Posted on January 25, 2016 Art Feierman
The DLA-RS600U and the virtually identical DLA-X950R are JVC’s flagship models for the US Market (called the DLA-X9000 in Europe) and replace the DLA-RS67U, RS6710U and X900R models, that we had reviewed in April 2015 (HERE) and received our “Best in Class” award. Although these new JVC projectors now accept 4K/UHD signals using the latest standards (i.e., HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) and offer wide color gamut and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, they do not display the picture at full, native 4K resolution. Rather, as with last year’s models, JVC uses 1080p display chips along with a 4th generation of their pixel shifting technology (that JVC calls e-Shift4) to project a pseudo 4K image.
A true full resolution 4K/UHD image contains approx. 8 million (8M) pixels while a 1080p HD image contains approx. 2M pixels. These JVC projectors will take a 8M pixel image and sub-sample it to produce 4 million unique pixels that are then displayed as two sequential 2M frames that are offset diagonally from each other by 1/2 pixel. The resulting image does contain twice as much information as a 1080p image but only one half of the information as a true 4K (i.e., 2160p) image. The bottom line result is that a high quality 4K/UHD display or native 4K projector, when displaying a high quality native 4K video, can show a little more fine details than what is possible with these JVC projectors. Usually the difference in resolution will be very subtle while other differences in picture quality may be more noticeable. This will be discussed in more detail later in this review.
NOTE: See the May 2016 update to this review that addresses 4K/UHD performance – HERE
Update 9/17: JVC has announced the RS640 the latest in the series, to ship by year end. The newest iteration has HDR – both HDR10, and HLG (for streaming), plus improved e-shift pixel shifting. We hope to review the new model in the next few months once they start shipping.
JVC DLA-RS600U and X950R are JVC’s flagship projectors and are priced $2500 less than last year’s models that they have replaced!
Let’s start with something very basic: The RS600U and X950R are essentially identical projectors that are sold through different distribution channels. So when I refer to the RS600U that comment also applies equally to the X950R. Feature-wise these models are also essentially the same as JVC’s next model down in their projector line-up. In order words, the RS500U and the X750R look and function the same as these flagship models. However, as with previous generations, JVC hand selects certain of the critical components for their flagship projectors in order to achieve the best possible performance. The very best performing D-ILA display chips and other critical optical components are set aside to build the best of the projectors. The bulk of those that pass the normal quality control end up in projectors such as the RS500U and X750, while the very best component parts are combined to build a limited number of RS600U and X950R projectors.
Is it worth the extra $3000 (MSRP) to purchase the flagship model over the next model down? That’s something you will have to decide for yourself based on how much you are willing to spend for that last increment of performance (and a longer warranty for the flagship models).
As we said a year ago for last year’s JVC flagship models, for standard 1080p viewing in a very dark dedicated home theater or cave, these are still the projectors to beat. This year’s models offer some substantial improvements, both in features and in some important ways also in performance, including substantially more light output. For these new models, JVC has added substantially improved support for 4K/UHD video as compared to the limited capabilities offered in the previous JVC models. Much more on this later in this review.
This projector is an LCoS design with the usual 3 panels. JVC calls their LCoS: D-iLA (in case you were wondering why the DLA in front of the rest of the model numbers). It runs on a conventional UHP lamp that has been upgraded from JVC’s prior models to provide increased light output and to support a wider color gamut.
Some projectors are better at some things than others… Some projectors might be defined as a purist’s projector, where bells and whistles are nice, but the consumer demands as close as possible to a no compromise projector when it comes to the basics of color, black levels, etc. That’s the consumer JVC traditionally caters to. While the RS600U certainly offers the performance that will please the purist, it does offer some additional bells and whistles, but omits a few such as a low lag gaming mode.
The RS600U and X950R were launched in very late 2015 while the previous models had a two year run as they were introduced in late 2013. The previous flagship models were excellent performers and, in fact, received our best in class award last year. These new models build upon the industry leading native black level performance of JVC’s previous models while providing a substantial increase in the maximum available light output.
From a hardware standpoint, there’s a motorized 2:1 zoom lens with Lens Memory. That means you can go with traditional 16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio screens or go widescreen with 2.4:1 or similar.
JVC claims 1900 lumens, and that’s now enough to be called a light canon, and directly competes with Sony’s native 4K home theater projectors. While many projectors offer relative high lumens output in their brightest mode, once calibrated for accurate colors many of those same projectors end up producing a much lower light output. No so for these JVC models as I was able to get near 1600 lumens out once calibrated. In fact, this was far too much for my 120″ 16 x 9 screen that has an actual gain of about 1.1. I ended up running the projector in low lamp mode and cranking the projector’s manual iris setting down to a -6 setting and still ended up with very bright picture with nearly 25 foot lamberts (ftL) of brightness, or well above the often recommended 16 ftL value for fully light controlled home theater environment.
