JVC DLA-X55R and RS48 Projectors: Physical Tour
12/19/2012 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-X55R Physical Appearance
This DLA-X55R projector, and its essentially identical twin (but for some trim), the DLA-RS48 projector , is the third generation in this larger box (and sporting 3D). The projector is definitely a size larger than my own JVC RS20, and is at least as large as just about any other under $10,000 projectors.
Everything is motorized, which means zoom, lens shift and focus. The 2:1 zoom lens is center mounted, and recessed, The otherwise shiny black piano finish of the projector is only interrupted by the gold trim ring around the lens, gold lettering, etc. Elegant looking, though large compared to most projectors that pass through here.
The JVC DLA-X55R's indicator lights are on the top front to the left of the lens (if you are facing the projector). In addition to the lens, the front also houses the front Infra-red sensor for the remote control. (There's a second one in the back.)
Four screw thread adjustable feet are located on the bottom of both the X55R and DLA-RS48 projectors.
As to connectors, there's a pair of HDMI 1.4a inputs, and a LAN connector on the top row. Below is an RS232 serial port for command and control. Next over, three color coded RCA jacks for component video, and then a DIN S-video jack. On the third row, the left hand side has the Din connector for the provided 3D emitter. An analog PC input (HD15) is next. (The lower cost X30 and RS45 lack a dedicated standard computer input.) Further over are a screen trigger, and a jack for hard wiring the remote control. That's it but for the power receptacle.
There is, of course, a control panel on the projector. Instead of on top, where a majority of projectors have their control panels, JVC has placed the control panel for the DLA-X55R (and the other new RS and X series projectors) in the center of the back panel of the projector. That's right next to the inputs and other connectors. For most, that's just fine. If you are shelf mounting, however, with minimum rear space on your shelf, getting to the control panel will be essentially impossible, so don't misplace the JVC X55R's remote control.
The X55R and RS48's control panel are located on the back of the projector, in the center, just to the right of the inputs and connections area.
At the top, is the Power button, with the usual press once for On, press twice for Off.
The Input - source selection is next, followed by the OK, the Enter key.
Then comes the four arrow buttons in a diamond shaped arrangement. It would have been nice to have the OK button in the center, instead of above.
Lastly, side by side, are the Menu, and (menu) Back buttons. Pretty standard stuff. Of course, we all primarily rely on the remote control, and probably only use the control panel during initial setup, if at all. Especially buried on the back.
JVC DLA-X55R and DLA-RS48 Projector Input/Output
All of the JVC projector's connectors are located on the back left side. The top row starts with a pair of HDMI 1.4a connectors. There's also a LAN connector, and an RS-232 serial port for system control for whole room or whole home systems such as Crestron, Control4, etc. Updates can be accomplished through the LAN port as well.
Next up, are three RCA connectors for the component video input. There are no composite or S-Video inputs. The rear IR sensor for the remote, is to the right of the component video (and hard to see in the image above.)
The bottom row has the sync port (a DIN connector) for the 3D emitter. This year it the emitter itself just plugs in, as seen in this photo. You can, however, use last year's emitter by plugging in its cable instead. I can't think of why, however, you would want to. Finally, there is a 12 volt screen trigger for controlling a motorized screen or masking system, and a hard wire for the remote control should the projector be where it can't "see" the IR signal from the remote (usually a rear screen setup).
If there's one really missed input, that would be a traditional analog computer input (HD15 connector) to connect to most computers.
A few years ago, that could have been a big headache for many. It's less of a challenge today, as many people can output an HDMI signal from their computer, as I do with my MacBook Pro. There are work arounds, of course, for those lacking an HDMI port (on their computer) but most will cost you some money, and, of course life would be simpler if the analog port was included. Since the X55R lacks the computer input, it sure would have been a nice touch if there was a 3rd HDMI input.
JVC DLA-X55R and DLA-RS48 Menus
As with most advanced projectors, the X55R has tons of sub-menus. I'm going to show you a whole assortment of them, in part to let you know that they exist, and from there, the type of controls. But, I will not get into all of them. Let me note that the JVC manual is pretty detailed. One of the better offerings these days.
