JVC DLA-RS45 Projector Review
The JVC RS45 home theater projector replaces last year's DLA-RS40 model, which we did not get to review. Let me start by positioning the RS45 projector for you. It is JVC's least expensive projector. It sells in the mid $3,000.00 price range, through an authorized dealer network of installing dealers. The DLA-RS45 offers 3D capabilities in addition to 2D. 3D glasses, etc. are optional, as is typical for 3D projectors around this price point. Last year JVC offered a model, the HD250, for a few hundred dollars less, without 3D and they also offered the more expensive RS40 at $1,000.00 more than this RS45 projector. This year's RS45, seems to be a good compromise, and lets them have their whole projector lineup be both 3D and 2D capable. Short version: The RS45 is JVC's least expensive home theater projector from their Pro division.
Before we really get started, an important note. I had been unable to obtain DLA-RS45 for review from JVC. My thanks to the folks at AVScience for lending me a brand new RS45. You may have heard of AVScience, as they are the folks who brought us the AVSforum. If you are interested in a JVC, drop by and check out the AVScience site! Good folks there!
January 2012 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-RS45 Projector Overview
JVC has two divisions, Pro and Consumer. The RS45 projector, as mentioned, is from their Pro folks. The Consumer Division offers the identical projector but called the DLA-X30 projector. The primary difference is it's sold through a different collection of dealers. Best we can tell, there are no other differences other than the name, and probably some of the support is different. Keeping this review moving right along, consider that whichever one you choose, the RS45 or the X30, you're looking at one excellent projector in the price range.
We are very pleased to offer the JVC DLA-RS45 and the JVC DLA-X30 projectors our Hot Product award. This award signifies that the DLA-RS45 is a projector that should be the best projector choice, for at least a significant number of people shopping in this around its price. On a personal note, I'm a JVC owner, with an older DLA-RS20. Primarily these JVC projectors earn the award for being an excellent choice for enthusiasts and purists focused primarily on movie viewing.
Let's get this review moving.
As a piece of hardware, JVC's DLARS45 is a rather large projector with a shiny black finish. Physically it looks pretty impressive. It uses LCoS technology, which are reflective LCDs. It uses three panels as do other LCoS projectors.
Beyond that, as I've mentioned, the RS45 is fully 3D capable. It's a projector which is brighter than most when in its best calibrated 2D mode, for those of you strictly interested in movie viewing. This JVC projector is just about average brightness over all, when you need every last lumen (brightest mode). So when you need to crank it up for that football game with windows open and sunlight pouring in, or for watching 3D (which gobbles up about three quarters of your brightness), the JVC is barely average. In the case of 3D, we consider it a bit underpowered unless you're sticking to smaller, or high gain screens. As a home theater projector, however, for those whose primary interest is 2D movies, you are going to be extremely hard pressed to find a better projector anywhere near the price.
All considered, when factoring brightness, black level performance, color, lens memory, and an otherwise pretty extensive feature set, the JVC DLA-RS45 is rather formidable for the price. Let's look at some highlights, and then delve into how the JVC handles some special features, like 3D and smooth motion (CFI).
JVC DLA-RS45 Projector Highlights
- Excellent black-level performance
- Well above average brightness in "best" mode
- Capable of handling very large screens for movie viewing (in 2D)
- About typical brightness at full power
- Good warranty
- Respectable shadow detail
- Sold by local installing dealers
- Excellent remote control
- 3D capable
- Excellent placement flexibility
- Lens Memory feature
- Creative frame interpolation for smooth motion
- Support for an anamorphic lens
Specs for JVC DLA-RS45
Original MSRP: $3499
Technology: LCoS (SXRD) 3 panels
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1300 lumens claimed, measured 892 calibrated, 1084 at maximum
Contrast: 50,000:1 Native
Zoom Lens ratio: 2:1 motorized zoom and focus
Lens shift: Vertical and horizontal, motorized, 80% vertical 34% horizontal
Lamp life: 3000 hours in Normal mode (their "low" mode). No spec published for High mode (we will assume 2000 hours)
Weight: 33.3 lbs. (14.9 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor
View additional specifications: JVC DLA-RS45 home theater projector.
