Sharp XV-Z3000 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-Z3000 Menus
I really like the Z3000's menu structure. The projector doesn't have quite as many controls as some others, but it has almost everything you can want, and almost all of it is located the Picture menu - (2 pages, shown here)
The first picture menu provides all the standard image controls, and in addition, shows you the source you are on (Input 6 is HDMI). You can change between the various Presets from the first item down (choices are Standard, Natural, Dynamic (brightest), Movie 1, Movie 2, and Memory.
Scroll to the bottom of the menu, and a second Picture menu comes up, with more capability. Again, it shows you the input, and allows access to the presets (a nice touch). In addition you have control of color temperature (adjust in 500K from 5500K to 10,000K), and TI's Brilliant Color.
I'll discuss C.M.S. (color management system) below). Next comes Dynamic Noise Reduction which defaults to Level 1.
Then comes control of the Iris system, with three choices - High Brightness, Medium Mode, and High Contrast (dimmest/best). More on that too, below.
What I really like is that the Lamp power control is also on this menu. It always seemed to me that if a user is going to fiddle with presets, etc, say to compensate for room lighting, they will likely also want access to lamp brightness. Unfortunately Lamp brightness is often buried on setup, or other less often used menus, on almost every other projector. Kudos, for putting it where handy.
OK, the first Picture Menu offered separate control of R,G,B gain, but the CMS system here, is more "3D" allowing you to work with the color balance within each of the 3 primary and 3 secondary colors. Very nice for those really into tweaking, or calibration. I normally don't work with this level of fine tuning for a review, but nice to know it's handy, without having to figure out how to break into the service menus.
In addition to the Picture Menu, there are three additional main menus. The next one is the Fine Sync menu (one you are not likely to ever use, but might need with an oddball computer signal.
Then come two Options menus, 1 and 2, shown immediately below. The Option 1 menu allows you to shift the image up and down on the screen, usable if you, for example can limit the drop on a pull down or motorized screen. You could, for example for watching typical movies in Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio. You can move the image up to the top of the screen so that the top of the movie is even with the top surface, while the bottom of the movie is even with the bottom of the surface, effectively eliminating letterboxing. Few will ever use this, but it's a nice touch. There is also separate overscan control, very usable with some low def TV where you might get some noise along the top (or bottom edges), and, I'm told, extremely handy for gamers. Unfortunately, it does not work if you are using an HDMI input, but does function with Component video and S-video.
The Option 2 menu is another one that you aren't likely to use, except to set the language of the menus, as well as a high altitude fan option, and some control of the Standby. You can switch the Standby, from default Standard, to Eco (to reduce power consumption) if you are not using the RS-232 to control the projector from a computer or room control system.
That about covers it for the menus. Again, overall, the layout is excellent, with all the action pretty much on Picture 1 and Picture two.
XV-Z3000 User Memory
There is one User Memory setting, on the Picture menu (as one of the presets). The User Memory is Input specific, so you can save different settings for each input of the projector (ie. HDMI and component). This isn't as flexible as "Device dependent" where if you had two or more sources coming in through your HDMI (ie. Cable/satellite, DVD, and HD-DVD all being switched by your AV receiver, where the projector would still recognize each as a different device through the same input port. For example, Optoma projectors have User Memory which is device dependent. Many other manufacturers simply have multiple user savable settings.
XV-Z3000 Remote Control
The Sharp XV-Z3000 remote left me with mixed feelings. It is a small remote, with very small buttons overall. Now, I don't have large hands, and found it very workable, but I wonder about those with large hands.
On the plus side, the buttons were laid out in a fashion that allowed me to quickly learn where the most important buttons were, so that I didn't have to use the backlite (red, not bad) very often at all.
OK, from the top separate power buttons for on and off (Standby). Press twice for off.
Right below, two rows of 3 buttons for selecting from the six inputs. They are labled 1 thru 6, with small icons on the buttons. It's not intuitive, as to which, for example, are the component video inputs. But, again this is something you figure out rather quickly.
