Sharp Notevision XR-1X review

17 Aug 2005

A tiny projector with great image quality. However, it lacks brightness compared with others at similar prices and is noisy too.

Price when reviewed: 
897(£1,054 inc VAT)
3

Sharp's new XR-1X is another ultraportable projector and, although it weighs 1.5kg, its dimensions make it one of the smallest here. It's just 122mm deep and 247mm wide, making it easier to fit into a large notebook briefcase than others.

There's no carry case included as such - a soft pouch protects the projector and remote, but has no handle or space for cables. Connectivity is fairly basic too - a VGA input is flanked by S-Video, composite video, audio in and USB. A combined VGA and USB cable is provided, but that's it on the accessory front.

Usefully, the controls light up on the top of the projector for use in a darkened room, but, as with everything else on test, the remote has no backlighting. A joystick allows easy menu navigation, and menus are well designed. Auto keystone correction means you can adjust the projector using the front foot and not have to worry about changing the keystone too.

With a noticeable Carl Zeiss logo on the lens and a 12-degree DLP chip, we were expecting good quality from the Sharp. Thankfully, we weren't disappointed. The 1,300 ANSI lumens rating meant images weren't as bright as the Optoma, but enough so for presenting in lit meeting rooms.

Our PowerPoint presentation test showed up the XR-1X's great contrast, with bright whites and saturated blacks. Fonts were sharp and white uniformity was solid save for the top corners. A lack of ghosting meant that charts were crisp and bold, but we saw some stepping in the colour fade test. We saw no moire on our fine test patterns over the analog VGA interface - the Sharp locked onto the signal well.

For photos, images and movies, the Sharp XR-1X is also a good choice. It managed to show our test video without too much judder or losing detail in dark scenes. However, colours were a little muted, and skin tones weren't the best we saw. Staying in the Cinema mode, photos had smooth transitions and this time skin tones looked relatively realistic.

If there's one main disadvantage to the Sharp, it's the noisy fan. Not only did it register 47.7dBA from the front at full brightness, but it also produced a high-pitched whine, which became annoying in a quiet room. In economy mode, it wasn't much quieter, still registering 45.6dBA.

And, despite Sharp's claim of an eight-second startup time, we found that it only achieved full brightness after about 40 seconds - just like most others on test. Another gripe is the two-year return-to-base warranty, when others offer on-site exchange and an extra year's cover. With Dell's 3400MP costing just £2 more, and less to run per hour, the choice is easy.