JVC DLA-X70R Home Cinema Projector - Review Summary
JVC's DLA-X70R projector is most at home in a dedicated home theater, or similarly dark room environment, basically "a cave". Everything this JVC projector does it does very well, making it a top choice for your own theater. As mentioned on the image page, the end result of our photo shoot of scenes using the JVC X70R projector, seems to be images with a bit of extra yellow (and the slightest touch of more red) to them, compared to what was on the screen. So, if you think these images look pretty good, the real thing is WAY better.
3/28/2012 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-X70R Projector - The Bottom Line
There's lots to summarize, so let's start with the Physical attributes. JVC's 2:1 zoom lens is motorized (focus, zoom and lens shift). This allows for maximum placement flexibility, and on top of that, the X70R offers Lens Memory, allowing you the option of going widescreen, without the expense of an anamorphic lens (and motorized sled).
On top of the flexibility, the optics themselves appear to be particularly good. Image sharpness (whether e-shift is involved or not) is very good, excellent for a 3 panel device. Also of note, the 2:1 zoom lens doesn't lose the usual 40% or so brightness when placed at maximum distance (telephoto), compared to wide angle. This does mean that the JVC hangs in better, in terms of brightness, should you be mounting it on a rear wall, near the distant end of the lens range.
Of course, this JVC has some standard features - the lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector. That's probably more noteworthy, since the average lamp life of the JVC projector is shorter than most projectors today, rated 3000 hours in their low power mode. Which they call Normal. The lens is center mounted, simplifying placement calculations.
Creative Frame interpolation has many modes, some have issues, but I found modes 3 and 4, in particular to be better ones, which helps out on sports, rather nicely, with smoother motion.
The remote control is wonderful. One of my favorites. Nice size and balance, nice back light on the buttons, and good range. Not much more you can ask for in a remote control. The remote provides direct access to each Preset modes, plus buttons for each source, color temp, gamma, and more. And of course, a Lens Control button for access to the power zoom, focus and lens shift.
Color handling, and the naturalness of the image, are major strengths. Though there are a touch more natural looking skin tones around the price range, some of that may simply relate to the calibration. Some of it has to do with the image itself in terms of softness of the look of skin, etc. Once you start playing with controls like Sharpness, and Detail Enhancement (and MPC?), that naturalness will start going away, but that's to be expected. As soon as you start messing with fancy features, they will take some toll in other aspects of the picture quality. Call it part of the law of unintended consequences. You'll find a demonstration with images, of the effects of the Sharpness and Detail Enhancement controls, on the Performance page.
The JVC DLA-X70 is a pleasure to watch 2D movies on. It really does seem natural, doesn't seem to be adding or subtracting anything of note.
Above: Star Trek's Captain Pike, below, Bruce Willis and Ernest Bourgnine in RED.
What makes this JVC (and it's siblings, the X90R, RS55 and RS65), really special, when it comes to movie viewing, are the JVC's unbeatable black level performance. Nothing I've seen can beat it. Oh, the Sony, and a couple of others get close, but they all use a dynamic iris to get there. While all of the best may look good on really dark scenes (like the Casino Royale night train scene), there are some mixed scenes, where the X70 really stands out for its still exceptional blacks. Where those other projectors must open their irises somewhat for the brighter parts of the scene, resulting in blacks that are no longer close to the X70. Definitely the Black Level champ!
If I wasn't as big a black level fanatic as I am, for example, I probably would favor the Sony VPL-VW95ES over this JVC, overall. It's got more lumens, and its own exceptional performance areas, but I do favor the JVC for movie viewing, primarily due to the blacks.
Below: From the Victoria Secret fashion show:
Though, as you may have just noted in the image above, the skin tones really do look natural!
Convinced (about the skin tones)?
Above, Samuel L. Jackson from Iron Man 2. Below, from Lord of the Rings:
There are many other things to like about this JVC, besides skin tones, and awesome black level performance. The handling of dark shadow detail is most impressive, especially considering the great, dark, black levels. I won't claim that the JVC does the best on dark detail, but it is right up there, with any that are better, being not significantly better. What little might be missing, probably will not be missed.