This projector supports 3D – via a plug in emitter. JVC does not supply the 3D emitter nor the 3D glasses with the projector, as these are sold as extra cost accessories. JVC now uses RF (Bluetooth) 3D emitters and 3D glasses that conform to industry standards. I already had a 3D emitter manufactured by Xpand as well as compatible 3D glasses from three different manufactures. I found these worked just fine with the RS600U.
The only word of caution is JVC projectors project their light with horizontal polarization while LCD flat panel TVs and other brands of 3LCD and LCoS projectors use vertical polarization. As a result 3D glasses that are not made specifically for use with JVC projectors will have the ‘wrong’ polarization. This makes no difference if your projection screen does not retain the polarization of the light, but if it does retain any significant polarization then the projected 3D image will appear dimmer when viewed through 3D glasses with the wrong polarization. My low gain matte surface screen does not retain polarization so I was able to use my existing non-JVD 3D glasses without any noticeable dimming of the image, even though those glasses had the ‘wrong’ polarization.
These new JVC models now support the latest 4K/UHD content, including the Ultra HD Blu-ray discs that are coming out by March 1, 2016. That will be discussed at length on the next page – as a “special feature.”
This JVC, like JVC’s other home theater projectors, offers a feature called pixel shifting – in JVC’s case under the name e-Shift4. More on that as well, but what that is about is perceived sharpness for upscaled 1080p content and support for 4K/UHD video. We reviewed the previous generation of JVC projectors with e-Shift3 and and even created a video about JVC’s e-Shift, and it’s effectiveness. These new JVC projectors have an upgraded generation of e-Shift as compared to the prior JVC models we reviewed.
Physically, the JVC DLA-RS600 is a large-ish projector in the same general size range as the Sony projectors and Epson’s LS10000, but bigger than just about everything else for a home theater that we’ve reviewed in the last couple of years (JVC’s since their 2011 models are the same size, as well.) This one comes finished in a shiny black piano type finish. The trim around the lens is gold (it would be silver on the X950R).
The ability to display 4K images combined with e-shift, IMPLY the extra pixels created with e-shift use teh additional information in the 4K content but nothing is explicitly said about this. Is this a shell game or is this PJ using e-shift on a 1k LCOS to give 4K information? The alternative is they use 1k of information and interpolate the other pixels. Do you actually know?
With e-shift being used along with a 4K input source, there are 4 Mpixels of unique information being displayed as two sequential 2Mpixel sub-frames,. Thus twice as many unique pixels of information as a 1080p display but only 1/2 as many as a native 4K (i.e., 2160p w/8 Mpixels) display. When you have a 4K source processing is applied within the projector to downscale the 8 Mpixel input image to the 4M pixels that will be displayed. Interpolation is only required when the projector is taking a lower resolution Std. Def. or HD input (e.g., 1080p – 2 Mpixels) and upscaling it to be displayed using e-shift (i.e,, at 4 Mpixels)
Ron Jones – Projector Reviews
How muchl onger is JVC going to play this fake e-shift game instead of release a true competitor to Sony’s 4K devices (which start cheaper in price)?
Hi Reuben, I’ll start by saying “not fair.” While I too am frustrated that so far, only Sony is shipping true 4K projectors, your comment about pricing is off base. JVC starts at $4K with their least expensive “pixel shifter”, the RS400U who’s review I published yesterday. Sony’s least is $9999 list price. But All of the JVC’s have drastically superior black level performance compared to the VW365ES (the $9999 Sony). You have to spend for the VW665ES to get some serious black levels, and therefore excellent handling of dark scenes, and even then, the $15K 665ES isn’t a match at black levels for JVC’s $7K and $10K projectors. So it’s not exactly apples to apples.
I dislike seeing 1080p panels and 4K in the same marketing, without clarification, but for those waiting for true 4K to become affordable (in terms of projectors), the JVC’s are excellent performers. As long as people aren’t fooled into thinking that they are true 4K, or can rival a true 4K projector on 4K content. -art
I have heard this response from several people who own JVCs and have seen the Sony 4K, so I respect it. It reminds me of the not so long ago CRT 720p is better than any digital 1080p projector. It’s not a matter of if we go 4K, it’s when. I’m surprised JVC is taking so long. I’m sure I would not be the first to buy a 4K JVC if it was out already. Maybe they are struggling making a 10K or sub price 4K machine.
I feel like JVC is milking a middle ground for some reason. Then again my projector is getting long in the tooth also, I wonder how long the average Projector owner goes without a new model. I wish I had a JVC e-shifter, but I don’t think it’s going to “last long” enough until other 4K devices are out (hopefully JVC themselves).
Reuben, I think the issue is really the volume. I have no real idea of how many total JVC HT projectors JVC sells a month, but the numbers are likely in the 2000 units range? perhaps double, perhaps half. As I said, just a guess. The cost of developing a true 4K panel is likely prohibitive at this time for such low numbers. (US sales of 4K LCDTVs is probably already 5 million units a year). Remember that both JVC and Sony design and manufacturer their own panels.