Again JVC has reworked some of its menus, but primarily where new features are concerned. These menus, however retain the same look and feel as generations of JVC projectors that have come before.
Besides the usual Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, etc., the Picture menu has a Gamma sub menu, and and Advanced sub-menu.
The Advanced menu shown here, offers control of e-Shift / MPC, Gamma, the CMS system, manual aperature, and Clear Motion Drive (CFI).
Elsewhere I've spent a lot of words talking about e-Shift and MPC, but I only dealt with the MPC's preset modes (Film, etc.). As you can see, there are further controls for each. Therefore, obviously, you could start with, perhaps, the HD setting, and reduce some of it's impact in exchange for less artifacting... It's a tinkerer's delight, this projector.
Those Enhance, Dynamic Contrast, and Smoothing controls can be set differently for each of the presets shown to the right.
Not only can you adjust the gamma of white, but also you can do each primary color separately. Further, the JVC X55R comes with a number of gamma presets, none of which are at the desired 2.2 for movies. But you can create one, The JVC allows you to save three of your own custom settings. Note also, that when doing so you can adjust each IRE point separately.
I also like the grayscale provided on the screen (lower right), which gives you a good idea if you are crushing blacks or whites too much, or expanding them the way you want. A great Gamma control.
Clear Motion Drive Sub-menu (CFI):
Back to the Picture menu: Two new menus/features. Picture Dark/Bright and Picture Tone controls. I never even got to those!!! (Sorry)
Moving to the second main menu - the Input Signal, you'll find options for the HDMI 1.4 input ports, the ability to picture shifting (Picture positioning - digitally move the image up or down (useful for some with cinemascope movies on 16:9 screens, in case you want all the letterboxing to be at the top,and the movie, closer to the bottom of your screen).
The X55R offers Masking, which I favor over overscan, as it maintains 1:1 pixel mapping, if you have to eliminate to fringe noise around the edge of your signal (not uncommon with TV).
The 3D settings are also located on this menu. Including a choice of Off/On, 2D to 3D conversion, and, of note, the Crosstalk Cancel.This seems similar to that found on other LCoS and LCD projectors. The higher numbers do have a bit more crosstalk (still good), but provide the brighter 3D image.
The Lens Control menu is extensive. You've got the ability to control motorized focus, zoom, and lens shift. There's a black and green lined test pattern that comes up when adjusting.
The Lens Memory allows you to set up the projector to project two different sized images from the same physical location. The assumption here, is that you use a "Cinemascope" wide screen, such as my 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen.
With one setting of Lens Memory, the projector fills my 124" wide screen (2.35:1). In the other setting I "set up", the image gets smaller, and fills the height of my screen with a 16:9 image, leaving the letterbox on the left and right. Without zooming out (smaller), 16:9.
As you can see above, you can access the individual controls for Focus, Zoom and Lens Shift. Or, you can do that from the remote with the Lens Control Button. That button toggles you through those three controls.
The Lens Memory controls to save, and select are near the bottom. You can also assign names to the Lens Memories, such as 2.35:1 Movies, or Sports, or whatever "floats your boat".
There is also a Lock feature that's handy, and prevents casual changing of the lens settings.
The Pixel Adjust menu allows the JVC to digitally shift the red, green, or blue, for better alignment (no image shown).
The Display Setup menu is pretty boring compared to the others, and mostly very obvious features that I won't need to cover!
To the right is the Function menu. This allows you to set up the Screen Triggers (or for controlling an anamorphic lens sled) The command and control serial port, a simple timer (One to four hours). I'm used to setting most projectors to shut down if they don't have an input. If JVC's added an option to have it power down after no input signal for a period of time, I didn't find it. It's a feature I like having.
As is pretty much standard on home theater projectors, lastly is an Information menu, (not shown here), which displays items such as resolution, which port is being used...
JVC DLA-X55R Remote Control
I love the feel (and operation) of the JVC remote control for the DLA-X55R - and DLA-RS48.
