Posted on April 30, 2016 By Art Feierman
The DLA-RS400U may be the best under $4000 home theater projector ever! $3999 lets you view 4K content, offers great black levels, and lens memory!
This year JVC has upped their projector game, and nowhere is that more apparent than the JVC DLA-RS400 and DLA-X550R home theater projectors sold in the US. The two US are the same projector sold by two different JVC divisions. The only differences are which dealers sell them, and minor trim differences.
Two and a half years ago, the RS400’s predecessor (new at the time), sported JVC’s pixel shifting capability – that version was called e-Shift3, and that projector could handle 4K content. Unfortunately that previous series of JVCs lacked the necessary newer hardware and support for commercial 4K content like Blu-ray UHD. The newer DLA-RS400 / X550, however solves that with all the necessary hardware and software to play Blu-ray UHD and copy protected HDTV. In that sense this JVC projector catches up to Epson’s dual laser LS10000, which started shipping at the end of 2014, but shipped with the necessary updated HDMI (2.0) and HDCP copy protection (2.2), needed for Blu-ray UHD compatibility.
Now, this is huge for myself, and all serious home theater people who can appreciate the move to 4K on screen sizes large enough that 4K really matters. OK, there are about a gazillion LCD TVs out there that support 4K (many of the ones out there, but like the older JVCs can’t play Blu-ray UHD, but almost all new ones do).
But, there’s more. The predecessor to the RS400 was $4999, but now, the RS400 with it’s advanced 4K support is a grand less at only $3999. This should make the competition even more nervous, but we’ll discuss that later.
Our review of the JVC DLA-RS400 / DLA-X550 – which, I should mention is called the DLA-X5000 in the EU – will continue with a bit more overview, and a list of this home theater projector’s highlights.
On the next pages we will discuss special features including e-Shift4 (JVC’s latest version of their pixel shifting). From there we’ll tour you the hardware including the lens, inputs, control panel and remote – and because the remote and the menus are closely inter-related, we’ll also run through all the major and some minor menus.
Then comes the “good stuff” – picture quality, where we’ll talk about out of the box picture quality, black levels / dynamic range, shadow detail, how this JVC projector does on HDTV and Sports as well as movies. Next comes performance – brightness, affects of the lens settings and eco mode on brightness, image and audible noise. Finally, we’ve got a summary page – basially the short version of what’s in between this page and the summary, for those of you in a hurry, or just interested in the big picture.
OK, now you know what you are in for, so, let’s continue.
The RS400 is the least expensive of the three JVC models. Interestingly the two more expensive ones, the RS500 and RS600 are the same as each other except that per JVC the RS600 at $9999 simply uses the best components (lens, power supplies, etc), and thus costs $3000 more than the RS500.
I should mention now that JVC for years has been known for the best black level performance around, which translates to the deepest blacks, and with it stunning dark scenes that only a couple of other projectors can do battle with. Well, you get better black levels on those more expensive JVCs, however, from a value proposition standpoint, I do think that the RS400 X550 is definitely the best value. Hey, if $6999 or $9999 is in your working budget (so that you don’t have to compromise say on the screen or audio system to afford one of those, then by all means, “go for it!” But if you are a budding, really serious home theater / movie afficiando without the deep pockets, the RS400 will serve you brilliantly.
Unlike with many projector manufacturers its been tough to get a review unit out of JVC, so this year, like last, I want to thank the great folks at AV Science – the well known JVC dealer and the folks who created AVSforum, the largest audio visual forum on the web.
Time to learn about many of the DLA-RS400U’s special features – check out the next page.
Art, the native contrast on the RS400(X550) is actually spec’d lower than last years 4910; 40:000:1 (RS400) and 60,000:1(RS4910). Brightness aside on the newer RS400, did it really have better contrast/black level performance?
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