JVC DLA-X30 3D LCOS Projector Page 2

The X30 does not have a color management system, but the Standard color gamut was pretty close to the ideal Rec. 709 gamut. The primaries were a bit oversaturated, but the balance of colors was pretty good, with no obvious issues with flesh tones. Blue luminance values proved to be the biggest hurdle, but this is also the color that our eyes are the least sensitive to. In the end, if you’re looking to get the most accurate picture possible from the X30, I would suggest adding a standalone video processor that offers a full range of color adjustment features, like the Lumagen Radiance series or the DVDO iScan Duo featured this month in “How to Make the Most of Your HD Display.”

2D Performance
After getting the X30 dialed in, I went through a wide assortment of material over the course of a week or so. All of my viewing was done on a 120-inch diagonal Stewart StudioTek 130 (1.3 gain) white screen. Playback was via an Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player fed through an Anthem Statement D2v3D. AudioQuest Coffee HDMI cables and Better Cables Silver Serpent HDMI cables were used for all connections.

2D playback was every bit as good as I remember with the X3. Images had plenty of pop and colors were vivid without looking oversaturated. In Natural color mode, flesh tones were kept in check and never leaned toward red or gold. As you would expect from the JVC line, black levels were to die for. Having just reviewed the new Epson and Sony offerings, it was quite apparent that JVC still owns the market when it comes to how it handles the dark end of the brightness range. Not just for the black floor itself, but also for its great shadow detail and image dynamics. Because the JVC doesn’t use a dynamic iris to achieve its outstanding black levels, there

was no truncation of the white highlights in the image. Using the Low lamp mode provided about 14 foot-lamberts on my 1.3-gain screen with the iris wide open, and this provided rich blacks and plenty of punch regardless of the material I viewed. If I decided to close down the manual iris, blacks were further improved, but this took a hit on the overall brightness of the image. Using the High lamp mode afforded a higher contrast ratio without losing the brightness. But despite the reasonably quiet lamp, I prefer the X30’s nearly silent Low lamp mode.

Using a Minolta T-10 light meter, the highest contrast ratio I could manage from the X30 at a mid-throw distance was about 45,000:1. This was in Low lamp mode with the iris fully closed down. In High lamp mode, I could achieve about 36,400:1, while still maintaining a pretty bright image. But the lowest contrast ratio I measured was only 22,500:1 in High lamp mode with the iris fully open. This is better than we see from most other display technologies, even when they incorporate a dynamic iris system. In Low lamp mode with the iris fully open, I was still able to achieve nearly 30,000:1 with 14 ft-L on my 120-inch screen!

Watching the recent Blu-ray release of Real Steel showcased just how good this projector could look. Black levels were outstanding, but low-level shadow detail never appeared crushed. Colors had lots of pop, but the dynamics of the stark contrast of the image were what impressed me the most. It added to the dimensionality and depth that few projectors I’ve used can match. Detail was every bit as good as any projector I’ve used lately, short of my reference JVC DLA-RS35U, but that model features handpicked components and costs nearly three times as much.

I gave JVC’s Clear Motion Drive a shot. This feature provides frame interpolation for smoother, more detailed motion. I’m typically not a fan of this, as it adds an unnatural look to film motion that can only be described as a soap opera effect. Regardless of the mode I used, I was too distracted by the motion’s unrealistic look. It did work quite well with sports material. JVC also includes some dark-frame-insertion modes that mimic the look of a film projector. This helped with motion as well, but made the image dimmer and with a subtle flicker that was distracting. Obviously, these modes will ultimately be up to the taste of the end user. But like most display enhancements, I found the image was better with them off.

3D Performance
Moving on to the 3D side, I was intrigued about whether JVC’s new glasses and 3D settings would help my languishing opinion of 3D. I was quite impressed by how well JVC managed to pull off 3D playback for a first-generation device with the X3, but it wasn’t perfect and showed some ghosting issues with a variety of titles. Unfortunately, the DLA-X30 didn’t live up to my hopes. Not only was the ghosting I had seen on the X3 still there, it actually appeared to be worse on some discs. One of the biggest offenders was Universal’s Blu-ray release of Despicable Me. This one gave me all kinds of fits on the X3, but surprisingly, it didn’t have any issues on the X7 that we reviewed in the same issue. It was the first disc I popped into the X30, and ghosting was even more pronounced than before. Going into the 3D setup menu and trying to fine-tune it didn’t help, either. None of the adjustments could improve the picture and would merely change where the ghosting would appear in the image.

I looked through quite a bit of 3D material and the performance was about the same or worse than last year’s DLA-X3. Ghosting was obvious with the majority of the titles I played, but the JVC did seem to do better with darker material than the Epson PowerLite Cinema 5010e I also reviewed this month. This was clearly evident with the Blu-ray 3D releases of Bolt and Coraline, both of which feature some very dark and high-contrast imagery. But with brighter material, the Epson was a clear step up from the JVC—Despicable Me being the most obvious—with no artifacts at all during playback. In fact, most of the titles that showed heavy ghosting on the X30 were artifact-free on the Epson 5010e. I also didn’t see this level of ghosting from the Sony VPL-VW95ES. None of these projectors were completely artifact free, but the level I was seeing from the DLA-X30 was the most distracting.

In The End
The 2D picture from the JVC DLA-X30 is truly without peer among the immediate competitors we’ve seen. Its contrast and dynamic range continue to set the bar across all performance levels. The X30 was also the sharpest projector I’ve seen at this price, and was even better than most of the projectors I’ve seen at nearly twice the cost. But

I was disappointed with the 3D performance. I admit I’m not a fan of the technology as a whole, as I feel it impedes the theatrical experience, but the X30 showed more artifacts in playback that further degraded the already gimmicky experience. If 3D is your primary motivator for a new projector, I would look to some other offerings on the market. But if 2D is what you find yourself watching the majority of the time (as I certainly do), this one would be hard to beat at or near this price point, and gets my highest recommendation.

