In-depth: JVC 4K e-shift3 projector HD World event

posted on Thursday, 31st October 2013 by Steve May

projectors  4K  Events 


If you've been confused by JVC's newly announced 4K e-shift3 video projection technology, you're not alone. At the brand's recent HD World European product unveiling event held in Marbella, questions about the brand's 2014 models were coming thick and fast.

"I must be a bit of a numpty, but I'm still not quite getting this…" confessed award-winning custom installer David Graham, of Graham's Hi-Fi, during the Q&A. Other self-proclaimed numpties from within the industry murmured in agreement.

Their bemusement stems from the fact that this latest trio of D-ILA projectors, the DLA-X900R, DLA-X700R and DLA-X500R, all sport the first variant of the brand's optical image enhancement technology able to accept a 4K source. However they boast a standard HDMI input and use only 1080p imaging devices, albeit shiny new sixth generation versions. Optical sleight of hand means the delivered onscreen pictures contains 3840 x 2160 pixels though.

Product specialist Steven Carter (pictured above) was at pains to clarify that none of the new models feature HDMI 2.0 boards. "On paper, it looks like we're doing something against the trend, but in reality this technology is doing what it needs to do," he explained. "4K e-shift3, created in association with NHK, is something we're really proud of…"

Early samples of both the new DLA-X900R and DLA-X700R models were on hand to be put through their paces, first with 1080p Blu-rays and then 4K clips via a RedRay media player. Unsurprisingly, with Blu-ray discs the new projectors looked superb.

JVC DLA-X700R and DLA-X900R shoot-out
The Tom Cruise sci-fi yarn Oblivion was first up and displayed huge levels of detail, with gorgeous colour fidelity. JVC's proprietary e-shifted pixels gave the image a density and filmic consistency that was simply breathtaking. The projectors sport sixth generation D-ILA devices which reduce the pixel gap some 40 per cent on their predecessors.

To really stress the improved contrast of these 2014 models Pacific Rim, with its demanding night time Kaiju battles, followed on the X900R - the new dynamic iris gave plunging depth to the special effects sequences. While the X900R, X700R and X500R have a native contrast of 150,000:1, 120,000:1 and 60,000:1 respectively, this jumps to 1,500,000:1, 1,200,000:1 and 600,000:1 when the dynamic iris is engaged. If there's a downside to using it, it wasn't spotted during the demo.

"The major difference between this year's projectors and last," continued Carter "is that whereas before we were creating 4K resolution from existing 1080p content, effectively upscaling it by e-shifting half a pixel diagonally, now we can take native 4K content, actually a sub-frame of native content, and effectively scaling it through a 1080p imaging device."  The three projectors are compatible with both 4096 x 2160 and 3840 x 2160 resolution sources, running up to 60fps. Once scaled to three devices, the image is then optically delivered by a fourth device for an onscreen resolution of 3810 x 2160.

"Essentially the first sub frame is followed by a second which is shifted diagonally, which is what doubles the height and doubles the width of the image," says Carter.

How good is 4K e-shift3?
So how did the projectors perform in 4K mode? The RedRay player, with assorted demo material, was connected via HDMI 1.4 and output to the JVCs at 8bit 4:2:0 at 24 fps. Subjectively, the 4K clips displayed admirable clarity. Footage of a Japanese tea ceremony was lush and vibrant. Skin tones had realistic tonality. MPC (Multi Pixel Control) 3 processing is onboard to automatically detect any incoming original resolution to best optimise the image.

While JVC wouldn't be drawn on the possible introduction of a native 4K projector, Steven Carter insisted that the 2014 models aren't stop gap products. "For our technology, for a route to market now and having a product that is compliant with a 4K source, we have it here," he said. "When satellite broadcasting begins, hopefully next year, you'll be able to plug it in and it'll be compatible."

While the RedRay player was running at 24fps, JVC says it's also tested its new models successfully at 30fps. However, JVC did (kind of) concede that if Sky opts to broadcast at 10bit 4:4:4 the projectors would need a firmware update. Of course JVC can't possibly plan for what broadcasters may do in the future, as a 2160p broadcast specification is far from agreed.

In truth it would probably be a mistake to sell these three models specifically on their 4K input. What JVC is offering with 4K e-shift3 is a modicum of compatibility with next gen sources as and when they arrive. What we can say categorically though is that the images being cast from sources available today look rather sensational.

"People just need to see these models demo'd to see how good they are now," concluded Carter. It's difficult not to concur.

The JVC 4K e-Shift3 projectors are available through Habitech and Invision UK.
For more on Invision UK's products and services visit our partner page here.
For details of Habitech's portfolio and services, visit our partner page here

Also read:
JVC unveils 4K e-shift 3 projector trio at CEDIA Expo

Reviewed: 2013 home technology showcase

In-depth: Habitech Mercedes-Benz World Dealer Day

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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