Choosing a 3D Projector

I have a 140-inch, 2.35:1 screen, and I'd like to replace my existing projector with a 3D model. I've narrowed my choices to the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6010 and the JVC DLA-X30. What do you think?

Kamarul Ariffin

Tough call. We haven't reviewed the 6010 ($4000), but we did review the 5010e ($3300) here, and it's essentially identical to the 6010 except for its white casing (the 6010 is black) and the fact that the 6010 comes with an extra lamp, two pairs of 3D glasses, and a ceiling mount. We also reviewed the DLA-X30 ($3500) here.

The JVC undoubtedly has deeper blacks, and its 2D performance was rated as excellent. However, its 3D performance was given only 2 out of 5 stars, mostly because of obvious ghosting, in which the left-eye image is visible in the right eye and vice versa. Apparently, this was more pronounced than in the previous-generation X3.

The Epson exhibited much better 3D performance, but its 2D performance was lacking because the image wasn't as sharp as reviewer Kris Deering had seen on other projectors. He also thought the dynamic iris didn't work as well as it could. (The JVC has no dynamic iris, and yet it manages to achieve some of the best blacks in the industry.)

So between these two projectors, it seems to come down to which is more important to you—2D or 3D? Another alternative to consider in your price range is the Sony VPL-HW30ES ($3700, reviewed here). It got an excellent rating for both 2D and 3D performance with deep blacks and outstanding brightness (important for 3D and for your relatively large screen), which means you don't have to choose between these two types of content.

BTW, since you have a 2.35:1 screen, the JVC offers lens memories and the ability to add an anamorphic lens, so you can fill your screen using either of these techniques. (With lens memories, you can program one memory so the lens zoom, shift, and focus fill the screen with a 2.35:1 movie and push the black letterbox bars above and below the screen and another memory for 16:9 images with black bars on the sides. However, the actual results might not be entirely accurate, requiring some tweaking each time you change memories.) Neither the Epson nor Sony offer lens memories—they have manual lens controls—and the Sony does not support an anamorphic lens, though the Epson does.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
MatthewWeflen's picture

Scott,

I owned a Sony SXRD rear projection set, which suffered from what seems to have been an all-pervading problem for Sony's RPTV sets - degradation of the blue light path over time (~8000 hours) which leads to a greening or yellowing of the picture. The problem was so prevalent that it resulted in a successfully settled class action lawsuit (see http://sites.google.com/site/sonylcdrptvproblems/ for very detailed info) as well as a semi-secret replacement program (in which I received my current Sony flat panel LCD for about 75% off of MSRP).

I am curious if Sony's front projectors have had the same issues, or whether Sony mitigated heat damage and dust intrusion in some manner which was more effective than in their rear-pro sets.

Kris Deering's picture
Matthew, I think I've answered this for you before on these comment sections. The SXRD issue was only relevant to the SXRD rear-projection TVs that they no longer make. It has never been an issue with the front projection implementations of the chip.
jnemesh's picture

They have pretty much the best projectors for the money right now. You wont regret purchasing one!

HomerTheater's picture

The 2 major concerns for 3D at home are (WITHOUT DOUBT):

1) Image brightness
2) Ghosting or other left-eye/right-eye image integration issues

They are equally important... a dim image that has no ghosting problems is really annoying. An image with no ghosting or other 3D problems that is too dim is very dissatisfying and you'll be kicking yourself the whole time you own the projector if you get stuck with something that's not bright enough in 3D mode. Beware the "wow factor" of 3D... the projector may seem satisfying initially because of the novelty of 3D at home... but as you accumulate more time with it, you begin to notice the limitations and problems more and more.

