JVC Procision DLA-X750R 3D D-ILA Projector Review
AT A GLANCE
Twice as bright, same contrast
HDR10 compatible and full P3 color support
HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2
Black uniformity hit or miss
New HDMI chips slower to sync
Still no native 4K
With nearly twice the brightness of its predecessor, big improvements to 3D and 4K playback, and a good dose of UHD future-proofing, the DLA-X750R is more than just a mild refresh.
When new JVC projectors were announced at this past October’s CEDIA, they basically looked the same as the models from two years ago, with only some modest differences visible on paper in the brightness rating plus support for the latest version of HDCP. But in use, the new DLA-X750R features some significant upgrades from the outgoing DLA-X700R. Let’s dive in and see how JVC delivered one of the best projectors I’ve reviewed to date.
As noted, the DLA-X750R (available through custom installers as the DLA-RS500) is outwardly identical to the DLA-X700R, with the same flaked black-gloss finish, motorized lens cover, and connection ports. There are no legacy analog inputs; only two HDMI ports that are now full 18-gigabit-per-second HDMI 2.0a inputs with full support for HDCP 2.2 and HDR. This means the DLA-X750R’s inputs will accept sources that meet the full resolution and color bit depth of the UHD specification (3840 x 2160p and 10-bit 4:2:0 at 60p). Everything else remains the same and includes connections for JVC’s 3D sensor, remote systems, and Ethernet.
The big changes this year are hidden inside the projector, and they’re numerous. The most obvious is a new light engine boasting nearly twice the brightness of the outgoing model. This is produced by a new 265-watt lamp with a claimed 4,500 hours of life and 1,800 lumens output. The last JVC generation delivered about 14 foot-lamberts on my screen in low lamp mode with the lens aperture fully open. This year’s model ups that to 30 ft-L in low lamp mode—and a staggering 39 ft-L in high lamp.
Typically, this type of brightness boost in a projector results in lower contrast numbers. But fortunately, that isn’t the case here. With the outgoing DLA-X700R, I measured about 25,000:1 in low lamp mode with the lens aperture fully open (dynamic aperture off). This would be at about mid-throw and represented the minimum native sequential (full-on/full-off) contrast of the model. With the DLA-X750R, I decided to test several conditions in respect to contrast. With the zoom at its shortest throw, the projector in low lamp mode, and the aperture fully open, I measured the contrast at 37,000:1, which is nearly 50 percent higher than before, and also at a significantly higher brightness. The max native contrast I measured (no dynamic iris) was achieved with the zoom at its longest throw and the manual aperture in its most closed position (–15), which delivered a contrast of just over 124,000:1.
Engaging the dynamic aperture mode increased contrast performance significantly and pushed the measurements up against the limitations of my Minolta T-10 meter, in both the black floor and peak brightness measurements. The peak contrast I achieved was just over 500,000:1, but a single-digit difference with these measurements could move that number significantly in either direction. In my normal viewing conditions (projector calibrated to 14 ft-L, low lamp mode, aperture set at –10), I was getting a native contrast ratio of about 70,000:1, which is nearly three times as much as before. Engaging the dynamic iris pushed the contrast up into the realm of more than 400,000:1, though I bounced back and forth between having this feature enabled. This contrast improvement was achieved using a new wire grid polarizer that is exclusive to the top two models in this year’s lineup.
This type of boost in overall brightness, without hurting contrast, is a big boon for the JVC line and opens up a lot of possibilities. Bigger screens can be lit up, lower-contrast acoustically transparent screens are a more viable option, and even 3D is improved with brightness to spare. The updated polarizer and other electronics also upgraded the top two projectors to full 12-bit resolution performance from input to output, a first for any projector I’m aware of on the market today.
However, the increases in contrast and brightness do bring a couple of byproducts. Neither is new to the JVC line, but they’re worth mentioning, as they seem to vary in severity from unit to unit (I saw at least six or seven different units from local dealers and friends during the review period). The first, and more obvious, is inconsistent black uniformity. With a full black screen, the corners (and in some cases, the sides) of the image are elevated in brightness compared with the center. So while you may see a deep black in the center of the image, one or more of the corners may have more of a dark gray appearance. It’s most obvious in a full blackout, but if the problem is severe enough, it can encroach on darker mixed images as well. We’ve seen this in past JVC designs and even with some of Sony’s SXRD models, but not quite to this level. With the units I saw, the severity of this problem was vastly different from unit to unit, with some displaying it quite noticeably while others barely showed it. My review unit fell roughly in the middle: On my sample, the problem was obvious with full blackouts (including when the screen blacked out due to HDMI resynching) but was rarely noticeable in normal viewing (I saw the issue only twice in such circumstances). The problem can also be less obvious depending on the iris position or whether you’re using the dynamic iris.
The other issue is flaring, or streaking, when a bright white object is on a black background. This can appear as spires coming off the object. Some of the different samples I saw exhibited this in a more obvious fashion, but my review unit did not. I could see some minor streaking with some difficult test patterns but never with any real content. I’ve seen this same issue with the last several generations of JVC projectors, but it has never intruded on normal viewing; your mileage may vary.
High dynamic range (HDR) is all the buzz right now, so it’s nice to see this year’s JVC lineup featuring support for the SMPTE HDR open standard, typically known as HDR10. Unlike most flat-panel displays that must be triggered into their HDR viewing mode by the incoming signal, the JVC projector can be manually set up for an HDR signal by selecting the right preset, though eventually this will be engaged automatically through flagging in the metadata over HDMI. JVC says their HDR implementation is still in flux as the industry settles on standards and more is learned about what to expect from content mastering. The company suggests future firmware updates may be offered to fine-tune the projector’s HDR performance, but using some in-house settings to modify the presets delivered promising results from the handful of HDR clips I had on hand. Since JVC clearly stated up front that this is more of a beta feature at the moment, and considering the utter lack of actual HDR content to feed the projector for evaluation, I’ve decided to revisit HDR at a future date when the hardware is more up to date and software is readily available. As it stands now, I don’t know if projector enthusiasts should get their hopes up too much for HDR, as it’s looking more and more like a feature geared toward flat-panel displays that can achieve super-bright highlights. [Ed. Note: Kris’s evaluation was completed well prior to the release of UHD Blu-ray. See David Vaughn’s comments in this issue’s UHD Blu-ray coverage on how this projector looked generally with UHD HDR content.]
The user interface for the DLA-X750R is identical to the outgoing projector’s version. The menu system is simple to navigate, and most of the picture modes and settings can be accessed directly from buttons on the remote control. The backlit remote is largely unchanged and easy to use.