JVC DLA-RS25 vs JVC DLA-RS35
Best vs. second best? Yes, that's how I scored these two. The JVC DLA-RS35 - also sold by their consumer division as the DLA HD990, is technically nothing more than a projector built with the best of the JVC DLA RS25's parts. By handpicking the lenses, optical engines, power supplies, etc., JVC believes the RS35 projector will look visibly better than the standard RS25. Is the JVC RS35 and HD990 worth $2000 more than the RS25 or HD950? That's the question we'll try to answer below. I leave you to read this comparison, with one last thought: In this case, I do believe that the final product - the RS35, is greater than the sum of its parts. That is, I found more difference between the two projectors than I expected to. Read on!
4/27/2010 - Art Feierman
JVC RS25 vs JVC RS35 Projector Overview
Technically they are the same projector. Same parts, same warranty, same electronics. The JVC DLA-RS25 picked up our Best In Class, Runnder-Up award this year, in the $3500 - $10,000 class. At $8,000 MSRP, the RS25 is one of the most expensive projectors we've reviewed of late, but it's still $2000 less than the essentially identical RS35 projector. The JVC DLA-RS35, by comparison, is a nice even $10,000 MSRP.
Last year, when comparing two older JVCs, I said "Comparing two similar projectors from the same manufacturer is pretty easy." Well comparing these two projectors - the RS25 and RS35 is even easier still. Afterall, they are technically the same product. What we have here is a great projector, the JVC DLA-RS25, and one that's even better - the DLA-RS35, by virtue of being built only from the best of the RS25 parts. Please note, these two are sold by JVC's Pro division. Virtually identical versions are available from JVC's Consumer division. Those models are the HD950 and HD990, respectivcely.
The JVC RS25 to keep things simple, had the best black level performance of any projector I have ever worked with, at any price, when reviewed end of last year. But, ultimately, timing is everything. In Janauary I reiceived the RS35 for review, and it didn't take me long to determine it was performing better.
Both projectors look the exactly the same, but for the model number. These are LCoS projectors. JVC manufactures its own LCoS panels, under the trade-name D-iLA. Their LCoS panels seem to have significantly better contrast than those of any other manufacturer that I'm aware of.
This page is intended to help you decide which one is right for you!
The two projectors are indentical. I won't repeat all the features such as specs for lens throw, lens shift, etc., as you'll find them in either review.
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, the 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-RS25 and DLA-RS35 have clean lines. The wife won't have any aesthetic issues with these subdued 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. They have two HDMI 1.3 inputs.
Both have a single component video input, and also a 12 volt screen trigger, and a standard analog computer input.
In summary: Excellent placement flexibility, motorized everything, excellent physical appearance.
Comparing the Projector's Picture Quality
It makes a difference. No really significant differences though. The RS35's black level performance is better than the RS25's but it is slight. I didn't have the RS25 and RS35 at the same time. I was able to determine the RS35's advantage by having extensively compared the RS25 to my RS20, then the RS35 to my RS20. I found the difference between the RS25 and my RS20, to be less than between mine and the RS35. In fact I would say the RS35 beat the RS25, by more than the RS25 beat my RS20.
Whoa, this is starting to read like "who's on first?"
Color accuracy was comparable on both projectors. They both calibrated slightly differently and looked a touch different, but they are obviously "the same projector". They were also slightly different when comparing their THX modes. I'll therefore assume any really minor color differences are the result of the lamps. On that note, hand picked components or not, this RS35 measured a little less bright than the RS25.
The first four images below, were taken while using the RS35.
The next four images are of the RS25.
Below - As you can see, the college football (over HDTV) I am fanatical about, looks great (and sharp) on the RS35.
After calibration, both projectors produce excellent color accuracy, and a well balanced picture with outstanding black levels.
As you would expect they tend to have the same feel to the picture.
Black level performance:
Since we didn't have the two projectors at the same time, no side by sides, but here are some good black level images. Two from the JVC DLA-RS25, followed by two from the JVC DLA-RS35:
The satellite scenes is heavily overexposed to make it easier to compare black level performance. Unfortunately the exposures are never exactly the same, making it hard to detect slight differences in black performance.
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.
RS25 image of the night train in Casino Royale, followed by the RS35's effort on the same image. (The RS25 has the slightly brighter photo. Other than that, they really do seem to be the same projector. What a coincidence.
The image immediately above from Men In Black, is a pretty dark image, intentionally well overexposed, and is a good image to consider the black level and shadow detail performance of the RS35 (top) and RS25 (bottom). Between the slightly different exposures and the whole process of getting these images onto your screen, I doubt you can tell anything, other than they certainly look like the same projector with perhaps slightly different settings. As expected!
Overall Look and Feel of the Picture:
These JVC's are very natural looking. They have occaisionally been accused by some as lacking that wow factor. I won't go that far, rather say, they seem to be about right on, it's just that many enjoy a bright image with a bit more pop, but its more that others are a touch too much, than the JVCs lacking. When it comes to dark scenes, though, the superb blacks of the JVC come into play. As a result few other projectors can come even close to the "pop and wow" of the RS25 and RS35 projectors on scenes like the Bond night train scene, the MIB saucer scene above, or almost anything in outer space. These JVC's like mine, never look over the top. Skin tones feel right, even if I have seen slightly better.
