Of course, one would expect such achievements from a typical $5K projector. I really wanted to know if 3D functionality would be an additional feature that takes the XV-Z17000 to greater heights or merely exist as a seldom-used setting. Although I did not have a wealth of content to explore, I was pleasantly surprised to conclude the former.
Without satellite or cable 3D content at my disposal, I looked at two Blu-ray 3D discs, AIX Records’ Goldberg Variations Acoustica and Universal’s Despicable Me, which provided me real-world and animated perspectives.
Activating 3D requires no more than pressing a 3D on/off button on the remote and a power button on the glasses. Because the technology’s potential ill effects are well documented, I like that Sharp acknowledges this within its on-screen message as you make the switch: “Changed to 3D mode. Put on 3D glasses and press the power button on the glasses. If you are in bad physical condition or feel uncomfortable watching [the] 3D picture, please stop watching [the] projector.”
I watched the Goldberg disc first, an intimate live music recording which I’d also seen demoed on a flat-panel 3D TV. The first thing I looked for was crosstalk, or the double-image-like blurriness that can occur, which it had near the edges of the flat-panel display. I didn’t notice any with the Sharp unit, and that remained so on Despicable Me.
The glasses felt comfortable enough, and the 3D effect added nice depth to some camera angles. It convincingly rendered the space on stage for details like the various microphones’ placement in front of the musicians and the guitarist’s proximity to the equipment rack behind him. Also, clarity became enhanced in certain aspects, such as how much one of the guitarists’ shirt collars extended from his skin, the drummer’s hands moving behind his hanging chimes, and the mass of electrical outlets and wires on the floor between guitarists.
In some respects, the “cleanness” of the image is an aspect of 3D that has been a detriment for me. On every demo I’ve seen, implementing the effect adds a “glassy,” almost fake look to the image, and particularly on real-world content it can feel like an “effect” rather than a natural viewing element — though we do look at life in 3D, when it comes to movies and TV our eyes have been trained to calculate the depth of those 2D images.
Overall, though, that’s a minor personal preference, and one that I managed to overlook relative to my overall enjoyment of this immersive home 3D experience. Also, the 3D viewing of Goldberg underscored my impression of the XV-Z17000’s attention to detail and black-level performance, on items like the percussionist’s Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, the wonderful wood grain of the upright bass, and the black brush drumsticks and piano keys.
For an animated film, Despicable Me delivers reference-quality video in 2D, the version I viewed for a few scenes before switching to 3D (easily done on the movie’s menu). Watching this movie in crystal-clear 3D on a big projection screen is what really sold me on the technology. The XV-Z17000 delivered an experience that to me epitomized what home theater is all about.
The 3D image’s colors, punch and depth were dramatic, exemplified by the scene in which Gru, the main character, orders his tiny, yellow minion creatures to assemble and they start jumping and whirling about while metal objects stir against the factory backdrop. But even a simple scene in which Gru walks down the street, with a water fountain, trees and buildings behind him, demonstrated the rich layering created by the projector.
Also, viewers will appreciate the 3D menu that includes an adjustment for 3D image depth — if the perceived 3D is too strong for your eyes and feels like you are straining, you can ease the effect by dropping the depth a few notches.
While I try to enter a review without preconceived opinions, I couldn’t help it when it came to 3D. Demos at tradeshows involving all types of TVs and projectors had never truly overwhelmed me, and I was not expecting to be as impressed as I was with the Sharp system.
And don’t worry about the glasses detracting from your comfort — my 4-year-old daughter sat with me and wore them through all 95 minutes of Despicable Me without complaint.
I still don’t look at 3D as an everyday viewing option, but I think as long as the screen size is adequate and the display technology does it justice, the “wow factor” potential is there. Components like Sharp’s XV-Z17000 could be your ticket to making family movie nights special.
Follow Electronic House
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.