JVC DLA-RS45 Special Features
No Dynamic Iris
In this case, it's a good feature! As noted. JVC is legendary for their black-level performance. Consider first, that the RS45, as JVC’s entry-level projector (along with the DLA-X30), can't match the black levels of JVC's higher-end models the RS55, RS65 and the X70, X90.
Despite that, the black-level performance of the RS45 is truly excellent compared to other brands. The best of those near the price, using a dynamic iris, can just about match this JVC when comparing the darkest scenes looking for the darkest blacks. However, if you're watching an average scene but with some dark black in that scene, that JVC is going to still be a little bit better than the competition. The JVC offers more dynamic range. Perhaps the important point, however, is that black-level performance is best appreciated on the darkest scenes where this JVC excels.
Let it be known that to date, I am not aware of any other manufacturer that can produce LCD, DLP or LCoS panels that can beat the native black levels of this JVC projector. The competition all scrambles - using dynamic irises - just to get into the game of having dark blacks, and many of them get very close. Close enough, as I would say, but nonetheless, JVC's black level advantage is significant and it's a key strength.
DLA-RS45 3D Abilities
Our biggest concern with most of today's new 3D capable home theater projectors, is the amount of brightness available when operating them with 3D content. The JVC RS45 as it turns out, offers average brightness, and by our taste, not really enough for great 3D viewing. Of course, that can be corrected in several ways: You can purchase a high gain screen to improve brightness, however that tends to limit your seating area and can create hot spots. Without a high gain screen, another alternative is simply to not have a particularly large screen. I would say that the RS45 doing 3D is very comfortable on screens below 100‑inch diagonal, such as a 92‑inch diagonal screen.
My opinion is that this JVC projector is not a really great choice for 3D viewing, rather only adequate. Before you groan, understand that’s what I have said about ¾ of the 3D home projectors to come through here, but there are competitors with that extra brightness, that the JVC lacks. If 3D rings your bell, and you plan to view a great deal of it, you might want to consider some other projectors. On the other hand, the RS45 is truly an excellent projector for standard 2D viewing, especially for movie watching. So, for many, the 3D may not be any significant issue, if an issue at all.
Besides the brightness, we also found that the JVC, when using JVC's provided glasses (not included for the price), tends to have more artifacts (such as ghosting), than much of the competition. Consider the hundreds-of-dollars-less-expensive Epson 5010 projector. Although it too, isn't the best 3D we've seen, it does do a better job than this JVC. The Epson offers three settings for the glasses, the brightest being the one with the most ghosting. That brightest setting offers a bit more ghosting than the JVC's 3D mode, but the medium and low modes are cleaner than the JVC can do. Flawless 3D, however, isn’t out there yet, so 3D is not for the perfectionist.
Color when viewing 3D: Color, in JVC's 3D mode, leaves something to be desired. If you are using the brightest setting for color temp, which is "high bright", you get that decent brightness but the color leaves much to be desired. I would recommend calibrating the 3D mode if you're having the projector calibrated for 2D. Personally, I don't find the high-bright 3D mode one I'd like to watch, due to the color. I viewed side by side with the Epson and BenQ projectors, and it definitely wasn't the best 3D color. It needs work.
Finally, I reiterate: The JVC RS45 can do decent 3D, but is truly best as a 2D projector, and for best movie viewing, a pretty bright one at that.
Let's talk 3D active glasses:
For 3D, of course, the RS45 uses active glasses. This means, if you have a lot of friends, more money for glasses. JVC's glasses, however, are compatible with some other "universal" glasses, (I also used SIM2's glasses with the JVC). Some others should work as well. The good news, is that some 3D active glasses are as inexpensive as $39 street price. I'm not aware, at this time, however, of any that would work with the JVC anywhere down near that price, so plan to spend a lot more.
2D to Simulated 3D on the DLA-RS45
This is almost becoming a "stock paragraph": Again, I normally would say "so what?" Conversion, as with all the 2D-3D I've seen on the projectors to come through here, is flawed. Oh, it definitely looks like 3D, usually weak 3D, and with minor problems. Not all objects necessarily are properly placed in terms of depth. I think kids might go for it. Still, as an every day glasses wearer, I just can't rationalize putting on 3D glasses - watching a less bright image, not so great "siimulated 3D", yet I gladly don them for great 3D content. The difference in today's 2D-3D conversion might be: 3D without the Breathtaking!