This one is a bit different than the remote from my own RS20, a remote design they had used for years. This one has a nicer case feel to grip, a "perfect" backlight, (when it comes to not being too dim, or too bright), good range, and a well thought out layout.
Two power buttons near the top. On on the right, and Off to the left.
Then come two rows of buttons, the first row of three, offers the primary inputs, your HDMI 1 and 2, and a Component video. That's great, as few will be using other inputs, so not really a need, say, for S-video on the remote.
The next row has 3D Format and 3D Settings buttons, and on the far right, an Anamorphic button.
After a space, three more buttons all relating to the lens. There's the Lens Control Button, and next to it, Lens Memory. On the right is Lens Aperature for the manual iris.
Next row - two small round buttons, one is a Hide feature, the other is the backlight button. I love this remotes backlight. It's my favorite. Buttons are easily readable, without the light being too bright!
Then comes the arrow keys and navigation in a round configuration, with a center OK (Enter) button. Below the ring, are Menu and Back, two more small round buttons.
Further down, are nine more buttons in 3 rows, each sporting a different Picture preset such as Natural, Stage, User, or Cinema. That's seven of the nine, the last two being the MPC and CMD buttons
That leaves only the last four buttons at the bottom of the JVC DLA-X55R, and, from left to right, they provide direct access to controls for:
Gamma, Color Temperature, Color Profiles, and Picture Adjust, which toggles you through all the usual controls like brightness, contrast, sharpness...
Range of the remote is very good, easily exceeding the 7 meter (22 feet) claim.
Remotes don't get much nicer than this. Looks good, feels good in your hand, great backlight, balances well... Love it!
DLA-X55R Lens Throw
The JVC X55's 2:1 aspect ratio zoom lens provides plenty of placement flexibility to either ceiling or shelf mount. To fill a 100 inch diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, the front of the projector can be as close as 9 feet, 11 inches, or as far back as 20 feet, 1 inches. Using these measurements for 100 inches, you can figure out the range for any other screen size. These are the same as with last year's JVC projectors.
DLA-X55R Lens Shift
The X55R has lots of lens shift too, and it's motorized. For that same 100 inch screen, the projector can be placed anywhere between 15 inches above the top of your screen surface, to 15 inches below the bottom of the screen surface. Those are approximates, JVC doesn't have exact numbers in its manual, but likely it's 14 inches and change above and below.
There are some projectors with a bit more lens shift, but that's pretty good flexibility. The horizontal lens shift allows a maximum of about 30 inches to the left or right of the center point.
Remember, that the two "work together" the more vertical you use, the less horizontal is available, and vice versa. If you have maximum vertical, there is no horizontal lens shift, and so on.
The JVC DLA-X55R and DLA-RS48 support use of an anamorphic lens and motorized sled. JVC recommends a Panamorph lens, and sled, but does not directly sell them.
A motorized sled is optional as there is a second anamorphic mode designed to let you watch 16:9 and 4:3, with the anamorphic lens set permanently in front of the lens. This saves on the expense of the motorized sled.
Note, still another way to enjoy the benefits of a widescreen for movies, is with a lens memory feature. With this feature, you can own a 2.35:1 or 2.4:1 screen, and at a touch of a button, fill the screen with your movie, then, one more touch later, and the projector zooms in, and reshifts to fill the vertical of the screen with your 16:9 content, with the letterbox to the left and right. Three ways to choose, but with lens memory, no expensive extra accessories. (Actually, using an anamorphic lens does provide higher actual resolution).
Of particular note, the JVC supports use of an anamorphic lens in 3D mode. That's a nice touch that most others have skipped. It's not a really big advantage as it won't come in handy very often. Seems very few 3D movies or other content come in 2.35:1 (or one of the other Cinemascope aspect ratios). Of my collection of perhaps 50 3D titles, most are 16:9. Still more and more 3D movies are making it in widescreen. As JVC points out, some of the more recent widescreen 3D releases include Cars 2, Final Destination 5, and the last Pirates of the Carribean, great for those using an anamorphic lense. What's important here, is that some 3D capable projectors do not support 3D in widescreen formats, but this JVC does!