JVC DLA-RS20 Projector Review

A summary of the JVC DLA-RS20 projector’s pros and cons and capabilities.

Update: We recently reviewed the JVC DLA-RS25, the replacement of the RS20. Click here to read the projector review of this new award-winning JVC projector.

JVC DLA-RS20 Projector - The Bottom Line

The JVC DLA-RS20 and its twin, the HD750, improves on the older, and our previously highest rated home theater projector, their RS2. It accomplishes this with a lot more brightness, slightly better black levels, and a sophisticated, if difficult, color management system, which when properly calibrated produces a truly excellent image.

Only the THX mode looks really good out of the box. Dynamic is barely brighter, and way off on Color Temperature (which is why we didn’t do our usual “quick calibration” of Dynamic mode).

You’ll definitely want a professional to calibrate your JVC RS20, as the basic capabilities of the “end user” calibration disks, will not get you to where you want to be. Consider the few hundred or more dollars for a first class calibration to be an integral part of the cost of owning an RS20, but, it is most definitely worth every penny.

While most projectors can produce very good color, with proper adjustment, the RS20 is a class of one (OK two, if you count the older RS2), when it comes to black level performance. The combination of great post calibration color, black levels and brightness, is simply unbeatable. That’s not to say that the JVC is the very best at color, or brightness (the InFocus IN83 still has the best color, though the RS20 comes very close, and the Optoma HD81-LV is brighter in every mode, while the IN83 is almost as bright in “best” moAudible noisede, but significantly brighter in “brightest”.

Once fully calibrated, dark scenes on the DLA-RS20 are intensely rich, while medium and bright scenes just look right. The InFocus IN83 certainly holds its own with the RS20 in both brightness color accuracy and film-like appearance, (and it does have a bit more pop to the image on medium and bright scenes). That said, when it’s nighttime, or in the shadows, on your screen (any largely dark scene), the DLA-RS20 simply blows away the InFocus. No contest at all. And that, folks is exactly why I’m going to replace my “aging” (20 month old) RS1, with an RS20 any day now! I can’t give a higher recommendation than that!

OK, we’ve just established that the RS20 has the whole picture quality issue covered, what about the rest of the pieces in the puzzle.

Brightness

Brightness, is a key consideration to many home theater projector owners. If you have a “cave-like” home theater, for full lighting control, and you only plan on a 100 inch diagonal screen (87 inches wide), just about any home theater projector has the brightness for movie enjoyment and brighter HDTV and sports viewing. If, however, you are in the 110 inch to 135″ screen size range (as I am), and especially if you watch movies, but also content like sports with some lights on, then the majority of projectors simply won’t work for you. For example, the old RS2, didn’t have the lumens to fill my 128″ screen, whether for movie viewing or sports/HDTV with some light. Others (typically LCD based projectors such as the Panasonic and Sanyo projectors, have enough brightness to work with larger screens in their brightest modes, but not in their best modes. Still others have the lumens for the large screen when watching movies in the dark, but don’t have the lumens for sports/HDTV type viewing with some light on (LCoS projectors often fit in this category, along with some DLPs).

I mention all this because the JVC DLA-RS20 is solid. For the first category, the RS20 has lots of lumens for movie watching on a large screen in a fully darkened room.

For sports and HDTV viewing with some light, it is more marginal. I’ve definitely decided that in my large room, now that I’ve darkened it further during the daytime, the RS20 definitely works for my room and tastes. I do know, from my similarly bright RS1, that with my old setup – light walls, and more light leaking in around shades than now, that the RS20 would be just marginal for my football viewing, just as my RS1 was until the recent room changes.

My point is that the RS20 can handle larger screen sizes, in many cases, for both types of viewing. Matching it with the right type of screen, however, will be very important to making it work. (But definitely lose the sunlight, if you have a southern exposure!)

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