JVC DLA-HD250 Projector Review
JVC's DLA HD250 home theater projector is their first enty priced low enough to compete against some of the much higher volume projectors in the $2000 to $3500 price range. While still near the high point of that range, it's price is low enough for JVC, to generate some serious sales, if still not in the volume league of the Epson Optoma and Panasonic, projectors. How does it stack up?
August 2011 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-HD250 Projector Overview
Until the DLA-HD250 and it's identical sibling projector, the JVC DLA-HD250Pro, JVC hasn't offered a modern home theater projector under $4495. Bingo, these two JVC's - the one we received to review was the DLA-HD250, from their consumer division. The DLA-HD250Pro is actually an identical projector from their Pro division. The biggest difference, is really the $4 difference in MSRP. This JVC DLA-HD250 is $2995, and the HD250Pro, four dollars more.
In the past, JVC has offered us 3 different models, in each of the last two years. This year, those three projectors from last year, got bigger, and added 3D capability. Pricing stayed faily similar with the JVC X3 and RS40, still in the $4000s, the X7 (consumer) and RS50 around $8000, and the X9 and RS60 at dollars under $12,000.
So, where did JVC's HD250 and HD250Pro come from? Really, they are reworked RS15 projectors from last year, or more accurately, the RS10 from the year before. I say that because these JVC DLA-HD250 projectors lack the CFI - smooth motion - which JVC calls Clear Motion. The RS15 had it, the older RS10 didn't. All are in the same case (although finishes differ). Today's other new JVC projectors are physically much larger.
Other than that, these two new, low cost JVCs differ primarily by price, compared to their predecessors. Just think, you are getting a projector very similar to the original RS1 or the later RS10, which respectively sold for under $5500 and in the mid-$4000s, respectively
$2995 starts looking awfully impressive, and that's the point. It may not be the most feature laden (no CFI, no 3D...), but it is a top performing projector in terms of black levels and overall picture quality. The DLA-HD250's predecessors were top projectors at their price points. That makes these HD250's a virtual steal, with a 1/3 lower price, at the cost, mostly of just losing CFI! Works for me.
It wasn't even worth a lot of thought, this HD250 definitely deserves our Hot Product award!
The JVC DLA-HD250 is a larger medium sized projector, but hardly huge. It sports a 2:1 zoom lens, and is fully motorized for zoom, focus and lens shift. The DLA-HD250 has a gray black flat finish, unlike the black shiny piano finish of the older RS15. The lines are clean, but I miss the shiny black. Inputs are along the right side (viewed from the front), instead of in the back. That gives you a little more room, for rear shelf mounting, by not having cables and connectors sticking out the back.
JVC is legendary for their black level performance, and despite the DLA-HD250 being the entry level of JVC home theater projectors, it's black levels are essentially the equal or better than any other projectors near its price. Want a projector with significantly better blacks - folks that's going to cost you 2.5x as much, as I can't think of anything significantly better short of JVC's own DLA-RS50, at $7999!
This JVC home theater projector has very good color performance, but lacking the more sophisticated controls found on other JVC's and many other projectors, it can't be as finely honed as those with full CMS support. None-the-less the JVC puts up some really good skin tones, which is the first thing to look for. If skin tones look right, then almost everything else has to.
This is a projector targeted at home theater enthusiasts, and anyone who just wants a particularly exceptional looking projector, and is shopping in the JVC's budget range. Having owned it's "grandfather" the original DLA-RS1, I can attest to the overall picture quality of the even better HD250.
Warning for those who are hard core enthusiasts, and do their own tweaking and calibrating, and normally can't leave their projector alone without adjusting something for any reasonable time: The lack of a full CMS may take some of the fun out of your "hobby" if that's going to bother you, look elsewhere. We can't have you bored.
For those of you who only watch the content, and never "notice" the projector, only that everything looks great, the HD250 is right up your alley, it's got the performance, without all the gadgets.
DLA-HD250 Projector Highlights
Specs for JVC DLA-HD250
MSRP: $2995, MAP: $2995 - and the HD250Pro: $2999.
Technology: LCoS (SXRD)
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1000 lumens claimed, 998 maximum measured
Zoom Lens ratio: 2:1
Lens shift: Vertical and horizontal
Lamp life: 2000 hours at full power, "more than 2000 hours" in low power
Weight: 24.3 lbs. (10.8 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor
Click for more complete specs of the JVC DLA-HD250
JVC DLA-HD250 Special Features
LCoS Projector - D-iLA
JVC manufactures their own LCoS panels (Liquid Crystal on Silicon). Think of LCoS as an LCD panel that reflects the light instead of letting it pass through the panel. Different design, different light engine design. JVC calls their LCoS panels D-iLA (Sony calls theirs SXRD, Canon, calls theirs Realisys, and so on).
A key strength of LCoS is less visible pixel structure. Traditionally though LCoS, like LCD have been rather weak when it comes to contrast and black level performance.
Not so the JVC solution. JVC's panels and light engine develop contrast ratios far better than any LCD or DLP, or other brand's LCoS panels, and that yields far blacker blacks. Oh, the competition does compete, espeically with the HD250, with the use of a dynamic iris, which the JVC's don't need to do the job. Even so, the best of the other LCoS, LCD and DLP projectors, even with Dynamic irises, typically can only match (or beat insignificantly on the darkest scenes), this JVC projector. On average brightness scenes where dynamic iris in projectors using them, becomes ineffective, black objects will look blacker on this JVC DLA-HD250, than on those other projectors. Still, on average scenes, those others typically still do really well. The real "action" is how well projectors handle the darkest scenes.
Individual SXRD panel adjustment
A very nice, touch, this JVC allows individual adjustment of each panel for more precise alignment. This feature carried forward from previous years. And, it works nicely! Like the Sony projectors solution as well, the JVC adjust digitally, so adjustments are in 1 pixel increments.
For example, if a red panel is off by, say 1/3 a pixel diameter to the right, there's nothing that can improve that, since shifting red a pixel to the left, would then have it off by 2/3s of a pixel. On the other hand, if that red pixel was off by 3/4 of a diameter, then the adjustment could reduce that to 1/4: 3/4 shift to right - 1.0 shift to left = 1/4 shift to left. In other words, it can improve sharpness if your projetor is off more than 1/2 pixel, but still doesn't get you to a perfectly converged set of panels.
Of note, the HD250 I reviewed, was off slightly with the reds in both horizontal and vertical planes, however all mis-alignment was under 1/2 pixel so there was no way to further improve it. This JVC was pretty typical of JVCs in previous reviews, the one exception being our review of the DLA-RS35 last year, which had truly excellent alignment of the panels. Of course that projector was $9995. It's replacement, the RS60 - the unit we had briefly was aligned more like this HD250, that is, it was off, but not enough to be able to adjust.
DLA-HD250 - First JVC in a while to lack CFI
I mention this because many JVC owners are serious enthusiast who upgrade their projectors every couple/few years. Best to warn them that, for example, coming from the RS15, you lose this feature.
Creative Frame Interpolation: JVC calls theirs Clear Motion Drive. The thing is, the DLA-HD250 and DLA-HD250Pro, do not have creative frame interpolation.
Perhaps the CFI feature, by its elimination, helped JVC get to a $3000 price point.
Many sports fans may well miss it - including myself.
I had found the CFI on other JVCs to be very good, but not so good to be desireable for movie watching. Like most projectors - too much "soap opera effect" on 24fps movies on the older JVCs. Hey, I get by just fine with my RS20, which pre-dates JVC's first CFI models (the RS25).