Sony at least is in the 4K cinema theater business, so it’s not surprising that they are the first company driving 4K from the projector side.
As such, it may just be that JVC (and Epson, and others) are concerned that with the relatively low volumes of projectors (vs LCD TVs), it makes sense to wait until there’s lots of 4K content out there, etc. The projector industry was very slow getting to 1080p as well, long ago. -art
When the JVCs start losing shootouts to the Sonys, they’ll be concerned.
Hi PeteNice, You are right. But if JVC doesn’t bring out a true 4K, that time won’t be far in the future. The top of the line JVC is $10K, the 4K Sony 665ES is $15K. The JVC easily has better black levels (but the Sony’s are acceptable, pretty good). If JVC stays with an every other year cycle, though, and Sony decides to bring that 665ES down to $9999, then JVC will start losing that shootout. Oh, they’ll still be the better 1080p projectors, but not the better projector when it comes to 4K content, and that is the future, at least for the serious. BTW, like it or not, the JVC lost out to the Epson laser in our awards a year ago, (before the new models), simply because they were great projectors but no ability to work with 4K UHD. Well, JVC solved that problem, and as a bonus, the 3D seems much improved. I think JVC’s entry level, though, is best value in their lineup. -art
I know I’m still the pushy proponent, but resolution will always trump all in the END. Nobody prefers 240p nowadays except NES purists like myself! It takes time, but JVC’s 1080p models won’t hold a candle to their 4K models. You will choose 1080p if you don’t have the budget (which many people, including myself, probably don’t).
Hi Ron! What great reviews you provide us all, I really appreciate you knowledgable impressions on these devices. This is the first time I will have a projector in my life, due my room specs, I must place the projector 22 feet away from the screen, and I can only place a 120″ or maybe a 130″ screen (don’t know what would be the best screen due my long throw distance), I have controlled light environment, but I’m very worry because of my distance, I have in mind the following models: Epson 5040UB, JVC DLA-RS600, and in a extreme case go with the Sony VPLVW365ES in case it solves my distance problem and the others don’t. Please you advice is much appreciated since I’m really a newbie on this and I have read a lot about this but I’m still lost about it, hopefully you can find some time an answer this new projector enthusiast 🙂
Hi, Art here. The JVC and Epson will definitely work. for a 100” screen both work from about 10 feet to 20 feet away (measured from the lens to the screen), give or take about 8 inches. So, the working range for a 120” screen would be out to about 24 feet, 26 feet for a 130” screen. The Sony I’d have to look up, but it “probably” would work as well. But it sounds like you would prefer not to go with that one. The 5040 and the RS600 are about as good a choices as exist right now. And if you get squeamish about the price of the RS600, the RS400 is a great alternative. -art
Hi again Art, thanks a lot for your reply, i really appreciate it! Between the JVC RS400 and the Epson UB5040 which one would you pick? im inclining for the Epson, but again i dont know nothing about projectors at all; just making the choise because 5040 is the newest in the market… Also what screen would you suggest for this throw distance of mine (23 feet), thanks again mate!
The JVC projector’s zoom lens is spec’ed to accommodate a max. throw distance for a 120″ (diagonal 16×9) screen is 7.36 meters or 24.24 feet, Remember this is from the front of the projector’s lens to the screen. In any case it appears you would have no problem using a 120″ screen with a 22 ft. throw distance. Depending on your seating position, you may find that a 130″ screen would be better choice. For example,, if you seating distance from the screen is at around 11 feet, or more, then I would probably go with a 130″ screen if that size would fit into your available space. Using a long throw distance has the negative of the projector’s lens having more light loss but the contrast of the image will be improved. Since these JVC projectors are very bright I don’t think the image brightness will be an issue, especially for viewing 2D video. If you do want extra brightness for 3D viewing then you could use a quality matte screen with a gain of 1.3, such as one using the Stewart StudioTek 130 fabric, rather than a pure matte screen with a gain of 1.0. I feel the JVC RS600, or less expensive RS500, will overall give the best results of the 3 projectors you mention if you have a fully light controlled room and especially if the room color (walls and ceiling) is black or at least dark shades.
Hi Ron, thanks again for the reply! My seat is at 22 feet from the screen, projector is just behind me. I’m not really into 3D, i get dizzy with it, so 2D is my main focus. I can go with 120″ to 135″, and im looking for a good choice of screen based on these, you know a site to purchase these screen? which one would you suggest based in my room specs (2D, light controlled, etc),ive only find in Amazons manufacturers like silver ticket and elite screens, i couldn’t find site with the suggested stewart… regard the JVC, the JVC DLA-X750R D-ILA is priced $5,100 and the JVC DLA-RS600 is priced $6,795 , i can do the effort a go for the RS600 if its really worth against the X750 and thoughts about the Epson 5040UB which is half price, but worried of the throw distance performance, considering im looking to upgrade no further than next 5 years. thanks again for all your help, i really appreciate it!
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