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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background


I owned a 400Q since 1997 and had tweaked it to death, including being an early adopter of a G400 based HTPC. I built a custom sync-on-green generator, as the AA box hadn't been invented, and the Extron was too costly. The SoG generator also allowed me to switch between HTPC, a R1 (NTSC) Toshiba 3108 interlaced DVD player (wife/kids operated) and the RGB output from Sky Digital, a digital satellite STB found in the UK. The SoG generator also put the sync on the green channel for the interlaced PAL signal coming from the STB. The PJ is mounted about 20 feet from a 110†diagonal 1.0 gain 16:9 screen. The HT is in a 22’ x 18’ family room.


My collection of DVD’s is R1 (NTSC) so we would watch those via HTPC. My NTSC laserdisc collection was watched via the S-Vid input, and the STB signal was via interlaced RGB PAL.



I had always been very impressed with the 400Q, and was very disappointed with the VW-10HT as I thought it looked very low in contrast and bad in black level when I auditioned it – for me, it didn’t seem any sizeable improvement over the 400Q.


When I first saw the DL-450 DLP, I new that, primarily, contrast and black level were the thing that was going to get me to upgrade, but when?


Well my business partner made my mind up for me when he made me a ridiculous take-it-or-leave-it offer for my entire old PJ setup, including trick SoG box. He is a technophobe, loved my setup, and wanted to plug-and-play. Time to buy!


Criteria


My criteria was:


1 Must use current installation (long throw, screen size, rear wall shelf mount, no hush box, no hole in wall etc)

2 16:9 panel. As the 400Q is native 16:9, I didn’t want to change. Also, more and more digital satellite programming is 16:9 here in the UK – in fact, it’s difficult to buy a 4:3 TV over here!

3 Better contrast and black level than the 400Q

4 Significantly higher resolution

5 Brighter (but not huge issue as light control was good).

6 Quieter – the 400Q is a noisy beast

7 Ability to use an external scaler to deinterlace and scale RGB PAL signals. This was really important to me as I love sports and the 400Q internal scaler fell apart with moving images. The quality of the digital satellite broadcasting of big sports here in the UK can be very good – a high data rate RGB PAL 16:9 image of a big soccer match had the potential to look great if de-interlaced (actually looked darn good on my 400Q). The current lack of RGB input cards for Dscaler meant that I would have to use a commercial scaler. Scaler should be NTSC and PAL compatible. Also wanted to move away from HTPC for WAF (wife acceptance factor).

8 I need it now! (400Q left mid October)



Choice


After some clarifications directly with Faroudja, went for Sharp 9000 with Faroudja NRS – bought unseen, untested….



Post-ordering, pre-Installation panic


I was in London and saw a SIM-HT200 driven by an Iscan+. Left demo is complete state of panic as I was seeing rainbows all over the place! I’m obviously very sensitive to them – oh dear!

Slightly reassured myself with discussions here of 2.5x color wheels, but now worried – why didn’t I audition first?



Installation of Sharp


The PJ arrived about a week before the NRS. The installation could not have been easier, the lens shift, throw and focus took seconds and it went straight on my old 400Q shelf. The PJ is also the right way up (on its feet) – my 400Q was on a shelf upside down.


I set the PJ up quickly with VE on the 3108. Out of the box, the brightness was spot on, I could up the contrast a few notches and the colour and tint very close.



Initial image impressions


Using my usual test disks, I was immediately delighted (and relieved). Rainbows just not an issue (don’t forget my HT200 experience). If I stand close to the screen (say, 0.5 screen width away), pause an image of a bright starfield and flick my eyes about, I can see slight rainbows on the stars. Otherwise, I can’t. LCD owners thinking of upgrading to DLP – I recommend you look at any PJ yourself to check this. Bottom line – I think the new generation of 16:9 DLP’s with 2.5x wheels will be good for the vast majority of owners. More on the image later… (but I was excited).


It's also very quiet - *much* quieter than the 400Q in theatre mode (all I use it in).


The image is noticeably brighter than the 400Q and perfect for my large screen. The blacks are so good, I'm not sure that a greyhawk or equiv is necessary with this PJ>



Initial problems


At least with my PJ, there is a *big* lip-sync issue. Irrespective of the method of input (composite, S-Vid, component), any interlaced signal (NTSC or PAL) appears delayed relative to the audio by about 0.25 seconds (estimate). At this stage, I wanted to send the PJ back (un-watchable like this) as I thought it was broken or had a *huge* software bug (it has to be buffering at least 7 frames to do this) in the de-interlacing chip. Trouble is, I couldn’t turn it off to check the theory.


