JVC DLA-X70 Projector - Image Quality
All of the JVC DLA-X70 screen image photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV source material. Screen images were taken projecting onto a Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. Comparison images (two projectors, side by side, were taken when projecting to a Carada Brilliant White screen, which is basically similar to the Studiotek).
Basically all the projectors we review, including this DLA-X70R, will look a lot better projecting on to your screen, (or even a white wall), than in these pictures. Although the images can reveal some things and support some points I make, they are mostly for "entertainment" for the following reasons:
These JVC DLA-X70R projector images come to you, through a Canon 60D dSLR camera, Photoshop software where we save for web, using massive image compression (which does shift color), browsers, your computer's graphic card, and even your monitor, all with their own color and contrast inaccuracies. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc. Take them all, "with a grain (no, make that a kilo) of salt".
All that said, viewing a calibrated JVC X70 projector in a good room with decent content is a stunning experiene.
3/27/12 - Art Feierman
DLA-X70 "Out of the Box" Picture Quality
THX mode! Naturally I started out with THX for my first look at this JVC DLA-X70 projector. I'm used to THX modes not only looking pretty great, but also being very accurate.
Well, no doubt about it, THX mode does look great on the DLA-X70R projector, but it isn't all that accurate. In fact, Mike measured white (100 IRE) way up at 7623K, not at 6500 as desired. It is very similar to Stage, JVC's brightest mode. The picture looks fine but definitely a bit cool - a bit thin on reds but not drastically so. This kind of picture is very forgiving for sports viewing - a bit cooler, and brighter, than ideal movie viewing.
I recognized how far off the THX was, when I set up the Epson 5010 (calibrated) side by side. The difference in the whites was immediately very noticeable. Turns out, Film seems to be the best color "out of the box" but I really didn't spend any time with it - uncalibrated.
Mike basically used Film, with its particularly good color gamut as the basis for his calibrated "Best" mode.
Check out our recommended settings for items like Brightness, Color, etc. on the Calibration page of this review.
To give you a good idea of the cool colors, in the THX mode, here are two side-by-sides with the Epson 5010, with the Epson on the right:
Note, in this setup, the JVC in "best" was brighter than the Epson's "best", so for the quickest way to adjust I simply put the JVC in low lamp mode, but that left it closer to, but a bit less bright, than the Epson. Look at the white shirt on the waiter, you can see the less reds in the JVC. When viewing two images like this, the tendency is to think - the white is whiter on the JVC, but when viewing a movie, it's too blue, although one immediately tends to favor it at first look, over a warmer image.
In the second image, with Daniel Craig in reading in his Aston Martin note the leaves. The green on the JVC looks great, but it is a bit too green rich... By comparison, the Epson's greens have more red and yellow in them. Not so green intense. Watched separately, the Epson's greens are more natural, but then, remember - we're looking at THX on the JVC, right out of the box, (and cool) vs. a calibrated Epson nicely close to 6500K across the range, not up 1000K too high.
So, save THX or Stage for sports and other less critical viewing, if you are not having your projector calibrated (or using our settings). Try Film for movies, or better, plug in our full settings into User 1, to create something very close to a proper calibration.
DLA-X70 Projector - Flesh Tones
I've watched a lot of content on this JVC. Upward of 40 hours so far, most of it in 2D. With Mike's calibrated User 1, skin tones look really good, but, by my take (and Mike's calibration) overall, the skin tones do not appear as natural as either the Sony VPL-95ES or the Runco LS5. Very close, and hardly a complaint, but I just don't think they are quite as excellent. Of course a different calibration could affect that, but I have to go with the cards that are dealt. And, over the years, and probably 100 calibrations, Mike's pretty consistant.
I should note that for normal movie viewing I found best, most natural viewing when Sharpness was kept to no more than 10, and Detail Enhancement at 15. Most images here were taken with those settings.
Above and below, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Arwen
Leeloo, of course, from The Fifth Element
This HDTV image was taken with the X70 in Stage mode, the projector's brightest, rather than the User 1 "best" mode used for all the movie shots.
