An intriguing proposition as a projector that falls between cut-price and top end markets
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We've seen circular projectors, square projectors and rectangular projectors... so, in the interest of geometrical fairness, we thought we'd best take a look at a triangular projector. Cue Sharp's XV-Z91E.
This extraordinary-looking beast really is roughly triangular, with the rear panel forming the base and the apex being the protruding lens. And that's not the only stylistic thing we like about it. The high-gloss sheen is pretty, the bold use of darker patches of bodywork at each side gives it a funky, modern feel and the positioning of the whole thing on a circular 'foot' completes the job of making the XV-Z91E unforgettably distinctive.
The foot is also practical. It lets you swivel the projector left or right, or tilt it up or down, giving you much more flexibility over where you position it - especially since Sharp has unusually included horizontal and vertical keystone correction, for keeping the sides of the image straight even if the XV-Z91E is positioned to the side of the screen.
The XV-Z91E's short-throw lens is a boon, too. It lets you get a big picture - not quite a life-sized representation of the Hulk, but certainly large enough to be intimidating! - without the projector needing to be far from the screen. Just the job for small living rooms.
Connectivity is par for the course. There's no Scart - again - but you do get component video inputs, S-video input, composite video input and a 15-pin jack for PC connection. A host of video-friendly features confirms what we'd already suspected: that the XV-Z91E really is built for showing movies.
This is further emphasised by an impressive picture performance. Hulk's dark scenes benefit immensely, for instance, from one of the best contrast performances we've seen on a projector this side of £3,000. This adds a real lustre and vivacity to the striking scene where Banner meets his crazy dad for the climactic father/son showdown.
Highs and lows
Furthermore, though the XV-Z91E uses a relatively low-res (800x600) DLP chipset, it delivers a lot of fine detail, and the subtle crags in the desert rock formation where the Hulk gets buried by helicopter rockets have a satisfying sense of solidity and depth. Help also comes from the projector's ability to show hard edges without either ghosting or stressing. And the Hulk's San Francisco rampage is a gratifyingly dot-free occasion, with the XV-Z91E doing a sterling job of repressing DLP's traditional dottiness where motion is concerned. For the most part, the Hulk is as smooth as a (green) baby's bum.
Within the context of its price, this projector actually has only two serious weaknesses: its DLP chipset is a 4:3 ratio job (the best movie pictures demand a 'native' 16:9 widescreen one), and an occasionally over-ripe colour tone sometimes leaves our green friend looking a little too green, especially during his night-time appearances.
Had the XV-Z91E used a little higher-res, native widescreen chipset, it could have been a full-on home cinema star. But even as it stands, it's an intriguing proposition as a projector that falls between cut-price and top end markets.
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