The PAL image on S-Video was also terrible with huge chroma delays / smearing – unwatchable.



HTPC hook-up



I then thought I’d dust off my old HTPC and try and bypass the scaler (like the NRS would) and see if the lip-sync issue was still there. I set up a 1280 x 720 x 60 Hz custom resolution on my G400, plugged it in to Input 5 (computer) and – oh damn!

It won’t recognise it - thinks it’s 800x600 and scales it accordingly. After much fiddling, as far as I can see, it seems to be impossible to drive the 9000 at it’s native rate via the computer input, without the fancy scaler intervening.


Having read cam’s post here, I then made myself a breakout cable to drive the ‘normal’ inputs (1 & 2) with the PC. When I fed the PJ the signal again, I got a ‘720P’ signal and everything was working. The scaler is disabled and I seem to get pixel-perfection this way. So this way, with break out cables, it is possible.


Sadly, my ol’ smoker of an HTPC was now struggling to be super-smooth at the new resolution, but the lip-sync issues were pretty much gone.



Arrival of Pana 56 DVD player


Next thing of interest was the arrival of my new DVD player. I had noticed some banding issues with my old Tosh, and there were a number of DVD’s that it just refused to play, so I upgraded. The DVD forum seemed to give the thumbs up the the 56, as there is no ‘chroma-bug’ and it can output an interlaced signal that the NRS must have. Interestingly, with the 56 connected to the PJ directly, and in progressive output mode (which disables the de-interlacer but not the scaler) the lip-sync issues were pretty much fixed.



Arrival of the NRS


Initially, I had a drama with the NRS not outputting the correct frequency, which a power cycle (of the ‘remove the mains lead’ variety) eventually cured. The lip-sync issue was now gone (as the HTPC tests had shown), but now the problems was my grand plan for deinterlaced RGB PAL images seemed to be thwarted by Sharp.


For some unknown reason, at the moment, the 9000 only allows the 720P mode (direct panel access) at 60 Hz! So, *despite* what they claim in the manual, you can’t drive it (this way) at any other scan rate. When the NRS gets a 25 Hz interlaced PAL signal, it outputs a 50 Hz signal to the PJ, which, at the moment, doesn’t work on the component inputs. They *must* upgrade the software to allow this in the future.


Anyway, I had a flash of inspiration. The computer input allows different scan rates, so I made up a 40’ long monitor lead with shielded Cat5 cable (as per Mr Wigggles posts) and connected the computer output of the NRS to the input 5 of the PJ. I set the computer input to be 1024x600 and Voila! – fabulous scaled, deinterlaced (which Faroudja know a thing or two about…) RGB PAL images on my PJ. Slight gripe that the NRS vertically stretches (and crops top and bottom) the image slightly but more fiddling to come...



Summary


I can now watch NTSC or RGB PAL through my NRS onto the Sharp 9000. What’s it like?



Well, it looks sensational! For those 400Q owners who have been waiting for the next best thing, it’s here. Size of the step above the 400Q? For me, like going from watching a movie on the 400Q via composite interlaced NTSC to full blown HTPC.


Unless you are incredibly sensitive to rainbows, I’m sure anyone would say the image is just breathtaking. The black level and contrast gives the image a razor-sharp 3D quality that blows the washed-out low contrast stuff away. Screen door just is not there (400Q was very good in this as well though).


Movie after movie makes my grin – I can watch the dark ones (Gladiator etc) without trepidation and shadow detail is miles better. But you should see the show-off ones now, like superbit 5th Element. Wow!


I can imagine that HD on the PJ would be just awesome.



Go on, do it. The future is here. You know it makes sense (and you didn’t really want that skiing holiday!)
 

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Finally a member of this forum from London (I live in Forest Hill)!

Great review! How much did you pay for the Sharp 9000?

Did you buy it in the UK (I think the prices here are far higher than in the US...)

Clearly you might consider upgrading your HTPC... I would be happy to be of help and lending you mine for testing purposes(and to get a look at your new pj... I am thinking of buying one for myself....)

