JVC DLA-HD250 Physical Tour
03/8/2010 - Art Feierman
The DLA-HD250 projector is almost identical to the RS25 and RS35 models. When it comes to this section which covers the physical aspects and abilities of the HD250, I've copied from the previous reviews making only the necessary changes. The differences are very few, and noted.
JVC DLA-HD250 Physical Appearance
The JVC DLA-HD250 projector can be shelf or ceiling mounted, and of course, it can be set on a table.
Physically, its a larger, medium sized projector. It's total depth is just under nineteen inches and it is about fourteen and a half wide. Its height is just over six and a half inches. A motorized door keeps dust off the lens, by closing when the JVC HD250 is powered down. All four feet are screw thread adjustable.
The JVC DLA-HD250 comes finished in a flat gray-black (not quite black). It has a silverish trim ring around the lens and a cosmetic trim piece running from almost the front to the back, on the top, for "looks."
As with the previous model - the RS15, you'll find that the inputs are located on the right side (viewing from the front), just above the bottom. Of course, this will be a benefit for many who shelf mount. That is because they won't need a few extra inches for connectors and cabling coming out of the back.
Replacing the lamp is easy. The lamp gets replaced from a removable panel in the center of the back of the projector. That means that here is no requirement to unmount the HD250, when ceiling mounted. (Some projectors have their lamp doors on the bottom, which would be covered by a ceiling mount).
The HD250's control panel is located on the top. In the image on the right, you are viewing the panel from the back of the projector. The three indicator lamps are closest to the front of the projector. They are: Warning, Lamp, and Standby/On.
Further back is the first button, the Power switch. It's the usual press once for on, press twice for off. Next is the Input button, followed by a Hide button to black out the image.
Then comes the four arrow buttons in a diamond shaped arrangement, with a larger Enter button in the center.
Lastly, side by side, are the Menu, and (menu) Back button. Pretty standard stuff. Of course, we all primarily rely on the remote control, and probably only use the control panel during initial setup, if at all.
It's a nice easy to use control panel. The buttons aren't too close and differ by size, very helpful in the dark. Of course, most of us rely on the remote control.
There seem to be no changes this year, in terms of I/O - inputs and outputs. Located on the side, from front to back, first there are two HDMI 1.3b compatible inputs. Next comes an analog PC input (standard HD15 connector), which the original RS1, and also the RS10 did not offer. I should note that the RS25 and HD250 both have the computer input, but the HD250 does not. (There are work arounds of course.)
Next up, are three RCA connectors for the component video input, followed by another RCA connector for basic composite video. Next is the S-Video input, followed by the RS-232 connector for controlling the projector directly from a computer or room controller.
Add all of them up, and you have a fairly standard complement of inputs and outputs, with no surprises. As with all home theater projectors, I'd still like to see three HDMI ports, but I've only seen that on a couple of 1080p projectors so far.
JVC DLA-HD250 Menus
JVC has a very well designed menu structure. The HD250's menus are essentially identical to the ones I'm used to from years of watching my JVCs. The more expensive current JVC's offer CFI, creative frame interpolation, so have an extra menu item. Neither my old RS20, nor the HD250 and HD250Pro offer CFI, which is too bad, as many like CFI, especially for sports.
The HD250's menus are not quite identical to the more expensive JVC projectors. The differences center around two areas.
First, the DLA-HD250 projector lacks the pre-calibrated THX mode found on the RS25 and RS35.
Secondly, it lacks a full CMS to calibrate primary and secondary colors. One of the incentives JVC gives you to move up to the more expensive models, is the more sophisticated controls that allow to further perfect an already impressive color handling ability.
Most of the image goodies are found on the Picture menu, which is the first main menu in the top right when the main menu is open.
Besides the usual Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, etc., the Picture menu has a Gamma sub menu, and Advanced sub-menu which has sharpness and detail enhancement (keep them low).
The Pixel Adjust menu allows the JVC to digitally shift the red, green, or blue, data by one pixel up/down/left/right. This means that if a JVC projector has any pixel misalignment greater than 1/2 pixel diameter (it can be corrected to less than that).
This menu is the Color Temp menu for doing the basic grayscale adjustments. It's the same standard set of controls found on the more expensive JVC projectors. Note, you can save up to three custom color temp settings.
Our final menu is the gamma control menu, which is extremely flexible.
Not only can you adjust the gamma of white, but also you can do each primary color separately. Further, the JVC HD250 comes with Normal, and 3 additional gamma presets, plus it allows you to save three of your own custom settings. Note also, that when doing so you can adjust each IRE point separately, and separate gamma controls for the primary colors as well as white.
I also like the grayscale provided on the screen, which gives you a good idea if you are crushing blacks or whites too much, or expanding them the way you want. A great Gamma control.
JVC DLA-HD250 Remote Control
Bummer! I own the "old" JVC DLA-RS20 which comes with the same remote control as the HD250 and HD250Pro come with. I never was satisfied with the range on the remote, and I'm still not! JVC upgraded the remote to all their models when they brought out the RS15, RS25, and RS35, and their consumer equivalents, but with the new HD250 they have regressed. Perhaps they had bins full of these old remotes, to get rid of?
