JVC DLA-RS15 - Review Summary
A summary of the JVC DLA-RS15 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
3-8-2010 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector - The Bottom Line
The JVC DLA RS15 projector, and it's virtually identical sibling the HD550 (from the JVC consumer group), produce a truly splendid picture. Sure, we know right off, you can do even better if you have another couple thousand for the RS25, or the $10,000 for the RS35.
The key thing about the JVC RS15, though is it gets you very close to the RS25 (successor to last year's Best In Class winner, the RS20), while saving $2500. You still get awesome black level performance, it's just the RS25 and RS35 are even more awesome at blacks.
Color looks really very good. The RS15 doesn't calibrate into the most accurate projector around, but skin tones look really good, and only the purists among us are going to have any issue with the general color accuracy. (It's worth noting that no matter how perfect you calibrate a projector, there's no guaranty that the colors are even near that accurate on the DVD you buy). Production qualities vary a lot.
Which means the JVC RS15 really looks great, and if it doesn't, it's more likely the fault of the disc you put in, than the JVC projector (You can always use the Blu-ray of The Fifth Element, as a good reference disc.)
Yes there is a slight green blue shift in the very dark areas that you might spot on dark scenes if looking for it, but it really is most noticeable in a side by side, not during normal viewing. I believe I'm trying to say, the flaws are slight, don't get worked up over them.
Some enthusiasts who like to play, and do their own calibrations will, not be as happy with the RS15 as they would with other JVC's and some competitors, because of the lack of a full color management system. Less toys to play with.
One more time: The JVC RS15, overall, has a nice and vibrant look to the picture. It looks lively, without, in any way, seeming over the top. A fun picture? That might work to describe it. For the RS15 I like that term vibrant, over "pop and wow". Vibrant plugs into the same sentence as "natural" a lot better than "pop and wow" and "natural" go together.
Overall, the picture is nicely refined, with those really pretty skin tones. A very natural looking projector, The RS15 is fourth generation of the projector that literally rewrote the standards for great dark scene performance. If we all didn't know that there were more expensive JVCs, the RS15 might be considered by many, as the best under $10K projector. Me, I'm still trying to figure that out, as I will likely considerig the RS15 for an award, in the upcoming 1080p Projector Comparison Report.
JVC DLA-RS15 Brightness
I said the same thing about the RS35: Where'd the lumens go? A mystery. I do not know any reason why an RS15 would measure about 10% less bright than the RS25 we reviewed a few months ago, but it does. I've looked for leaks, but don't see any.
Strangely the RS15 measured almost identically to the RS35, both down from the RS25. (I'm not thrilled with the 650 lumens measured, but it's still more than most projectors in their best movie mode.
Brightest mode came in around 750 lumens, it's only about 15% brighter than best mode. And, more to the point, it's a lot less bright than the average 1080p projector, when you want the maximum lumens. That lack of more "brightest" mode lumens is my only real complaint with the projector.
Placement flexibility is excellent, close to the best. the 2:1 zoom should work in just about every room. The only real limitation is that some projectors have a little more vertical lens shift. Only a very few projectors, like the Panasonic PT-AE4000 and the Epson projectors have a bit more vertical lens shift. JVC, though motorizes theirs, for convenience (lens shift as well as zoom and focus). By comparison, most projectors with lens shift, tend to have manual shift. As to zoom and focus about half of the home theater projectors sold out there have those motorized.
Leeloo image above - The Fifth Element, Blu-ray, from the RS25
The JVC DLA-RS15 projector has a nice, but not extensive feature set. It does have detail enhancement, and of Creative Frame Interpolation, but that about covers it on the image processing side, in terms of "fancy". The creative frame interpolation implementation isn't bad, for a first generation for JVC. There are better ones, but itis just fine for my sports viewing. The RS15 relies on Silicon Optix' Reon-VX image processing, which is clean and highly regarded.
