JVC DLA-RS20 - Performance
1/28/2009 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-RS20 Brightness
While there are a number of improvements in the JVC DLA-RS20, compared with the RS2, perhaps the most important to many, is a substantial increase in brightness. Certainly it is important to me, in considering buying an RS20, as the older RS2 simply did not have the horsepower (lumens) to fill my 128" Firehawk G3 screen. I'm pleased to report that the JVC RS20, by comparison, has no trouble filling my full screen for movie watching. As with all the other JVC home theater projectors I have reviewed, the RS20 is only slightly brighter in its brightest mode, than in its "best" viewing mode. That may still cause some consternation for folks who like to watch sports and TV with some ambient light present. Let's start with our measurements, "right out of the box":
DLA-RS20 Projector - Uncalibrated:
Cinema 1: 672 lumens
(low color temp, optimized for viewing black and white films)
Cinema 2: 722 lumens
("best" mode that allows calibration)
Natural: 732 lumens
Stage: 768 lumens
Dynamic: 844 lumens
THX: 837 lumens
("best" mode, in terms of overall performance, out of the box)
The Effect of zoom lens positioning on brightness: Our standard measurements reported are done with the zoom at its mid-point. Here are relative numbers from the Cinema 1mode, for different lens positioning:
Zoom out (closest position - wide-angle): 775 lumens
Mid-zoom: 672 lumens
Zoom in: 550 lumens
Thus at the maximum zoom distance, the lumens are 18% lower. At the closest distance (wide angle), they are 15% greater. (The same ratios should apply to any preset mode)
Low lamp power ("Normal" lamp mode), for Cinema 1: 448 lumens
High lamp power ("High" lamp mode) for Cinema 1: 672 lumens
That works out to a drop of almost a perfect 1/3 less brightness when running the lamp in Normal (low) mode. That same percentage difference should be unchanged, regardless of preset mode.
The JVC's have never been among the very sharpest looking 1080p projectors around, nonetheless, it isn't a serious issue. I refer to the JVC projectors as having average sharpness, simply because they do look sharp. Any differences on movie viewing between the RS20, and the sharpest images out there is slight. Where you might notice a bit more difference is with a straight digital video signal, as you don't have the softening effects of the film, that comes with movies.
Perhaps this average "sharpness" is due to JVC's use of LCoS panels which have the least visible pixel structure. That may inherently make them look a little softer, even as they reveal the same amount of detail. That wouldn't surprise me, as the Sony's are typically similar to the JVC's and they too are LCoS. The other major projector that tends to fit in the group (in terms of sharpness) is the Panasonic PT-AE3000 which uses their SmoothScreen Technology on their LCD panels to end up with a pixel structure no more visible than LCoS.
I don't notice any huge differences between the RS20 and the sharpest 1080p projector I have here the InFocus IN83 when watching movies, but I can definitely spot a little softening on my HDTV sports viewing. (I sit close, and have 20/15 corrected eyesight). On the other hand, side by side you can see, for example that the IN83 is sharper. The JVC does have a nice sharpness control and a detail enhancement one as well, on the advanced Picture menu. You can dial them up quite a bit, and get more sharpness, but if too far, you'll start getting some sharpening artifacts. The RS20 sharpness images taken below were the default sharpness settings. Dialed up, the sharpness and detail enhancement bring the JVC closer still, to the IN83.
One thing noteworthy about the RS20's sharpness, is that it seems more consistent than many other 1080p projectors from the center of the screen to the corners. Many projectors have very detectable softening of the image in the corners and outside area, if you focus from the dead center. We recommend that with any projector you should pick a spot for dead on focus, that is about 1/3 of the way from the center to the corner. That will give the best overall sharpness across the image.
For your consideration, our usual close up images
2nd row left: Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, left center: Panasonic PT-AE3000, right center: Optoma HD8000, right: InFocus IN83
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right DLA-RS20, Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000, and BenQ W20000. The DLA-RS20 is one of the sharper 1080p projectors out there.
JVC DLA-RS20: Bottom Line Sharpness
Overall, I don't consider sharpness to be an important factor with the vast majority of 1080p projectors. While there are slight differences between the sharpest, and the average ones, it is something that people are only likely to notice with pure digital sources, not film based movies. Even there, my college football games are more than "sharp enough". If you do want to get a slightly crisper image, try the controls. One last image set, this one from The Dark Knight - lots of fine detail, not that the sequence is on the screen more than a couple of seconds. For this I have the sharpness setting turned up.
Immediately below are the same basic image on two other projectors, for comparison. The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB (left) and the Panasonic PT-AE3000 (right):
Time to move on!
Seems like JVC projectors leak light all over the place, out of the lens. This is especially true if you are using a lot of vertical lens shift. That's the bad news.
The good news is that while it covers a wide area, it's so dark as to be a non-issue. I remember still being able to spot the faint light on my off-white front wall of my theater when I reviewed the RS2 last year (and more so, with my RS1), but only on very dark scenes, and if looking! With my now dark, rust colored walls, the newer RS20's light leak is completely invisible to my eyes in a completely darkened room.
JVC DLA-RS20 Image Noise
JVC has stuck with higher end Silicon Optix for their image processing. They are using the Silicon Optix Reon-VX. Good stuff! The Reon-VX is found in a number of excellent projectors. I'm not aware of any notable flaws in image processing. Mosquito noise is just visible, in normal amounts, without the Noise Reduction engaged. I don't see a need to implement it, but that is personal taste. Performance on motion artifacts is very good. As you can imagine, the RS20 easily passes all the other related related tests on the HQV test disc, as that widely used test disc is put out by Silicon Optix.
DLA-RS20 Audible Noise
The new JVC RS20 is definitely quieter than my old RS1, and therefore also the RS2. It's still not the quietest projector around, but JVC is now claiming only 19db in low lamp mode (Normal). It is also quieter than the older models in high lamp mode (High). It is now quieter than just about all the DLP projectors, and a bit quieter than the Epson Home and Pro Cinema series projectors (3LCD). On the other hand, it still makes more audible noise than the extremely quiet Panasonic and Mitsubishi home theater projectors.
Of course, none of that matters. What does matter, is whether it is quiet enough for your room and your sensitivity. In Normal mode, no one is going to have an issue. In High mode, a very small group of folks might, but I doubt that it will be a deal breaker for anyone. JVC lowered the audible noise enough (High mode) to take it out of the major concern category for people who have the projector mounted almost directly overhead. If shelf mounted, it should not be an issue, as the shelf itself will absorb some of the sound eminating from the RS20. Let's put it this way - if the RS20 is still too noisy for you, then you will find that there are only a handful of projectors that can do noticeably better in this regard.