JVC DLA-X35 Projector Review
This year JVC has expanded their lineup from three to four projectors. That's true for both JVC's Consumer group, which market this JVC DLA-X35 projector and the other "X" projectors. The JVC Pro side offers essentially identical projectors with the RS designation. The DLA-X35 is this year's version of last year's DLA-X30. JVC this year also has the X55R previously reviewed. That projector is mostly the same as the DLA-X35, except the X35 costs $1500 less, lacking the X55R's e-shift2 feature.
Despite being JVC's "entry level" projector (if you want to call any projector that's $3500 entry level), the DLA-X35 manages to offer some impressive results.
Let's begin with an overview of JVC's DLA-X35 projector. Pick a color. We received the DLA-X35W finished in a low-reflective white, but there's a DLA-X35B finished in the same non-shiny black as the X55R.
March 2013 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-X35 Projector Overview
Where to start? Technology: 1080p resolution, powered by 3 JVC built LCoS panels (DILA). Large projector, available in either white, or black finish to match your room. JVC is known first and foremost, for their projectors black level performance. The DLA-X35, like the X55R, offers excellent black level performance, while JVC's two projectors at $7999 and $11,999 respectively, offer blacks that are even better, definitely "best in class" among the more expensive competiton. JVC has accomplished the excellent blacks with a native 50,000:1 claim for contrast, rather than using a dynamic iris like all of the serious competition.
Before we continue, I want to note that the direct equivalent projector in JVC's Pro lineup is the DLA-RS46, which is the same price, and seems to differ only in some of the trim, and model number. The match for the next step up, the X55R, is the RS48. The DLA-X75R translates to the RS56, and the flagship X95R equals the RS66. There, good, got that out of the way. Let us continue.
JVC's DLA-X35 offers truly excellent placement flexibility, with a motorized zoom lens. It offers features including CFI (Clear Motion Drive) for smooth motion, and Lens Memory for those who want to use a Cinemascope shaped wide screen, plus other features and benefits touched on below in more detail.
Image above from DirecTV's NFL GameMix. Photo taken with modest (just a little) ambient light in the room.
This is generation two for 3D in the JVC projector line-up. What a difference a year makes. As we will discuss later, JVC has gone from very questionable 3D image quality, to very good, in one generation. Good for JVC, although, I must comment that last year's 3D really did leave a lot to be desired when compared to last year's competiton. This year, JVC's 3D is very watchable, with minimal issue.
Image below from The Fifth Element (converted to grayscale)
Gandalf - of course, from Lord of the Rings, Return of the King:
Technically the JVC X35 can be considered to be JVC's "family room" projector. Mind you, it's great in a dedicated home theater - which, as noted, is why JVC also offers the DLA-X35B in its black finished case. Still, white cases theoretically symbolize projectors for rooms with light colored ceilings (something not likely to be found in a dedicated home theater). We discuss how this JVC projector will do in such family/living/bonus room environments. Let me just say for now, that there are many projectors out there, that may serve you better in a less than great room because they are significantly brighter. It may be slightly brighter than the other, more expensive JVC's but it isn't a light canon.
JVC DLA-X35 Projector Highlights
- High native contrast for excellent black-level performance and dynamic range for price
- Very good brightness in "best mode"
- Capable of handling large screens for movie viewing (in 2D) (1300 lumens claimed)
- Good warranty
- Extremely good shadow detail
- Sold by (trained) local installing dealers
- Excellent remote control
- 3D capable, note: 3D glasses and emitter are optional
- Excellent placement flexibility
- Lens Memory feature
- Creative frame interpolation for smooth motion
Above: Scene from Hugo, rich woods, good contrast.
Specs for JVC DLA-X35
Original MSRP: $3499.95
Technology: LCoS (D-iLA) 3 panels
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 1300 lumens claimed, measured 703 calibrated (mid-zoom), 951 lumens max
Contrast: 50,000:1 Native (no dynamic iris, 16 step manual iris)
Zoom Lens ratio: 2:1 motorized zoom and focus
Lens shift: Vertical and horizontal, motorized, 80% vertical 34% horizontal
Lamp life: 4000 hours in Normal (eco-mode), 3000 in High
Lens Memory: Yes
Weight: 32.6 lbs. (14.6 Kg)
Warranty: 2 Years Parts and Labor (US)
View additional specifications and brochure: JVC DLA-X35 home theater projector.
JVC DLA-X35 Projector: Special Features
No Dynamic Iris, but a Manual One
I repeat this review after review: JVC's exceptional blacks are due, first and foremost, to their LCoS panel design. They simply created a panel that has higher native contrast than the panels coming from Sony or Canon, or any LCD or DLP projectors. As a result, JVC does not need to add a dynamic iris. The JVC X35 produces really good blacks, without relying on a dynamic , and with more dynamic range than any other projector around its price.