Immediately below are some additional images we typically use in reviews, that should give you a good feel for overall skin tone handling:
DLA-X70R Black Levels & Shadow Detail
I mentioned on the first page of this review that the JVC X70R produces excellent black levels. This is important. The black level performance of the X70R may well be its single greatest achievement, even though the more expensive JVC's starting at over twice the price are even better. With the X70R, even on the darkest scenes, our side by side viewing with the Epson showed that at its best the Epson could barely match the JVC and on most scenes, the JVC X70R offers a slight, but distinct advantage.
For black level fanatics such as myself, this partially explains why I happen to own a JVC projector. Below you will find our usual images including the train scene from James Bond’s Casino Royale, taken at night (or what looks to be night), and also the starship image from the Fifth Element. These are two good examples for evaluating black level performance and dark shadow detail.
Note, that this JVC does not exhibit the blue caste in the darkest areas, that we reported seeing on the JVC RS45.
Let's start with a a direct comparison between the JVC and the Epson 5010. As many of you know, the Epson offers exceptional black level performance for an under $3000 projector. It can't match this JVC, but it is, at least, a serious competitor in this regard.
Below: JVC X70 R on the left, Epson Home Cinema 5010 on the right:
The darkest blacks are a touch blacker on the JVC X70R, and the "bright" edges of the shrubs and trees are a bit whiter - brighter! There's more dynamic range across the image with the JVC, a good thing. That these images look this close, is a great testament to the Epson, considering the JVC's roughly 3 times the price, and has the best blacks under $10,000.
Close inspection of the large version of this side by side train image doesn't really reveal more dark detail with the JVC, nor the Epson. Thanks to the greater dynamic range, though, he JVC's image has more pop.
Overall the JVC image does look a touch more lively. The impressive thing is that even the Epson is sufficiently good, that it doesn't look at all flat in this scene compared to the JVC, despite the JVC having the best blacks around, period. In other words, for a dark scene, the Epson really does pop rather nicely, it's just the JVC beats it! Kudos for JVC, still proud owner of the best blacks in projector land.
Here we again start, with the DLA-X70R, followed by the Sony VPL-VW95ES. Note: We have been converting most recent "starship" images to grayscale to remove the distraction of varying colors (which tend to be exaggerated on these many seconds long time exposures).
The JVC X70 image above, is obviously much more overexposed than the Sony right below. Despite that, note that the blacks of space, and in the letterbox area, the blacks still look good on the JVC, and stars are brighter. The Sony's "blacks" though measure blacker, due to the exposure difference. In the image below the Sony, is the also excellent Mitsubishi HC9000D which uses the Sony LCoS panels. That image is more similarly exposed to the JVC, so makes for a better comparison. Using a colorimeter, measuring the black on the JVC image (bottom letterbox, center) I measure 18 grayscale with the JVC.
With the Mitsubishi HC9000D, I'm measuring 9, so blacks are a bit blacker with the Mitsubishi. When mearsuring one of the space clouds, the JVC does 218, and the Mitsubishi 186. All considered, that would indicate that the overall black level performance is similar, but the JVC is demonstrating more dynamic range. (Blacks just slightly brighter at 18 vs. 9, but near white at 218 vs 186. That's going to translate into just blacker blacks on any scene, but also more pop, as the brighter colors would be brighter, if both the Mitsubishi and JVC were adjusted so both put the same level of blacks up on the screen.
Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels):
Sharp XV-Z17000, This Sharp was the first single chip 1080p DLP projector to hit the market under $5000. It exhibits very good black levels typical of a respectable DLP projector, but not a match for the JVC!
Epson has reigned for years as the "black level champ" in the under $3500 price range, and can compete in blacks, rather easily with most over $5000 projectors.
That said, it can't quite compete with the JVC DLA-X70R, which is simply better at doing blacker blacks. Note that measuring the black in the letterbox (bottom center) measures 19 average (vs the JVC above's 18), but the brightest measured in the same space cloud was only 176, a touch below the Mitsubishi, and definitely below the JVC. As we have said, the Epson may be the best under $3500, but it cannot match the blacks of the JVC DLA-X70, and for that matter, can't quite match the $6000 Mitsubishi HC9000D either.
JVC RS15: (Has been replaced, officially, by the X70R (not reviewed)
Finally, a little side by side imagery. On the right is the DLA-X70R, on the left is the $20K SIM2 Nero 2:
Basically what we can conclude from this is that the JVC DLA-X70's got not only the blackest blacks but the widest dynamic range. No surprise, of course. But, it also translates that the Sony VPL-VW95ES, the Mitsubishi HC9000D, and the Epson 5010 all come close. Not super close, but "close enough" for many. I prefer the JVC's black level performance, of course, but when they are all this close, other factors can be more important issues, such as brightness, cost, placement flexibility, color accuracy, and various features.
