JVC DLA-RS20 vs JVC DLA-RS10
Battle of the Titans? Well, the DLA-RS20 won our Best in Class Award, and the DLA-RS10 had to settle for second best. That means a lot of people are going to have to decide between excellent, and better still. It's where you have to draw the line in the sand. They're very similar, so it's "I can spend $$$ for RS10 and for $$$$ I can have an even better version." I guess that's about the same as deciding on which class of Mercedes, C class, E class, etc.
March 09 - Art Feierman
JVC RS20 vs JVC RS10 Projector Overview
Comparing two similar projectors from the same manufacturer is pretty easy. What we have here is a pretty great projector, the JVC DLA-RS10, and one that's even better - the DLA-RS20. Please note, these are sold by JVC's Pro division. Virtually identical versions are available from JVC's Consumer division. It plays out this way:
The JVC DLA-RS20 projector's equivalent model is the HD750. The DLA-RS10's almost identical twin, is the HD350. Pricing is pretty much identical between the Pro and Consumer versions. Perhaps the most siginficant difference, however, is that the HD350 and HD750 are black with silver trim, and the RS10 and RS20 instead have a bit classier gold trim.
The JVC RS20 simply stated, has the best black level performance of any projector I have ever worked with, at any price. A year ago, I should note, I said the same thing about the RS20's predecessor, the RS2. It should be noted, that the RS10 pretty much is the next best at black levels, behind those two.
Both projectors are rather premium priced, with the JVC RS10 selling for $4995, and the RS20 at $7495. Considering how good the RS10 is, many folks will be hard pressed to spend the extra for the RS20. On the other hand, these are projectors for folks who want a truly superb viewing experience, so many will feel that, "If I'm going to spend for the RS10, I might as well dig deep, and go for the RS20." (That certainly was my personal logic, in recently buying an RS20 for my main theater).
Both projectors look the same, both run on 3 LCoS chips (JVC calls them D-iLA), both have excellent placement flexibility, and best of all, they projector outstanding images.
This page is intended to help you decide which one is right for you!
The two projectors are virtually indentical, from this standpoint. Both have 2:1 zoom lenses and extensive lens shift, for maximum placement flexibility. The amount of lens shift isn't as great as a few other projectors, but the range is still excellent. The projectors can be placed (for a 100 inch diagonal screen) as high as 15 inches above the top of your screen surface, or as low as 15 inches below the bottom of your screen surface, or anywhere in between.
Focus, zoom, and lens shift are all motorized. The lens is mounted slightly off center, and recessed, and as a nice touch, a motorized door closes in front of the lens, when the projector is turned off. That will keep dust and spiderwebs off of the lens.
Physically, both projectors are fairly large, deeper, than wide, and are very attractive looking - with a shiny piano black finish, and just enough gold trim (around the lens, and a line from front to back on the top and one on each side), to have a very classy look. No sharp edges, the DLA-RS10 and DLA-RS20 have clean lines. The wife won't have any aesthetic issues with these lookers!
The control panels are located on the top, and the cable connection area - inputs and outputs are located along the right side (looking at the projector from the front). Many have mixed feelings about placing cable connections on the side, but in my room, they are on the side away from the entrance to the theater, so they couldn't be better placed. There are two HDMI 1.3 inputs on both models.
The only major difference between these two is the lack of an analog computer input on the less expensive JVC RS10. That might be an issue for a few folks. In my setup, I like to use my laptop with my RS20, and it's no problem, as my MacBook Pro has an HDMI output. For those having computers with the typical analog monitor out, there are some work-arounds, so don't despair. In most cases an analog computer output can be converted to HDMI, or component video, with the right external devices.
Both have a single component video input, and also a 12 volt screen trigger.
In summary: Excellent placement flexibility, motorized everything, excellent physical appearance. The only limitation between the two models is that lack of a dedicated analog computer input on the JVC DLA-RS10.
Comparing the Projector's Picture Quality
The RS20 comes with a more sophisticated CMS - Color Management System, than the RS10. Interestingly though, the RS10's performance, right out of the box, is superior. You are spending "the big bucks" on these projectors, and that means that having them calibrated is a relatively small additional cost. Do it! It simply doesn't make sense to spend for projectors in this class of performance in terms of picture quality, and not get the most out of them. Calibrating the RS20 can be very tricky, as we learned, due to some oddities in their CMS. Be sure to read about calibrating it in our full review, and make sure that the calibrator who works on your RS20, reads it as well.
Below: Two images from the RS10: (Click for larger versions, as you can with most images in this complete report). The first is from Hancock, the second, from Dogma, both off of Blu-ray disc.
