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Sharp XV-Z17000 3D Projector - A First Look Review

The Sharp XV-Z17000 looks like it's predecessor

The Sharp XV-Z17000 looks like it's predecessor

Wow, a practical 1080p home theater projector.  I set the Sharp XV-Z17000 down on the table in my theater, plugged it in, connected it to my PS3, and DirecTV box, and dropped in Alice In Wonderland in Blu-ray 3D. Eureka!   It works - in "living" 3D.   My PS3, and the disk recognized the projector as a Blu-ray 3D device, and everything fired right up. So, what have we here?  The XV-Z17000 projector from Sharp is essentially a slightly updated (overall) version with 3D, of the existing XV-Z15000 which has been around more than a year, and which is a very nice home theater projector (Hot Product Award), that sells for about $2000 and has an MSRP of $2495. If there is an "unfortunately", it's the price.  The Sharp XV-Z17000 has an MSRP of $4995, which is double that of the older 2D projector.   This projector is just about to start shipping (not quite yet, as of this writing), so I cannot make any determination as to what the street price will be initially.  I imagine the Sharp Z17000 could sell for close to the MSRP, or, considering that the street discount on the older projector tends to be around 20%, then the same would have the Sharp XV-Z17000 available for close to $4000. Either way, this is the lowest MSRP 3D 1080p projector we've seen to date, although the JVC DLA-RS40 which is starting to ship, is also $4995.   We will be reviewing that projector as well, but probably at least a month out, as JVC is now sending an RS60 as the first one we get for review. Ahh, let's stay on target here, which is the Sharp XV-Z17000 projector. I won't discuss 3D picture quality but to say, sure, there's a little crosstalk, and other minor artifacts, but I have yet, including the $15,000 LG CF3D, or the $6000 Lightspeed Modulator to see a truly clean 3D image.  That is to say, for those of us playing with home theater projectors 5, 7, 10 years ago, we were used to all kinds of minor noise types and artifacts.  Over the years, the processing has gotten cleaner and cleaner, to the point that today's basic $2000 home theater projectors probably produce a cleaner overall image than most of the very expensive projectors only a handful of years before. Most likely it will take the 3D projector industry a couple of years to start refining the 3D aspects and deliver a truly clean 3D image. But, the Sharp projector is very watchable.  I watched about an hour of Alice (forced my wife to watch some as well), then we switched to an hour long 3D program from the Universe series from TV, now shipping on Blu-ray 3D.  The solar system visuals in 3D were nothing less than stunning. Again, not perfect, but definitely knock your socks off type of "wow" material. Finally, I put on Monster House in 3D, afterall, probably more than half of all 3D movie titles right now are animations.   That was fun too. I should note, my theater still has a temporary screen - a 100 inch diagonal 16:9 Elite HC gray surface.   I don't think it's ideal for even active glasses 3D such as the Sharp.  I will be trying out the projector on several other screens, including the Carada Brilliant White, and the Da-lite 3D surface.  If the Stewart silver 3D screen arrives on time, that one too (it should be here before Superbowl). Yes, the 3D looks pretty good, but what about overall? Dim!   I started in Movie 1 mode, with Alice.  Forget that idea.  Movie 1 mode is dim.  Period.  The Sharp has never been a particularly bright projector especially in "best" mode, in fact the opposite.  The older model measured just barely 300 lumens in "best" mode, but a much more respectable 1100 lumens at its brightest. In Movie 1 mode, the projector was unwatchable - too dim on Alice, on the dark scenes, to be acceptable.  Now, Movie 1 has the manual iris stopped down for max contrast, and the dynamic iris feature off. Next I switched to Dynamic mode.  Oh what a joy by comparison.  Alice was now definitely reasonably bright.  I won't say that some extra brightness wouldn't have been a little better, but then my screen isn't as bright as a normal white surface. A better match in a screen would help. In other words, I'll go out on a limb to say that in brightest mode, the Sharp does have the muscle to fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen with 3D content.  (Though not a lot to spare).  Forget having a nice, really, really, bright image for sports, or Discovery HD type 3D content, but if you have your room lighting control, you do get a good 3D showing! Next I tried Movie 2, which defaults to dynamic iris on, manual iris maximum open (brightest).  That was still down from brightest mode, but a huge jump from Movie 1.  When Mike gets done calibrating a best mode based on Movie 2, we'll see how "bright enough" it is.  Let's say that probably you'll view in "brightest" mode for 3D, for the max lumens, but for some viewing, or on a smaller screen, Movie 2 just might do the trick. The experience:    Sorry to many of you.  I am a big 3D fan.  I don't call for 3D everything, but I have been enjoying 3D in the theaters and here at home.  I don't care if 95% of what I watch is 2D, 3D, to me, is often truly worth watching.  I found the Universe programming in 3D to be right up my alley.  And I'm just about to start watching some sports in 3D! I'll discuss more, in the full review, who I think, of  different types of people, with different enthusiasms for 3D, and with different viewing habits, and different budgets might consider this XV-Z17000, as a good move now, who should wait, and who might find other 3D alternatives better today. Let's just say that for the first time I'm looking at $4000 - $5000 for a 1080p 3D projector that is pretty capable.  Yes, in a year, 3D pictures will probably be a bit cleaner (including less crosstalk) but I'm figuring two years probably to get to a clean approaching what us enthusiasts have been used to,  the last 2-3 years with 2D projection. I'm well familiar with the performance of the basic XV-Z15000, and have always liked it among the lower cost ultra-high contrast projectors, though it never had the brightness in best modes to handle my larger 128" screen. Considering all of that, this Sharp XV-Z17000 may be one of only a small handful of 1080p 3D projectors being rolled out, that can, a) get the job done, in 3D - at a fairly reasonable price.  (A price though that will get a lot more reasonable in a couple of years, though as more folks start buying 3D). Mike should be calibrating the Sharp 3D projector tonight, so I'll be back viewing it again tomorrow afternoon.  I'll be doing some 2D viewing as well, but I expect that to be very much like the older projector, so not too much new to support there. Let me say this - after about 5 hours of total viewing last night, all but minutes, in 3D, this Sharp Z17000 looks to be viable for those wanting a respectable image in 3D without going and spending a lot more, for say the Sony 90ES, the LG, or the higher end JVCs. I look forward to completing this review, and trying to build out a method for you all to figure out if 3D is for you, or rather, when 3D will be for you. BTW my wife passed the LCD shutter glasses test.  She wasn't initially happy, but she got used to them.  I should note, they are not the slickest, or the lightest of the 3D shutter glasses out there.  The projector, I should note, came with two pair of active shutter glasses, as part of the price. Finally, since I failed to mention this above.  This Sharp XV-Z17000 projector is a Sample, definitely not production, though physically it's well finished since it's built on the year and a half old Z15000 projector design. For those of you who want to better familiarize yourself with the other aspects of the Z17000, here's a link to the review of the older, 2D, Z15000 projector. 3D - at home - that works!  In 1080p!  Blu-Ray 3D compatible!  $4995.  Definitely doable for those of us with the budget.   Stay tuned!  -art

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