Here are my HTPC Specs

- 1Ghz Pentium III 100MhzFSB

- Asus motherboard

- 2 HD, 40G (IBM) and 12G(Maxtor)

- Ati All In Wonder Radeon Videocard

- Creative Live Value! Soundcard

- WinDVD

- Ati DVD player 5.0

- PowerDvd 3.0

- Windows XP


With the WinDVD player I have no tearing, but somehow I think the ATI player provides has better PQ... no SPDIF passthrough with XP though. Apparently WinDVD offers SPDIF passthrough on XP, but I haven't tested it yet...:D :D :D :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Carlos,



I brought the whole shebang over myself from the US.




Nick
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DVDslave,



I actually live in the countryside, between Milton Keynes and Northampton.
 

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I looove the countryside.... :D :D

Let me know if you would like me to bring my HTPC around perhaps one of these weekends... I just moved to my new house last weekend (4 bed victorian house), so there is plenty of work for me, but always time to view my HTPC through your projector!

In the meantime, have fun and enjoy your new toy!


Ivan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ivan,



I've got a bit on at the moment, but we'll fix something up in a few weeks. If our roles were reversed, I'd want to do the same!
 

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Nick


Thanks for the great review. I'd like one of these too but am disappointed by the lack of pixel adressability on the PC modes at non 60Hz rates.


Did you try matching what the NRS outputs on the PC and seeing what that looks like. I'd be interested if you can drive it at 50Hz 72Hz and 75Hz at any resonably high resolution.


Is there no option on the projector to tell it what pixel size is coming in. This is how the Sanyo PLV60 works I believe.


John
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by NickW
Carlos,


I brought the whole shebang over myself from the US.


Nick
OK, thanks Nick.

So I assume the Sharp 9000 is not yet available in Europe. I was told few weeks ago it wouldn't be available until 2002. But I heart contradictions on that.


Carlos
 

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Nick glad to see you ironing out those problems and enjoying the Shap XV-Z9000U. As a Sony 400QM LCD owner to I am looking forward to getting the Sharp XV-Z9000E.

Quote:
For some unknown reason, at the moment, the 9000 only allows the 720P mode (direct panel access) at 60 Hz! So, *despite* what they claim in the manual, you can’t drive it (this way) at any other scan rate. When the NRS gets a 25 Hz interlaced PAL signal, it outputs a 50 Hz signal to the PJ, which, at the moment, doesn’t work on the component inputs. They *must* upgrade the software to allow this in the future.
I had heard from a store here in Australia the Sharp XV-Z9000E model will be sporting a software fix that allows 50Hz PAL when it streets here tomorrow. It also addresses some other PAL issues that had been noticed on the U model. I look forward to hearing your comments as you run the Sharp in.


One question though, on reading the Sharp XV-Z9000U Preliminary manual it says that Film mode is not available for use with a PAL signal. Is this correct? And if so does anyone know why or if its been addressed on the E version?


Enjoy the Sharp,


Spero D.
 

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Quote:
So I assume the Sharp 9000 is not yet available in Europe. I was told few weeks ago it wouldn't be available until 2002. But I heart contradictions on that.
Carlos I don't know if it is the same for Europe but the XV-Z9000E is streeting tomorrow here in Australia so I would presume release should be close in Europe to.


Spero D.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
John,


Basically, there seems to be a list of resolutions that the Sharp is ready to receive on its PC input, non of which are its native panel size:rolleyes:


I tried feeding 50, 72 and 75 Hz to the PJ (before the arrival of the NRS) and it seems to work on the computer input *but* is then tries to 'bracket' the input into one of its list of standard resolutions. They are (according to the manual):


640x350 @ 60, 70 & 85 Hz

720x350 @ 60 & 70 Hz

640x400 @ 60, 70 & 85 Hz

720x400 @ 60, 70 & 85 Hz

640x480 @ 50, 60, 67, 70, 72, 75, 85, 90 & 100 Hz

800x600 @ 50, 56, 60, 70, 72, 75. 85, 90 & 100 Hz

832x624 @ 75 Hz

1024x768 @ 43, 50, 60, 70, 72, 75, 85, 90, 96 & 100 Hz

1152x864 @ 60, 70, 72, 75 & 80 Hz

1152x870 @ 75 Hz

1152x882 @ 60, 72 & 74 Hz

1152x900 @ 66 & 76 Hz

1280x960 @ 60 Hz

[email protected] 50 Hz



What a mixed bag they are! Anyway, when one of these is detected the PJ then either upscales or does something called 'Advanced Intelligent Compression' (....) to the image.


