JVC DLA-X95R Home Theater Projector - Review Summary
The JVC DLA-X95R projector belongs in a dedicated home theater environment, or an appropriate cave.
This projector is all about excellent picture quality. No rough edges, so to speak.
Below I will touch briefly on much of the content discussed in the many pages of this JVC X95 R review, just in case you didn't read the whole review "from cover to cover".
2/16/2013 - Art Feierman
JVC DLA-X95R Projector - The Bottom Line
Today, let's start our summary with the hardware: The DLA-X95R is built from hand selected components. First of all, there's the motorized 2:1 zoom lens. That's power zoom, focus, and lens shift. And you can save those settings in Lens Memory, as I have done. I have one saved setting set for viewing at 2.35:1 aspect ratio on my 124" 2.35:1 screen, and I have a 16:9 setting saved, which, at the touch of a button, reduces the overall image size to view 16:9 content, which gives me roughly 98" diagonal. JVC certainly didn't invent lens shift for consumer home projectors- I think that goes to Panasonic, about 4 or five years ago. No matter. It works, and unlike those Panasonic projectors, having the motorized lens shift the Panny's lack, makes Lens Memory even better. There is very litlle loss of focus, even after toggling back several times. Still, if you do a lot of lens memory usage, check the focus at least occasionally.
This JVC is a 3 LCoS panel projector (JVC calls their LCoS D-iLA, just as Sony calls theirs SXRD). Everyone's got a name!
The projector is large and heavier than most. it's black shiny finish fits well in your dedicated theater. Connectors for cabling are on the back, as is the pretty much standard control panel. Indicator lights on the top front left (when facing the front). Unlike the two least expensive JVC projectors, this X95 projector has a analog computer input, in addition to a pair of HDMIs and the usual other connectors. Speaking of differences, compared to the X55R and X35, the X95R, and it's less expensive twin, the X75R have full color management systems.
The remote control is exceptionally fine!
Menus are well laid out! Documentation reasonable but definitely could still use additional explanations of some features, that is, explaining them from a practical standpoint.
Naturally, as you would expect in a projector like this JVC, the lamp can be changed out without unmounting the projector. Ditto for filter maintenance.
Let's talk about the X95R projector's image quality next:
Black levels performance is stunning, overall, unbeatable. Natural black levels are so excellent, that even without a dynamic iris, this JVC is second to none. Oh, the $25,000 4K Sony, and perhaps the $5999 Sony can produce a slightly darker black on the darkest of scenes, (while the Epsons merely come fairly close), but the JVC definitely has more dynamic range than all of them, except maybe the VW1000ES. Still even on the brightest of scenes, the X95R's blacks remain equally good, while every projector with a dynamic iris will come up short in blacks on bright or even medium lit scenes. A total win for JVC's high end when it comes to blacks (as always it seems).
Dark shadow detail is extremely good, very close to the absolute best. Close enough though, to not worry about it. What little might be missing, probably will not be missed.
Just slightly isappointing though is out of the box color. With a THX mode I expected it to be excellent, rather than just very good. That said, very watchable at the very least.
Of course if you spring something approaching $12,000, you will almost certainly be getting your projector calibrated. Not to, would be a waste, as the cost of calibration is minor compared to the projector's cost, and the reason you purchased it - for an incredible viewing experience.
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.
Below: From Victoria Secret's Fashion Show:
Overall Color and Picture Quality of the JVC DLA-X95R
Calibrated, the X95R looks great, with skin tones definitely looking much better than the images on these pages. Some projectors, when photographing images with my Canon 60D, seem to be very accurately reproduced, others, though pick up slight shifts in color. I've never nailed down why some are closer than others, but I suspect that camera sensors may be sensitive to some "light" we don't see, or missing some we do, causing slight shifts. With this JVC we definitely pick up a small amount of shift toward a slightly orange yellow (a coarse description). You can pick it up in some of the skin tone images, such as Gandalf.
In real life, the colors are great. I still have to give the two Sony's that straddle this JVC in price, the slightest advantage in natural skin tones, but then, with more tweaking of the full calibration, who knows, perhaps the JVC can look better. Anyway you consider the DLA-X95, it's got a superb picture!
