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Video Review: Sharp XG-P560W

Native wide business projector benefits from three DMDs. 11/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Video Review: Sharp XG-P560W

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Native wide business projector benefits from three DMDs.




Review XG-P560W

Over the last dozen-plus years, DLP has earned a solid reputation as the enabling technology behind the industry's highest-brightness projectors. After all, the technology is based on mirrors that waste very little available light. However, conventional wisdom says three image devices (a red, a green, and a blue) are needed for top-notch color, rather than a spinning color wheel. High DMD costs have kept 3-chip DLP models limited to the heavyweight rental-and-staging and digital-cinema models that focus on motion video. But that's changing.

Sharp introduced the first corporate-level 3-chip DLP models last year, and now it has added the new, native wide XG-P560W. It uses the same 0.65in., 1280×800-resolution DMD as Sharp's wide single-chip PG-F320W business projector, except it has three DMDs instead of one plus a color wheel. It's an admittedly curious resolution, with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and one that hasn't brought Texas Instruments wide success. Yet reduced costs on the chip enable Sharp to build it into a 3-chip configuration at a list price of $16,995 — a price that now makes 3-chip DLP competitive with 3LCD in the midsize conference/corporate/education venue installation space. And it's a chip that's squarely aimed at the corporate world and geared toward larger conference rooms, boardrooms, lecture halls, and houses of worship where computer text, spreadsheets, graphics, and slides are the most likely sources.

At more than 58lbs., the P560W is fixed-install projector in a large rectangular chassis that's big enough for dual lamps, seven different lens options, and an array of computer-centric inputs. The connection panel is on the rear of the unit and focuses on computer inputs. There are three of them: a DVI-D/HDCP, a standard analog 15-pin D-sub with passthrough output, and a 5-BNC RGBHV set. Not surprisingly, those BNCs can be used for analog component video, and the P560W includes an HDMI input for DVD, Blu-ray, or cable box sources, as well as the S-Video and composite of virtually all projectors.

For control, there's a full array of button controls on the rear of the unit next to the connections that will aid installation. Sharp also includes a wired remote jack as well as an RS-232, but also, and more interestingly, an RJ-45 connector. A built-in web server affords remote administration, diagnostics, and control from potentially any networked computer anywhere in the world without any additional software. What's more, Sharp's Display Manager software can allow a single administrator to monitor and control several networked projectors from a single interface. Naturally, the P560W can be password-protected to prevent unauthorized use or control of the projector settings.

I reviewed the standard (1:1.18-2.25 throw) lens configuration, although the same projector is also available as the XG-P560W-N for $15,995 MSRP with no lens. Sharp's six other lens options include two fixed zoom options — throws of 1:0.8 and 1:1.2 — and four other powered zoom lenses with throws ranging from 1:1.5 to 7, supporting screen sizes up to more than 23ft. diagonal. All lens options have powered focus and both horizontal and vertical lens shift. And installing a new lens is quite straightforward: A simple push-button on the chassis front pops off a hard plastic casing to afford easy access to the lens housing, and removing or installing a lens can be accomplished without any special tools.


Video Review: Sharp XG-P560W

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Native wide business projector benefits from three DMDs.




Today's display trend is clearly toward widescreen images. That's admittedly being driven by the consumer market and widescreen HDTVs, but it nonetheless is helping create the perception that wide is modern and 4:3 is dated — whether that's for entertainment or business. A quick stop at the local electronics store is all one needs to see that the large majority of laptops sold today come with widescreen displays. Still, the much of the content that will be delivered to a business-oriented projector will have a 4:3 aspect ratio given the legacy, and that means the P560W needs to be able to scale to both wide and full aspect ratios and still produce a good-looking image.

Indeed, good scaling is critical for the P560W since probably no source it will ever display will have a native 1280×800 resolution. Smartly, Sharp offers several aspect-ratio settings for both 16:9 and 4:3 sources, displaying them in their native aspect ratios or stretching them in different ways to best fit the 16:10 pixel ratio of the projector. The results are good with a variety of source resolutions, although I saw the inevitable softness around fine text and high-frequency banding on resolution charts. Of course, that's to be expected when you're trying to display portions of pixels and math that is heavy with decimals.

However, Sharp has an even better solution when even that hint of softness isn't acceptable. A Dot by Dot mode incorporates no scaling at all, but rather shows a pixel-for-pixel version of the image. Of course, that means a source with a lower resolution, such as 1024×768, will appear with black bars both on top and bottom and on the sides. Similarly, higher-resolution sources will be cropped, with only the center 1280×800 pixels visible. Still, the pixels that are displayed, and the resulting images, are crystal-clear.

Like just about every projector maker these days, Sharp has exaggerated brightness claims for the P560W. Even with brightness turned all the way up, I measured only about 4600 lumens — just more than 10 percent lower than Sharp's 5200-lumen claim. In Presentation mode without brightness cranked up to the top, 4000 ANSI lumens is more what you're likely to get. In Standard mode, I measure about 3500 ANSI lumens. On the other hand, brightness uniformity was rock-solid, above 96 percent in all modes. I measured peak contrast around 1200:1, although it was highly dependent on settings.

Colors from the P560W were excellent, particularly blue. Red was slightly oversaturated and green even more so, although not toward cyan as is usually the case. On the other hand, cyan had too much green. That was the case in all preset modes, especially Presentation and Standard modes. I was able to improve it a little by working with the custom settings, including reining in Sharp's predilection for overly saturated colors. The grayscale was nice and smooth, starting upward at about 20 IRE.

Sharp's MSRP of $16,995 with the standard lens ($15,995 with no lens) makes an aggressive push toward bringing 3-chip DLP into direct competition with 3LCD. Street prices in the $11,000-to-12,000 range do even better. But it's the combination of DLP brightness and strong colors, along with Sharp's smart use of aspect-ratio settings, that will help bring native widescreen images to the corporate and business world. The trend toward wide is indisputable among flatpanels, and it's clearly moving toward business-oriented laptops and desktop monitors. Sharp's XG-P560W will help advance that trend into front projection as well.


PRODUCT SUMMARY

  • Company: Sharp www.sharpusa.com
  • Product: XG-P560W
  • Pros: Smart aspect-ratio settings including Dot by Dot mode, strong if over-saturated color.
  • Cons: Overlay saturated colors require adjustment, modest contrast.
  • Applications: Corporate boardrooms, lecture halls, and houses of worship.
  • Price: $16,995

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Brightness: 5200 ANSI lumens
  • Contrast: 1800:1 full on/off
  • Native resolution: WXGA (1280×800)
  • Configuration: Three 0.65in. DMDs
  • Light source: Two 280W lamps (rated 2500 hours/2000 hours)
  • Lens options: Six options, throw ratios from 1.5 to 7.0
  • Zoom (standard lens): 1.25X powered F2.5, f=25.5mm-32mm
  • Projection distance (standard lens): 7.9ft.-45ft.
  • Screen size (standard lens): 60in.-280in. diagonal
  • Throw ratio (standard lens): 1.8-2.25:1
  • Lens shift: H/V motorized
  • Keystone: Vertical
  • Loudspeakers: 3W stereo
  • Dimensions: 19.7"×7.5"×25.1" (W×H×D)
  • Weight: 58.5lbs.
  • Warranty: Two years parts and labor (90 days on lamps)


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