Moving down, left is a keystone adjust button, (of course you don't want to use that, unless you have no choice, but many manufacturers insist on dedicating a button (it's their business projector backgrounds in action).
More importantly, on the right, the Menu button, and below in the center a small disk pad. The disk pad was ok, it worked fine, but I found the lip gave it a difficult feel. Again, no big deal, I'm just being picky.
Below the disk pad for navigating menus, are the Return and Enter buttons. Moving down the left side, there is an Auto-sync, a toggle for selecting computer or component for the HD15 (computer input), and a handy Freeze frame button.
In the center bottom are an up and down for Image Shift which I mentioned in the menu section.
Moving down the right side are three IMPORTANT buttons. The first (below Enter) allows you choose aspect ratio, including one a Dot by dot for direct mapping without processing (a 720p signal would match source pixel to screen pixel, if you sent a DVD signal to it, you would get a small image in the center of the screen). Next button down, lets you toggle between the various preset modes (Movie 2, Dynamic, etc.), then the IRIS setting (choose between High Brightness, Medium Mode, and High Contrast. Note, most movie watchers, unless than have a smaller screen, will probably use the Medium Mode, which is very good, and significantly brighter than High Contrast.
That's about it, the Sharp XV-Z3000 remote is functional, but small, but very easy to learn.
XV-Z3000 Lens Throw and Lens Shift
Lens throw as mentioned in the overview physical tour is limited by a 1.15:1 zoom lens, with the closest you can place the projector (measured from the lens to the screen) of 9 feet 8 inches to 11 foot 3 inches. That puts the projector in the middle to middle back of most rooms. The lack of lens shift pretty much prevents users from shelf mounting (unless low, below the screen surface), so most people will either ceiling mount or put on a coffee table.
The lens offset is nice. Most of today's DLP projectors without lens shift, have a great deal of offset, requiring the projector to be placed either well above the top of the screen when ceiling mounted, or well below on a table. (A major exception is BenQ's PE7700, a competitor with 0 offset, so it goes even with top or bottom of screen surface.) The XV-Z3000 splits the difference, requiring only 7 inches of offset for a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen. Most projectors, like the Optoma HD70 and HD72, Mitsubishi HC3000 and HD1000, etc, have about 16 - 18 inches of offset. With the Sharp, like some of those, the fact that it uses a 1280x768 DLP chip, instead of the "pure" 1280x720p" there can be an additional 1.6 inches offset. (A good use, if needed, for the Image shift). You are not using that extra 1.6 inches at the bottom or the top, when watching 16:9 content.
Overall, I like this middle ground in terms of placement. Those with high ceilings will need to have the projector hang down about an extra foot compared to those with the much greater offset, but on the other hand, those with low ceilings will find that the Sharp XV-Z3000 will work in their room whereas many of the others won't. Whether you like this "compromise" amount of lens shift, will depend on your room. It's something you need to keep in mind.
XV-Z3000 Screen Door and Rainbow Effects
The Sharp is a typical 720p type DLP projector in terms of pixel visibility, which basically means that you can sit 9 feet back from a 100" diagonal screen and only notice pixels in credits and text, and occasional very bright stationary area. In other words its not an issue for the vast majority. For those more "pixel adverse", they should be very happy 11 or 12 feet back from that same 100" diagonal screen. I watched a couple of movies with the Z3000 filling my 128" from a viewing distance of 11 feet, and it behaved like my BenQ, another DLP.
Click the image below, for a closeup of pixel structure. This image below is not from the Z3000, but the enlargement of the lower center, is.
For comparison, here are two other similar shots -from a typical LCD 720p projector, the Sanyo Z5, where the pixels are easily more visible.
And, from the Panasonic PT-AX100U, the LCD projector with their Smooth Screen technology, which does make pixels far less visible, than standard DLP or LCD projectors, but pays a price in sharpness, which you can also see here.
