The new Sharp XV-Z17000 3D DLP projector could very easily be mistaken for its 2D little brother, the XV-Z15000, which we looked at a couple of years ago. Slim and trim, the only major difference between the two is the 17000’s front panel, which sports an obligatory 3D logo along with a slight protuberance on the left side, which houses an array of sixteen LEDs that generate the infrared 3D synchronization pulses.
The infrared LED array points forward to the screen, and the fact that there are sixteen LEDs suggests sufficient IR oomph to accommodate large screens and comparably large seating areas.
Consider this projector if: you’re looking for a relatively affordable 3D DLP 1080p projector
Look elsewhere if: you need installation flexibility, as the XV-Z17000 doesn’t feature lens shift, which pretty much relegates it to ceiling mount-only installations. You can forget about tabletop or shelf mounting at the rear of the room, as the fixed offset means that the projector must be mounted forward and lower than the screen’s bottom edge.
• Overall picture quality (HD): 9
• Features: 6
• Connectivity: 7
• User interface: 6
• Value: 6
3D and DLP were made for each other, as the ability of the Texas Instruments’ DMD imaging device to quickly refresh the screen (thousands of times per second) allows for high stereoscopic separation, especially in the home version which uses active shutter glasses that provide much better left/right separation than the cheap passive polarized glasses doled out in commercial 3D movie theaters.
Unlike the JVC DLA-X3 3D LCoS projector we recently tested, which requires an external 3D IR sync blaster that’s intended to be positioned facing towards the viewing area, the Sharp’s array of sixteen 3D IR sync LEDs on the front panel have sufficient strength for the signal to bounce off the screen and diverge over quite a wide viewing area, even covering locations that are a ways offside and/or quite a distance from the screen.
What’s missing from the Sharp, compared to other 2D and 3D projectors in its price range, is any form of lens shift. The unit features the same fixed vertical offset as its 2D sibling, which pretty much relegates the XV-Z17000 to ceiling mount installations. The offset is sufficient to preclude tabletop mounting behind the prime seating position or placement on a shelf at the back of the room. What’s also missing are motorized zoom and focus, and the manual zoom and focus rings are on the touchy side, with rather course granularity.
Also, the Sharp doesn’t include 2D-3D upconversion, which is a feature that’s available on many 3D flat panel TVs. It does support top-bottom and side-by-side 3D signal formats, for compatibility with 3D television content. Within the 3D menu, there’s a 3D Effect function that dials up or down the intensity of the 3D experience. At the minimum setting, the 3D effect all but disappears, while the maximum 3D setting might have some viewers reaching for the barf bag.
The Sharp doesn’t have anamorphic screen options, which are needed for either a movable or fixed anamorphic external lens setup such as the popular Panamorph in order to view “scope” widescreen movies on a 21:9 (2.35:1) projection screen without black bars above and below the image. That’s a curious omission, as the cost of implementing those features in a projector is comparably negligible, and most home theater HD projectors come with one or both of them these days.
Two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses are included with the projector, which are powered by CR2032 button batteries that are easily available at around $2~$3 a pop, and Sharp claims an estimated battery life of 75 hours, which is about par for the course. They don’t yet offer optional rechargeable 3D glasses, but additional battery-powered versions list for $150.
There are four HD-compatible inputs, including two HDMI ports, a component video input and an RGB PC input that can accept up to full HD 1920x1080 signals. The RGB PC input can also serve as a second component input, but a breakout cable or adapter will be needed. An S-video input and a composite video input round out the video connectivity options. There’s also an RS-232C serial port for connection to an external automated control system.
On Screen Display
No complaints here, as the Sharp’s OSD is logically laid out and features a mix of text and colorful icons, and can be repositioned at various locations on the screen. During adjustments, the OSD stays up long enough for critical measurements, and the slider bar adjustments feature numerical indicators.