JVC DLA-RS25 Projector Review

JVC RS25 Black Levels & Shadow Detail

No doubt about it. The JVC RS25 (and its HD950 twin) is now the new under $10,000 black level performance champion, unless there’s a stealth projector out there I just don’t know about. OK, in fairness, there may be one other projector that is better. That one, of course, is the new JVC DLA-RS35 (and HD990), which are nothing more – JVC says, than RS25′s with hand picked components and a higher level of quality control (not that the RS25 level leaves much to be desired). I should note, that despite my enthusiasm, there are several potentially excellent projectors we haven’t reviewed yet.

Black level performance improves ever so slightly over the older RS20. This is nice to see, since the contrast claim of 50,000:1 remains the same as last years RS20. In casual viewing of the JVC RS25, then switching to the RS20, with some delay, I really couldn’t see black level improvement. Rather, what I noticed was, overall that the RS25 projector had a little more “pop” to the darker images (even after balancing brightness with the iris).

 

When I finally put both of them up on the screen at the same time (one above the other, in my main theater), I was able to make out the slight difference in blacks. I was mostly able to do it by comparing the two letterbox areas. The difference is not great, but is a visible difference. It’s just that without a “side by side” type of setup, you would be hard pressed to convince someone. Take my word for it though, it’s there, it’s real, and it takes the best black levels and makes them better still.

In fairness, because the lamp on my JVC has about 600 hours on it, I had to stop down the manual iris several notches to balance brightness. Technically stopping down the manual iris should improve contrast slightly, but, the amount of drop in brightness I needed to apply to the RS25, shouldn’t result in any visible improvement in contrast or blacks, to the best of my knowledge. (We’re talking about only dropping brightness by 20-25%.)

Image time: First is a seriously overexposed shot of the starship in The Fifth Element. Note, that even with this ridiculous level of overexposure, the blacks in the image and the letterbox are still not dramatically brighter than black, if you compare it to the image right below. Immediately below it, is a less overexposed version, which is also better for comparing with the same image in older reviews. In this first image, I have left in part of the letterboxing, so you can see the basic black level more easily.

overexposed
overexposed basic black
Mitsubishi HC6500.
Panasonic PT-AE3000,
overexposed
+overexposed basic black

I’ve even got a couple of side by side images for you, but those are comparing the JVC DLA-RS25 (right) to the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB, which has the best black levels of any projector under $4000, by my best reckoning.

JVC DLA-RS25 (right) to the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB
JVC DLA-RS25 (right) to the Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB
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