The two year warranty, while not best in class, is a respectable one. Still I would have liked to see 3 years on a projector of this quality, in this price range. The closest competition does offer 3 years: That would be Sony's VPL-VW95ES, and the Sony's less expensive, as well.
If you have chosen a relatively small screen for your theater (100" or less), you should be able to extend lamp life by running the JVC in Normal - (low power) lamp mode for your movie viewing. That will get you 3000 hours on the lamp. Every little bit helps!
Above: From Star Trek
And of course, for movie viewing on larger screens, 748 calibrated lumens is nicely brighter than most other projectors.
Using Lens Memory, I have been routinely watching 2D movies that are 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 filling all of my 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen. With the projector in Best mode, lamp on full power, the JVC X70 has plenty of brightness to fill the entire screen, which is 9.5 feet wide.
Above, from Red, below from X-Men First Class:
3D on the JVC DLA-X70R projector
I think I've about beat this topic to death throughout the review, but, after all, this is the summary.
Though it may not be a "glaring weakness", this JVC's most noticeable shortfall in performance is when it is trying to do 3D. Oh it does 3D reasonably well, but not near as well as many other projectors. There's more crosstalk than on most other projectors, and trying their crosstalk controls didn't seem to help much. But it's not just the crosstalk, it's the brightness + the crosstalk, that never lets me be fully satisfied when watching 3D on this JVC projector. To put it in perspective. I had been watching part of Hugo in 3D the other night. Since it's 16:9, I was projecting at 96" diagonal. It was OK, or as I like to say "watchable". After perhaps a half hour, I through a switch or two, shut down the JVC X70R and continued watching using the Epson Home Cinema 5010. That made for a much more enjoyable difference. At that size, that Epson at (about 1/3 the price), produced a nicely bright 3D image, instead of a slightly dim one, and the crosstalk, while not gone, was also less noticeable overall. I'm sure I would have felt exactly the same way if I had switched to a Pansasonic PT-AE7000 had I had one here at the time.
It's a simple story: the X70 is a great 2D projector, but if 3D's your thing, the JVC has to be considered mediocre, especially considering the high price. Oh, it will still have the best blacks (in 3D), but that's small consolation when 3D movie viewing seems a bit dim.
With about 750 measured, calibrated lumens, it's not as bright as the lower cost X30 (aka RS45), which is about 20% brighter. I wanted to point that out, since that extra 20% would really help, for those really into 3D. I think the X70 is a better projector for its price, than the X30 or RS45 is for its far lower price, but the X30 would do better on 3D, just by virtue of the extra lumens.
The lower cost JVC might also be better if you don't have an ideal room. Given a good cave or home theater layout, the JVC DLA-X70 is in its element, where even calibrated, it's got enough brightness in 2D to handle 130" diagonal or even a bit larger with a fairly normal gain screen.
In this image above, that slight extra red appearing in the photos (that were not on the screen), manifests itself in the more purplish look to the background, than the original image on the screen.
Above: From The Fifth Element, Below: Red
The Very Bottom Line on the JVC DLA-X70R Home Theater projector:
If the JVC X70 was perhaps 50% or 60% brighter, overall, I don't know what I'd have to complain about. The extra lumens aren't needed for normal 2D movie viewing, but would come in handy (though not necessary) for things like sports viewing in 2D with intentional ambient light present in a good room. The real need for the extra brightness though, is for 3D. Everything I watched in 3D was "watchable" at a 96" diagonal (16:9) size, with a 1.3 gain screen. Everything watched at that 96" diagonal would have been more enjoyable with extra brightness. And a 50%+ boost in brightness would also allow perhaps a 120" diagonal instead of 96" with the same brightness. If only the X70R projector could really put a good looking 1300 lumens on the screen (that's the projector's claim, uncalibrated).
