JVC DLA-X500R 3D D-ILA Projector Review Page 2

When I checked the DLA-X500R’s 3D playback, I got what I expected: essentially identical performance to the DLA-X700R. As with the higher-priced model, the 3D emitter and glasses cost extra, $100 and $180 each, respectively. As I noted in my review of the DLA-X700R, 3D crosstalk (that is, ghosting) was nonexistent on some content, and ranged from slight to more noticeable on my usual 3D torture tests. It was definitely better than JVC’s prior generation of projectors, but hardly ghost-free (as you might get with some DLP projectors).

JVC was also nice enough to lend me a Redray 4K player with a selection of 4K content, all shot with Red’s cameras. They lent me one last time around for the DLA-X700R review, but this player had newer demo clips, including some dazzling outdoor photography. Despite some minor hiccups from the HDMI connection, the 4K imagery was jaw-dropping, with startling detail and contrast. Granted, this 4K content probably won’t match up to what we’re expecting from the UHD Blu-ray format, with its increase in not only resolution but also bit depth, color gamut, and other hopefuls like high dynamic range and frame-rate support. Still, the clean, higher-resolution imagery did provide some incredibly clear eye candy on this 1080p projector that has made me anxious to dive into UHD.

715jvc.rem.jpgLast year, I waxed on about JVC’s biggest buzz feature for that model year, the aforementioned Intelligent Aperture. It is the brand’s first dynamic iris, used for extracting the very last bit of contrast these units are capable of. Thankfully, the DLAX500R’s iris is every bit the equivalent of what you get from the higher-end offerings and also gives you the ability to dial in your peak white or static contrast using the manual option. I’d still like to see JVC refine the dynamic iris performance a bit, though. It’s a tad aggressive, with some scenes of low-to-mid-level brightness leading to some minor crushing of white highlights or colors. This is an anomaly I see with almost all dynamic iris systems. If the folks at JVC dialed its action down somewhat, I’d find it more useful. It might then nudge their projector’s already stellar contrast ratio to a truly spectacular level.

I was also worried that the trimmed-down price of the DLA-X500R would take its toll in calibration options. The projector does lack a number of video modes that the higher-priced models include, but, as noted earlier, the only one missing that I felt could really add value is the THX preset. Most of the other modes apply a color filter that allows for wider gamuts, but those gamuts aren’t really needed for any content on the market today, and the filter actually robs some brightness from the image when used.

Nonetheless, even without a THX mode, I was able to dial in a very accurate image with nearly dead-on colors and a spot-on grayscale by starting in the User 1 preset and Standard (not Wide) color space mode. I’ve been a big fan of JVC’s latest lamps’ ability to keep their light output pretty stable over a very long period of time, though I’m concerned about the consistency of the gamma performance. On both my DLA-X700R and this DLA-X500R, I began over time seeing some pretty dramatic shifts in gamma that made it harder to calibrate. Older JVC models offered a 10-point gamma calibration system that would have helped dial in the luminance levels through the mid-grayscale range to where they needed to be, but the new setup only gives you the option to tailor the top and bottom ends, which made it difficult to get the most out of the projector. I could still get it pretty close with lots of trial and error, but I’d love to see JVC and other projector manufacturers move to a 10-point parametric grayscale/gamma adjustment, similar to what some flat-panel HDTVs offer. But this also brings up another big win for the DLA-X500R: The money you save over the higher-end models is enough to add a high-end video processor like one of the models I reviewed previously from Lumagen and DVDO (see soundandvision.com). These would give you the tools to make these calibration issues moot over the life of the projector.

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Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
I’ll be honest: This last batch of JVC models has delivered performance that has reached the level where I’m stretching to find things to nitpick. Picture quality has gotten so good that it would satisfy even the staunchest videophile in almost every respect. Images are incredibly crisp and have excellent contrast, depth, and pop. But I wouldn’t say their work is done. HDMI stability and the speed with which the projector locks onto a video signal are still a clear step back from what I’ve seen on the latest models from Sony and Epson. The same goes for the level of fan noise in the high lamp mode. Models from competitors are not only brighter overall, but their higher lamp modes deliver sound levels that are more in line with JVC’s nearly silent low-lamp modes. With 4K on the horizon, people are going to be more and more enticed by bigger screens to take advantage of it, and JVC will need to step up their lumen output to light those screens. I personally hope we’ll see them move toward solid-state lighting options like laser-based projection; considering that their professional market offerings feature laser projectors, I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see this sooner rather than later in consumer models. I had the chance to view Epson’s new laser projector, and I was quite pleased with what I saw, but it still didn’t have the contrast and pop that the DLA-X500R delivered at half the price.

The folks at JVC may not like me much for this, but I feel the DLA-X500R is the projector to beat in their current lineup. Sure, the native contrast isn’t quite up to snuff with the higher-end models, but at these levels, I don’t think the big boys’ increases are enough for dramatic differences in real-world viewing—and the dynamic iris makes this a moot point anyway. Slick auto lens covers and cosmetics may win over a few buyers, but I’m a pure performance connoisseur, and the DLA-X500R delivered there in spades. I can’t think of anything at this price point (and only a few projectors at higher prices) that I’d recommend more for overall performance. JVC has raised the bar quite high with this value leader, and I’m really hoping we’ll see it topped later this year. Until then, this is the one to own.

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johnrick01's picture

Nice projector with great performance i have done a detailed review for this on my website that i made using
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