JVC DLA-RS60 Projector - Image Quality
It is unfortunate that we do not have screen images yet for the JVC DLA-RS60 projector. Having expected another unit quickly, I didn't think to do the photo shoot before we shipped this one back. Further, if there was an issue with that RS60, we'd have rather done the shoot with the replacement RS60 projector.
3/21/2011 - Art Feierman
DLA-RS60 Out of the Box Picture Quality
Not surprisingly, the JVC RS60 projector looked great - right out of the box. Of course, that's pretty much the case with every THX certfied projector with a THX mode. It was true on the older JVCs, as well as a number of others, from other brands.
In terms of 3D, picture quality "out of the box" with the provided JVC glasses wasn't quite as good, but the more serious issue is brightness for 3D. I figure this is as good a spot to discuss the impact brightness had on the overall picture quality when viewing 3D.
As noted elsewhere in the review, there is a way to get more lumens out of this projector, but it's not a desirable solution and therefore I won't discuss it again here.
There is only about 500 lumens to start with (at mid-point on the zoom lens). The 3D process is going to eat up about 3/4ths of the light before it hits your eyeballs. My math says "Gee - that's starting to look a lot like 125 lumens to the eyeballs." And that of course with a brand new lamp. Mileage may vary, but I'm told most projectors using active shutter glasses lose about this much, or more.
Now normally around here we say a projector with about 500 lumens can nicely handle a typical 110" diagonal screen (or even a size or two larger depending on your room setup).
Simple math says that if you have 1/4 the lumens then a screen with half the diagonal - 55" diagonal, would have the same brightness in 3D as a 110" screen doing 2D! Whew.
But the real problem isn't the math, it's that the picture isn't bright enough. We enthusiasts will watch it, jump up and down showing it to all our friends, we will be able to watch 3D content on it, but we are not going to be happy about it.
Now much of this lack of brightness can be dealt with, to some degree, with screen selection, although, as with anything else, there are trade-offs. Get a high power screen with a gain of 2.5 and bingo, and your 55" relative brightness jumps back up to close to a 90" diagonal size with the same brightness. Of course, a high power screen means a more limited viewing area, possibly different mounting, and less evenness of illumination of the content.
In summarizing the quality of the experience when viewing 3D on the JVC DLA-RS60, you need to understand the setup. Mine is a rather typical theater setup, right now with a 106" Carada Brilliant White 1.4 gain screen, and very dark everything. Even reducing the image size to the about 82" diagonal, still left me feeling very dim. The picture was otherwise a pretty good one as 3D accuracy goes, but, tell you the truth, that just wasn't that high on my radar, with the brightness being the underlying dominant trait. Well, if nothing else, can you imagine how black the blacks are in the letterbox area, when in 3D!
I just found it to be a struggle. That said, I've got two owners who admit they really want a lot more lumens, but they find it satisfactory, and in one case they are really enjoying it.
I have one person who has a true cave, and claims that 3D is watchable in his setup getting about 3.75 ft., but I'll bet anything he'd be far, far happier if he had 3 times that.
I look forward to seeing how 3D looks with color profile turned off. That is supposed to get us up close to or even above 1000 lumens. I'm told it's terrible looking in 2D (or at least relatively compared to, say, THX mode), but not as bad for 3D. Without trying it, I'm at a loss to determine how good or really bad, that color profile off setup produces.
For most of us, this means the RS60 is first and foremost a 2D projector - 3D is a bonus, but limited due to brightness.
The image immediately below is an all digital image from the DVE test disc.
Not a problem here, of course. As a JVC owner, I've always been really pleased with skin tones. While I didn't log all the hours I normally would for a full review, I got enough facetime with the segments of the same old movies that I watch for comparison's sake, to realize that the RS60 was going to be very much like the RS35, which is to say, also like my RS20, for the most part.
Skin tones on the RS60 are softly natural in terms of color. They aren't quite as rich looking as some single chip DLPs, especially on darker scenes, but they are pretty fine. I've never had a problem with JVC skin tones. Variation I think is more lamp to lamp, or even more so new lamp vs. old, than any significant change between the three recent generations.