But other than yearning for extra brightness, there is nothing I can really complain about. Having Lens Shift is a great option. The CFI modes are many, and a couple work really well, though none quite smooth (unnoticeable) enough to allow a real purist to engage CFI while watching a movie. Crosstalk in 3D could be improved somewhat, but I'm not that bothered by crosstalk, I notice it from time to time, but it doesn't interrupt my viewing pleasure. I realize that some other folks are far more concerned about crosstalk issues.
Overall, color was pretty excellent after calibration. Not the very most natural skin tones, but natural, nonetheless. Unless you start pumping up controls like Sharpness, MPC, and Detail Enhancement to name a few, which will "harden" the image and skin tones.
For my own personal world I could easily own the X70 home theater projector. If I did, though, since I'm a 3D fan, I'd buy a less expensive second projector with the brightness I demand for 3D (most likely an Epson or a Panasonic). Of course if I had one of those, I'd almost certainly also use it for sports and other viewing with ambient light, since those are all about twice as bright. If I were to do that, and was going to own a Cinemascope shaped screen, I'd consider the Panasonic as the best 2nd projector (it too has lens shift), if going with a 16:9, I might pick the low cost Epson 3010, or splurge on the 5010.
Last Word: As a dedicated projector for viewing 2D movies, you can't beat this one without spending a lot more (including the X90, the Sony (real) 4K VPL-VW1000ES, and an assortment of even more expensive projectors). For other viewing, though, even in a dedicated theater, if you want a fairly large screen - over 110" diagonal, you are likely to wish for a few hundred more lumens.
JVC DLA-X70R Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Image above, from The Fifth Element, Blu-ray disc
JVC DLA-X70R Projector: Pros
There sure are a lot of Pros!
- Extremely good color post calibration
- Best black level performance and dynamic range - no iris, none needed
- Good CFI - while some CFI modes have some issues, plenty to choose from (3,4)
- Above average brightness in "best" movie mode (748 lumens) for movie viewing
- Very good dark shadow detail, expecially considering the dark blacks
- 2D->3D works - try it with some of your 2D videos from your camcorder or...
- Lens Memory - allows movie fans to go with a widescreen - such as 2.35:1 cinemascope
- Zoom, Focus, Lens shift, are all motorized
- Supports anamorphic lens
- Wide variety of color presets
- Extensive gamma and custom gamma controls
- Very good menu layout
- Excellent remote control
- Reasonably good documentation
- Excellent placement flexibility
- Reasonably quiet projector - fairly quiet at full power, essentially silent at low power
- Physically fairly large, but atttractive (if the "wife" let's you hang a projector, this one should be OK)
- Good warranty - 2 years parts and labor
JVC DLA-X70R Projector: Cons
- Documentation, though not bad, needs better feature explanations (MPC isn't even in the manual), nothing on e-Shift, either
- Just below average in "brightest mode" (less than 1000 lumens)
- More crosstalk (ghosting) in 3D than most competitors
- No 3D adjustments relating to glasses/timing, to reduce the ghosting
- Needs to be brighter for 3D - stick to smaller screens or high gain ones
- A 3rd HDMI input would be nice (always)
- Warranty 2 years parts and labor is average, but several competitors are offering 3 years
- Lamp life - with 3000 hours claimed at low power, we estimate 2000 at full. That makes its lamp life one of the shorter durations
- On the expensive side - $9995 MSRP, street of $7995
- Only a good warranty, not a great one: Sony, Optoma, Epson (6010) offer a 3rd year warranty
Above, from Ironman 2, below, Paris at night, from Hugo:
The JVC DLA-X70 is one of the great projectors and projector values out there, assuming you purchase it for what it does best (2D movies). If you need a more well rounded projector, however, including 3D viewing, then the JVC drops down to being one of a number of very good expensive projectors, each with some real strengths, and a weakness or two. Still, 3D notwithstanding, hard to go wrong with this JVC projector. This X70R projector will be slugging it out for our Best In Class award in the over $3500 price Class, in our upcoming Home Theater Projector Report.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: DLA-X70R