JVC DLA-RS25 Projector Review

THX Certification

The JVC DLA-RS25 sports THX certification (a program they launched just over a year ago when they certified their first projectors, a couple of Runco projectors costing at least six times the price of the JVC RS25). The certification indicates that this projector meets their recently defined standard for accurate reproduction. More important than the certification though is the pre-calibrated THX mode, in addition to the others such as Cinema 1 and 2, Stage, Dynamic, etc.

No doubt about it; the THX mode offers the best picture and color performance than any of the other presets. Still, we calibrated the Cinema 2 mode, and I found that a well calibrated projector can produce what I feel is an even better picture. THX mode has good skin tones and overall color, but, as with last year, I found the picture to be just a tiny bit flat, that is, a bit lackluster. If you aren’t going to try our post calibration settings, then THX mode is the mode you want to leave your projector set for. It will do a great job, even if that can be improved upon slightly.

Color Management System (CMS)

JVC provides a primary and secondary color management system on the JVC DLA-RS25 and the HD950. The CMS needs to be calibrated (that would be calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors), for the JVC DLA-RS25 to produce its best results. Apparently the THX mode has its own CMS settings, and the results of THX mode are superior to the other key modes (notably Cinema 2, the closest), because of the better CMS settings.

Once Mike calibrated the individual colors, the RS25 started to really look great. The end result was slightly better overall color, and slightly better skin tones than the THX mode. Not a huge difference, but enough to be worth the effort.

Unlike the original CMS on last year’s JVC RS20 (that I had to deal with), JVC’s CMS now works rather normally. Mike reported no real surprises, and the results prove that out. With last year’s CMS, every adjustment you made seemed to affect some other adjustment, and it was a mess. We needed outside help from the forums to get the CMS right. (Later, JVC came out with a firmware improvement, but since I had already achieved “good color” I decided not to start all over).

Bottom line: A good CMS system, now easy to use. It works, and a proper CMS setup is needed to maximize the JVC RS25 and HD950 projectors performance.

Motorized Lens System

While a number of projectors have motorized focus and zoom, the JVC also has motorized veritical and horizontal lens shift. The reason for pointing this out is that it allows one capabiliity some of you might take advantage of. Let’s say you are putting on a typical Cinemascope movie – 2.35:1 aspect ratio – you’ll have the usual letterboxing at the top and bottom. You can take advantage of the motorized lens shift to drop the active part of the image (the movie) down so that the bottom of the picture is closer to the bottom of your screen. If you have dark walls you won’t see the dim lower letterbox on your walls. You’ll still have one at the top, plus some empty screen up there as well, but dropping the movie down will probably place it better for viewing. In most rooms you won’t be looking up as much. The combination also means you can use the JVC with a 2.35:1 screen (if you have the right distance range for your screen), and zoom out when you want to watch standard HDTV or 16:9 movie content, as well as 4:3. Panasonic pitches this feature heavily on the PT-AE3000. The difference is that Panasonic lets you save the lens positioning, so you can switch back and forth with a single button. With the JVC, you’ll be zooming in and out each time you switch from the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, to the others. For those watching mostly movies, this is viable, as it would only take maybe 15 seconds to do the adjustment from the remote.

CFI - Creative Frame Interpolation

JVC has added CFI this year. It’s their first generation attempt at CFI, and they haven’t hit the bullseye with this implementation. I don’t know whether they developed this themselves or licensed from companies like Pixelworks, or Silicon Optix.

Last year I was pretty critical of the various CFI solutions that appeared on a few home theater projectors. The Panasonic was pretty good, but a little more limited than, say the Epson, which had real problems, but Epson quickly (about 2 months after first shipments) came out with a good fix. Sanyo’s was good, as far as it went, which wasn’t that far at all.

Sadly, the JVC CFI, which has two settings, isn’t that great in the Low setting, and I barely have looked at the high setting, as those are always worse, in terms of artifacts.

It’s not hard to spot artifacts in the low setting. Viewing the same segments of Casino Royale that I discussed in the CFI blogs back at the beginning of the year, I’d say that the JVC RS25′s CFI is just a little better than Epson’s first implementation, but definitely not as good as after Epson’s firmware upgrade, or Epson’s or Panasonic’s current implementations.

I can watch sports with CFI on low, and it’s pretty good. Movies, I wouldn’t recommend at all. Not only are there those motion artifacts you will spot, but the JVC definitely adds more of that “live digital video” or “soap opera” look and feel, than the Panasonic, as well as both old and new Epson implementations. I tried segments from movies that I had indicated I could definitely watch with the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB (Home Cinema 8500UB too) projector’s CFI on low. While I could enjoy those movies with Epson CFI, that was not the case with the JVC – too much of that soap opera look. Hey, it’s your call. Transformers is probably fun at least in some scenes, with the CFI on, but I probably couldn’t stand to watch the whole thing with the JVC’s CFI engaged.

Bottom Line: OK, the CFI is good for sports, but probably take a pass on movies. I call upon JVC to do what all great projector manufacturers do in such cases – come up with a firmware fix over the next few months. At worst case, CFI is still (other than sports or gaming – or animation), a novelty. I’m used to it for sports now, so I hope my next projector has a good CFI, but few will use for movies, even with the better CFIs out there on projectors. Remember, CFI will not adhere to the “Director’s intent”. With a CFI engaged, it will not look like the way the director expects it to look in the theater.

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