Sharp XV-Z20000 1080p Home Theater Projector Review – General Performance

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.

Sharp XV-Z20000 Menus Slideshow

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.

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