Remember, all the JVC images are RS35 (and possibly a couple of RS25s)
I will note though that I was enjoying (a new favorite term,) the optical clarity of the projector, which seemed to give the projector a touch of extra depth, and in turn, more vibrant looking skin tones.
Next are our usual three images of Daniel Craig, as Bond in Casino Royale, under different lighting conditions. (These were all taken with the RS25 projector.)
The point here, is that correct skin tones vary, depending on the lighting. You can expect significantly different looking skin tones, when switching from bright sunlight, to nighttime, fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or even lighting in the shade, or a cloudy day. Consider these three images, the first in direct sunlight, the second is a scene with fluorescent lighting, and the third, a sunny day, but Bond is sitting in the shade - indirect lighting.
Next are images from the sci-fi flick, Aeon Flux:
From Men In Black (RS25 images):
The two images immediately below from Blazing Saddles and Dark Knight, were taken with the JVC DLA-RS35.
Lau, above, from The Dark Knight, looks just about perfect, up on the screen, when it comes to believable skin tones.
JVC RS60 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Of course, one of the first things of interest when uncorking the RS60, even before Mike got to measure and calibrate it, was to check out the black level performance. After all, the older DLA-RS35 already had the best black level performance known to man (or at least known to me), from a conventional projector. (Still no match for a CRT!) JVC gives us an even better contrast spec with the RS60, and since no dynamic iris is involved, we would expect a slight improvement in blacks.
I never did put the RS60 up against my RS20 - that would have been part of the photo shoot, so I can't tell you by direct comparison, to the closest projector I have here, in terms of blacks. I definitely convinced myself that the blacks of the RS60 are a touch blacker, than last year's, but I'd really like another, closer look, to be sure.
The thing is, a little better is always appreciated, but, in the grand scheme of things, for example, I'd gladly keep last year's black levels in exchange for 50% more brightness for my 3D viewing.
Image time: For those of you unfamiliar with our reviews, we like to show you samples from multiple projectors to make some points. Any differences between the RS35 and the RS60 over all, are going to be slight. Since we cannot show you RS60 shots, the older ones will have to provide some perspective:
First is a seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Note, that even with this ridiculous level of overexposure, the blacks in the image and the letterbox are still not dramatically brighter than black, if you compare it to the image right below. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, which is also better for comparing with the same image in older reviews.
In this first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily. Immediately below, from The Fifth Element, our favorite starship image - overexposed. The first overexposed image, is the RS60, followed by the Sony VW85, and then the RS25. (The RS60 overexposed and regular images will be added within 24 hours if they can be found. (They are lost, and I must find them.)
Below, the Sony again, but normally exposed, and for comparison, a number of other projectors
For comparison, here's the same image more normally exposed, from the JVC RS25.
Next, the Panasonic PT-AE4000, which isn't really a match for the JVC, but one respectable, feature laden projector for $2000:
For some more black level perspective, here are the same side by side images seen in the RS25 review comparing the JVC DLA-RS25 (right) to the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB, which has the best black levels of any projector under $4000, by my best reckoning.
Here are two more dark scenes comparing the JVC (right) and Epson (left) from Space Cowboys.
These two all digital images images are good ones for considering black levels and dark shadow detail. Look for the richness in the black part of some of the buildings and also, the sky, in the second image. Both of these first two, are digital hi-def images from the DVE-HD calibration disc.
JVC DLA-RS60 Shadow Detail
Shadow Detail Performance
One of the first movies I watched parts of using the RS60 was Casino Royale. That night train scene is a great one for observation. I get up, walk close to the screen, and take a good look at how much dark shadow detail is still there in the trees and bushes on the right.
Based on Mike's calibrated RS60, I consider the RS60 to be effectively identical to the RS35. In neither case are we recovering all the detail. There are other projectors that do it better. Of course the fact that everything is so dark on the JVC, just makes it harder for our eyes to see those subtleties. It's easier to resolve dark detail when everything's brighter.
