting that is ideal for movies.
These were the default measurements for the Movie 1 setting (lamp on Bright), Color Temp at 6500K setting.
100IRE (white): 7103K
80IRE: 6620K: 6802K
50IRE: 6664K: 6889K
30IRE: 6690K: 6849K
That's a pretty tight grouping, with only white about 300K cooler than the others. I then tried moving the Color Temp setting to 5500K, figuring that might be closer, and it was, a little, for example, 100IRE measured 6091K with the various grays about 100K-200K cooler.
I figured that was a better place to start, and tried adjusting it from there, but kept running into a slightly heavy green content, that was difficult to remove. I finally went back to the 6500K setting and worked from there. I was able to get the 30, 50, and 80 IRE settings down right in the 6500-6600K range, but white was rather stubborn, I gave up without getting it under 6900K.
Still, all in all, that is more than satisfactory results. Few would notice the difference in the "before" and "after". (Personally, if I'm off a little I prefer cooler - the tiny shift to blue.)
The important point, is that the overall image quality with these settings was beautiful.
In bright modes - normally targeting 7500K (up to 8000K), once again the Sharp leaned toward "cooler" with the 100 IRE (white) measurements:
This pretty much confirms that the primary differences between the bright modes are more gamma related (rather than temperature).
Overall, the Sharp does favor green slightly, and that may be partially responsible for the projector seeming a touch brighter than it should be. This of course, is adjustable. It can manifest itself, most readily visible in skin tones in shadow areas, what I like to refer to as "green around the gills".
One last note, the Brilliant Color option managed to significantly change the color temperature when measured. Engaging it in Movie 1 mode added more than 300K to the already cool white (100IRE). For those so inclined, to keep skin tones from being too thin on red (or too strong on blue), you might want different color settings with Brilliant Color engaged.
XV-Z20000 Image Noise
As is typical the Sharp projector has several noise filters with multiple settings. However, all considered, not once in probably 15 hours of movie watching, did anything jump out at me, and say "filter needed". Those that like to stand 3 feet from the screen to look for noise and artifacts, and other flaws, however, will enjoy having lots of control over different types of noise. (Have fun - I prefer to watch content.)
Time to move on, next is the warranty page - it takes a minute to read, and this time, there is something really important, worth considering!