The performance of the XV-Z2000 is better than respectable. It does have a few shortcomings, but given its entrylevel price this should come as no surprise. I immediately noticed the biggest performance flaw, which is video processing that lacks the 3-2 pulldown detection and compensation necessary for properly deinterlacing film-based material. On any filmbased DVDs I watched at 480i I saw telltale stairstep jaggies along diagonal lines and other related motion artifacts in the image, which I found quite distracting.
Of course, for DVD a good progressive- scan player will solve this problem, and with HDTV sources it is not an issue, either. That’s fine for those two high-resolution sources. However, if you, like a lot of folks out there, watch a significant amount of standard-definition video—such as offair broadcasts or standard-definition cable or satellite—the deinterlacing problem will likely become an unpleasant issue on a big-screen display like this. Why? The main reason is that a large amount of primetime television is still shot on film for archive purposes. This means the evening news or your favorite sitcom are likely film-based programs. The only way to solve the problem would be to invest in an outboard video processor with 3-2 pulldown, which is an option, albeit one that will have a significant impact on your wallet, negating some of the bargain- appeal of this projector.
The DVD player I used for my evaluation is an older Panasonic DVDRP91. Seabiscuit, a particularly lushlooking movie transfer, showed excellent detail, color saturation, and natural skin tones. The Empire Strikes Back on DVD looked almost as good. Before calibrating the unit I determined that the 7500K preset color temperature was the closest to D6500, and the GAMMA 1 setting gave me the slowest (best) rise from black to white. The grayscale prior to calibration was actually pretty impressive, and the black-level performance of this budget projector left only a little to be desired. Although the projector does produce deep inky blacks, there is a significant amount of low-level noise or dithering going on just above video black, which I suspect is caused by the internal video processing.
The color decoding on the Z2000 is not perfect, pushing red a bit, which gives a slight sunburned look to flesh tones. This is a minor complaint though, as the push wasn’t nearly as bad as many projectors I have tested. The lens on the projector does exhibit some chromatic aberration, which shows up as slight blue and red fringing on white lines. A grid of horizontal and vertical white lines from a crosshatch pattern looks rather like a CRT projector that’s slightly out of convergence. (If you look at scrolling white credits at the end of a movie you will see it there as well.) That said, and considering what superior-grade lenses cost, this fringing is more than understandable. I’ve seen worse on much more expensive DLP projectors.
As of this writing a valid compari- son for this Sharp projector is the Infocus 7205, also an HD2+ singlechip DLP. It carries a list price of $5000, but also includes superior video processing with 3-2 pulldown, better color decoding, and a superior lens with less chromatic aberration. To my mind it is well worth the extra $1000, if you can afford it.
After doing a full ISF calibration on the projector I watched some of my favorite reference DVDs, and HDTV material from my Time Warner Cable system. I wanted to run the HD through the DVI input, but found that when I fed 1080i HD from both my Sencore VP403 HDTV signal generator and my TimeWarner-supplied Pioneer cable box via DVI the signal was converted to 540p, which looked terrible. I hooked up the HDTV feed to the component-video input instead.
On bright HD material, the XVZ2000 really shines. Channels like DiscoveryHD, HDNet, and PBS channel 13 (which produced most of its material in HD video) looked mostly excellent, with awesome detail and excellent color saturation. Conversely, channels like HDNet Movies, which show film-based material in HD, didn’t look as good. The film-based HDTV material was a lot noisier, particularly in darker scenes. Again I attribute this mainly to the projector’s video processing, which is converting 1080i material to the projector’s native 1280x720 resolution.
The old adage that “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply to the XVZ2000. For what this projector costs you get a lot of performance. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But $4499 is currently the best price you will find on an HD2+ single-chip DLP projector. I’ve seen nothing in front projection at $4k that can hold a candle to this Sharp.