JVC DLA-RS2 Picture Quality - LCoS Home Theater Projector Review
JVC RS2 Home Theater Projector: Skin Tones
Whether you use the default Cinema setting (color temperature set to low), or slightly adjust the grayscale balance using one of the Color Temperature memory settings, skin tones look great. The difference between the settings I mention below in the calibration area, and the default Low color temperature settings, are so slight that one can barely spot a change, toggling between the two.
Images provided here do use the Memory 1 settings that I ended up with, but using Low results in just a touch warmer color balance.
Let's start with some standard DVD output from Lord of the Rings:
The only other image I have for you from SD-DVD is a bit different. It is from Sin City, utilizing primarily black and white or sepia and white film balance, not color. In addition, Sin City often adds spot colors (notably bright red and yellow) on some objects in some scenes. In this case, the closeup of Nancy in the bar is captured in a sepia tone look. That considered, the result is very impressive, considering the technique.
Moving to hi-def DVD's all the remaining images in the Skin Tone section, are from Blu-ray disc.
The first images are from the re-release of The Fifth Element on Blu-ray.
An early Blu-ray version of this movie was available when the first Blu-ray players shipped, but, unlike the original SD-DVD version, legendary for its production qualities, the first Blu-ray version was not impressive. This new version is excellent!
Moving to Aeon Flux:
And now it's time for James Bond. These images are of Bond, under different lighting conditions, and each is very believable.
First, outdoors in full sunlight, then under "cooler lighting" in the form of flourescent lights in an airport, and finally back outdoors, but in the shade:
And what review would be complete without at least one image of Johnny Depp in the first Pirates of the Carribean:
One image from House of the Flying Daggers:
Lastly, an image from Hitch.
Bottom Line: The JVC RS2 has no problem at all in faithfully reproducing skin tones. They are well saturated, no apparent shift in color, and very natural looking. I spent at least 25 hours viewing parts of movies, and was never disappointed.
Projector: Black Levels and Shadow Detail
Whoa! This spring when the JVC RS1 came out, it was an overnight sensation. Part of its success was excellent overall performance out of the box, but what set it apart were its industry leading black levels. Not only were there no other under $10,000 home theater projectors that could match it, and really only one or two could even be considered competition (and not that close), most notably the Sony VW50 Pearl. The Sony though, relied on the usual dynamic iris and electronic compensation, whereas the JVC does it naturally. Even then, the Sony at its best in very dark scenes, couldn't quite match the JVC, and in scenes with some bright areas, fell even further short.
So, here comes the JVC DLA-RS2, and it's even better, and it is immediately visibly better, as I have ascertained, switching back and forth between my RS1 and this RS2.
"Blacks" are closer to true black than any other projector I have seen, except for CRT projectors (which essentially produce pure black, but otherwise are a pain in the ...), and that includes 3 chip DLP projectors costing ten times as much, or more.
Watching the RS2 filling just about every inch of my 128" diagonal Stewart Firehawk screen, the blacks were extremely dark, with a neutral "inky" kind of black, with no trace of a dominent color (such as the VW60 whose blacks tend to have a blue caste).
Below is the most impressive image I captured, the starship in The Fifth Element. Not only did the blacks really look black, but the star field was loaded with more stars at normal exposure than I have seen before on any projector. The image below is just a little overexposed, so that you can see most of the stars (normal exposure takes its toll of near black detail). I've got even more overexposed images that reveal even more stars, but felt it was not needed. Remember loss of that detail is due to the limitations of my dSLR, not the projector.
Space scenes are just great for black levels, so here are two from Space Cowboys:
JVC DLA-RS2 Shadow Details
Great black levels are the key to a home theater projector's ability to produce excellent shadow details, but having superior black levels are not a guaranty that the shadow details will be comparable.
The JVC RS2, does excellent shadow detail. There is a very slight bit of crushing of the darkest shadow details, out of the box. From playing around, it seems perhaps to possibly relate to the gamma control. I found that Theater 1 gamma, or better, manually setting gamma to 2.1 (default is 2.2), helps.
Our first image is from Aeon Flux. The table top textures and shadows stand out well. You'll find this image in most reviews, should you wish to compare.
I've got lots of images for your consideration. Sadly, the limitations of m digital SLR are greater than any flaws with the JVC, or the Sony VW60 which you will be able to compare them against.
Click on the left thumbnail for a closeup of the JVC projector, the right for the Sony. The enlarged images are cropped and overexposed. Look to the mountains on the right, and for detail below them.
The above images are from Lord of the Rings as are the pair below (left is JVC, right is Sony). In this case the images are overexposed to reveal detail in the shed on the right and along the bottom. Note detail even in all but the darkest wood.
From Space Cowboys, this image of Clint is in a very dark room only illuminated by a down facing table lamp. The first image is the JVC RS2, the second one, the Sony VW60, and lastly the older JVC RS1:
Unfortunately, it's impossible to get exactly the same exposure between all three projectors, with the RS2 slightly more overexposed than the other two.
Moving to another Blu-Ray movie, here is a night scene from Aeon Flux:
Above, from Aeon Flux, is the JVC at the top, and the Sony VW60 below. You may recall I mentioned the gamma earlier. All images were shot with the gamma at Normal. As you can see, comparing the RS2 to the VW60, there are some areas that are brighter on the JVC, and others that are brighter on the Sony.
