Sharp XV-Z30000 Home Theater Projector Review
Sharp's new XV-Z30000 home theater projector has a manufacturer-suggested list price of $4999, however this is a significant range in prices out there. Primarily sold through local installing dealers, the XV-Z30000 is best suited for the dedicated home theater, and is a formidible competitor. The Z30000 uses DLP technology, and has dual irises for improved black level performance, The XV-Z30000 projector is fully 3D compatible, and comes with two pair of 3D active glasses, and an emitter. It's pretty cool looking too! -art
8-19-2012 - Art Feierman
Sharp XV-Z30000 Projector Overview
The new Sharp XV-Z30000 home theater projector is more than just an unusual looking home theater projector with its rounded front. The Sharp XV-Z30000 is Sharp's 2nd 3D capable home projector. The first one, their XV-Z17000 was, in reality the first reasonable 3D capable 1080p home theater projector available in the US, when released almost two and a half years ago.
Sharp has had a long time to create this higher performance projector. There are improvements in picture quality, for sure, however, this XV-Z30000 projector is also more feature laden and automated, including a wide range zoom lens with power zoom, lens shift and focus, allowing for a "lens memory" setup for those desiring to use a wide - "cinemascope" shaped screen instead of the traditional 16:9 standard screen. That compares with a limited 1.2:1 zoom, no lens shift, and all manual on the older Z17000. More on the lens, below in "special features".
In the following pages, we will explore this Sharp projector, taking a tour of the projector and remote, then discussing image quality, including how the Sharp XV-Z30000 stacks up in terms of "out of the box" performance, and how it looks after a grayscale calibration. We look not just at color and skin tones, but also black level performance and handling of dark shadow details. On the Image Quality page, we will also consider this projector for non-movie viewing such as sports, and HDTV in general.
This is a reasonably well endowed projector. The Sharp XV-Z30000 does, however, lack CFI - creative frame interpolation, often referred to as smooth motion. More below on this.
Overall, this Sharp XV-Z30000 is a very nice single chip DLP home theater projector. Although there are some trade-offs, we find it most similar to the Mitsubishi HC7800D, and the old Optoma HD8300, both DLPs. Whereas we liked the Mitsubishi enough to give it a Special Interest Award, I do like this Sharp even better, and appropriately have given it one of our Hot Product awards.
Time to take a close look at the Sharp XV-Z30000.
Sharp XV-Z30000 Projector Highlights
- 3D capable, includes supporting both 720 and 1080i/1080p 3D, including Blu-ray 3D and all DirecTV 3D content we could try
- Very interesting physical design - pretty cool
- Good color controls - calibrates well
- Three year warranty - better than most
- Saved Memory feature saves color mode and lens settings
- Sold primarily though authorized local dealers
- Rather typical in overall brightness
- Rich DLP look and feel to the image
Specs for Sharp XV-Z30000
MAP: $4999, street price as of 3/1/13: $2,000 +/-
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 1600 lumens, conservatively measured: 532 lumens in "best" mode, 1018 in "brightest" after "quick cal"
Zoom Lens ratio: 2:1 motorized zoom and focus
Lens shift: Vertical (motorized!)
Lamp life: 5000 hours in eco mode, 2000 hours at full power
Weight: 16.1 lbs. (7.2 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor
View full specifications: Sharp XV-Z30000 Projector
Sharp XV-Z30000 Special Features
XV-Z30000 Lamp Life
The Sharp XV-Z30000's lamp life is rated 5,000 hours in low power mode. That's about as good as it gets with home theater projectors.
The Z30000, however is only rated a standard 2000 hours at full power. That's what we have called average until recently, but now the average at full power is a bit higher. Bottom line on lamp life: If you can run the Z30000 mostly in low power (eco-mode), you will have a significantly quieter projector and a very low cost of operation. At full power, though, all of the competition claims to get at least the same 2000 hour lamp life, and some claim twice the hours, which means those others will have lower long term costs.
Sharp 2:1 Zoom Lens
This is a real departure. The older Sharp's lens setup was manual with minimal zoom range. Now we have a very nice motorized zoom lens with a full 2:1 ratio - about as good as it gets in placement flexibility. Add to that, motorized focus and motorized lens shift, and then add some firmware, and you have:
Sharp XV-Z30000 Lens Memory
Like several other projectors, including Panasonic and JVC, this Sharp XV-Z30000 can save your lens settings. In fact when you do a memory save with the Z30000, it saves lens settings, color mode, aspect ratio and much more.
As a result, I have the Sharp XV-Z30000 Memory 1 set for viewing 2.35:1 movie on my 2.35:1 aspect ratio Stewart screen, filling 124" diagonal. When I select Memory 1, the projector switches to Movie 1 mode with my settings. When I switch to Memory 2 (yes you can assign names to the memories), I've set that up for 16:9, Stage color mode, and filling the screen top to bottom (about 98" diagonal). In other words, Memory 1 for Movie viewing, Memory 2 for max brightness for sports viewing. Nice!