Shadow Detail Performance
I was most impressed with the dark shadow detail of the JVC X70 projector. When you have blacks as dark as this JVC's that means that the nearest things to black are just a tad brighter. When you consider projectors with inferior blacks, the blacks are brighter, but so are the darkest shadow details, making them easier to see.
To get a handle on how well the JVC DLA-X70R performs in terms of shadow detail, I observed side by side with the Epson 5010. I consider the 5010's shadow detail to be particularly good for an ultra high contrast projector, though not the very best, close.
Well, the JVC held its own very nicely against the Epson, and that despite starting out with the blacker blacks. In the train scene below, the JVC not only provides plenty of dark detail in the shrubs behind the tracks on the right, but you'll find some real detail inside the large mostly "black" area in the center of the trees. Bottom line, no issue with the shadow detail. Let's just call it extremely good, or excellent. Either way, the details are there, and I cannot recall a single projector sporting really good blacks that has a significant advantage over the DLA-X70 projector.
Editor's note: As we started to do with the starship image above, more recently we are converting the Casino Royale night train scene, to grayscale, so that the color shifts aren't distracting.
Below Mitsubishi HC9000D (last year's Best In Class winner, $3500 - $10,000)
Here are images from additional projectors:
Sony VPL-VPL-HW30ES ($3699):
Epson's Home Cinema 5010:
JVC DLA-RS25 (the X70 - RS55's predecessor - two generations back):
Runco LS-10d (a very nice 3 chip $27K projector with good shadow detail)
JVC DLA-X70R - Overall Color & Picture Quality
Sweet! OK, I don't think the JVC X70R (or any JVC for that matter), has the most perfect, most natural color. But, this JVC is, at least, close to the best. There's going to likely be more variation in, say, skin tone handling from one movie to the next, than between a couple or three of the better projectors, once they are calibrated.
That said, the JVC never looked anything but really good, even right out of the box. Calibrated it looks really great. I might favor the Runco and the Sony just slightly in terms of natural color, but, by the same token, I'll give the JVC the slight advantage there, against projectors like the Epson 5010 and 6010, as well as the BenQ W7000. A well tuned Optoma HD8300 should be close as well.
Below, for your amusement, and to let you draw your own conclusions. The JVC X70R is on the left image, and the Epson Home Cinema 5010 is on the right. This is the same train scene as used above, but in this case, the image is pretty much normally exposed, and gives you a pretty good idea of how each will look on the screen.
Note you've already seen a lot of the "train image" below, including converted to gray scale, as this image is particularly good for comparing both black level performance and shadow detail, as well as flagging which projectors look really flat on dark scenes.
The Epson on the right looks great on this scene when viewing, and the JVC just looks better. If I put up this JVC projector against the same images from the Panasonic PT-AE7000, the Optoma HD8300, the BenQ W7000 and others, which can't quite match the Epson's blacks, then you'd be seeing a pair of images which would quickly have you saying "big difference". Shows you what great black levels brings to the party!
Concerts on HDTV, as well as even programming like the Academy Awards, look great with excellent dynamic range. Animation is great as well. I've included an image or two in this review from Howl's Moving Castle, but that's done mostly in pastels. I should have picked something like Cars, or Space Jam, to get some really high contrast animated scenes. I did view part of Space Jam. Looked killer.
For your consideration: Here are additional JVC DLA-X70R images, some of which can be found on other reviews for comparison purposes:
In this image of Ben Kingsley above, if your display is like my Mac's you are definitely seeing an image with more yellow caste than existed on the screen. (We consider these shifts to be the result of camera - Canon 60D - a good one - lot of processing and compressing, software, and monitor variation.) Short version, the JVC really looked a dramatially better and more natural on these two images (above/below) than the photos would indicate
Two from Iron Man 2:
Below: From Hugo (2D version)
The bottom line on overall picture quality:
2D Picture Quality is just gorgeous. If a couple other projectors can appear a touch more natural, that's OK. None of them can match the dynamic range of the JVC projecctor. While I usually concentrate (when talking black levels) on the darkest scenes, where the differences are most obvious, in this case, the JVC's blacks really show off on scenes that aren't really very dark, blacks even on average and bright scenes, are visibly blacker than with any projectors using a dynamic iris (everything else over $2000, pretty much), as those irises have to open for the medium and brighter scenes. The more the iris opens, the less black the blacks. While better blacks on a bright scene won't make a whole lot of difference, better blacks on a scene that's mostly not very bright at all, but has one very bright area, enough to force the iris mostly open can make a noticeable improvement in the dynamic look of that image.