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For comparison, here is the same, from the much less expensive Panasonic PT-AE2000U:
Here's the re-entry image from Space Cowboys. Click on the thumbnail image for an overexposed version, and look for the details on the right side. This image is found on most recent reviews:
Now for a more balanced scene (where dynamic irises are not very effective). Clicking on the left thumbnail, will show a cropped area. This scene has extremely bright areas, and also, dark. Look at these overexposed images to details of the satellite on the left side. The left thumbnail is the Sony VW60, the right one, the JVC RS2:
Here's an image I just started using recently. This from Casino Royale on Blu-ray disc. It is a night train scene, but intentionally overexposed so you can look a the shadow details in the darkest areas. Click on the side-by-side image below for a larger version. The Sony VW60 is on the left, the JVC on the right.
Despite the Sony image being slightly brighter overall, in the enlarged version, you can see extra shadow detail in the shrubs along the right, on the far side of the tracks, and in the woods.
This image of the resort at night looks great, but when you click on the image below, you'll see a significantly overexposed version. Look to the bushes, and most importantly the building's roof. I can tell you that only the JVC so far, has done better (very slightly) on that roof. Perfectly good projectors like the Panasonic, Sanyo and Optoma HD8000 try hard, but the roof detail is virtually non-existent. Watching any of those, and you would likely think it's a flat roof that you can't see.
The image below is normally exposed as a reference. Below it is the side-by-side photo with the Sony VW60 on the left, and the RS2 on the right.
This next image is off of the DTS demo disc. This scene from a bazaar, offers rich colors, high contrast, with plenty of dark areas, as well as very bright ones. The same image is found in most reviews done in 2007.
Bottom line: The JVC exhibits excellent shadow detail. Although no one expects it to reveal more in the darkest areas than the Sony, they are more different, than better or worse. In real life viewing though, the blacker blacks of the JVC do make for a better, more striking image.
JVC DLA-RS2 home theater projector: Sharpness
The JVC still offers up only average sharpness for a 1080p projector.
The thumbnails below when clicked on, show a drastically cropped area of just the logo and dts-hd area. The five thumbnails are for the following projectors:
From the top left: JVC DLA-RS2, Sony VPL-VW60, Panasonic PT-AE2000U
Overall, I found the JVC is a tad sharper than the Sony, which in turn, has a slight advantage over the Panasonic, but not as crisp as the Optoma HD8000. The Sanyo PLV-Z2000 and Mitsubishi definitely appear to be sharper, not exhibiting the softness found in the others. Mind you while some projectors look a tad sharper, those that do, still don't reveal any more detail, which leads to my assumption that it is in part due to the more obvious pixel structure of the LCD projectors (Panasonic excepted, because of its Smooth Screen technology), and then the DLPs which also have a more defined pixel structure than the LCoS based JVC and Sony. I should note, however, that the JVC image was taken differently than the others, which is impacting what you see. Normally I move the camera in closer, for such a heavy crop, but didn't this time. As a result the others started with a much higher resolution image.
On this image from Aeon Flux, look to the redhead's eyes and strands of hair for sharpness. You'll find this same image in many other reviews.
Our last sharpness image is a close-up of this computer monitor from Space Cowboys on Blu-ray. You can click for larger images to compare the readability,
Click on the left thumbnail for a large, cropped version of the original frame on the JVC, the top right for the VPL-VW60, and the lower row, left for the Panasonic. On the right, the Sharp XV-Z20000.
Bottom line: Good, not exceptional sharpness. The detail is all there, but the RS2 lacks the crispness of the sharper LCD projectors. Whether this is a real difference or a perception caused by the underlying pixel structure can be debated. I should note that the difference in sharpness between all the 1080p projectors is slight, compared to the difference between the sharpest of the 720p projectors and the softest of the 1080p projectors.
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Projector Overall Picture Quality
Magnificent! In all the viewing I did with the DLA-RS2, not once was I disappointed. Everything just looked excellent. Not once did I have the feeling that I had seen the same scene on another 1080p projector where I felt the other actually looked better. (Close, sometimes, certainly, but better, not at all!)
Here are a number of images for your consideration, all from Blu-Ray discs except for those otherwise noted. (Editor's note: I also have an HD-DVD player, but it is only 1080i, and therefore does not produce a good image in pause mode.)
If there are issues with color, they are very minor. Like the RS1, greens sometimes come off as a touch oversaturated, and reds, while exteremely good, do seem to have the very slightest shift to orange.
The next images are from standard DVD (SD-DVD). The first two are from Sin City, and the next pair from Lord of the Rings.
JVC's DLA-RS2: Viewing HDTV
As soon as we start talking HDTV, the game changes. Now ambient light becomes an issue, because most people don't want to watch TV, and especially sports, "in a cave".
All the images shown are from HDTV sources.
All but the last image were, in this case, photographed in the evening with ambient lighting set very low (definitely below the level needed to read a book or newspaper). For the last image (from a bowl game on tonight), I took the lights up to what would be sufficient to read, but still "modest to moderate". The last image gives you a accurate idea of the room lighting.
And finally, that last image, showing room lighting:
JVC RS2 Picture Quality - Bottom Line:
Outstanding! But, of course I'm biased. I have felt the RS1 was the best projector around when it came to picture quality, and the one to beat. The RS2 is so much like the RS1 at just about everything, but, it is better. My initial impression when turning it on was that the RS2 has more "pop" or "wow", than the RS1, that is, more depth and sizzle. The RS1 is a bit more subdued. In fact, while most of the other reviews of the RS1 by other reviewers also felt it was the best around (under $10,000), more than once people said some of the DLP projectors had more depth and wow factor. I don't think the RS2, however will have anyone saying that. The combination of darkest blacks, and plenty of color dynamics, yield a stunning image.
And it still looks better than my JVC RS1, 9 days and at least 40 hours of viewing later (DVD and TV combined).