JVC DLA-X70R Review

posted on Thursday, 13th October 2011 by Steve May

projectors  3D 


JVC has created quite a buzz with its new D-ILA projector line-up. Officially launched at the 2011 US CEDIA Expo, this range comprise three models (the £3,000 DLA-X30R, £7,000 DLA-X70R and £10,000 DLA-X90R), the top two of which offer '4K precision.'

But what does this actually mean? Are the DLA-X70R and DLA-X90R models comparable with Sony's VPL-VW1000ES 4K projector, unveiled at the same time, or is '4K precision' little more than marketing mumbo-jumbo?

To learn more, I travelled to JVC's newly refurbished viewing room in West London, for some hands-on time with the first samples to arrive in the UK. The JVC theatre room, which incidentally now sports a Spitfire sound system from Artcoustic, amplification from Onkyo and a TAM2 acoustically transparent screen supplied by Screen excellence, was kitted out with a DLA-X70R and cheaper DLA-X30R (available in matt white!).

The first thing you need to know is that the DLA-X70R is an extremely accomplished projector. Contrast and functionality have all been improved over last year's model. The second thing you need to know is that it's not 4K after all.

This model, and its top-tier sibling, use a technology called e-shift. Developed in conjunction with NHK's Engineering Service division, it's an optical technique which improves the perceived pixel density of an incoming image four fold. Consequently, with a Full HD Blu-ray source, this pixel-shifting allows the projector to present an image that approximates a resolution, or rather density, of 3840 x 2160.

The brand's product specialist Steven Carter maintains "this is not upscaling" as no electronic interpolation is happening. However, in order to iron out any jaggies in the picture JVC has developed some new scaling technology. This is certainly effective. I didn't spot ugly stepping in diagonals.  

Overall, the technology seemed to emphasise the cinematic nature of the picture. I wouldn't say the image looked sharper, but it did appear supremely filmic.

It's worth pointing out that pixel-shifting trickery only works on 2D sources; 3D Blu-rays are untouched. But it does dense up DVDs, Freeview HD, Sky, etc.

Significantly though, neither the DLA-X70R nor DLA-X90R can accept native 4096 x 2160 source material. Consequently, they can only be considered 2K projectors.

It's not just pixel-shifting which is new this year. JVC has also made multiple improvements to its 3D proposition. For the first time, 720p 3D is supported and the anamorphic mode works both flat and 3D.

A new Crosstalk Canceller has also been developed to minimise double imaging. This rather cleverly analyses left and right frames and then uses a proprietary algorithm to remove any overlap with RGB precision. Running through a selection of 3D footage, from Tangled to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, double imaging did indeed appear to be absent. Infact, I quickly forgot I was meant to be looking for it and just enjoyed the show.

All three projectors feature 2D-3D conversion, using the same technology found in the brand's professional processor. Faux 3D is a contentious subject, but it clearly does the job here.

I played a sequence from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Although shot in 3D, it's made its debut in the US as a flat Blu-ray release. By running it through the DLA-X70R's converter, the original composition was reinstated. As an approximation of the original 3D it looked darn close.

Integrators are more likely to be impressed by the addition of lens memory. For those installations with 2.35:1 screens (using vertical or side masking), three different lens positions (combining zoom, focus and shift) can be stored. Typically these might be for a standard 16:9 presentation, full-screen 2.35:1 and a shifted 2.35:1 to allow for subtitles. 

Also boosting the projector's CI credibility is a new pixel alignment mode, which allows incredibly precise convergence, via 121 points and in 1/16 pixel increments. It's now possible to get the image super-crisp right to the edge of the screen, with no colour bleed.

Both the X70R and X90R models are THX 3D certified and can be ISF calibrated. However, if you want to take picture-tuning to the next level you'll need the high-end DLA-X90R model. This alone offers a number of premium features aimed at professional calibrators.

You can set up a colour profile on a PC and upload it to the projector via a LAN connection; colour profiles stored in the User 1-5 presets can similarly be backed up to PC.

JVC has also produced new software to automatically calibrate and correct white balance errors on the DLA-X90R. The software is available from the JVC website, and is designed to be used in conjunction with the Datacolor Spyder3Pro and Spyder3Elite colour meters.



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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Posted by James Middleton on 8th November 2011, 11:52 AM
Looking forward to seeing this projector as fitted many of the older models and loved them

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