Mind you once you get past the limited range, and also the slightly soft feel of some buttons, it's a respectable remote. Still...
To paraphrase what I said in last year's DLA-RS15 review - 'perhaps the single greatest improvement of the RS15 is the new remote' - so you can see why I'm bummed with the switch back to the "old" one. If I shelf mount my RS20 behind me, there is no way I can get a good bounce off of the screen, I'll be foolishly holding the remote up and pointing behind me, every time I need to change something. The same would be true for the HD250.
Overall, the buttons are well organized and fairly well spaced. The buttons are of decent size. At the top are two power buttons. On the right is Power On, and on the left, is Standby (power off). You press Standby twice to power down.
The next pair are Lens (brings up the Lens focus, zoom, and shift controls), and Input.
Below those two are the Info button, Lens AP (aperture) for the manual iris, and on the right, Aspect ratio selection.
Next come eight image controls, including: Gamma, Color Temp, Color saturation, Tint, N.R. (noise reduction), Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness.
Right above the four arrow keys in a round arrangement, are a Test button (toggles between test patterns) and a Hide button to black out the image.
In the center of the four arrow keys is a very large enter button. Below the arrow keys are the Menu button on the left, and Back button on the right.
There are 8 buttons for the modes, toward the bottom, Cinema 1, 2, Dynamic, etc. Three of the buttons are for your user defined modes User 1,2,3.
Finally! the last button, a wide thin one is the backlight button. It's in a good place. Since the remote itself is very dark, it's nice that the Light button glows slightly in the dark.
Not bad, could be better. But then, remember, we reviewers are constantly playing with settings as we test and view products. You owners, will, by comparision hardly use the remote at all except for powering up and down and changing presets.
Other than the limited range, I have been pretty pleased with the rest of the remotes function. The amber backlight is just about right, in brightness, and easy to read the black labels placed on each lit up button.
DLA-HD250 Lens Throw
JVC has been using this setup for about 4 years now, going back to the JVC RS1. The JVC HD250's 2:1 aspect ratio zoom lens provides excellent placement flexibility for ceiling or shelf mounting. To fill a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 9 feet, 11 inches, or as far back as 20 feet, 2 inches. Using these measurements for 100 inches, you can figure out the range for any other screen size. These are the same as with previous few years JVC projectors. Same lens... In this case, the logic "if it works, don't change it" seems to fit nicely.
DLA-HD250 Lens Shift
JVC's DLA-HD250 and HD250Pro have plenty of lens shift. As a bonus, it's even motorized. For that same 100 inch screen, the projector can be placed anywhere between 15 inches above the top of your screen surface, to 15 inches below the bottom of the screen surface. Those are approximates, as JVC doesn't have exact numbers in its manual.
Certainly there are projectors with a more lens shift, and plenty with less. All considered, the JVC's lens shift offers pretty good flexibility.
The JVC supports horizontal as well as vertical lens shift. The horizontal lens shift allows a maximum of about 30 inches to the left or right of the center point on that 100" screen, and appropriately more on larger screens.
Note: The more vertical you use, the less horizontal is available, and vice versa. If you have maximum vertical, there is no horizontal lens shift.
Thanks to the large zoom range, plus motorized features, including lens shift, allows me, and other owners of Cinemascope shaped screens (2.35:1, 2.4:1...), who can place the projector within the front half of the zoom lense's range, can fill their 2.35:1 screen with a movie, no letterbox on the screen (and therefore no letterbox visible at all, if your walls are dark).
When we then want to watch standard HDTV aspect ratio, be it HDTV, or some movies, and lots of other content, all we have to do is zoom out, to make the image smaller and fit the vertical. (The letterbox ends up on the sides.) I'd rather have not letterbox for movies, than sports, etc.
What I'm describing is essentially what Panasonic does at the touch of a button with their Lens Memory feature (and I figure they have that patented, since no one else has automated it). In this case, though, manually, you have to adjust the zoom first, then adjust the lens shift, and finally refocus, as working all those controls is likely to leave the lens just slightly out of focus.
How much time does it take me, to go from Cinemascope to HDTV, making the adjustments, or doing it in the reversde direction?
Typically the process was taking me about one minute. I can live with that. If you can't, buy a Panny, or a 16:9 screen!
Even though the JVC DLA-HD250 and the DLA-HD250Pro are their entry level home theater projectors, they offer the necessary vertical stretch aspect ratio to support an external anamorphic lens for Cinemascope. Although I failed to confirm it (I just realized), I don't believe the JVC offers the second anamorphic lens mode, that would allow viewers to watch conventional aspect ratios (16:9, 4:3) with the anamorphic lens still in place.
This would basically mean you not only need the anamorphic lens, but also a motorized sled, to move it in and out of the light path. Technically a sled is better than the second aspect ratio, but as that can add $2000 more, beyond the anamorphic lens price, one ends up spending more for the lens and sled, than for the projector. That tends to make one want to look at alternatives, or skip going "anamorphic" altogether.