The only real downside to the DLA-X70 R - and it's twin, the DLA-RS55 - when it comes to overall picture, is when the conversation turns to 3D. Then the JVC suffers from a brightness shortage (compared to most), and more noise like cross-talk than the competition. I've tried playing with the Crosstalk adjustment, but it seems to help little, or not at all, after much playing while watching Hugo (not the best 3D production to begin with). When viewing Tron Legacy with the screen size 96" I was still wishing for more brightness.
2D -> 3D conversion is actually pretty decent for what you are doing. As I mentioned, it's fun with your own videos. I've yet to be happy enough with anyone's 2D-3D conversion in terms of whether its worth the hassle to watch the conversion, at the much lower brightness levels, and with glasses on. I tend to save the glasses etc. for content created in 3D (or at least professionally rendered, rather than one algorthym fits all, kind of thing.)
Now last year I complained even more about the brightness of the JVC DLA-RS60 I had received for review. In fairness, JVC has made real progress. We found that last year, the DLA-RS60 projector calibrated almost 200 lumens lower than this X70! That makes the X70 doing 3D a dramatic improvement, if still on the low side.
JVC DLA-X70R Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
If you plan to be watching your JVC in a dedicated theater or cave, where such a projector belongs, you should be thrilled.
All the sports images below were taken with my rear recessed lighting turned on, projector in Stage Mode (unless otherwise noted). The other HDTV images were taken with lights off, in User 1 (calibrated mode).
Bottom line for HDTV on the JVC DLA-X70R Home Theater Projector
The picture looks great, so the only potential issue is brightness, assuming you wish to watch with some ambient light present. Assuming that you have put your JVC DLA-X70 or DLA-RS55 in a home theater, or at least a room with good lighting control, there should be no issue. I don't see a problem with a 130" diagonal 16:9 screen for watching football or Discovery-HD, with that good lighting control.
Since the JVC X70 belongs in a theater type room, there should be no problem. That said, the X70 can do fine is a room not optimized, but on a smaller screen, and perhaps (as I had) a high contrast grey screen surface to help with side ambient light.
Very Bottom Line: Works great! Looks great on a wide range of everything that I watch on HDTV, from concerts to sitcoms to sporting events.
Brightness for sports - in my dark surfaced theater: I can have all my rear recessed lights on (7 down facing LED lights - each about 50 watt equivalent), and still find that sports viewing is more than bright enough in 2D, with a fair amount of ambient light in the back of the room. You could easily sit on the couch and read a book, and while gazing up, see a reasonably bright image, with the ambient light having very little effect on the picture. . While there isn't a huge difference in brightness between the JVC X70R's various modes, filling a 96" screen (16:9) even with the lights on, in any of the modes, looks pretty good in my theater. That said, for sports I invariably watched in Stage mode - "brightest", when ever I had the lights on, or allowed some daylight in through my shuttered windows.
Remember, though - I said 96" screen, which is the largest projected 16:9 image my 124" 2.35:1 screen can show (big letterboxes on the side).
Move to a much larger screen, like my old 128" 16:9 Studiotek 130, and in a nicely darkened room, still no problem, but don't plan on handling very much ambient light, especially if the walls and other surfaces are not dark. For those rooms/ more like great rooms, living rooms and bonus rooms, you might well consider a projector with a lot more horsepower - lumens - especially if you plan on watching a lot of HDTV in general, and sports in particular.
One more time: JVC's DLA-X70 projector is designed for the dedicated theater or cave. Its almost average "brightest mode" (under 1000 lumens) doesn't have much to spare for room ambient light, or bright surfaces. That's why there are also a number of pretty great projectors that have the extra brightness needed for those environments, and partial lighting type of content.