Comparing the two, in terms of out of the box performance, the RS20's Cinema 2 mode - which should be its best controllable mode for movie watching, was a bit disappointing, mostly being too warm (reddish). Despair not, however, the RS20 is THX certified, and that means it has a THX mode (that allows for virtually no adjustments). THX mode is really actually rather excellent, it's just that a good calibartion of Cinema 2 is better still. The JVC RS10, by comparison, was much better than the RS20 (if you forget about the 20's THX mode, which the RS10 lacks). Interestingly, the "best" mode for the RS10 is Cinema 1. (Cinema 1 on the RS20 is best used for black and white movies).
The next four images are of the RS20. The first is again, from Dogma, the second is from the DTS demo disc.
Dark scenes just don't get any better looking than this IMAX footage from The Dark Knight! (above). Below - As you can see, the college football (over HDTV) I am fanatical about, looks great on the RS20.
After calibration, both projectors produce excellent color accuracy, and a well balanced picture with excellent (RS10) and outstanding (RS20) black levels.
As you would expect they tend to have the same feel to the picture.
Black level performance:
Break out the trumpets: Nothing touches the JVC DLA-RS20 (except of course the JVC HD750), when it comes to producing the blackest blacks around. The RS20 and its sibling have no equal, to my knowledge, at any price, with the exception of those old CRT type projectors (which do essentially perfect blacks). Today's CRT home theater projectors are typically in the esoteric class with prices in the mid five figure to six figure price range, so - basically - "who cares".
Sad, but true, the JVC RS10 just can't match the black levels of the RS20, but, the good news is, it is likely the next best out there.
Here are some side by side images that show off the black levels and the differences between these two projectors, in this regard.
For all of these side by side images, the RS10 is on the left, RS20 on the right:
Below is the same image from Space Cowboys (on Blu-ray disc) but more overexposed, to make it easier for you to see the difference in black levels.
Both projectors have extremely good, but not the absolute best, shadow detail. In making that statement, I must note, that near blacks are darker than on other projectors because the JVC projectors start with blacker blacks than the competition. That makes it harder to spot the very darkest shadow detail, but it's there.
The image immediately above from Men In Black, is a pretty dark image, intentionally well overexposed, and is a good image to consider the combined black level and shadow detail performance of the RS10 (left) and RS20. Please don't worry about the noticeable color shift between the two on the really dark images, as they are taken with fairly long time exposures, and color differences tend to be noticeably exaggerated in such cases. It's harder to see the dark shadow detail on the RS20 (look to the clouds on the right), but the detail is there. On scenes like several of these, the better black levels of the RS20 give the projected image visibly more "pop". You can't help but love the RS20's great black level performance!
I've already mentioned the out of the box picture quality. Here we discuss post calibration performance. Once we got a handle on the quirks of the RS20's CMS, we were able to obtain excellent final color. Attempting to achieve the ideal 6500K color temp, we ended up with this:
20 IRE: 6418K (very dark gray)
30 IRE: 6540K (dark gray)
40 IRE: 6716K
50 IRE: 6792K (medium gray)
60 IRE: 6659K
70 IRE: 6623K
80 IRE: 6557K (light gray)
90 IRE: 6453K
100 IRE: 6423K (white)
By comparison, the RS10 was very similar:
20 IRE: 6553K (very dark gray)
30 IRE: 6489K (dark gray)
40 IRE: 6538K
50 IRE: 6695K (medium gray)
60 IRE: 6595K
70 IRE: 6582K
80 IRE: 6544K (light gray)
90 IRE: 6470K
100 IRE: 6472K (white)
There are differences, though, that those almost identical sets of numbers don't reveal. With the RS20, the CMS allows you to "perfect" each of the primary and secondary colors, as a result, the RS20 does have a slightly better, more natural final picture. The slight color temp differences, as well as the RS20's ability to adjust for oversaturated individual colors, tends to explain the slight additional red of the RS10 found in the dark areas in multiple images above, as well as those below. Please note that, while side-by-side images make it easy to see subtle differences, and thus make you wonder which is right, which is wrong, both, by themselves can look excellent and accurate. (Try covering up one of the two and look at it for a bit. Then do the same, for the other). Keep in mind, our images, by the time they filter down through the camera, the software, and your monitor, tend to exaggerate differences, compared to the original, projected side-by-side images.
Overall Look and Feel of the Picture:
I've had my own, brand new RS20 here for 3 weeks and already almost 100 hours of use. It is exceptional. Skin tones are excellent (but not the very best), as is the overall picture. The RS10 was still here, until last week, so I did do some switching back and forth. While the image on the calibrated RS10 is a touch warmer, and a couple of the primary and secondary colors a bit oversaturated, it comes very close to the RS20. It's the black level performance that set these two apart. Watch a bright scene and they look pretty much the same in quality. Kick on a dark scene, and the RS20 really shines, like no other.
