JVC DLA-RS4910, DLA-RS49, DLA-X500R Projector Review

DLA-RS4910 PROJECTOR – SPECIAL FEATURES:  4K Eshift3 – Accepts 4K Content, Dynamic Iris, Lens Memory

RS4910 4K Eshift3, Accepts 4K content

4K Eshift3 is the name for JVC’s detail and sharpness enhancement system.  What makes it different than the competition’s is that it’s both mechanical as well as digital.  These JVC projectors basically produce the usual 108p output – 1920×1080, but then the projector physically shifts the pixels up to the right I believe, by 1/3 of a pixel, and projects again.  This allows them to in some cases blend colors better, and provide more smoothness.

But when it comes to producing very fine detail it still comes back to the size of the pixels.  They are the same size as any other 1080p projector.  In addition to the physical, JVC will upscale 1080 content essentially to 4K trying to figure out what’s missing, and then calculate the best mapping for the original and shifted.

It works very nicely, you can get a rather visible amount of perceived detail and sharpening, before any artifacts become an issue.  Elsewhere in this review you can see how the DLA-RS4910 or RS49 or X500R compares with a true 4K projector, in this case Sony’s $15,000 VW600ES.  I’ve got a couple of comparison photos using 1080p content, and a couple with 4K content:  3840×2160.  For your consideration, we previously created a video demonstrating last year’s 4K Eshift2, showing the change from settings varying from shift off, to shift with a moderately high setting.

Short version – a very good detail enhancement solution.  I’d put it second behind Sony’s Reality Creation but both have strengths.   The ability this year to input 4K is an important improvement for JVC, but please don’t expect this to look like a true 4K projector when fed true 4K content.  I wish JVC would drop the “4K” from the name.   That’s my biggest beef, but at least it will accept at least some forthcoming 4K content.

In the images in this player, the first three are 1080p with the 2nd and 3rd ones already heavily cropped.  Remember even enlarged these images are only 1000 pixels wide, so won’t be a sharp as “real life.”

The next two images are from true 4K content, while the second sunset, is also 4K, but is an image from the 4K Sony VW600ES, for your comparison.  The final two images of Leeloo from the 5th Element show the settings changes to E-Shift3, from 25 to 60, but note that there’s exactly no difference in the images.  This is apparently the bug JVC mentioned that they are working on a fix for.

I wanted to crank up the Enhance slider to 60 from the default (25), to see how much more “detail” it produced.  Unfortunately, as you can see in the  for  While high contrast areas (tree vs sky) are very close to the Sony, look at individual clouds where the shifts are subtle and the Sony provides more detail.   Hey, the Sony’s almost 3x the price, all’s fair.  Other comparison later.

Last four images demonstrate eshift feature. First image in each pair is at 50, second image in each pair is at 25.

JVC RS4910 Features a Dynamic Iris

JVC has ruled when it comes to native contrast, and best black level performance for many years, going back to their original RS1, which was my first 1080p projector.  Their top of the line projectors, though lacking a dynamic iris, still produced deeper blacks than any of the competition.  Perhaps the top of the line Sony VPL-VW1100ES ($27,999) could match the JVC top of the line projectors, but only with an iris engaged.  That said, their lower entry point projectors such as the X35 reviewed last year (the JVC consumer group), or RS48 also lacked a dynamic iris, but the net on blacks was not quite as deep as, say the Epson UB projectors or the Sony HW55ES, but the the JVC still had more dynamic range.  This year, not only the addition of a dynamic iris (“Intelligent Lens Aperture”), but also new LCoS panels, make for major gains.

With this RS4910 and its siblings, blacks are outstanding.  With the iris engaged, JVC now offers in the $5000 range a projector truly superior in blacks to anything that sells for less.  Sony’s VW95ES ($5995), has great blacks but not this good.What I’m trying to figure out now, is how much better the two top of the line JVC’s might be. I know JVC probably won’t like to hear this, but unless you have a great, fully darkenable room, with virtually all dark surfaces, (i.e. the way JVC shows products at trade shows), I’m not sure most of us will even appreciate any improvement from the RS4910, to the top of the line $11,999 projectors, as far as black level performance goes.

What I’m trying to figure out now, is how much better the two top of the line JVC’s might be. I know JVC probably won’t like to hear this, but unless you have a great, fully darkenable room, with virtually all dark surfaces, (i.e. the way JVC shows products at trade shows), I’m not sure most of us will even appreciate any improvement from the RS4910, to the top of the line $11,999 projectors, as far as black level performance goes.

Oh, I’m sure the higher end JVC’s will be even better, but the RS4910 is outstanding in this regard.  I imaging Epson and Sony are pleased that their entry level RS46 and X35 projectors were not replaced this year as was the RS4910!   Of course the RS4910 is 2x the price of the Epson 5030UB and a good $1500 more than the Sony HW55ES, and that will be a big factor for many.

Click Image to Enlarge

RS4910 Lens Memory

For those not familiar I’ll take a couple of paragraphs to explain what lens memory is.   It allows projectors with motorized functions (zoom, focus, lens shift), when mounted at the right distance range, to let you save lens position settings.   This lets you work with wide screens – Cinemascope shape – wider than HDTV.  Those without lens memory, to work with those wider screens (mostly people who are a lot more concerned with movie viewing that other content), you need a projector and an anamorphic lens.  If nothing else, that  runs up the cost.  I use a wide screen (2.35:1).  When I’m working with a projector without lens memory (or an anamorphic lens), every time I switch from 16:9 HDTV to a wide screen movie, I get up, adjust the zoom and lens shift, then refocus the projector.  I reverse the process when I shift back.

With this JVC and it’s lens memory, I would simply fill the full screen with a wide movie, and save it.  I’d then zoom out for 16:9 (so the top and the bottom of the image would not be off the screen – above and below.)   JVC allows you to save up to five memory positions.  Why so many?  Well wide screens, and wide screen movies come in multiple aspect ratios, over the years we’ve seen aspect ratios including 2.35:1, 2.37:1, 2.40:1 and 2.5:1.  Thus extra lens memories (more than 2) can be handy for slightly different formats, but mostly you need two.

I’ve used JVC’s lens memory on many JVC projectors over the past few years.  As is the case with this RS4910 projector, they’ve all worked as advertised.

Tip:  While almost all installations use at least some lens shift, you should know that using lens shift itself does slightly change the aspect ratio of a projector’s image.  That’s true for standard 16:9 images projected to 16:9 screens, as well as with wide screen formats.

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