There is a manual iris with 16 steps. If you don't need all the projector's brightness, stopping down the manual iris will help you get the desired amount. In doing so, there's also a slight improvement in contrast, but not enough to be making your image dim, just to get a tiny improvement in overall blacks.
DLA-X35 3D Abilities
I am impressed. JVC dramatically improved 3D performance. This year's isn't amazingly good, it's just that last year's was a major disappointment. JVC's first pass a 3D, as mentioned was not up to most other 3D projectors. Even $1599 3D projectors like those from Epson and Acer were doing a much cleaner job with 3D content. And that was true, whether considering last year's X30, or their $12K X90R. This time around I've watched an awful lot of 3D, from the Avengers to Tron, parts of Hugo... JVC's 3D still has some issues such as improving color, (true of almost all 3D projectors), but this JVC is now competitive in terms of the picture, color, artifacts, etc.
Brightness is the serious issue relating to 3D and that's discussed as well, on the Performance page
JVC X35 3D active glasses and emitter:
For 3D, of course, the X35 projector works with optional 3D active glasses which means if you have a lot of friends, more money for glasses. JVC's got some of the priciest 3D glasses out there, at $179 MSRP.
True, they are RF (not IR), and they are rechargeable, but the same can be said for similar glasses for the Epson projectors (RF and rechargeable - and even lighter), which are only $99 each. JVC's glasses are reasonably ligh at 38 grams, about 4 grams heavier than the Epson's and more than 10 grams heavier than the Panasonic's which are the lightest active glasses I've weighed. For those of you not into metrics, the JVC's glasses weigh in at about one and a third ounces. Comfort was reasonably good.
To the right, the JVC RF emitter that plugs directly into the back input panel.
Note, you could use the old emitter with the older IR glasses from last year. Unless you are upgrading, and already have some of those, definitely go RF. Not only more convenient, but I expect that the older IR glasses won't prove to be as bright, and may be in part responsible for the less than wonderful 3D last year.
I should mention the emitter for the glasses. It's a compact a couple inches by a couple, and maybe 1/2 inch thick. I think it's great that it just plugs into the back of the projector into its connector. Last year the IR remote was at the end of a cable so you could position the emitter for best functionality with glasses. Of course, the RF emitter doesn't need to be in the open with line of site. If you are shelf mounting, it makes the projector about 3 inches deeper than otherwise.
Look for more affordable 3rd party glasses, but I've yet to confirm that 3rd party RF glasses that will work, are out there.
2D to Simulated 3D on the DLA-X35
Nice try. I'm not sold. But that reminds me. I bought I, Robot in 3D. Now that is a conversion project done by the studio. The 3D I, Robot exhibited some of the same "flaws" as some of these 2D to 3D converters in projectors. Usually that is a depth problem with close up shots. That is, a woman's hair may seem to extend back behind the head more than it really could. Also lots of small objects seem to confuse most of these systems slightly. In other words, I found I, Robot's 3D to share, but to a lesser degree, some of the same flaws found in 2D to 3D simulations. I suspect in the movie, that backgrounds though look more real converted than a projector can do, because in that movie, many scenes are digitally created. In such cases they already have the 3D wireframes, so those background areas are re-rendered in 3D, to be correct.
JVC DLA-X35 Calibration
The DLA-X35 has a limited set of calibration controls. (See the image controls in menu images found on our Physical Tour page - which is next). This has been the case for all of the X35's predecessors. JVC saves a full CMS - color management system - needed for precise calibration - for its more expensive projectors. That's too bad, because all the competition has that advantage of being able to get the color, the skin tones, a little more precisely tuned.
CFI - JVC X35 Creative Frame Interpolation
I have the same comments about JVC's CFI (called Clear Motion Drive - sounds impressive), as with the other JVC projectors we've reviewed. Even in the low setting, there is visible noise around the moving objects. (It is expected.) That was under close inspection, I really rarely noticed when casually watching, and the smooth motion more than made up for that. As is typical of most CFI's I found it fine for sports viewing.
Figure the more dynamic processing being done, the more likely you'll notice. This X35 lacks e-shift2 - another dynamic feature. With the X55R and higher, engaging e-shift with Clear Motion engaged, seemed to increase the noise - the visibility of those minor artifacts. (E-shift on those other JVC's can add a goodly amount of additional artifacts, especially in the more intense e-shift2 modes).
The low setting isn't bad, for those that don't mind some "digital video look and feel" to their film based movies. Not the best but good. There have only been a very few CFI's that I would even consider watching movies with. I guess in this case I trade my enthusiast's hat for a purist's.
Below, Charlize Theron on the Oscar's Red Carpet This is a typical example when I viewed this, of the X35's color. The skin tones just arn't right, not as accurate or natural as the two top JVC's, and for that matter, most of the best projectors in the $2000 - $3500 range.