I have noted one minor flaw with both of these projectors. For some reason, every once in a long while, the JVCs can exhibit some artifacts when encountering some moderate panning. I suspect it only occurs when the panning is at a particular rate, that just causes minor issues with the image processing. Well, no projectors are perfect, and they all exhibit artifacts in one situation or another. This flaw is very minor, and if it is your only complaint, you will be a truly happy owner.
I like to refer to some projectors as enjoyable to watch, film-like, having "pop and wow". Both of these projectors do all three, brilliantly. The RS20 simply does them a touch better. I find both to be very film-like, natural, and easy to watch.
Bottom Line in terms of image quality
Easy, the JVC RS10 does a great job, at just about everything, and the JVC RS20, just does it all, just a bit better.
JVC RS10, RS20 Projector Performance
Tie! Both projectors are endowed with plenty of lumens in their best modes. After calibration, they were almost identical, with the RS20, surprisingly just slightly beating out the RS10 with 775 lumens compared to 740 (that's barely a perceptable difference). I say surprising, because last year's RS1 (about the same brightness as the RS10, was dramatically brighter than the RS2. (I had considered buying an RS2, but it wasn't bright enough for my 128" screen.)
The RS20, and therefore, also the RS10, have sufficient brightness, that I partially close down the manual iris when filling my large Firehawk G3.
When it comes to maximum lumens for HDTV and sports, again, the two projectors are almost identical, with the RS20 coming in at 844 lumens compared to 814. For you large screen users like me, that is enough to tackle sports and TV with modest amounts of ambient light, and still look great.
What about sharpness:
No projectors are perfect, and if I had to answer the question of what these JVC projectors' biggest weakness is, I would have to say, that that merely having "average sharpness" is it.
Yes, sadly, it is true: The JVC RS10 and RS20 are only average in sharpness among the 1080p projectors. The good news is that, while some other projectors are visibly slightly sharper, there's nothing wrong with either of these. Unless you have seen either, side-by-side with the few projectors that are exceptional (the InFocus IN83 comes to mind) in terms of sharpness, you should be perfectly happy. I sit very close (11.5 feet) to my large screen, and have excellent vision. I know there could be a bit more sharpness, but I'm never sitting there thinking - "this looks soft" or "this doesn't look really sharp". I am sufficiently pleased with the sharpness of either of these JVCs. Since we are comparing these two projectors here, let's just say, both exhibit identical sharpness.
JVC DLA-RS20 and DLA-RS10 Special Features
If you are looking for a projector with lots of razzle-dazzle features, neither JVC qualifies. They have all the standard "stuff" and they take a 24fps signal up to 96fps with simple frame interpolation.
As noted, the JVC DLA-RS20 does have a more sophisticated set of image controls.
Both projectors have internal support for an anamorphic lens, for those looking to go with a Cinemascope shaped screen (2.35:1) to eliminate letterboxing on most movies. I should note, that because of the excellent black levels, the letterbox bars are virtually unnoticeable on the RS20, and only slightly more noticeable on the RS10. In other words, for viewing such movies, you can't find any other projectors where letterboxing is less of an issue. Watching my RS20 on a 16:9 screen I just don't feel a compelling need to go that route (anamorphic lens), but I can understand why some folks will.
JVC RS20 vs JVC RS10 Bottom Line:
When I encounter projectors that truly impress me, I tend to go over the top in terms of my enthusiam, as I write. In this case, both projectors, especially the RS20, I believe, are worthy of the accolades I have heaped upon them.
It really comes down to this - figuring out if the RS10 is all the projector you need, or whether paying half again as much for the RS20 is the way to go. The factors you should be considering are:
The RS10, in its own right has black level performance that's near the best, and won't disappoint most enthusiasts. Still, the RS20 is even better. So ask yourself this question if both projectors are within your budget: "Even if I'm pleased with the black level performance of the RS10, am I the kind of person, who, knowing the RS20 is better still (the best), will I be constantly be second guessing my decision?"
The RS20, properly calibrated, will also produce a slightly better picture in terms of color accuracy and natural skin tones. This is another slight difference, and for most, less significant than the black levels.
Lastly, is the lack of an analog computer input on the RS10 going to be a headache? As noted, there are work arounds, but the RS20 keeps things simple.
The truly wise, (and sufficiently wealthy) will find that the RS20 delivers a sufficiently more to justify its higher price, but (my last projector was the RS1), living with an RS10 is still a great way to go through life. Take your pick. Either way, you will have a great home theater!