As to the Rainbow Effect, the Z3000 is typical in that it uses a 5X, 6 segment wheel. (Some of the less expensive DLP's use only a 4X color wheel. As a result of the 5X wheel few should detect or be bothered by rainbows. I am slightly sensitive, on occasion, and this projector performs like other 5X DLP projectors. Not an issue except for a few percent of the population.
XV-Z3000 Light leakage
While there are no real issues with leaking out the lens, the right side (looking from the back) of the XV-Z3000, does leak significant light. If you are sitting on that side, even, or slightly behind the projector, you are likely to notice it. It's not real bright, but will be considered a minor nusiance to some, particularly if you are watching a very dark scene, the light you'll see inside the projector will be brighter.
XV-Z3000 Audible Noise Levels
Ouch! This is the one area of real dissapointment. The XV-Z3000 is one of the noisiest home theater projectors I have encountered in the last couple of years. Sharp publishes a spec of 30db, but doesn't specify whether that's with the lamp in full or eco-mode. It apparently is the eco-mode, and in that mode, it should be acceptable for almost everyone, but just barely. Unfortunately in full power, it gets at least 3 or 4 db louder, possibly more. Anyone who is inherently adverse to fan noise, is going to have a problem with the XV-Z3000 at full power,, unless it's mounted high. The fact that its zoom lens probably means you are going to be sitting around the same distancefrom the screen as the projector, is what really makes it an issue.
Sharp uses a slightly higher power lamp than most other projectors (275 watt, compared to 160 - 240 watt for most others), so needs more cooling, but, considering the airflow out the vent isn't that powerful, it's surprising they couldn't have designed it with the noise level a bit lower.
Many people will, therefore, not want to use the XV-Z3000 in high power mode for movie watching, but since the projector can be plenty bright, in the Movie modes with the Iris to Hight Brightness, or, in Dynamic mode, with the lamp set to low power, most can live with the fan noise. In our measurements the projector is about 20% brighter in full power lamp mode, a far smaller difference, than, say, between the High Contrast, Medium, and High Brightness iris settings.
All told, the high fan noise is, in my opinion, the only major problem with this Sharp projector, and one that requires some consideration on your part.
XV-Z3000 Projector Brightness
This is perhaps the brightest of the DLP projectors that can do really impressive black levels. While some of the projectors, like the Optoma HD70, and HD72 and Mitsubishi's HD1000U have plenty of lumens, they also have clear filters on their color wheels, which tends to trade off black levels for more brightness. It is brighter, however than the typical Darkchip3 projectors like my BenQ PE-8720 or Optoma's HD7100, both with much better black levels than the other projectors just mentioned. (The XV-Z3000, in my opinion, actually does blacker blacks than the Optoma HD7100.
Tthe XV-Z3000 is one of the brightest home theater projectors out there. Here's how it measured.
For most of my viewing and measurements, I selected the Movie 2 mode, so we'll start there.
With the lamp set to eco mode, and the Iris set to High Contrast (best), the XV-Z3000 puts out a not particularly bright 285 lumens.
But just switch the projector's Iris to Medium Mode (which is the way I had it set for all most all of my movie viewing), and lumen output jumps to a very respectable 515 lumens, in line with most of the other 720p DLP projectors just mentioned. And for more horsepower, for larger screens, etc, High Brightness on the Iris takes lumen output to a very bright 907 lumens. That's serious output considering we're still in Movie 2 mode.
By the way, if noise is not an issue for you, kick the lamp up to full power, and the same High Brightness mode kicks out 1085 lumens...
Below I'll provide more lumens for the various other preset modes, but the next most important one, in my opinion, is Dynamic. This takes you to the other end of the brightness spectrum, when you can sacrifice some image quality, for that football game with moderate room lighting. I must note too, that "Dynamic" modes with most projectors tend to have color balances that are pretty visibly off, especially with greens pushed to get out more lumens.
Not so the XV-Z3000, which looked really good. I have no doubt I could push green and other aspects and get another200 more lumens than the 1489 lumens measured (lamp on full), although I didn't try. With most others, by the time you get "Dynamic" under control (fix the color balance a bit), you tend to lose 10-15% of best brightness.
