JVC DLA-HD750 D-ILA Projector

Price: $7,500 At A Glance: State-of-the-art blacks and contrast • Infinitely tweakable and natural colors • Softer than previous JVC projectors

What You Do for an Encore

JVC’s recent generation of D-ILA projectors have been standard-setters in blacks and contrast. They have exceeded the performance of most dynamic-iris designs while eliminating the artifacts involved with that approach. These projectors were good enough that several HT regulars outfitted their own theaters with these rigs, including yours truly. This explains why I had to pull rank on the lot of these guys and review this new model myself. Usually, the catch with this kind of success is figuring out how to follow it up. Apparently, JVC had no such trouble.

The DLA-HD750 ($7,500) addresses every nit (pun intended) that anyone could have possibly picked with its previous projectors. It’s THX approved and includes HQV Reon-VX video processing, a full color-management system, and a 16-step adjustable iris to tailor its light output. Like JVC’s previous offerings, it’s a three-chip projector (no rainbow artifacts here) that uses D-ILA imaging chips, which is JVC’s proprietary flavor of LCOS. Is this the one we’ve been waiting for?

New From the Outside In
If you go back to my April 2008 review of the DLA-HD100, you’ll think someone at JVC went through it and gave a shopping list to the guys in engineering. We’ve written a lot lately about flagship-level products, providing all the meaningful refinements one expects at a certain level. While some notable components we’ve tested haven’t stepped it up at this level, the JVC gets it right.

The DLA-HD750’s new-look cabinet serves form and function. It’s not only more compact and curva-licious, it also eliminates the light-leaking vents found on the front of earlier JVC projector designs, and it’s very quiet. If you look closely, you can see that the paint job is an almost purplish flake. It looks good. Inputs and AC now plug in at the side, and it has a very nifty motorized lens cover that opens and closes when the DLA-HD750 is turned on and off. This protects it from errant feather dusters. This is nice—the plastic lens caps that other PJ designs use almost always require enough torque to tweak your lens adjustments. The DLA-HD750 also includes dual HDMI 1.3 inputs and a component input.

Zoom, focus, and vertical/horizontal lens shift are all motorized. The 2X zoom gives you a generous range of approximately 9 to 18 feet for an 80-inch-wide 16:9 screen. (That’s the size of the white, 1.3-gain Stewart StudioTek 130 that I tested the projector with.) As a bonus, JVC now lets you turn off the PJ’s internal patterns and view external sources while you make adjustments, including focus. A residual gray block with the word “focus” remains in the middle of the screen. While I’m nitpicky enough to wish I could move it and use a crosshatch pattern to focus, I’m embarrassed to have written something that curmudgeonly. Another really nice touch is that you can set the menus so that they don’t time out on you. That’s a big plus during calibration, which can be lengthy when color management enters the picture.

Three-chip projector designs avoid the color-separation artifacts (rainbows) that afflict single-chip designs. Continuous color looks and feels natural. However, with three-chip designs, alignment of the imaging chips is difficult and often results in convergence errors that can soften the image and cause other artifacts. JVC includes a Pixel Alignment feature, but the steps are so coarse and the alignment is so close as it is that it’s not as useful as it could be if it had finer adjustments.

The menu system and remote are both new, and both are easier to use and more intuitive than JVC’s earlier works. The remote features a large, easy-to-find-in-the-dark button that backlights every key. It also provides single-button-push access for nearly all critical functions and features. Overall, the user interface is excellent. In particular, there is a lack of clutter, which occurs in many displays in order to accommodate image “enhancements” that are anything but in practice. The only features that are here are the ones that matter. Three separate, numbered User memories are included, and you can memorize and select each with a button push. In addition, each User memory can incorporate any one of three custom Color Temp memories and three Color Management System memories. This is outstanding and smartly implemented flexibility.

THX Approved—Do We?
We’ve written a fair amount regarding THX’s recent forays into the display world. In short, when you see the THX logo, it means the display has met a number of performance benchmarks and that it includes certain features. The most important feature that THX displays include is a THX Cinema mode. This is intended to offer a picture that’s properly adjusted for the standard user-accessible image adjustments (brightness, contrast, etc.). Also important is the ability for the set’s gray-scale tracking to be accurately calibrated. Some sets (like this one) provide a fully featured color-management system to dial in precisely accurate colors. Sample-to-sample variation and the time involved in accurately calibrating a display at the factory means that no display will ever be accurate to the nines out of the box. What THX demands is that THX Cinema mode be as close as possible out of the box and that the ability to calibrate to accuracy be accommodated.