JVC Procision DLA-X70R D-ILA 3D Projector Page 2
There are also two lamp settings. In Normal, the fan noise is nearly inaudible. It’s louder in High, but not intrusive. The manually adjustable Lens Aperture (iris) has 16 steps. As with previous JVC projectors, there is no dynamic iris. None is needed. JVC’s optical technology, using something called a wire grid polarizer, offers black levels that are among the best you can get from a video projector.
New this year for the DLA-X70R and DLA-X90R is a significantly improved Pixel Adjust so you can finetune the convergence of red, green, and blue images coming from the individual D-ILA chips. The adjustments can be made either in whole pixel steps (as with earlier JVC designs) or in small fractions of a pixel. In addition, this can now be done either over the entire screen or in 120 different zones.
You can dial in different settings for each Picture Mode, but you can’t adjust the picture controls in a given mode differently for each input. The settings for a given mode apply across all inputs. And while the Custom Color Temperature and Custom Color Management may be dialed in separately for different User Picture Modes, the Custom Gammas are global across all User Picture Modes.
The Big 2D Picture
Our DLA-X70R’s performance did nothing to tarnish JVC’s reputation as a provider of premier video projectors. The conventional video processing (see Video Test Bench) left little to complain about. The 2:2 tests were both borderline (there’s no borderline score for these tests, so the score shown is Fail), but borderline or even badly failing scores are common for our 2:2 tests. A one pixel on/one pixel off pattern was crisply rendered (like other LCOS projectors we’ve tested, the JVC adds a tint to this black-and-white image, but the tint does not appear to affect real program material). Screen uniformity was good.
I briefly used the DLA-X70R on my resident 78-inch-wide, 1.3-gain, Stewart StudioTek 130 screen. I’m currently considering moving on to a new 96-inch-wide screen, and since many of you want something larger than 78 inches, I elected to do most of this review, and all of the measurements, on the 101inch-wide, 1.1-gain, 2.35:1 Elite
Osprey screen I reviewed in the October ’11 issue (posted at hometheater.com). Today’s projectors are getting brighter than they were when I acquired the 78-inch-wide screen, and once you’re accustomed to a bigger screen with a projector capable of lighting it up brilliantly (at least in 2D), it’s hard to go back.
The JVC delivered. At a minimum, it delivered just under 16 foot-lamberts on the 101-inch-wide, 1.1-gain Elite using the Cinema 2 Color Profile, the Lens Aperture wide open, the Lamp Power on High, and 275 hours on the lamp (no measurements in this review were taken at less than 150 hours). I later discovered that another well-calibrated configuration, using the Standard Color Profile, could increase this peak brightness by about 25 percent. Nevertheless, the lower level was plenty bright and punchy, and that first calibration is the one I used for most of the review.
With the brightness issue out of the way, what about color? Before calibration, it was dicey at best. I chose the THX mode for the before readings, and you can see the disappointing results in the HT Labs Measures.
Fortunately, the projector calibrated beautifully in User mode. Once there, and with the standard video controls properly set, I had virtually no complaints. The colors were vibrant, spot-on accurate, and looked right from top to bottom at any brightness. From the subdued, sepia-toned Captain America: The First Avenger to the gorgeously rich hues in Kung Fu Panda 2, the JVC never let me down.
The quality of the black levels and shadow detail won’t surprise anyone who’s been following past reviews of JVC projectors. The only displays I know of that produce more impressive blacks are the now departed Pioneer Kuro plasmas and the new Sharp Elites. The JVC excelled with blacks on the darkest scenes in Tron: Legacy and did better than all but a few displays I’ve tested on the star field that opens Stargate: Continuum. But most impressive of all, it sailed brilliantly through the dark scenes (and that’s most of the film) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The measurements didn’t show any black level improvement over recent generations of JVC projectors, but that’s no criticism.
I initially had reservations about JVC’s e-Shift feature, particularly since it can’t be readily turned off by the user without some fancy footwork (see e-Shifting sidebar). For viewers seated a typical distance from an average-sized home theater screen, I didn’t find it to be a particular benefit, although some may disagree. On some program material, I found that an e-Shifted image looked a shade crisper, but other sources looked better without it. Some close-ups, such as Stanley Tucci’s facial stubble in Captain America: The First Avenger, for example, were the tiniest bit sharper without e-Shift. But the differences were elusive from a normal viewing distance. On most material, in my opinion, the difference was a wash. However, there were definitely clearly drawn pros and cons to its action when analyzed with a Sharpness test pattern. I would still like to see a convenient control in the user menu that can turn it off with no side effects.
But even with e-Shift on, the DLA-X70R, on most material, looked as detailed, or even more so, as the best of the projectors I’ve reviewed in the past in my home studio. The only possible exceptions are the best single-chip projectors. But with the JVC’s new panel alignment feature, even that possible advantage for a device with a single imaging chip is becoming moot.