My conclusion is that I really can't think of any other DLP projectors or LCD ones for that matter in the price range, that can offer both plenty of brightness when needed, and excellent black levels when the room is dark. It's a hard combination to beat.
Some of the measurements for the other Pre-set modes (all with lamp at full power so, reduce by about 16% for eco-mode), and with the Iris in the High Brightness Mode setting:
Dynamic: 1489 lumens
Movie 1: 1067 lumens
Natural: 1116 lumens
Standard: 891 lumens
You can estimate how those modes perform with other Iris settings by interpolating from the more complete numbers provided in Movie 2 mode above.
For your consideration, here are three images that demonstrate the overall brightness differences between the 3 Iris modes. All three are shot with the same exposure, so the Medium and High Contrast ones look very dark, compared to High Brightness.
As you can see, a huge difference in brightness exists between the three iris modes!
XV-Z3000 Lamp Life and Replacement
Sharp is a little vague here, stating that the lamp is rated up to 3000 hours, in eco mode, but no rating for full power. We'll assume full power to be 2000 hours, as most projectors with 3000 hour eco modes, are rated 2000 hours in full.
To replace the lamp, the lamp cover is located underneath, very near the mounting screws for a ceiling mount. While, with the right mount it is conceivable that one could be able to replace the lamp without unmounting the projector, but I wouldn't count on it.
XV-Z3000 Projector Screen Recommendations
The XV-Z3000 doesn't need a high contrast gray screen. I found it looked great on my 1.4 gain (measured 1.3) Carada Brilliant White fixed screen. Other than specific room requirements, and larger screens. , I would suggest anywhere from a 1.0 to 1.4 gain white surface. Higher gain, if you have a real side ambient light problem, in which case you'll probably be looking at a high contrast screen as well.
But the bottom line, is that from low cost screens like the motorized Elite Cinetension (white surface) (I've been reviewing it at the same time, or the Carada, as well as similar projector screens from Da-lite, and others. For the slightly richer crowd, consider the Stewart Studiotek 130, with 1.3 gain, and perhaps the best rep in the screen industry.
As a side note, I was also pleased with the performance of the XV-Z3000 on my Firehawk 128" in Movie 2, with the Iris set to High Brightness.
XV-Z3000 Measurements and Calibration
Movie 1 and Movie 2 default to color temperature settings of 6500K, while the other modes default to 7500. In most cases, I found the measurements to be slightly higher than those numbers. Here goes:
For Movie 2, Iris in High Contrast mode, here are the color temp measurements:
I played with settings and ended up with Red set to +3, which brought down the color temperature slightly, but I can't say that the results were any more pleasing. Switching the Iris to High Brightness insignificantly affected color temperature:
Most of the difference is probably attributable to the variation with my light meter.
Movie 1, which seems to have a different inherent gamma, provided similar, but even better color temperature readings, in fact about as good as one could hope for.
Dynamic which like Standard, should be targeting between 7500K and 8000K measured 7949K at 100IRE, while Standard was 7543K, and Natural, 7445. I did not do measurements of the lower IREs (80, 50, 30...).
Generally greens were very well behaved on all of the brighter modes, varying from just about dead on, to just a tiny bit too much, never enough to create a problem with flesh tones.
It's always nice to find a projector that looks this good, out of the box!
XV-Z3000 Image Noise
I ran the HQV suite on the Z3000, and it performed very well, overall. Jaggies were a non-issue, with the Sharp projector easily passing the flag and other jaggie tests. There were some minor issues on some of the cadences, again, though no problem. On motion artifiacts, the projector quickly adapted to the tricky panning of stadium seats. In the still comparison images there was "the usual" amount of noise typical of DLP projectors, and if anything, it was on the low side (remember their Dynamic Noise Filter was on setting 1. I did not test with it off.
OK, time for you to spend a quick minute on warranty, then off to the summary, and pros and cons listings.