JVC DLA-HD250 Projector - Image Quality
JVC DLA-HD250 (click for specs) images below are from either Blu-ray, or HDTV. The one excepton is Lord of the Rings (standard DVD). These images are not overly accurate in terms of color, or some other aspects. They are most helpful relative to shadow detail, black level performance, and sharpness. The DLA-HD250 projector invariably looks much bette than what you see here, and different too. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc.
Viewing the images taken with the DLA-HD250 on my MacBook Pro's screen, it appears we're getting a touch too much yellow in the images, enough to be visible on the skin tones. Thus, skin tones definintely look better, "live" on the JVC HD250 projector, than in these images.
08/3/2011 - Art Feierman
DLA-HD250 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Very good, yet, can be much improved! Oh, it's true, put on Cinema 1 and most folks will just go wow. Those of us looking for pretty accurate color, and a higher level of performance though will definitely appreciate a calibration. Unlike the more expensive JVC projectors, the HD250 does not have a pre-calibrated THX mode. So, drop in our calibration settings, or better yet, get thee to a calibrator. as the HD250 out of the box can definitely be improved.
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
With our calibration giving us a much more accurate, and more consistent color temperature, the skin tones of the HD250 are looking pretty good. The there is a touch extra red, in skin tones, that likely would be correctable if the HD250 had a full color management system like the DLA-RS50/RS60/X7/X9. While the reds are a touch pushed, it does tend to give skin tones a vibrant look. Before you perfectionists panic, though, consider that these reds seem extremely tame compared to what most folks look at their LCDTVs. Not the dark vibrant, which I associate with the DLP "look and feel" but more of a mid and bright range vibrance. In this regard, it is more vibrant than even the more expensive JVCs, which can seem a touch "dark" overall, by comparison (give or take a gamma adjustment.) Those blacker blacks add that slightly "darkish look" element to the pricier JVCs, which is just killer on dark scenes, but the HD250 has a "lighter" feel on most other scenes.
Gandalf looked just awesome on the screen. This image doesn't begin to capture the essence.
Next are our usual three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond, in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. (These were all taken with the RS25 projector.)
The point here, is that correct skin tones vary, depending on the lighting. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
For a quick comparison, the image above, is the HD250, and below, the old RS15. In reality most of the difference you see is likely due to my upgrading my dSLR from an Olympus E-Volt 510, to the Canon 60D which is definitely more accurate.
More skin tone images for your consideration:
Ah, Scarlett Johansson, above, from Iron Man 2.
Above, Morgan Freeman in Red. "Indoor" lighting.
See what I mean about "vibrant"? Above, Karl Urban in Red.
JVC HD250 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
In this first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily.Immediately below, from The Fifth Element, our favorite starship image. First we'll start with the HD250 (converted to grayscale) slightly overexposed, and below it, the Sony VWPro1 competition.
Same comparison, JVC vs Sony, but seriously way overexposed:
Comparing the JVC to the Sony, immediately above, the JVC is definitely doing a bit better blacks on this scene. Keep in mind, while this is a space scene, it's not an extremely dark one. There are plenty of mid brightness and some very bright areas, unlike, say, the Casino Royale night train scene below, where there definitely seems to be parity.
For the rest, of our comparison images, they are well overexposed, some have been converted to grayscale for your convenience (the slight purplish-red color varies a lot from one projector's image to another, so grayscale makes it easier to compare:
Epson Home Cinema 8700UB (approximately $2000 at this time):
Last year's JVC RS15:
Mitsubishi HC4000 (under $1300):
BenQ W6000 (approximately $2000 at this time):
A few more images for viewing black levels and shadow detail:
Shadow Detail Performance
This JVC did very well on shadow detail. It wasn't spectacular, but solid. As it turns out, the Epson 8700UB bested it in my favorite scenes, which is interesting, as the 8700UB reviewed much better than previous Epson UBs. This was the first time in the 4 years of UBs and high contrast JVC's that the Epson revealed more dark shadow detail, than the "entry level" (though more expensive), JVC. Difference isn't great, but the JVC really seems to be about average compared to the competition, while a few others do better work in this regard.
Don't sweat it, there's plenty of dark shadow detail there. We really are talking very subtle differences, when actually watching content. In the train scene below, it's not exactly like you are staring at the shrubs when the scene is playing. You are watching the train, and it's headlight (the brightest thing on your screen at that point.
But seriously, it's image time. Consider:
In the side by side night train scene from Casino Royale, the JVC is on the left. You can tell the JVC is a bit brighter, but even considered, it should have a slight advantage on the Mitsubishi HC9000D on the right. Check out those shrubs on the far right, behind the railroad tracks.
