Sharp XV-Z10000 DLP Projector Reviewed

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The world is getting smaller. Nowadays, you can commute to work listening to your pocket-sized MP3 player with your wireless PDA in hand and a USB hard drive dangling on your key chain. What are you driving? A Mini Cooper, of course. We chuckle when we see those unwieldy VHS camcorders of old, and we scoff at the bulky cell phones used throughout the '80s. In a product landscape where smaller is better, one is inclined to ask the question: does size really matter? Measuring almost 19 inches across and weighing in at a husky 21 pounds, the Sharp XVZ10000 has the answer for you.

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• Read more top performing DLP, D-ILA and LED projector reviews here
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The XV-Z10000 is the heir of the hugely popular, very well regarded XV-Z9000. As George Lucas could undoubtedly tell you, topping greatness is no easy task. Sharp appears to have done so with the XVZ10000. Sporting a Texas Instruments HD2 "Mustang" DLP chip, a new High Contrast/High Brightness option and DVI compatibility, the XVZ1000G delivers the projection performance that lesser machines strive for.

Unique Features
Forgoing the usual Faroudja DCDi approach, the XV-Z10000 features excellent scaling and deinterlacing, thanks to Sharp's own CV-IC circuitry. Video signals get converted to the native resolution of the projector (1280 x 720). The result of this process is for the most part marvelous, but it's a two-edged sword. Due to the high resolution of this projector, good source material looks great, but inferior material can look downright terrible.

Also unique is Sharp's handy vertical lens shift control. This wheel adjustment allows you to move the projected image up and down on the screen, thus making setup a snap and minimizing the headaches involved with ceiling- mounting any projector. This is different from digital keystone correction (also available here), in that it purely controls vertical image placement and there is no picture degradation. I said it when I reviewed Sharp's Theago, and I'll say it again here: all projectors should have this invaluable feature.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
With a name like XV-Z10000, it should be no surprise that everything about this projector is unapologetically big. The entire time I had it hooked up, I couldn't help but think of what Shrek says upon seeing Lord Farquad's castle for the first time, "Do you think he's compensating for something?" But fear not, because at the end of the day, a big projector just means
a big picture and plenty of big screen thrills.

Though it can be used as a tabletop unit, this projector was clearly designed for permanent, ceiling-mounted installations. The XVZ10000 has a full complement of buttons on the projector itself, but they're hidden beneath a panel, making everyday use impractical. Thankfully, the supplied remote control has an excellent touch and is fully backlit. My only gripe here is that each button is stenciled with a cryptic icon representing its function. In the dark, I often found it difficult to remember what each icon meant. I would prefer to see the text on the button instead. While we're talking about buttons, there is one button on the XV-Z10000 that deserves some special attention.

Below the lens on the front of the unit you will find a retractable button labeled "High Brightness/High Contrast Control." This button is used to control light output from the projector. For dark environments and movie watching, you'll want to leave this in the default position, High Contrast Mode. However, if you're watching a sporting event or you'd like to leave some lights on, you can engage High Brightness Mode for additional light output. I did find it disappointing that this control was only located on the projector and not on the remote, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers. One word of caution when using High Brightness Mode: more light output means more strain on the lamp. You'll probably find yourself replacing it in less time than the 2,000 hours it's rated for. To get the most out of your lamp, leave the unit in High Contrast Mode and go one step further by engaging the "Power Save" function in the Options menu. Though Power Save reduces brightness by an additional 20%, light output is still more than sufficient for watching movies on screens smaller than 100 inches.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing Sharp's DT-200 Theago. I was very impressed with the presentation and robustness of its on-screen menu system. The same is true here. Practically everything about the image, from gamma levels to color temperature, is adjustable and easy to find. Settings can be changed without the menu taking up the entire screen. Put another way, the XV-Z10000's onscreen menus are the best I have ever seen.

The unit I received for testing was not brand new and picture settings appeared to have been tweaked for optimum performance. After reverting the settings to their factory defaults, I was amazed at the fact that the "out of the box" picture still looked pretty fantastic. Although I always recommend a thorough color and grayscale calibration by a trained professional, it's nice to know that if you live in an area where that's not convenient, you're still in good shape with the XV-Z10000.

Read The Final Take on Page 2

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