Sharp XV-Z3000 Projector Review: Summary, Pros, Cons
I just don't get it. It seems that almost every time I find a projector that really stands out in most areas, it seems to also come equipped with one serious issue. For example the Panasonic PT-AX100U - very bright, good colors, but a little softer image than the competition. Or, in this case, the Sharp XV-Z3000's great overall performance, but significant fan noise.
If you can resolve the fan noise, the XV-Z3000 is truly an excellent projector, quite possibly the best selling in the $2500 or less range, thanks to it's combination of great out of the box color balance, excellent black levels and very good shadow detail, combined with plenty of lumens!
How Does the Sharp XV-Z3000 Stack Up to The Competition?
XV-Z3000 vs. Optoma HD7100
Of the projectors out there selling for under $3000 this Sharp is definitely one of my favorites. It's ability to produce black levels rivalling other DLP projectors that use the Darkchip3 processor instead of its Darkchip2, plus excellent color out of the box, and lots and lots of usable lumens, make it one of my two favorite projectors in the price range. The other, would be Optoma's HD7100, which uses the Darkchip3. I should note that I believe the Sharp outperforms the Optoma at both black levels and shadow detail. The Optoma, has, going for it, lens shift, so it is a far, far more flexible projector in terms of placement, but if that wasn't an issue, I would favor the Sharp.
XV-Z3000 vs. Panasonic PT-AX100U
Comparing the XV-Z3000 to the top selling PT-AX100U is interesting. The Panasonic can muster up more lumens, but only if the lens is in, or near full wide angle - closer to the screen If the Panasonic has the zoom set near maximum zoom, as it would if mounted on a rear shelf of a long room, then the Sharp probably outpowers it. Although the Panasonic, with it's dynamic iris can also produce excellent black levels, there are scenes where their dynamic iris can't help much, and on those scenes, the Sharp XV-Z3000 will outperform the Panasonic. I should point out, though, that the Panasonic is significantly less expensive. And, further, that the Panasonic has effectively invisible pixels, but along with that, an image visibly softer than the XV-Z3000!
XV-Z3000 vs. Optoma HD72, HD70, Mitsubishi HC3000 and Mitsubishi HD1000U
These four projectors are similar, with only the Mitsubishi HC3000 using an iris, and not having a clear filter on its color wheel. All four have virtually identical lens offset, that require them to be positioned high above the top of the screen (ceiling mounted) or well below the bottom. The XV-Z3000 by comparsion, has less than half the offset, which is a plus for all but those ceiling mounting with high ceilings. Of the four, only the Mitsubishi HC3000 comes anywhere close to the XV-Z3000 in black levels. the Mitsubishi is very good, but the Sharp is just plain better! The other three are all bright, close or as bright as the Sharp, so they rival it when you need lumens, but can't match the Sharp in the lower brightness modes, when looking for the richest saturated colors, shadow detail and black levels.
XV-Z3000 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z5 and Sony HS-51A
These two LCD projectors are both especially sharp, but no sharper than the Sharp Z3000. On the other hand, they defintely can't match the Sharp for brightness, although the Sanyo can come close (but when it does, it's color balance isn't anywhere near as good as the Z3000's). It's a good thing for Sanyo, that the Z3000 sells for well more than $500 above the Z5's price. The Sony, on the other hand, is still less than the Sharp, but the pricing is much closer, and the Sony is much dimmer. Either of these might be a good alternative, if you are really into sharp, and good black levels, but are bothered by the Rainbow effect, and therefore aren't shopping for a DLP projector.
Time to break it all down.
- Very bright projector in brightest modes (up to 1500 lumens, and more if willing to sacrifice a bit more color accuracy, etc.
- Good brightness in "best modes" except for the very best mode (285 lumens)
- Excellent black levels
- Very good shadow detail
- Extremely good color accuracy, out of the box
- Excellent sharpness - very impressive for a DLP projector
- Very Good Menus
- Five very well color balanced Preset modes
- The most accurate "Dynamic" (brightest mode) I have seen yet.
- Two component video inputs + a computer input that can be used as a third component video
- Attractive, smaller projector (shiny black finish)
- Darkchip3 performance at the higher end of Darkchip2 priced DLP projectors
- A great projector for the performance minded, considering the cost - in other words very good price performance
- Noisy! Perhaps the loudest home theater projector around, when in full lamp power mode, acceptable, but not great noise levels in low power (eco) mode
- Limited range zoom (1.15:1)- limits placement flexibility
- Small remote, with small buttons
- Lack of lens shift (also limits placement), typical of most DLP projectors under $3K
- Only one HDMI input (although that is typical, more projectors are sporting 2 lately)
- Projector needs to be unmounted to change lamp (common)
- Only a one year warranty
- One of the more expensive 720p projectors (at this time 1/07, almost all Darkchip 3 DLP's are more money, but this one is higher than most Darkchip2 or LCD projectors)
XV-Z3000 Typical Capabilities
- Menu functionality
- User Manual
- Lamp Life
- Control panel
This is a new favorite projector of mine. For those potential owners, who find that this projector will work in their room, I have a preference for the Sharp, over the Optoma HD7100, as it actually beats the Optoma at black levels and brightness. (but loses on lens zoom, and no lens shift).
With black level performance that exceeds any of the projectors currently selling under $2000, many looking for the best picture for movie watching will certainly find the XV-Z3000 worth the extra few hundreds, and pretty much holds its own against any of the lower cost projectors in overall brightness when needed.
The truly excellent color "out of the box" makes this one of the few projectors that you can enjoy almost to its fullest, without having to calibrate or "tweak". So the bottom line is: (continued below)
(Image above is from The Fifth Element - DVD)
Sharp has, in the form of the XV-Z3000, produced an excellent, small, 720p projector, with premium performance in terms of image quality. It should appeal to a great many, but especially those that are looking for the best image quality for movie watching, at this price point. The Sharp projector, though should be equally popular with those that not only want a great image on movies, but a projector bright enough to tackle modest to moderate ambient light when needed, such as sports, or typical HDTV viewing.
I offer an extreme "well done" to Sharp, and a Hot Product Award, too.
Now, if I can only get their new 1080p projector in for review soon!