And again, JVC vs. Mitsubishi. The Mitsubishi isn't quite as bright (we can never get two, to be identical)
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The DLA-HD250U performs very nicely.
Click on left thumbnail image for the JVC DLA-HD250, PT-AE4000 in the center, and the right, for fun, the $10,000 Sony VPL-VW90ES.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. As always, look for details in the shrubs in the right and in the woods behind them.
Next is JVC's RS25 - now replaced with the RS50. This is the projector out there with the best blacks period (except for CRTs, and the handpicked RS35/RS60 versions, which should be the same), but as is not unusual, projectors with exceptional blacks tend to look a little weak on the darkest shadow detail.
The Sony competition, the VPL-VWPro1:
Epson's flagship 8700UB which sells for about 1/3 less.
Optoma's more expensive HD8600:
One more time. The JVC has very good dark shadow detail, but is by no means exceptional, there are several competitors that are a bit better.
Still, a scene rarely draws your eye to the most subtle dark shadow detail, so few would notice any significant difference between any of these, when actually watching this train scene.
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Classic entry level JVC, although the HD250, out of the box is a bit weaker, color wise than we're used to from JVC's lowest cost model each year.
Calibrate it and the DLA-HD250 hums. Skin tones and everything get very good, that's really very good. I didn't make it all the way up to excellent, for there is a bit too much red push which can show up in skin tones especially in bright scenes. Once again, though, I point out, "really very good" is a level of good picture quality, that I can say I've never seen on anyone's LCDTV, except maybe for some high end Pioneer Kuros and probably Runcos and SIM2 LCDTVs although those last two are first and foremost high end projector companies.
So, trust me on this, even if you are a madman with a light meter and calibration software, and can't get this JVC to the precision level of the JVC's with CMS (full color management), it's highly unlikely that any of your friends family, or even walk by strangers, will think that the JVC's color is anything less than beautiful. It takes us hard core, to complain about this level of picture quality.
DONT FORGET: There's a section on the JVC DLA-HD250's performance on HDTV and Sports, below this next batch of images!
JVC DLA-HD250 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Only a few complaints when it comes to changing modes - from fully darkened room, to one suitable for TV and friends. And that means at least a little intentional ambient light.
With about 850 lumens in our tuned (quick-cal) Dynamic mode (mid-point on the zoom), the DLA-HD250 is definitely less bright, at its brightest, than much of the competition. That said, it definitely also holds its own with the other LCoS projectors out there. It's the LCD and some DLP's that have a lot more brightness - up to double, and that is truly noteworthy.
Below, looking at the back of my room for the way the room was when most of these images were taken (unless otherwise noted):
I did most of my sports viewing in my theater - a really dark cave, when I want it to be, but for sports I never have it fully darkened, in fact, I usually have the back 7 down facing lights turned on (as shown), and if it's daytime, I might have the rear shutters open enough to add significant additional light. I have one side window near the screen, as you can see, that one stays mostly closed or it throws a visible amount of light onto the right side of the screen
With all of that, the JVC does take a little bit of hit, but in my room most of the light stays in the back thanks to all dark surfaces.
Not everything on TV is sports, however. I'm a big fan of music videos, and channels like Discovery HD, SyFi HD, History HD, and etc HD:
These two images from the Peter Lik (nature photographer) show on the Weather Channel HD:
As expected everything looks really good with the JVC HD250.
Missing for sports fans, though, is the CFI - creative frame interpolation, for smooth motion on sports. Missing also are an extra few hundred lumens which would definitely be appreciated. Those with smaller screens and no light issues, and may even use a calibrated best mode, with less than 700 lumens, for the best possible image for sports. and can still be pleased. But, larger screen owners, as always, who don't want to watch the superbowl with 10 friends in pitch blackness, will likely find themselves a bit thin on sufficient brightness.
A little Lady Gaga, anyone?
That of course is true of all the LCoS projectors so far, and a good number of others. But, there are alternative projectors that can put out a respectable 1100 or even 1600 lumens, and every lumen helps. Home entertainment projectors - low cost ones more geared for family rooms than theaters, often have 1500 - 2000 lumens or more, because the manufacturers know how much harder it is in such rooms without everything dark. If sports viewing and HDTV viewing is your primary thing, and your room isn't ideal, there are likely better projectors for your consideration, even for less. This JVC can do such rooms but like many projectors isn't built with the horsepower to do them well.
As long as the room is compatible, the JVC does just fine on sports, but I'd still like to have the option of CFI, CFI can be found on projectors from under $2000. It is a bit dissapointing, since this JVC replaces an older projector - the RS15, that did have it. Oh well!