Below, Bruce Willis and Ernest Bourgnine in RED.
Elsewhere in this review I spent a good deal of time demonstrating the effects of e-Shift2, JVC's "4K" solution. Once again, I object to calling e-Shift2 4K. True it does process some things at 4K, but when push comes to shove, they still have to bring it down to 2K, the pixel size is still 1080p. That they "scan" twice, shifting the pixels diagonally, doesn't change the fact that a true 4K projector produces pixels 1/4 the relative diameter of the best JVC can do. True detail comes with true 4K pixel structures.
Watch our video on the JVC "4K" e-Shift2 detail enhancement technology.
Still, I'll call e-shift2 is a very good dynamic detail and sharpness enhancement system. Think Sony Reality Creation, or Epson Super-Resolution features. However, of the three, Sony's Reality Creation does the best job! The JVC though I consider better at things than the Epson. The Epson too can add a certain amount of detail enhancement, but the JVC can be pushed to do more without being too over the top, than the Epson, just as the Sony can do the same to this JVC. e-Shift2, is definitely worth having, just don't push it too far.
Below: From Hunger Games :
JVC DLA-X95R Brightness - 2D Viewing:
With almost 700 lumens calibrated this is about what we expect from JVC's projectors. True, the X75R is rated the same 1200 lumens, although with the lower contrast rating, I wouldn't be surprised if the X75R imeasured slightly brighter, despite the same claim. JVC's top of the line projectors over the years have typically (with the exception of the RS60 we reviewed and the ancient RS2), measured between 650 and 900 lumens calibrated. Anytime you are around 700 lumens calibrated you've got enough brightness to fill a pretty large screen for 2D viewing.. 130" diagonal should be no problem.
Never when watching movies filling my 124" 1.3 gain Stewart screen did I feel any shortage of lumens (2D viewing).
Despite little more than 800 lumens in "brightest" mode, (which is below average), Stage mode for sports and other HDTV with some ambient light present, still did a good job. I'm talking about in my dedicated theater, where I have really good control of ambient light. I could put on a football game, have enough room brightness away from the screen to socialize easily and still have a good looking, reasonably vibrant image, suffering only modestly from my controlled lighting.
You wouldn't want to try the same size screen- in a moderately lit family room environment with light colored surfaces though. I mean forget it. Don't go there. You would likely be much better served with the X35 or X55R, or the Sony HW50ES, Epsons, or the Panasonic PT-AE8000U. All less than half the price.
In other words, keep this JVC in your theater.
JVC DLA-X95 3D Performance
JVC has made impressive strides in one generation of projectors. Their 3D suffered some serious problems a year ago. Now crosstalk is under control, and overall, 3D looks pretty clean. Certainly no problems watching it...
The brightness issue is still killing JVC when it comes to 3D. Even in my dedicated home theater with the 1.3 gain Studiotek screen, 100" diagonal is still hardly bright. Watchable by me, certainly, but it still comes back to having a couple friends who won't watch 3D at that size for long, claiming dimness as the problem. Thus, if you really want to get into 3D more lumens would be better. Mind you, the Sony VW95ES is almost the same in 3D brightness, so no help there. Unless you drop down price wise to the Sony HW50ES or Epson Pro Cinema, just about everything is underpowered for 3D, (except of course, the Sony VW1000ES, which even calibrated has almost 1200 lumens - which works out to more than 75% additional brightness. Nevermind that the 1000ES is about twice the price.
Above, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), The Hunger Games. 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.
The three year warranty is typical for the projectors over $5000, and is a respectable one. A replacement program would be nice too, especially for all three years, but only Epson offers that, on their Pro Cinema 6020UB. Replacement programs are far more popular with business projectors.
Above: From Star Trek
If you have chosen a not very large screen for your theater (110" or less), you should be able to extend lamp life (by 1000 hours), running the JVC in Normal - (low power) mode for your movie viewing. That will get you 4000 hours on the lamp, and much lower fan noise. Every little bit helps!
Here's something I really haven't mentioned. You can now control the X95R and the other JVC projectors (Pro series as well), from your iPhone or iPad with a just released app, in the Apple App store.
