What’s the best tech for 3D? I’ll be considering this question as we look at the Sharp XV-Z17000 home theatre projector, the first from that company to support 3D.
And to get right down to it, the DLP technology used in this Sharp projector seems to be one of the very best techs presently available for 3D.
This is the latest in Sharp’s line of XV projectors (I remember reviewing the XV-Z9000 some years ago!). And they have been pretty highly regarded, most recently thanks to their fine DLP implementation and their dual irises.
This projector is a single chip unit which, obviously, offers the full 1,920 by 1,080 pixels of resolution. This is mounted in an optical engine which is rather limited in the way of adjustments compared to the 2x zoom models presently proliferating. Indeed, it has no lens shift function and the zoom range is just 1.15:1.
There is the usual keystone adjustment, plus some additional attitude-correcting adjustments, but these necessarily distort the picture and reduce the number of available pixels, so they simply should not be used in any kind of permanent setting. Instead, time should be taken to get the room geometry right.
One other consideration for installation: the four mounting points on the base are quite close together. Some ‘universal’ ceiling mounts may have trouble. I just barely managed to get mine to attach to it.
How did it go?
This projector was the first 3D display I’ve seen that uses DLP to produce an image. It’s hard to say whether it was Sharp’s particular implementation. Or whether it is a particular attribute of DLP technology, but as far as 3D went, this is a killer projector.
The infra-red transmitter is in the body of the projector, and has sufficient power to bounce from the projection screen back to the eyewear. And that’s with the ‘Normal’ setting. If it doesn’t work reliably, there is a setting to put this at ‘High’.
Now, crosstalk isn’t much of a problem with live action content, such as Saw 3D or Piranha 3D, both of which I checked out with this projector. Even on relatively poor displays (when it comes to crosstalk), the real photography doesn’t lend itself to the breakthrough of contrasting elements from the other eye. Computer animation, though, is the killer.
So I went to my favourite clips straight away of dark objects over light backgrounds, and light objects over dark backgrounds. In neither case was there any visible crosstalk at all. This was the first 3D device I have seen capable of this performance.
As a consequence, the 3D effect really popped, with clearly discernible depth that was stable and clean.
I spent quite a bit of time jumping from disc to disc, place to place, checking bits of Monster House, Monsters vs Aliens, Despicable Me, and the three underwater documentaries in Universal’s IMAX Triple Pack. And I was left with nothing new to report: just top notch 3D.
So I got to thinking about why DLP should be so good compared to the other techs. The two likely culprits for crosstalk would be either leakage of an image through a supposedly opaque liquid crystal shutter, or some timing mismatch.
Well, the Sharp projector uses glasses with liquid crystal shutters. Indeed, you get two sets in the box.
Their button-cell batteries are claimed to be good for 75 hours of operation. There’s no reason to think that Sharp has a special capability to create LC shutters that are more opaque than those in other brands’ glasses. So it’s probably timing.
This makes sense. One thing we know for certain is that DLP projectors switch light on and off extremely quickly. There is none of the slow-ish grey-to-grey switching times of LCD panels. Plasma displays should be just about as fast, but for reasons which remain unclear the plasma TVs I’ve used so far have been very good on dark-on-light-background content, but poor on light-on-dark-background content.
Whatever the reason for this projector’s superb crosstalk rejection, the result was welcome and excellent.
Conveniently the projector has a 3D setting key right on the remote control, which can be used to select the side-by-side 3D mode. This is for broadcast 3D – and such new content as the 2010 AFL Grand Final Draw 3D Blu-ray (for those unfamiliar with this match, this was a ‘draw’ as in tie, a very rare event for AFL). This format sets the left and right eye images in the one frame side by side. The projector breaks the picture in half and rescales both halves to full screen size, then shows them in the proper sequence to produce the 3D effect.
This also was highly effective, especially with the Grand Final Draw disc with its high bitrate MPEG4 AVC encoding.
The 2D picture was good, in the sense of delivering everything you want, as do quite a few other reasonably priced projectors. But this was only after a bit of calibration. I didn’t like the defaults at all, with their high brightness output and a surprisingly pumping automatic dynamic iris. I enjoyed watching high quality content with the auto-iris switched off, the manual iris switched to ‘High Contrast’ rather than ‘High Brightness’, and with the lamp set to ‘Eco’.
This setting also reduces the fan speed, making the projector very quiet, and extends the lamp life to 3,000 hours.
The colours were solid. It produced no rainbow effect. The automatic deinterlacing was very good, if not perfect. I’d be inclined to choose source devices with high quality, manually controllable progressive scan conversion, and feed the projector with progressive video.
I guess I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on another – or maybe a couple – 3D DLP projector to see whether it is uniquely Sharp or DLP that makes this projector so good for the new format.
Whatever the reason, this projector offers very good 2D performance and stand-out 3D performance right now, at a very reasonable price.Stephen Dawson