Sharp XV-Z20000 and JVC DLA-RS1 1080p Home Theater Projectors Reviewed: Image Quality

Going back and forth between the XV-Z20000 and the DLA-RS1, in my own theater, I just can’t find a substantial difference in overall image quality.  Let’s say, that in this regard, the Sharp and JVC projectors are truly, direct competitors.

JVC DLA-RS1 and Sharp XV-Z20000 Black Levels and Shadow Detail.

Both offer superb black levels, and shadow detail.  After much comparison, and after both projectors have been adjusted, I have to give the slightest advantage to the RS1, but, and I will repeat many times, these two are so close, that when comparing them, watching one for a while, then switching to the other, I normally couldn’t tell which was which.  In fact, when I could tell them apart, it was often on the slight differences in skin tones, not black levels or shadow details.  Considering that further adjusting the Sharp (the RS1 has less fine tuning controls – but also, doesn’t seem to need them), you can get them closer and closer on color accuracy.  In other words, I might recognize slight differences, but tweak the Sharp a bit more, and it might look more like the RS1, so that skin tones differences would only be noticeable in a direct side by side comparison.

But, back to black levels, and shadow detail.  On close observation, especially comparing photos I have taken of both, using the same frames from some Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD movies, I have to give the slightest advantage to the RS1 on shadow detail.  Note, please, though, that I could not tell which was which on black levels and shadow detail, when watching one for 30 minutes and switching to the other.

JVC RS1 and Sharp Z20000 Projectors - Image Sharpness

If there is one area where the Sharp Z20000 has a visible (though slight) advantage over the JVC RS1, it is image sharpness.  While the JVC is average in terms of sharpness, among the 1080p projectors, the Sharp is, well, sharp!   You can clearly see the differences in these two extreme close-ups of the DTS logo, from the DTS Blu-Ray demo disk.

Is this a big thing? Afterall, when looking at a full screen, the difference is extremely slight.  That depends on you.  In my decision to purchase the RS1, let’s say that sharpness was one of my biggest concerns, with the RS1.  Now please understand; I sit closer to my screen, than the majority of home theater projector owners – just over 11 feet to a 128” screen, whereas most sit about that distance from a 100″ screen. To make matters worse, I happen to be lucky enough to have excellent eyesight (corrected to 20/15, in both eyes).   So, to say that I’m a stickler for sharpness, that would be a pretty accurate statement.   If I was sitting another 4 to 5 feet further back (where most would sit), I seriously doubt that I could tell the difference in sharpness (that would be about the equivalent of about 12-13 feet from a 100 inch screen).  And, if your corrected vision is not 20/20 or better, I doubt you would be able to discern a difference even sitting as close as I do.

That said, in purchasing the JVC, I knew that would be its one area of concern for me.  I’m pleased to report, however, that now having the JVC RS1 with over 400 hours of viewing time, and with my seating position, I find the sharpness very acceptable.  That doesn’t, of course, prevent me from wishing it was that little bit sharper that the Sharp XV-Z20000 provides.

So, consider your seating distance to screen size, and for that matter, how good your vision is (someone even with 20/20 at my distance/screen size, for all I know, might not be able to see any difference in sharpness between the two).  Of course both of these projectors put up a sharper, more detailed image than any 720p projector.  The difference between the RS1 and the XV-Z20000 is very slight – perhaps I should say inconsequential – compared to, say, the RS1 vs. the sharpest 720p projector on the market.

Bottom line on sharpness, while this is an advantage of the Sharp, I don’t see it as a deal breaker for those considering the RS1. It might be a deciding issue for perhaps, at most 5% of those choosing between these two.   If I can live and be satisfied with the RS1’s sharpness, I suspect just about everyone else can too.

JVC DLA-RS1 and Sharp XV-Z20000 General Image Quality

Tie!   There are differences, but when I watch 30 minutes of one projector, then switch and watch the same 30 minutes of content on the other one, I am barely aware of differences in overall image quality, let alone being able to pick a winner.  I love my JVC’s picture quality, but would be just as happy with the Sharp.

There is one differentiating factor that favors the Sharp.  Whereas the JVC has limited controls over picture quality (basic gamma, color temp, etc.), the Sharp has some serious features which, lets say, won’t give you a more perfect image than the JVC, but, in the right situations, may give you a more enjoyable viewing.

Brilliant Color, TI’s algorithms for enhancing the image, work very nicely on the Sharp.  It does seem to shift color temperature to the cool (blue) side, but the point is, it  adds “pop” to the image, at the expense of faithfulness of reproduction  I found this particularly nice when watching SD (standard definition) TV, and also with SD-DVDs.  The Brilliant Color puts in some of the “wow”, that the source content simply lacks with low def sources.  True, one can increase contrast, color saturation, etc, with the JVC, but Brilliant Color (and other controls) on the Sharp, give you sort of an instant, one button, “pizzazz on” capability.  I found that using such controls actually degrade the naturalness of the image, but sometimes, a little more “wow” even if less accurate, makes for a more enjoyable experience.  In other words, I do wish the JVC had a few similar features.

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