The JVC offers the usual 3D features, including compatibility with all current home delivery 3D formats. There’s also a 3D Picture Mode, although the other modes remain accessible in 3D. There’s also a new (for JVC) 2D-to-3D conversion mode and a Parallax control that adjusts the degree of misalignment between the left and right eye images—which increases the image depth.
When I attempted to calibrate the JVC for 3D, the results were a measurable improvement over a precalibration run. But what I saw on the screen with normal program material didn’t look good. On some material, particularly Captain America: The First Avenger, the orange-yellow tones were so pronounced that the picture was barely watchable. More naturally tinted sources had better color, but nothing to write home about.
Finally, I winged the setup. For the video perfectionist in me, that was uncomfortable, but I found a combination of settings that was far more watchable in 3D than the theoretically correct settings. For the record, these ad hoc settings produced very poor measurements, but they looked right. I credit this to the 3D picture’s very low peak-brightness level (more on this below) on my fairly large, low-gain screen. Colorimeters are not happy with very low brightness levels, and it’s possible that the meter was giving inaccurate results, particularly at the mid-to-dark end of the brightness range where most movies live.
With these off-the-cuff settings (you’ll find them in the settings section of the online version of this review), the 3D was very effective. Brightness was severely limited—actually a bit under 3 ft-L, or under 20 percent of the 2D. To compensate for this, JVC uses an alarmingly low gamma—as low as 1.5 at some brightness levels. This practice is not exclusive to JVC; many manufacturers do it to enhance the subjective 3D brightness. Fortunately, it works better than you might think. The image was hardly bright, but very watchable and nowhere near as dim, subjectively, as the 3-ft-L peak brightness might lead you to expect.
Given these limitations, 3D on the JVC was easy to like. Colors were a bit pale due to the reduced brightness, but some will consider this a fair trade-off for the 3D experience. Images were sharply defined. I set the Sharpness and Detail Enhancement controls at their mid positions (25) or slightly below for 3D, whereas for 2D they remained at zero. Dark scenes on films such as Tron: Legacy and Avatar were darker than ideal but looked oddly appropriate—possibly because they didn’t look crushed, and shadow detail remained impressive. Bright, animated, 3D movies—such as Despicable Me—popped; despite the low measured brightness levels, they looked surprisingly vivid.
Perhaps most important for many readers, I was not bothered by the 3D crosstalk (ghosting) that plagued so many of last year’s 3D projectors. I did see brief flashes of it here and there, but only because I was looking for it. When it reared its head, it was rare, mild, and not distracting.
Still, viewers bothered by the low brightness levels of 3D may want to consider either a smaller screen, one with a higher gain, or perhaps both. But that’s good advice for any relatively affordable 3D projector.
Fortunately, two Sony projectors were on hand at Home Theater, a VPL- VW95 and a VPL-HW30. The latter is a remarkable buy, and at less than half the cost of the JVC, it has comparably impressive color and brightness. Its blacks are good, but even with the Sony’s dynamic iris engaged, the JVC’s blacks are better. The JVC is also sharper and has more features, including a motorized lens with lens memories.
At a more comparable price ($7,000), the VPL-VW95 is a more interesting matchup. I had much less time with it, and the fact that the sample I received had only a few hours on it would make brightness comparisons a bit dubious. But the Sony and JVC do appear to be in the same ballpark on that score. The JVC’s blacks were a shade better than the Sony’s (again, with the latter in its dynamic iris setting), mainly because it doesn’t suffer from brightness compression. This is evident on mostly black images interrupted by bright points of light, such as a star field or a special dot test pattern. Those lighted points will be brighter on the JVC, because the Sony’s dynamic iris reads the average picture level as nearly black and closes down. The Sony also has
a manual iris option, but it cannot be used simultaneously with the dynamic iris. Use of the Sony’s manual iris alone will somewhat compromise its achievable black level. Both projectors have comparably good color. Both were similarly detailed, although the
JVC did appear to pull ahead—to an almost subliminal degree and only on some material—with e-Shift turned off. Both projectors have motorized lenses, but only the JVC offers lens memories. Finally, I preferred the Sony’s performance on 3D, where it was slightly punchier and brighter (but keep in mind its lower lamp hours), although its measured brightness was still quite low. Like the JVC, the Sony also uses the low gamma wrinkle on 3D playback, but it does offer a wider range of 3D gamma options.
In my last review of a JVC projector, my wish list included a blue-only setup mode, more adjustments in the THX mode (particularly grayscale and gamma), and finer adjustment of panel convergence (like that offered on Sony’s VPL-VW95 and its recent predecessors). I got the panel convergence this time, but that’s all. Well, one out of three ain’t bad. I’d still like to see the others, and to that list you can add a convenient user menu Off control for e-Shift that doesn’t require activating Modes 1 and 2 of the Clear Motion Drive or having to enter a code-locked demo mode. But that’s just me being a curmudgeon. The DLA-X70R is ready to compete with anything else out there at a similar price. Let’s make that double the price.