JVC Fancy Features
Once again, I managed not to really look at several features the new JVC projectors offer. Notably:
Pixel Adjust function. I did work with this on one of the higher level JVC projectors, but the X35 has a more basic system. In this case, you can adjust for panel mis-alignment in increments of 1 pixel. The higher end models do so in 1/16th pixel increments. That's two really different processes. 1 pixel shift adjustments go back many generations with JVC. I have, and use it on my RS-20. The more complicated adjustments on the higher end JVC's is more digital effect, so more trade-offs. That's OK, we've seen the same with Epson and others pixel adjustment systems that do fractions of a pixel. I'm not a great fan, but they can help if the initial alignment is off a good bit.. I would simply prefer that these 3 panel manufacturers learn how to more perfectly align the panels to begin with.
Environment Settings: An interesting feature I didn't really try out enough to make a judgement. My walls and ceilings are pretty neutral in both rooms I use. Theoretically, the Environmental setting would allow you to help compensate in a family room where your walls might be, perhaps a medium light beige, or rust color, or... Ambient and image reflected light will pick up some of that beige caste, and add it to the picture. Ideally the Environment setting will allow you to back out, somewhat, such color shifting. Of course if you bring in a professional calibrator who is going to calibrate all critical gear, and for the room, not sure this is needed. I'm thinking it might be best adjusting for different scenarios in the same room (such as different types, amounts of ambient light).
Picture Tone Adjustment: I think I've found another curious feature, that I didn't explore. The idea here, is that adjusting many image controls can affect the overall grayscale adjustment. With Picture Tone, changes to gamma, brightness, and contrast, should not reduce grayscale accuracy. Thus, you decide to increase brightness and contrast to get an overall lighter looking image, this feature should allow you to keep grayscale shift out via its adjustments. I have not worked with this feature. I tend to be of the opinion, that you calibrate, to get all that right. And you go to brighter modes, when you need more muscle. Perhaps next year, we'll take a close look at these controls, as we did with e-shift2 this year in other JVC projector reviews. I suspect this feature serves more purpose with the better calibration possible with JVC's high end projectors.
Image below - Leeloo, from The Fifth Element
DLA-X35 Projector Lens Memory
This is a great feature, which is why I talk about a lot. As an user of a 2.35:1 screen (I also have 16:9 screens), I can really appreciate Lens Memory, as it saves me thousands of dollars for an anamorphic lens setup. Short version. Get a 2.35:1 screen. Setup your projector with a "Cinemascope" shaped movie (2.35:1), so you are filling the screen width, and height with the movie. Save it. Now go find some 16:9 content. Zoom out to a smaller sized image so that the vertical of a 16:9 image (which is taller), fits on the screen. You now have letterboxes on the left and the right. Save that setting as well. Now, at the touch of a button you can switch back and forth between 16:9 and 2.35:1 widescreen content, getting the largest image possible for both.
At the mimimum, to do Lens Memory, a projector must have motorized zoom and focus. Better still to have motorized lens shift. Of the most direct competing projectors that sell for under $3500 in the US, the lower cost Panasonic PT-AE8000U offers lens memory. The two most direct competitors, the Sony HW50ES, and the Epson Home Cinema 5020UB/Pro Cinema 6020UB, lack this ability, due to manual lenses.
JVC DILA Remote App
The images here, are from the JVC app running on my iPhone. JVC has released an app for ios - most newer iphones and ipads are supported. I downloaded the app from the Apple App store, which was, as typical, an effortless event.
That was easy. I didn't however get it to work.
Here's the catch, at least for the current generation of JVC projectors (RS as well as X series projectors): Per the instructions, the JVC projectors simply don't support wifi, so they must be hardwired to your network. The App, of course, is a wifi solution..
The only way to get the JVC DILA Remote App to work with any of the current JVC projectors is if you connect directly.
Typically, in a home, that means running the usual CAT 5 or 6 (or 7?) cable from the back of the JVC to your house's router. Bottom line, until I do that, no joy.
Still I did spend time looking at the App's features, and they seem comparable to the regular remote.
You can also control all the lens functions, zoom, lens shift and focus, as well as select Lens Memories.
You can select sources, power up and down, select a preset picture mode, and even calibrate JVC projectors. (note, the app has a Color Management area for the high end JVC projectors.
Color, Brightness, Color Temp, Lens Control and Lens Memory, Gamma selection and Custom Gamma settings area.
All the 3D controls are there as well. Finally there are "environment" settings, such as screen size, viewing distance, and wall color. No remote would be complete without a static info page. Rest assured, the JVC app has an info page as well.
Short version: If you can hardwire your current generation JVC into your network, then you can essentially replace your traditional remote control with your iPhone. I will update if I manage to hardware the JVC.
Why do this, you ask? Why not. That iPhone or iPad, (Android gear too, in most cases), can not only control your projector, but lighting, heating, security. To paraphrase "one remote to rule them all."
Time to move on, let's look at the hardware!