Bottom Line in terms of image quality
They essentially look identical, only in black levels is the RS35 "better" and then it's only slight. Any other differences, I believe are attributable to calibration, and lamps.
JVC DLA-RS25, DLA-RS35 Projector Performance
As it turns out that RS35 - built from all those "best" quality controlled components, measured a little less bright than the RS25. I asked JVC about this. It sounds like more brightness isn't an advantage of the RS35, nor is it inherently less bright. Seems that brightness will be in part, the "luck of the draw" and may well be tied to the normal variation from one lamp to the next.
For all practical purposes, therefore, consider the RS25 and RS35 to be a tie when it comes to brightness.
What about sharpness:
The one advantage of the RS35 is the extra sharpness that, at least my review unit had, for having exceptional pixel alignment. JVC folks did tell me that the alignment is tighter on the RS35s. That, to me gives the RS35 a bit more sharpness, and with it a feel of a touch more depth.
It's the sharpness, though, that is the most noticeable difference. It's not great, but it is enough to matter to a lot of folks. I've heard from a lot of JVC owners, and about the only complaint I ever hear, and usually from someone who previously owned a DLP projector, is that the JVC could be sharper. Well, the RS35 I had, is sharper. It's what I've always wanted. The RS35 definitely benefited, and for the first time, I was able to watch a lot of high quality Discovery-HD type digital content, and not feel the JVC projector was a tad soft.
Since film based content is inherently a little soft, I have always been happy enough with JVC's sharpness for (film based) movie viewing, but wished for more for my sports and digital content. The JVC RS35 meets my demands for that extra sharpness. The RS25 is like my RS20 (actually my 20 is a hair better by virtue of slightly better pixel alignment, but the RS20 and RS25 were pretty much the same in terms of alignment, when compared to the far better RS35.
JVC RS25 vs. JVC RS35 Bottom Line:
$8000 vs. $10,000 (give or take whatever discounts you can find)? Is the RS35 worth the extra $2000 as simply a better quality controlled JVC RS25?
I'm sure budgets will come into play for a lot of people deciding between these two. I see it this way, as a RS20 owner, I've basically been living with a near identical projector but for the lack of CFI. I had thought about replacing the RS20 with an RS25 or an RS35. In my case, I decided right off, that for practical reasons, I'm better off waiting another year. Sorry, can't afford a new projector every year, any more than most of you can, (although large donations gratefully accepted).
Despite my decision to wait, I figured out my answer to the RS25 vs. RS35 debate. It's not necessarily your answer.
I would buy the RS35. No doubt about it. I had to look at it as another projector, that happens to be 25% more expensive. See, it doesn't seem so much more money, when you look at it as a percentage. Not, of course, that such thinking will help your Amex card).
When I forget that the two projectors are basically the same, then it starts making some sense. For the extra money, I get, what is almost certainly an insignificant improvement in black level performance. I might also get a more reliable projector (the best components might last longer)?
Above: RS35, from Blazing Saddles, below, RS25, showing the Enterprise under construction in the recent Star Trek movie.
But the major difference is in the image sharpness. I attribute that to the far better pixel alignment. Now it comes down to consistency. I was led to expect a slightly sharper image, before I saw the RS35. The RS25 certainly was no sharper (perhaps a tiny bit less) than my own RS20. The JVC RS35, however, was distinctly sharper. In this regard, it looked more like a typical (sharp) single chip DLP projector than a typical LCD or LCoS projector. Now keep in mind this is one RS35. I cannot be sure than all RS35's have pixel alignment's as good as this one. That said, I was told to expect the better pixel alignment. I'm figuring that the very best RS25 to be shipped, is going to be very close in performance to the worst RS35 shipped, but if the average RS35, is this much better than the average RS25, it's price difference is definitely justifiable.
Well, slight softness and lack of more "brightest" mode lumens were always my two complaints about my RS20, and before that my RS1. The RS35 doesn't cure my desire for an extra few hundred or more lumens in the brightest mode, but it does satisfy my craving for a crisp looking image, expecially on digital content. As a bonus for me, both RS25 and RS35 offer the same Creative Frame Interpolation, which I would like to have, for most of my sports.
True, when I worked with the DLA-RS35 projector I relied not only on the superior alignment and lens, but also on a little bit of dynamic sharpening in the controls. The end result gives me that "sharper still" look, that other JVCs just can't achieve. For me, that's the winning ticket. And no, the RS35 will not be the sharpest projector around. There are definitely sharper appearing DLP projectors in this report, but the RS35 is closer to them, than to virtually any other LCD or LCoS projector. Hey, if I'm spending $10,000 for an RS35, I can always consider dropping an extra $1000 or so for a really bright projector to mount on the bottom side of my rear shelf, for those football games, etc. (I've seriously considered that, never executed, because the least expensive bright projectors won't mount far enough back to work on the bottom of my shelf.
Above, the RS35 normally exposed on a very dark scene from Quantum of Solace. This image looks great with either of these projectors, thanks to the great black level performance.
Ok that's it. If $8000 and $10,000 home theater projectors are viable in your world, my advice - spend for the RS35. The good news, though, is that if you can't afford the difference, the RS25 is still one hell of a projector. Just ask any owner (or owners of the older RS20). I know I've really enjoyed my RS20 so far, and I've yet (RS35 excepted) to have another projector in my main room, that can produce a better image.