Image Brightness - a 140" screen is quite large. I have measured 2.9 fL in 3D mode for 100% white from a JVC X50 projector after it is calibrated (about 3.5 fL before calibration)-- and that was on a 72" wide 1.0 gain screen (real gain, not manufacturer spec which are unreliable). I don't know if the X30 is brighter or dimmer than an X50. That worked out to less than 100 "effective lumens" (reading through 1 lens of the 3D glasses while displaying a 3D 100% white pattern)with the 3D glasses turned on as you would use them to view 3D content. And that was as bright as that projector would get. With a 140" screen with 1.0 gain The Epson projector measured (5010/6010 series) produced 4 fL under the same conditions and looked brighter. But that was on a much smaller screen. When the screen size goes up, the light per unit area goes down. The 140" screen has 6250 sq. in. while the 72" 1.78 screen has just 2900 sq in in the central 1.78 image area. I find 3D brightness satisfying with that small of a screen only with the brightest projectors I've ever used... those that can produce 4-6 fL measuring through the 3D glasses (screen gain can help a lot here, but I use the 1.0 gain screen to keep the field level). So you may never achieve satisfying 3D with a screen as large as 140" if it is anywhere close to 1.0 gain (if it has lower gain than 1.0 you will REALLY be light starved). If you get a screen with some gain... say 2.0 or higher, you give up some image accuracy and you'll need calibration even more than if you were using a more "accurate" lower-gain screen.

That said... I've never... not once... seen ANY type of projector except DLP projectors produce perfect 3D with no ghosting ever, and with no problems with fully integrating left- and right-eye images. The very best HD LCD/LCoS projectors I've seen are the Sony mentioned above (and some sister models), and Sony's new 4K projector ($25K) is even better. But even those have issues at times with ghosting. DLP projectors, even very inexpensive ones (like under $1000), always produce "perfect" 3D. Of course the inexpensive DLP projectors don't look as good as "better" projectors and often lack controls needed to produce good images. I agree with the assessment of the Epson image quality in that series... good but not great. The Epson really needs the auto-iris to get blacks to not be brighter than you'd like them to be, but the auto-iris operation is noisy, making a grinding sound that reminds me of sound of hard plastic gears that aren't meshing quite as cleanly as they should. It's not grinding, it's different and difficult to describe.

I have yet to see a $3000-ish projector I'd be happy with when using it for both 2D and 3D. Not saying there isn't one, I just haven't seen one yet.

What I can say is that ghosting will make you crazy... once you have seen it, you'll keep seeing it and it ALWAYS "takes me out of the movie" by interrupting the immersion in the movie. I can also say you'll be very unsatisfied if the images aren't bright enough to be satisfying and that requires either a very bright projector (typically pretty expensive) or a screen with significant gain (which are typically not as uniformly illuminated, probably have more color issues that need to be corrected with calibration, etc.). So what you should be looking for right now (IMO) is a really bright DLP projector in your price range... and make sure it has good grayscale and color calibration controls so when your calibrator sets it up for you he can make the grayscals AND color accurate no matter what screen you end up using. Such a projector may or may not exist -- I just don't know.

For testing ghosting, Meet the Robinsons 3D is a real torture test. When the flying time machine arrives in the future for the first time, look for ghosting on vertical features in the buildings... you can use "Pause" to see what is happening as the images are panning. At one point near the beginning of this scene, the time machine flys over a patio with a round "bubble" window in the background. Pause on that and see if there is ghosting to the left and right of that bubble window. Many (non-DLP) projectors will ghose on pages in Lewis's handwritten notebooks or when Lewis lands on top of the invisible flying time machine just before they leave for the future for the first time. Some of the best non-DLP projectors will "pass" the handwritten notebook pages and Lewis falling on the invisible time machine, but fail on the buildings in the future.

MatthewWeflen's picture

Kris, thanks. Without a comment tracking system, it's entirely possible that you did answer it previously after I stopped checking the page my question was on. Apologies if this is a repeat.

borissauer1's picture

Kamarul, if my projector can be used as a comparison I vote for JVC all the way. I have a more expensive RS55U, which has the eShift 4K, lens memory and 3D. On my 115" 2.35:1 screen in a completely light controlled room, the brightness put out in both 2D and 3D is sufficient for my viewing. I do not have an anamorphic lens but the zoom method to fill my 2.35:1 is more than adequate, particularly with the eShift. The lens memory can take around 30 seconds to shift from 16:9 content to 2.35:1 zoom, but it really comes in handy. I couldn't be happier with my purchase which I got as a deal for $5200.

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