Posted on January 25, 2016 By Ron Jones
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).
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