That means your've got even more flexibility than JVC's excellent remote control. Taking a break from viewing, for some dinner, and forgot to turn off the projector. Don't get up and head to your theater, just whip out your iPhone, and power down the JVC.
I haven't used it yet, but will discuss using JVC's iOS app in our next review, the JVC DLA-X35, aka the JVC DLA-RS46.
Above, from Red, below from Total Recall:
More re: 3D
The glasses are expensive at $179 each - when $99 is fairly common. True they are now RF and rechargeable, but so are far less expensive glasses from most competitors. The glasses are very light, at 37.8 grams. That's just a few grams heavier than the Epsons' about 10 heavier than the Panasonic's glasses, and lighter than everything else we've measured. Just think 2 years ago 100 gram glasses (almost a quarter pound) were common. These weigh less than my Ray-bans, and only slightly more than my very lightweight (half frameless) regular glasses.
It's a simple story: the X95 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.
The Very Bottom Line on the JVC DLA-X95R Home Theater projector:
If the JVC X95 was perhaps 50% or 60% brighter in 3D, 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 allowing more intentional ambient light present in your theater. The real need for the extra brightness though, is for 3D. Everything I watched in 3D was "watchable" at just under 100" diagonal (16:9) size, with a 1.3 gain screen. Everything watched at that 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 X95R projector could really put a good looking 1200 lumens on the screen like they claim. Oh well.
But other than yearning for extra brightness, there is nothing I can really complain about. Having Lens Memory is great. The CFI modes are typically effective, although the lower setting still adds enough "live digital video" feel to the movie, so that a real purist is unlikely to engage CFI while watching a movie. Crosstalk issues from last year are essentially gone, the X95R is now good in that regard. OK I guess I can also complain about gamma modes. I think there are 9 not counting the 3 custom ones. You would think with 9 choices one would be right on the money at 2.2, but according to Mike, everyone of them is 2.16 or lower numbers. Fortunately Mike says creating an accurate gamma is very doable as one part of your overall calibration. His Custom gamma setup proved to look pretty much right on!
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 and MPC (e-shift2), which will "harden" the image and skin tones.
Last Word: As a dedicated projector for viewing 2D movies, my take is that you really can't beat this JVC without going to the Sony 4K. Yes there's some really good competition, but overall, the JVC X95 has to be considered certainly to be at least as good as any of the others we've worked with.
JVC DLA-X95R Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Image above, from The Fifth Element, Blu-ray disc
JVC DLA-X95R Projector: Pros
There sure are a lot of Pros!
- Excellent 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)
- Optics seem particularly good, there's a bit of extra "clarity", or so it seems
- Above average brightness in "best" movie mode (658 lumens) for movie viewing
- Very good dark shadow detail, expecially considering the dark blacks
- 2D->3D available - try it with some of your 2D videos from your camcorder, at least the kids should like
- Lens Memory - allows movie fans to go with a widescreen - such as 2.35:1 cinemascope (10 savable modes - a bit of overkill)
- Zoom, Focus, Lens shift, are all motorized
- Supports anamorphic lens
- An iOS app is now available to control the DLA-X95R from your iPhone or iPad!
- 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)
- Excellent warranty - 3 years parts and labor (1 year or 1000 hours on lamp)
JVC DLA-X95R Projector: Cons
- Documentation, though not bad, needs better feature explanations
- Below average in "brightest mode" (less than 800 lumens measured at mid-point on the zoom)
- Needs to be a good deal brighter for 3D - stick to smaller screens or high gain ones
- 2D-3D conversion needs work.
- A 3rd HDMI input would be nice (always)
- On the expensive side - $11,999 MSRP
Above, from Ironman 2, below, Captain Pike:
But for 3D viewing, which I really enjoy, I could easily live with JVC's DLA-X95R or its DLA-RS66U twin. Fortunately I've got really good lighting control in my theater, otherwise, though I'd probably complain a bit more about "brightest mode" brightness, so I can watch HDTV and sports with others in a more social environment. While there's no questioin about the DLA-X95R's roots, (the similarities to my old RS20 are obvious), JVC has certainly upped its game over the last few years. A first class choice for the right person, right viewing preferences, right room.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: DLA-X95R