May 24, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
There are two things buzzing in the home theater projector market right now, 3D and 4K, and this projector has both of them, well, sort of.
Over the past couple of years I’ve heard many installers move from other brands over to JVC projectors. What they rave about is the high performance for the relatively moderate price. JVC uses DILA technology instead of DLP or LCD. The benefit is the projector is able to produce very deep blacks as well as avoid the whole rainbow effect problem of single-chip DLPs. In this review I check out the JVC DLA X70R.
In this series JVC introduced a new technology called eShift which produces a 4K-ish picture. It’s not exactly 4K though, and I wish the company wouldn’t refer to it as that because I worry it just adds confusion, but the results on the screen are still exceptional, so I’ll give the company a pass. In fact it won’t accept a 4K signal (that’s OK because as of today there aren’t any). Essentially, the projector uses three 1080p DILA chips (the same as any DILA projector) but the added eShift trick shifts the pixels a smidgeon and fires them twice to achieve an onscreen resolution of 3840 x 2160, the result is a double spoonful of pixels on the screen.
OK, it’s a trick, but the trick works and creates a smoother picture with virtually no space between the pixels. I walked right up to the screen and still found it difficult to discern any pixel gap. Why is that important? Because it lets you get closer, and closer is good.
I used the X70 with a 120-inch Seymour Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K screen (see screen review here). This acoustically transparent screen is constructed of such an invisible micro weave that you need to put your nose on it to see the texture. Coupled with a projector that effectively eliminates a visible pixel structure and you get an image that can be viewed incredibly close. I found myself pulling my seat up two feet close from where I normally sit with my DLP projector.
Setting up the projector was simple, thanks to a well-organized menu with easy to operate controls. It’s a THX-certified unit and offers a lot of customization to the picture settings, so with the right equipment you can dial this unit in perfectly. It features electronic zoom and vertical and horizontal lens shift. You can save three separate lens memories, which is especially nice if you use a 2.35.1 screen and like to switch between that and 16:9 at a constant height without an anamorphic lens option.
As a DILA projector, it produced very solid blacks. During all the dark arts business of the last Harry Potter film, blacks and colors looked great side by side. The deep blacks also contributed to a wonderful sense of depth that produced the 3D effect we love in a big screen, which brings me to my next topic—true 3D.
The X70 is an active-shutter 3D projector. An IR signal emitter and two sets of glasses are extra (but come with the X90 model). The glasses charge up via a USB cord. The glasses and the emitter are easy to use, and the glasses aren’t the ugliest ones I’ve seen. While the projector does a good job of displaying 3D, it seemed to introduce a bit more crosstalky jitter to the picture than some other 3D models I’ve used. The picture does noticeably dim when you put the 3D glasses on even though the projector itself brightens into high lamp mode.
Speaking of modes, the projector takes an unusually long time to switch between some modes—such as 2D to 3D or when changing 3D formats. It also can take a couple of seconds to recognize what kind of signal it’s being fed, but unless you’re pathologically impatient, this isn’t a problem.
Details and color saturation looks great in both 2D and 3D. In all video and test patterns I threw at it, the picture was smooth and vibrant.
If you don’t have a lot of 3D Blu-ray discs (and who does?), the unit will create 3D out of any 2D you feed it. In this, it does a very good job of adding extra depth appeal.
Ultimately, whether this projector is actually 4K or not isn’t really important now. You won’t get anything near this performance for the $8K list price. Sony’s true 4K projector is $25,000, and there’s still the issue of there being no 4K material. The JVC creates an exceptional picture that allows you plenty of flexibility at a reasonable price, which explains why so many pros are using it now.
No visible pixels
Easy to use
Not true 4K
Some 3D artifacts
Contrast Ratio in class (80,000:1)
THX Calibration mode
120Hz Clear Motion Drive
2D to 3D Converter
Automatic Lens Cover
Wide Lens Shift functionality (V: 80%, H: 34%)
2X Zoom (1.4 to 2.8 throw ratio)
3 Position Lens Memory for easy Cinemascope and 16:9 HDTV setup
Motorized Focus, Zoom & Lens Shift
Dual 3D enabled HDMI v1.4a input with Deep Color and CEC
RJ45 LAN Connection
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.