Overall, the RS60 does very well, and no doubt by customizing the gamma further, even more will be resolved.
Below, Epson on the left, JVC on the right. Look to the trees and shrubs on the far right, beyond the train tracks.
Below are groups of images, showing the JVC's performance on shadow detail and black levels compared to many of the other 1080p projectors out there.
The first set of comparison images is from Space Cowboys. This is a very dark scene with Clint Eastwood on Blu-ray disc. The photos are intentionally way overexposed. Look for the blacks in the shades, and the details in those shades in the form of the white trim. (At this level of overexposure, don't even worry about the skin tones, as in these types of overexposed photos they always look terrible).
First image is the JVC DLA-RS25, then the Sony VPL-VW85, and the Mitsubishi HC7000. Next is the the Sony HW15. The last two in the sequence are the Panasonic PT-AE4000 and the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB.
Again, from Space Cowboys, this is a cropped image. The right side is very bright (so dynamic irises will not be effective). The DLA-RS60 (top left) shows very good shadow detail in the dark areas of the satellite. Next to it on the first row, is the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB/Pro Cinema 9600UB, Those images are followed by the Optoma HD806 and the PT-AE3000 (second row). The third row is the Mitsubishi HC7000 (left), and the Sony VPL-HW15.
Next is a frame from the last Indiana Jones movie. You'll see this one in other recent reviews. The details still found as the walls and fixtures darken toward the top, are a good way to compare shadow detail. Like others mentioned above, this was taken with the RS25.
On the left, is the JVC DLA-RS35, the middle, the Epson 8500UB/9500UB, and on the right, the VPL-VW85. The exposures are all a little different, but you should be able to appreciate the combination of shadow detail and dark blacks
Below is a heavily overexposed scene from Lord of the Rings. The overexposure lets you see all the details in the shed on the right, the structure on the left, and the plants and ground along the lower right. The DLA-RS35 performs very nicely.
Our last comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the RS-25, the second is the Sony VW85, followed by the Epson 9500UB, the Mitsuishi HC7000 and the last one is from the Optoma HD8600.
Of the first two, the RS25 vs the Sony VW85, while the VW85 supports improved blacks this year, you can see here, it really still isn't up to the JVC RS25 (nevermind, the RS60), just by looking at the blackest blacks in the woods on the right, and in the lower letterbox. The JVC's blacks ARE blacker, and the exposures, are virtually identical...
Overall Color & Picture Quality
Stunning! The blacks are as black as they get, and no dynamic iris, dark shadow detail is more than fine enough. Color is on the money, the skin tones look pretty darn natural, and the image doesn't much "pop", as look clear, thanks, apparently to the optics.
For 2D, you've got to love the picture. Even if you favor that DLP look, you'll love the dark blacks on those really dark scenes, when the DLA-RS60 projector really can look far better than almost anything else.
Remember, not only does the JVC deliver a "blacker black", but while doing so, it isn't lowering the brightness of white. With dynamic irises you have less overall dynamics, so you slide that up and down in brightness depending on the scene.
The scene from Narnia, below was taken with the DLA-RS25 projector.
With the JVC, the whites are just as bright on an otherwise extremely dark scene, as they are on a full daylight scene. Projectors with DI's just can't claim that, and it does make a real and very visible difference when viewing two projectors side by side. Even excellent competition such as the Sony VPL-VW90ES, just can't match the range of the RS60.
A mix of additional images to show off the DLA-RS35 and RS25 (RS60's coming, we hope)
From the DVE-HD test disc (RS25):
Back to movies - here's a couple from Dogma and one from Aeon Flux:
And here are a few more images, the two from Dark Knight, followed by two from an old favorite movie of mine: Blazing Saddles, plus a few assorted scenes from movies and digital video sources:
The very bottom line on overall image quality and color: It doesn't get much better than this. Rich, very accurate colors, good saturation, and those superb, unmatched blacks, plus a lot of lumens for movie viewing, pretty much insure a great viewing experience, and one that can handle a larger screen too.