XV-Z30000 Projector - 3D Performance
The Sharp XV-Z30000 is fully 3D capable. There is an emitter which plugs into the rear of the projector, via a very long thin cable. I placed the emitter on top of my projector pointing to the screen. Glasses worked fine from pretty much everywhere in my roughly 22 foot deep theater, even with the signal bouncing off the screen. Sharp's 3D glasses I found to be rather comfortable, and they fit nicely over my glasses. I claim a large head, and they aren't tight. These same glasses might be loose though on an 8 or 10 year old?
Sharp's 3D glasses run on a lithium battery (watch style...) which they say will last 75 hours before you need a new battery. 75 hours is an awful lot of 3D viewing relative to the amount of 3D content out there vs. 2D content. Few I would expect, would need to change the battery out in less than a year, and for many, perhaps years.
I really only spent a few hours 3D viewing using the Z30000. One movie, some segments of others and some "recorded" sports and some Guitar Center concerts off of DirecTV.
3D image quality itself was very good, as expected. DLP's tend to produce the cleanest 3D at this point in time, as they are essentially crosstalk free on their end. Nor was color accuracy an issue. I was fine watching some Tahiti 3D, and a lot of Hugo in 3D, as far as overall picture.
My issues were when trying to watch some X Games and other sports in 3D, where at about 100" diagonal with my 1.3 gain screen, I wasn't at all able to enjoy 3D with the amounts of ambient light I prefer on, in my room, for viewing sports with friends. I also found movies like Alice and Tron to be a bit too dim for my taste at that size (with the room darkened).
All that makes the Sharp XV-Z30000 a lot like the vast majority of the 3D capable projectors out there over $2000 in terms of probably not being bright enough at 3D for those really into 3D. For the much larger (based on emails I receive) groups of folks who aren't interested in 3D, or are only casually interested ("I figure I'll play around with some 3D, but it's not really important"), which is to say, most folks, this Sharp projector's 3D is just fine. There are very few projectors that can claim any decent brightness in 3D The Panasonic and Epson 3D capable projectors are dramatically brighter at 3D. The BenQ W7000 is the only affordable DLP I can think of that's significantly brighter - almost 80% compared to the Sharp even if the BenQ's not as bright as those LCD projectors. When it comes to brightness, most 3D projectors out there are like the Sharp, with about 1000 - 1200 lumens available, and that's not going to get you solid bright 3D, except on screens smaller than 100" diagonal, unless you have a real high gain screen.
Some of you (assuming properly positioning of the projector) might choose to have a 100" or even 110" diagonal screen for 2D, but use the motorized zoom to make a much smaller image - say 70" diagonal for 3D. The 2:1 zoom will allow that. You can even use the Lens Memory feature. A 70" image would give you the same brightness as a projector twice as bright on a 100" screen. Got it?
Bottom line on 3D: The Sharp XV-Z30000 has really fine looking 3D performance, but not for a larger screen. In that regard, figure it's going to be similar in brightness to several other projectors in the price range; the JVC X30/RS45 and Sony VPL-HW30ES for example. It should prove a little brighter than the Mitsubishi HC7800D, while on the other hand, the Panasonic and Epson 3D projectors are actually rather bright in 3D, and most suitable for those who really are into 3D.
Sharp XV-Z30000 Projector: 2D to 3D conversion
If this Z30000 allows you to convert 2D content to watch in 3D, I haven't found the trick yet. I do not think it's one of this Sharp's tricks!
That's perfectly OK by me. I'm a 3D fan, but have yet to enjoy any 2D to 3D on the fly conversion by a projector. The loss of brightness in exchange for "far less than perfect" 3D doesn't make sense to me. The one place I think it can be fun though if you have that ability is to view your own family videos in simulated 3D. Of course you can buy an external box to do that if it really means that much to you.
XV-Z30000 Creative Frame Interpolation - or rather: Lack thereof
That's right, no CFI. CFI has really become rather a standard feature on most over $2000 projectors, so not seeing it on the Z30000 really did catch me by surprise. As mentioned elsewhere, CFI's a nice feature which can smooth out motion a bit. We won't get into much detail here (look for our forthcoming Projector Reviews TV segment on CFI). I use CFI almost exclusively for sports viewing. Most enthusiasts would not consider using CFI on a movie, as it so dramatically can change the "director's intent". That said, I find that most "kids" - teenagers, college kids, of my acquaintance, don't seem to care one way or another.
Sharp, I'm pretty sure, sees the XV-Z30000 as a projector, first and foremost for viewing movie content, and in a proper room. This is not your family room projector, that excels in having tons of lumens for sports and ambient lighting. As such, having CFI is not very important to this projector's success, or to Sharp owners appreciating the Z30000. I agree.
To me CFI is a nice feature to have, but not a particularly important one, and for that matter, not important at all, to most. I wouldn't lose 10 minutes sleep over not having CFI, although it may matter a lot more to a few of you.
Let's now take a close look at how the XV-Z30000 projector is laid out.