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COMMENTS
micho09's picture

In your HT Labs Measures of the JVC DLA X30 what was the
the minimun Black level luminance in ft-L.?

Kris Deering's picture
Good question. We did not provide a black level luminance value for this review because we are in the midst of some change in how we report contrast. As the black floor of projectors continues to fall, we have been evaluating the best way to give the readers the most accurate and valuable information possible. Computing the black level luminance is not a cut and dry approach. Measurements are taken at the lens to give you the most light possible for the measurements. This is due to the limitations in low light level handling by the meters. From there you can compute the black floor luminance at the screen with simple math but that only accounts for my specific room/screen/throw/setup conditions. Even the contrast numbers can vary considerably based on setup conditions, calibration, and equipment. We are trying to nail down how we want to approach this going forward and we've had some great discussions on it. Keep an eye out for changes in the HT Labs section coming soon.
micho09's picture

Thanks Kris for your response, I will check later your chances in HT Labs section, and thanks for this great review!
Last question: You think what the black levels of this JVC dla x30 (properly calibrated in a bat cave, totally black walls, ceiling and dark carpet and without windows) will rival the black levels of hdtv's like the Sharp elite or Pioneer Kuro?

Kris Deering's picture
Great question, but really hard to answer. The Kuro is an outstanding plasma (I haven't had the chance to spend any significant time with the Sharp to weigh in on it) but perception of black will be handled quite differently between the Kuro and a projector. First off, the Kuro is a much smaller display. Most people using a front projection system have a much larger screen to fill up. Because of the smaller display the Kuro will be much brighter at any one time. Also, plasma technology lends to a nearly infinite ANSI contrast ratio that no front projection system can match. This will make images seem a bit more contrasty. Overall black floor levels will probably be pretty close in black outs though. I doubt you would see a huge difference, if even a subtle one. But a smaller and brighter image will probably look better to most people in terms of definition, detail and intra-scene contrast. The JVC throws a wonderful image with some of the best blacks I've seen in a front projection setup though, so I doubt you'd be disappointed in it even if you're coming from a Kuro.
micho09's picture

Thanks Kris for your advice and response!!!

Kris Deering's picture
Glad I could help!
randonlargent's picture

Kris:

Great information. It sounds like this is now the way to go.

What about ambient light? I'm watch a lot of movies, but I also like to watch sports. Could daytime viewing be an issue? Many reviewers tout the Epson 5010 because of the brightness. What do you think?

For this projector, what screen would you suggest in the under $2K range? And what about $2-$3,500 range?

Finally, should I just pull the trigger or - like Apple - are projector roll-outs primarily in the fall?

Thanks,

Randy

Kris Deering's picture
HI Randy. Daytime viewing could be an issue with just about every projector out there if the conditions are bad enough. Especially if you want to have a calibrated image in that lighting. The X30 has plenty of light if you want to sacrifice contrast and accuracy, which shouldn't really be an issue if you're talking about the mid-day game. Screens are another matter entirely and there is no clear cut choice based on budget. Choosing a screen is one of the most important things you can do. It effects contrast, total brightness, resolution and sound (depending on if you need a perf screen or not). I have been using a Stewart Studiotek 130 for years now and it fits perfect with my viewing environment. But if you want to compete with ambient light and want a bright image than maybe something like the Firehawk or Black Diamond would be a better fit. If you just want a bright image a high power from DaLite may be a good fit. There are certainly a lot to choose from and one size doesn't fit all. I'm a big fan of Stewart's screens and Carada for the budget minded. But DaLite and Screen Research make some great screens as well. Figure out exactly what your needs are and do some research into what screen will deliver those needs the best. Good luck!
tsand72's picture

Hi Kris,
I am new to the projector world... having recently gutted my home theater room that featured an older pioneer plasma. I have created a true black-out theater... no uncontrolled ambient light and ultra flat black walls. I am primarily interested in 2D movies via blu-ray (80%) and movies from Comcast onDemand HD (20%)... with the possibility of some HD sports from time to time.

I installed a 2.40:1 (108" diagonal) 1.0 gain carada screen and a Panasonic AE 7000U about 13 feet from the screen --- primarily because it has solid reviews all around and has the lens memory capability. I've had the projector about 1 week. I like it. BUT, I can seem to dial in the focus as many movies appear to be slightly out of focus. I find it to be a sticking point. I also find the iris/fan noise to be slightly distracting. Not too bad when the speakers are in full bloom... but the high-pitched whirring sound is a little distracting at times.

I just ordered a JVC RS45 (which I believe is the X30). I'm wondering if you could comment - seeing as though you've obviously played around with a lot of these projectors - about why the RS45 might be a better choice.

A couple of questions:

(1) Do you think I will find a better ability to dial-in the focus on the picture coming from the RS45?

(2) Also, I really like the fact that the Panasonic has a built-in masking system that eliminates black-bar over flow on movies that are zoomed-in to fill the 2.40:1 screen. Does the JVC offer something like that?

(3) Did you notice a blue tinge in dark blacks on the RS45 when you tested it?

I originally dismissed the RS45 because it is slightly more expensive, has a lower lamp life, got dinged on 3D capability (even though that doesn't matter a whole lot to me) and doesn't have complete color management controls. But, it seems like many regard it's 2D capabilities to be really great... so, in a hope that I might gain some control of focus, I'm hoping it is slightly more detailed in the picture department.

Would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks!

flash11's picture

I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..
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