This time, though, I'm just back from CES. One thing I really thought was much fun, was taking 2D videos - the usual family stuff, and letting a projector (any projector with 2D->3D), show you your vids in 3D. I haven't done it yet, but, I'm pretty sure, that it's going to be very cool! This JVC can do that for you. Darn, now I have to like 2D-3D... (for some things.)
JVC DLA-RS45 Calibration
The JVC RS45 can be calibrated. However note, unlike the more expensive RS55 and RS65, it does not offer a full CMS - color management system. That is to say, we technically can't get the color and the skin tones quite as precise as we can on many other projectors when we calibrate them. The good news, however, is that the JVC still puts up a pretty impressive image in terms of color accuracy even without that full CMS, once it is calibrated. I believe that JVC does not provide this extra calibrating ability as a method of encouraging you users to spend oh, about twice as much, for the more expensive RS55 which is a better projector still. That said, the RS45 is still an excellent projector and still has very respectable color, even if some competitors calibrate much nicer, and finish a bit more accurately. On the Calibration page, we provide the settings Mike came up with, and his comments. Those of you who purchase an RS45 or DLA-X30 projector might find them useful.
CFI - JVC RS45 Creative Frame Interpolation
The JVC DLARS45 offers Creative Frame Interpolation, as do most projectors these days that sell for $2500 or more in the US. What CFI means to you, is smoother motion. This is something you will want to use perhaps, when watching sports. It will smooth out that fast motion. Some people will use CFI on just about all content. What I personally do not like, however, is using most projector's CFI, when watching movies. As is often said, using CFI can ruin the director's intent.
CFI on movies, creates an unnatural look and feel. Many refer to this as a soap opera effect or "live digital video". The point however, is that this does not follow the director's intent. Consider this: If you were watching Bourne Identity where the camera is always jerky throughout the movie, CFI can actually smooth out a lot of that jerkiness in which case you have a movie which looks very different from what the director of the Bourne Identity was trying to do. You've effectively removed one of the most creative things he included in the movie in his style of shooting. Basically I don't recommend CFI for movie watching but it's personal. My daughter, for example, rarely has any trouble with CFI on. She's just not used to watching that many movies naturally. She's a college student. She's in a hurry.
When it comes to JVC's CFI, note that it is not one of the rare, really smooth ones out there, despite the RS45 having five separate modes. First of all, I find Modes 1 and 2 cause some jittering when watching many Blu-ray discs. For example, on The Fifth Element, the Main menu (play, scene selection, etc.) bounces around nastily.. . I would suggest CFI 3 or 4, which I had no such trouble with. They seem to be the smoothest and cause the least problems as I watched. I watched plenty of football playoffs with the JVC with it on the 3 setting and I thought that was fine. Personally, I can live without CFI, but think it's a nice touch. Therefore, don't worry too much about the JVC's CFI performance, which, while not the best, is acceptable. Note please: I don’t explore all those CFI modes closely, consider these casual observations, play with them yourself, see which you prefer.
JVC LCoS panels - (D-iLA)
JVC is one of the pioneers of LCoS projectors. Other well known LCoS manufacturers include Sony and Canon. Mitsubishi is now also using LCoS panels in their top of the line home projector, (which sells for about $7,000.00). As a three panel (or three-chip) LCoS projector, JVC's real claim to fame is their ability to have designed an LCoS panel that produces exceptional black-level performance (high contrast). This is a key strength we'll be talking about a great deal.
In the JVC DLA-RS45's general price range, the competition consists of one other LCoS projector - the Sony VPL-HW30ES, several LCD, and several DLP projectors.
Image below - Leeloo, from The Fifth Element
JVC RS45 Manual Iris
This iris allows you to lower your overall brightness in 16 steps. Since the RS45 is unusually bright when calibrated, this may be handy at time for some folks with smaller screens.