JVC DLA-RS60U Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
I'm looking forward to enjoying some 3D sports, so I was rather disappointed trying to watch the Winter X-Games, FIFA, etc., in 3D on the RS60. Oh, I could watch some of them, (others wouldn't work on the JVC - but ESPN 3D does), but the lack of brightness gets old. I'm not used to watching sports at brightness levels 1/3 or less of what I'm used to for normal movie viewing. A lot of the 3D content, including some of the sports 3D content from channels other than ESPN 3D, won't work in the JVC RS60 projector.
The JVC RS60, doing 2D is a whole other story. About 750 lumens, while still below the 1000 lumens we consider average over a wide range of home theater projectors, in their brightest mode, is adequate on a pretty large screen. I had those same 750 lumens on my RS20 when it was pointed at my old 128" diagonal Firehawk G3. I never had as many lumens as I would have liked but it still allowed enough ambient light for a group of people to function properly.
Keep in mind that the quality of the picture from the JVC is going to be a good bit better - more accurate - than you expect to find with most projectors when you have to go to a dynamic mode.
There is a 3D compatibility issue. According to JVC (and Sony tells me the same thing), some HDTV in 3D won't work on the JVC DLA-RS60 (nor the Sony VW90ES). I use DirecTV as do tens of millions of families in the US. Currently DirecTV typically has up to four 3D channels that have content running part time. One is ESPN3D - no problems at all. One is channel 107 (currently) 3net, which is a 3D channel sponsored by Sony, and others, and that too works fine on both the JVC and the Sony. But the third, and by far the one with the most content, is n3D.
n3D comes over in a 720p 3D mode that is (per JVC and Sony) not one of the standard 3D modes spec'd by HDTV, but rather an optional one. Of the three 1080p 3D projectors here so far, only the Sharp has been able to work with n3D content. (I now have about 40 hours of great 3D content, that I can no longer watch, now that I had to return the Sharp XV-Z17000).
There's a fourth, occasional channel so far, CINE3D, which seems to be PayTV. You can order, pay, and keep the content on your DVR for about a month. . It's not exactly dripping in content. Seems to be only one movie a day, which they show several times. That channel works. So the most prolific 3D channel is "dead to you" with the JVC (or Sony) unless these manufacturers decide to get ambitious and update the firmware to support this mode. It's a 1080p 24fps channel so it likely works, but I haven't bought any Pay Per View so I don't know for sure. That means I haven't tried that channel at all yet.
Forget that the "fault" is n3D's for not using a "standardized" 3D format, but an optional one. Instead remember, that as of right now, the DirecTV channel with by far the most content that's non-sports, plus some great 3D sports like the Winter X Games!
Maybe n3D will change their format soon? Regarding Cine3D, I don't really care that much, not being a PPV kind of guy and considering the limited movies available in 3D. To give you an idea about Cine3D, the next movies: Pirhanna 3D, Jackass 3D, The Last Airbender, and Shrek Forever After 3D. If I only got 4 movies in 4 days, I assure you that at best only Shrek would make my list. In other words - thin!
Bottom line: HDTV Stuff looks great on the RS60: Football, all kinds of HD content, March Madness (if I still had it here), music videos, all look good. Watching great music concert proved downright breathtaking (unfortunately 90% of my music content in 3D has come from the n3D channel which won't work yet (ever?) on this JVC. There's a good CFI setup for smooth motion when watching sports - wow, it really works with hockey. I did try viewing a March Madness 3D game on the Sony (which is still here), and it wouldn't view it.
If JVC's real smart, their next firmware upgrade will specifically deal with any optional 3D modes DirectTV and the Cable companies are using. I've got enough content recorded now to make the Sharp projector a good 3D choice, but with the JVC, I'm left with perhaps only 1/4 of the total content I've recorded, (same for the Sony).
More lumens would be nice for 2D as well, but other than that, 2D HDTV is a pleasure, and the lumens are just fine for movie viewing!
Think this way, as an added bonus, you can watch some sports and other content) in 3D, even if significantly dimmer than your 2D viewing. Not bad, if 2D is what you really care about.