JVC DLA-RS60 Projector Review

The JVC projector is better at most things, well, just about everything, but for 1/4 the price, the LG CF181D is formidable in its own right. It is another “poor man’s alternative” to the JVC DLA-RS35 projector.

The LG CF181D’s black level performance is strictly borderline “ultra high contrast” not quite there. It is no match at all for the RS35, or for that matter, its not even close to the RS15, which is far, far closer to its price.

Color and dynamics of the LG, though are impressive. There’s tons of lumens, which buys a ton of respect from me, and probably every other large screen person, or sports fan.

The JVC is a projector for the hard core enthusiast, the ones demanding a healthy chunk of perfection if they can find it. The LG is a great looking projector, that can work family rooms as well as dedicated theaters. I like it. It’s now one of my favorite under $3K projectors. It’s for the ones who aren’t as black level crazy as me.

A quick but important note: I do like to believe I’m right about black levels. As I see it, take a great projector like the RS35 and put it up against another really good projector like the LG, on say the usual daytime and bright images you see in each review, and mostly you’ll see slightly different colors between the projectors. And, in fact the difference in what you see, in terms of color, is probably less than the inherent color inaccuracies accumulated getting from projected image, to camera, to software, to internet to browser, to your uncalibrated, relatively low contrast computer monitor.

When night falls it's a different world:

Look at the same night scenes on both projectors and, well it’s obviously not a “night and day” difference, but it really can be a “dusk” vs. night difference. All of a sudden the difference between the two projectors (actually between the RS35 and all but 2 or 3 other projectors), is dramatic, startling, or sometimes, merely noticeable or significant. My favorites – Casino Royale train scene, the space shots from 5th Element, Space Cowboys, or any good sci-fi really do look different. Or just any night street scene in a movie or your favorite cop show.

To me, that’s really it. Most good $2K (even less) 1080p projectors look really similar on normal bright or average scenes, especially if they have had a basic calibration. Brightness will likely be the biggest variant.

But when the the dark scenes appear, it’s a different world. One best described as “no contest”. I certainly wouldn’t pay thousands for for this JVC just for the color improvements over, say the LG or Panasonic – those differences are slight. But after 30 seconds of watching a night scene, the difference is so striking, that you’ll be lucky if the credit card doesn’t pop out of your wallet by itself, screaming for great blacks.

JVC DLA-RS35 vs. Planar PD8150 and Optoma HD8600

Two excellent pricey projectors, but the Planar is strictly a small screen projector. It produces mid-400 lumens in “best” and only about an extra 150 in “brightest”. As a premium single chip DLP, it has a very sharp image that may well still be a touch sharper than the JVC, but I wouldn’t worry about the difference.

Although the Planar had the best black level performance of any of the DLP projectors, and definitely makes my subjective cut as an “ultra-high contrast” projector, the JVC is still a step up, in terms of black level performance.

Both projectors have extremely good color right out of the box.

The JVC has better placement flexibility with its 2:1 zoom besting the Planar’s 1.3:1, but both have lens shift, and the Planar’s though, is a bit longer than most DLP’s, so it should rear shelf mount in a lot of peoples rooms.

The JVC wins for black levels, and I’ll give it the edge in color accuracy, but more to the point, natural looking skin tones.

If you are doing a small dedicated theater, with, say a 92″ diagonal screen, the Planar will really be in its element. Otherwise, overall, the JVC just overpowers or matches the Planar at most things except sharpness.

The Optoma HD8600 is a respectable DLP but still has dynamic iris issues. Optoma’s been driving me crazy for years, with noisy or particularly noticeable iris action. A real improvement in iris action would elevate the HD8600 into a serious performer, even for this price range, but, again, it can’t match the JVC for blacks, or color, but may have the slightest sharpness advantage – and again, not enough to matter, or so I think.

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