So you want a big screen? I mean a really big screen. Then you may be ready to step into the world of front projection video systems. You used to have to be a video technician or extremely wealthy to afford such a system. Now just about anyone can setup a front projection system and costs are dropping dramatically.
Quick and easy setup
It took me longer to put together the screen than it took me to setup Sharp’s affordable and portable DT-200 DLP projector. The DT-200 was a snap to get going. All you have to do is plug it in and connect a video source to one of its four video inputs (composite, component, DVI, or S-Video). I placed it on a stand about 14 feet from a screen, however it can also be mounted to the ceiling. Focusing the picture was as easy as twisting the lens. Fitting the image perfectly to your screen dimensions relies on a combination of finding the correct distance from the screen, rotating a height adjustment dial, and correcting the keystone using the remote control on-screen menu. Within minutes I was up and running.
Select a screen
With the basic setup and configuration complete I was now able to test the video performance of the projector on a Stewart Filmscreen 16:9 110″ diagonal FireHawk screen. Stewart Filmscreen claims the FireHawk, which is actually a gray colored screen, is optimized for DLP projectors. The review is based only on the FireHawk screen. Although, video performance can vary on different screens.
I initially viewed video with the out-of-the-box color and temperature settings with the supplied composite video cable. I was impressed, although I knew I was not at the optimal settings yet. Then I connected a Panasonic TU-HDSU20 DirecTV/HDTV Receiver and a Yamaha DVD-C920 Progressive Scan DVD Player with a 6 meter UltraLink component video cable. The DT-200 will accept HDTV sources, although it will only display images as 800×600 (SVGA). Therefore you don’t get a true high definition picture, but you do get DVD quality.
Turn out the lights
Images looked their best in a completely dark room. The more light in the room, the more the picture starts to look washed out. The picture is still watchable to a certain point, as you gradually lose contrast and colors.
Best seat in the house
The optimal seating position proved to be at least 16 feet from the screen, which was behind the projector in this case. From positions in front of the projector (14 feet or less) the individual pixels were visible which created a screen door effect. Once behind the projector, the image became much more seamless and pleasurable to watch.
Quiet little box
Even though the projector was essentially placed in the middle of the room, fan noise never became a problem. Also, there is no built-in speaker or audio inputs. But that shouldn’t pose a problem, because audio signals should be sent to a surround processor and speaker system.
Now for some fine-tuning with the AVIA Guide to Home Theater setup disc. Optimizing the video greatly enhanced the picture quality of the DT-200. First I adjusted the temperature setting to 6500K, and worked my way through the basic picture calibration test patterns. The DT-200 on-screen menu makes it easy to adjust contrast, color, brightness, tint, sharpness, and has color adjustments for red and blue. I only wished it was easier to view the test pattern images and make adjustments at the same time. The square on-screen menu initially takes up the middle of the screen, but can be moved around the screen. I ended up moving the box to the lower right to better view the screen while making adjustments. A more optimal method would provide each video adjustment separately at the bottom of the screen, which I have seen implemented on many Zenith TVs.
Once the video adjustments were complete the picture became much more movie-like. Black levels were the most noticeable overall enhancement. The difference between black and gray was much more apparent. Colors now appeared accurate and skin tones more realistic. However, the color red was the most difficult to fine tune. Red objects bloomed and lost their detail, however a red emphasis is common in many DLP projectors. Lastly, I find myself hoping for more true whites. A white collar from a shirt or even plain white text took on an off-white or a dull faint gray. The flaws are subtle but there if you are looking for them. On the other hand, most people will probably find the DT-200’s picture very pleasing to the eye.
Bring the theater home
Despite some of my criticism, I had no problem overcoming some of the drawbacks. When you are watching a huge 110″ picture, some minor color detail at 20 feet doesn’t seem so important. I was easily drawn into movies and soon forgot I was sitting in my own house.
Perfect for newbies
Sharp considers the DT-200 a projector for users first getting into a front projection system. I would have to agree. It is easy to setup, lightweight, and can project a huge TV, movie, or computer picture. There is no need to be worried about the complexities of a front projector anymore. The Sharp DT-200 is easy to use and fun to watch.
The Sharp XV-Z90U is exactly the same as the DT-200 except the former is equipped with a long throw lens for placing the projector further from the screen in larger rooms.
Sharp DT-200/XV-Z90U MSRP: $3999.95
Lamp Life: 2500 hours
Replacement Lamp (BQC-XVZ90+++1) MSRP: $479
Weight: 9.5 lbs
DLP Panel Size: 0.55″
No. of dots: 480,000 dots (800[H] x 600[V])
Contrast Ratio: 1200:1
Brightness: 600 ANSI Lumens
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 or 16:9
Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own this product, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.
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