The very bottom line:
There's potentially a small improvement in black level performance compared to the RS10 reviewed last year, but it's been too long, and images don't reveal any noteworthy difference. Let's just assume the RS10 was great last year, and the RS15 a touch better (and more featured) this year
From watching the JVC DLA-RS15, I've concluded, that this is a projector with great blacks, excellent skin tones, very good shadow, very good color accuracy, and lots of best mode lumens.
The picture is natural, yet vibrant. On a nice large screen like my 128" Firehawk G3, the RS15 lights up the screen and performs beautifully. I can see the black level difference when I switch to my RS20, but it's hardly a huge difference.
The JVC DLA-RS15 like the other JVC projectors has no real obvious weaknesses - other than it could have more lumens in brightest mode. There are no "rough edges" to the picture quality.
Hey, this projector looks great. I tend to get jaded, trying to describe the small flaws of an excellent projector. Keep your perspective. Most of what we complain about here, in a review of a higher end projector like the RS15, wouldn't even show up on 98% of people's radar.
The Last question: "Based on what I've seen, from the RS15 and RS25 review units, which to buy?
If the bucks are tight, and you aren't a purist, the RS15 will serve you beautifully. Primarily you are giving up a bit of black performance and a touch of color accuracy, but those finer points aside, to almost everyone, the RS15 and the the RS25 look more different than one being better or worse. It's when you get that dark scene up, the black levels of the RS25 stand out. The rest of the time, oh, so close.
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector: Pros
- Very Color with extremely good skin tones
- Well above average brightness in "best" movie mode
- Almost the best black level performance around, bested only by 3 or 4 projectors most of which are other JVCs
- A nice, vibrant feel to the image Sunny days really give you the feeling of warm sunlight on skin tones
- Very good shadow detail performance, not the best, though close
- There is a manual iris, for getting your brightness right. It has 3 steps
- Good CFI - creative frame interpolation, best for sports, and digital source material. Not as smooth as the best, very minor artifacts at times. Could be improved, but just dandy for 40 hours of Olympics viewing these past two weeks.
- Outputs 24 frame per second sources at 96 fps
- Excellent remote control with excellent range, excellent backlight, good organization one of my all time favorite remotes (a great thing, since my RS20's remote sucks due to limited range - though fine for people with smaller rooms and screens.)
- Very good color management system, improved over the last generation
- Almost excellent placement flexibility (2:1 zoom, lens shift), just a little less lens shift than those projectors with the most. If you can't make the RS15 fit in your room, few projectors will.
- Focus, Zoom and Lens shift all motorized
- Very good menus
- Clean good looking projector - not a work of art, but wont' offend the wife?
- Moderately Expensive but it delivers excellent value for those who can appreciate this projector a step up product from any of the best under $3500 projectors, and overall worth every penny
Here's a digital image off of the DVE-HD disc. I publish the American flag because I figure the large majority of my readers know exactly how the colors should look.
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector: Cons
- A relatively dim "brightest" mode, of 750 lumens (calibrated, midpoint on zoom lens) the RS15 can't deal with a whole lot of ambient light, at all, unless you have a small screen.
- CFI not as smooth as the best. Definitely changes enough to "damage" the director's intent when watching movies. (as do they all, to varying degrees0
- Slightly less than average lamp life? JVC quotes 2000 hours at full power (the "industry average), but only "slightly better, in low lamp" while most 2000 hour full power projectors quote 3000 in low power.
- Although most reasonable - audible noise wise, the RS15 could be a little quieter with lamp at full power. Few would consider this an issue though
- The documentation is pretty good, but still leaves some details about how features work unexplained, as do most projector manuals
JVC DLA-RS15 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Selection of inputs
- Lamp life is likely typical or a tad below average in life
- Documentation (I'm still waiting to see a projector that really does provide good explanations of all the menu functions).
- Size (for an LCoS projector)
As we finish here with an image from the movie Star Trek, it occurs to me, that perhaps the image that best reflects the feel of the RS15's abilities, is the one of Captain Pike, found back on the first page.
Other than that, a nap, a meal, another review. Stay tuned!
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