You can tell that the software is still doing something as the 'Resize' button allows you to change from a scaled up version (seems to scale the image until it fits to the top and bottom edge) or a 'dot by dot' mode which, presumably, turns the scaler off.


To remind you, when you put a 1280x720 @60 Hz signal in the standard input, you seem to able to access the panel as *all* scaler control functions are disabled in this mode only.



What is amusing (writing this) is that the resolution I'm getting displayed when I'm using the NRS with PAL on the computer input is '1024x600' which isn't listed in the manual! I stretch this image to (almost) the full panel width and there doesn't seem to be *any* scaling artifacts with all my testing, plus the benefits of the NRS trickery. Having said that, the image must be being sampled at the 1024x600 resolution, so there's still a bit of room for improvement in the PAL satellite stuff (but it still looks *great* and it's not my top priority).



So, in summary, the current version of the Sharp (ie software version) isn't for you mad tweakers who want to drive the panel at anythink other than 60Hz. Seems stupid to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Spero,


I just checked that the three de-interlacing modes (including 'film-mode') are available when the PJ is fed an interlaced PAL signal (via S-Vid). However, I'm not sure the film-mode is necessary / correct for PAL as I think 3/2 pulldown will not be the corract algorithm for this type of broadcast.


Also, I did some experiments with a SoG generator to put interlaced RGB PAL into the PJ (before the NRS arrived) and I seem to remember that the scaler was then permanently jammed in 'film mode' which led to funny motion artifacts. This was sad because the image was massively better than the PAL S-Vid image (colors were great) but the artifacts on moving images were annoying, even for a few minutes (still images were fine). Obviously the NRS eliminates these issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Interesting addendum:


I've just had another message from a 9000 owner who has seen *exactly* the same problems as I have with lip-sync etc, and had the same 'cure' by using a progressive-scan dvd player.



Unless Sharp have fixed this in the new software version (maybe processor limited) this will be a serious problem for anyone wanting to use this PJ without an external scaler for processing interlaced signals (NTSC or PAL).


You have been warned...
 

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Great info, thanks! You had the same setup as myself, i.e. 400Q in the UK with PAL inputs but I don't use outboard scalers or HTPC.


I HAVE to look at one of these units before buying after my experience with the HT200DM. What sort of picture does the 9000 produce with the internal scaler, is it smooth like the 400Q? I don't plan on using an external one.


I can't get any info on when the 9000E will be available in the UK or how much, suprising as it is going to be available on the 1st November, at least in Australia and Germany. Perhaps, as usual, we'll get it 6 months after everyone else. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
UKdude,


I'm not sure what your 200DM experiences were.


With the current 9000 spec, you *must* use a progressive input (NTSC or PAL) - you probably will need to upgrade your DVD player.


I'm afraid that if you don't want to use an external scaler or DScaler (from an HTPC) for broadcast stuff, you'll be very disappointed with the results compared to what you have.


BTW, there's loads of improvement available to the 400Q compared to what it sounds like you're seeing now.
 

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Hi there


I only can speak for the situation in Switzerland.


First handful of Sharp's will come in beginning of November, second batch will follow in December..


As for the interlaced signal to the XVZ-9000E model, I was told that a simple YUV feed from dvd-player to the internal Civic scaler will give fantastic results. The European model has 3:2 and 2:2 pulldown for PAL and NTSC.


Because of the pixeldensity the image is very smooth but sharp at the same time. I was very impressed with the picture a saw recently...


I'll probably will be buying one in the next months. There always will be improvements or better projectors in the future. With the Sharp XVZ-9000E I think I'll be happy for a very long time....



Cheers


Anthony
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Anthony,


I can confirm (on my machine and another forum members) that a simple YUV feed does indeed look great - just terrible lip-sync.


I would imagine that if the European model has a 2:2 pulldown Film-mode for PAL, the artifacting I saw from the RGB satellite input will probably go.



Big issue summary (at least for me):


1 Lip-sync for interlaced stuff


2 Need to allow 720P inputs at 50, 72 & 75 Hz (at least) as well as 60 Hz on component inputs


3 Need to allow 1280x720 at a variety of scan rates on computer input (Input 5)


4 Fix horrible chroma bug on composite and S-Video PAL sources.



When you audition the 9000, make sure you see a video source showing people speaking...
 
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