Sharp's newest 3D projector offers very good 2D picture quality, excellent 3D and comes at a reasonable price.
State-of-the-art 3D performance
Very good 2D picture quality
Good set-up flexibility
Useful 3D-to-2D setting on 3D glasses
No frame interpolation motion smoothing, for those who like such things
No 2D-to-3D conversion, for those who like such things
The Sharp XV-Z30000 uses DLP technology to produce its full HD image. It has a single 16.5mm Digital Micromirror Device. As we'll see shortly, that is good news for 3D lovers. We're happy to report that there was no appearance of the dreaded "rainbow effect" with this projector. Sharp has got that one well and truly solved.
Sharp hasn't bothered with the lowest quality analog inputs (composite and S-Video), but it has retained component video and a VGA input. Generally, you'll stick with one of the two HDMI inputs; Ethernet and RS-232C are fitted for system integration purposes, and there is a 12-volt trigger output.
The unit looks reasonably stylish, after the distinctly business style (complete with carry handles!) of previous models.
Earlier Sharp projectors have been limited in their set-up flexibility. This one is the opposite. It has a wide zoom range of 2:1, so you have a lot of discretion about how far the projector should be from the screen. It also has both horizontal and vertical lens shift. All these and the focus are controlled by servo motors, so you change settings using the remote control, which can be quite convenient.
The 2D image was smooth and reasonably sharp. Not quite as bleedingly sharp, it seemed to us, as the previous, ahem, Sharp model (the XV-Z17000). However, we think that the more flexible optics may have taken the edge off very slightly, especially as in our office the lens shift had to be at its maximum deflection. To be clear, this projector was about as sharp as the others, but perhaps a touch less than its optically inflexible predecessor.
Colour performance was excellent. Nicely natural and with plenty of adjustment range if you want to tweak things, but the standard picture settings gave good results without adjustment. Black levels were not the deepest on the market, but not far off it either. In any case, they were smooth and satisfyingly deep. When a movie faded to black, the results were good. If there was anything bright on the screen, then the blacks seemed beautifully deep.
Many projectors have a frame interpolation motion-smoothing system (ie, they invent one or more frames between each pair of incoming signal frames, based on the one before and the one after) to reduce or eliminate picture judder. The Sharp XV-Z30000 doesn't have this.
Despite that, judder didn't seem much of an issue with this projector. It was there on scenes with poor cinematography, but not too bad. Its absence saved us the trouble of having to switch it off.
Here's where this projector comes into its own. We hesitate to say that its 3D performance was perfect, but it is so close that it may as well be.
The reason? A complete absence of crosstalk. The reason for that? Our theory is that it's because of DLP's fast switching times. The left and right eye content is delivered sequentially, so timing is all important. Alternative technologies can completely eliminate crosstalk only by blanking both eyes for a sufficient period to cover the slow transition in image, resulting in a dark picture.
Well, in addition to the lack of 3D ghosts, this one was also bright — utterly impressive.
The projector supports standard 3D — frame packed from Blu-ray 3D, and side by side and top and bottom from broadcast and pay TV — but doesn't have a 2D to 3D converter. No great loss, we say.
The active 3D glasses run on cheap button cells and also have a 2D mode. This sets them so that both eyes see only the left eye image, so someone can watch in 2D at the same time as someone else is watching in 3D. Good for those who can't stand 3D.
There are downsides, though. The projector's 3D transmitter is a separate unit, and it has to be placed at the front of the room (about 10 metres of cable is provided). Yet more wire to deal with, though it doesn't interfere in any way with other remote controls. For this level of 3D performance, I'd happily put up with that.
The Sharp XV-Z30000 is a pretty good all-round projector at a reasonable price, and simply state-of-the-art 3D.