JVC DLA-X35 Projector Review

JVC’s DLA-X35 finished in White or Black, in theory, is suitable for a dedicated home theater/cave, or in a more living room/ family room type environment.

JVC DLA-X35 Projector - The Bottom Line

The JVC DLA-X35, and its Pro side twin, the RS46U, are the brightest of their respective JVC projector line-ups. The thing is, the DLA-X35 (and therefore also the RS46U) are not overly bright, and are likely to struggle in many “family room” type environments.

In other words, a fine projector, but “not the brightest bulb in the room”.

For challenging “non caves” there are other excellent projectors out there that are 50%, brighter, twice as bright, and even a bit more.  On the other hand, in a theater, or room with great lighting control, there’s lots of power for 2D viewing.

That said, no question the JVC deserves, and receives one of our Hot Product Awards. While this JVC isn’t my personal “first choice”, it is certainly a serious performer, rivaling the other two or three projectors, that represent the best in the general price range.

There’s plenty to summarize, so let’s start with the Physical attributes. JVC’s 2:1 zoom lens is motorized (focus, zoom and lens shift). This allows for maximum placement flexibility, and on top of that, the X35 offers Lens Memory, allowing you the option of going widescreen, without the expense of an anamorphic lens (and motorized sled).

On top of the flexibility, the optics themselves appear to be particularly good. Image sharpness is very respectable for a 3 panel device. That said, I remind you not to expect good digital content to look as sharp as it would a good single chip DLP.  Lacking e-shift2′s dynamic detail and sharpness enhancement, you can’t add back more perceived detail with its sharpness controls, as you could with other JVC’s with e-Shift2, or projectors like the Epson, with Super-Resolution, and the Sony HW50ES with Reality Creation.

A noteworthy plus:  this 2:1 zoom lens doesn’t lose the usual 40% or so brightness when placed at maximum distance (telephoto), compared to wide angle (more like 25%). This does mean, that the JVC picks up some brightness compared to othe competition with long range zooms, should you be mounting it on a rear wall, near the far end of the lenses range, it gets back some of the lumen disadvantage, relative to the other competitors.

Of course, this JVC has some standard features – the lamp can be changed without unmounting the projector. This year JVC has improved their lamp life claim, from 3000 hours in low power, to 4000, and from no spec, (we assumed 2000 hours) to 3000 hours at full power (I’ve only seen the 3000 listed once, most brochures, JVC doesn’t mention lamp life at full power.  Tsk, tsk!   The lens is center mounted, simplifying placement calculations.

When it comes to 2D brightness the X35 is about typical.  – a brighter than average 703 lumens calibrated, pairs with a little less than 1000 at its brightest (conservatively measured).  Of course that’s plenty of lumens for a 120″ or even larger screen.  I run a 124″ in 2.35:1 and the JVC always had plenty of brightness for my 2D viewing, and with some to spare.

For 3D viewing, at it’s brightest using Stage (or Animation) mode, 100″ diagonal is about all it can tackle reasonably well.  (assuming a 1.3 gain screen).   As with the other JVCs, my attempts to view 3D content using the full size of my 124″ diagonal, 2.35:1, 1.3 gain screen left me with that dim, sinking feeling.  There’s juust not enough juice to make 3D viewing enjoyable to most people on larger screens.  I will say that this year’s JVC’s are definitely producing a brighter 3D image per lumen than last year’s projectors.  That’s pretty typical, but definitely helps.  I can watch most 3D content on a slightly larger screen, but am reminded that I have (non-industry) friends that are just not willing to watch 3D at brightness levels I can live with.

Creative Frame Interpolation - “Clear Motion Drive” – has three modes in addition to Off.  As is typical, I stuck with the lower of its two modes.  I was viewing CFI in operation while working through my HDTV images shoot.  The lowest setting worked out well for some types of HDTV content besides sports.  To me, JVC’s (like most others) CFI is a touch too noticeable for me to use for movies.

The remote control is a great one. Definitely, it is one of my favorites, if not my favorite.  Nice size and balance, nice back light on the buttons, and good range. Not much you can ask for in a remote control. The remote provides direct access to each Preset modes, and each of the Sources.  Plus key buttons for Lens Memory, Lens Controlcolor temp, gamma, and more. And of course a Lens Control button for access to the power zoom, focus and lens shift.

The handling of color, post calibration is pretty good.  Really, it is rather good, just not as good as you should be able to get with most of the competition, or for that matter the more expensive JVC’s.   JVC does not provide a full set of color controls for the X35, they save that for the high end of the line.  I figure they are trying to make sure the much more expensive JVC’s have better color as well as better black level performance. Don’t despair, our calibration still looked really good.  Let’s say it’s the last 5% of tuning, that you can’t do.

Bottom line on color:  Overall color, post calibration, looks downright fine, even if not the most accurate. When it comes to accuracy, some less expensive competitors that have more extensive controls, will provide a final, more accurate image with slightly better skin tones.  That doesn’t mean that viewing this JVC isn’t fully enjoyable.  I have the advantage of side-by-side viewing.  As you have seen elsewhere in the comparison images with the Epson Home Cinema 5020UB and the JVC X95R, there are subtle differences.

 

JVC is legendary for their black level performance.  They achieve, without using a dynamic iris, black level performance on their X75R and X95R that to my knowledge cannot be bested by any other 2K resolution (1080p) projector.  The JVC DLA-X35, being their entry level projector, can’t match its pricier siblings, but it is certainly formidable at the price.

That black level performance may be a step down from the X95R, but don’t be very concerned.  The black level performance is still excellent enough to hold its own with the Epson UB projectors and the Sony VPL-HW50ES.

It accomplishes this without a dynamic iris, so both those others can get a touch blacker on the darkest of scenes (when you appreciate them the most, but on more mixed brightness scenes (often not much brighter), the JVC can best either of them.

This year we have the two Epsons, Sony HW50ES, and this JVC all close enough on blacks that you won’t be choosing one over the other due to the blacks. 

I’d still give the more expensive JVCs and the Sony VPL-VW95ES the edge in blacks.  Shadow detail is extremely good, the Epson seems to have it beat, buy a very small amount, but it seems up to any of the other competition.

When I first put on the Bond, night train image, I thought it equaled the Epson, but later in side by sides, I could still see a slight diffence.  Perhaps one cause is JVC’s rather coarse Brightness control. Take the two closest settings to ideal for brightness, and one is slightly crushing blacks, while adding 1 brings in the extra dark shadow detail, but lifts the blacks more than it should.  I favor maximizing the blacks, at the expense of crushing a very small amount of the shadow detail.  Even so, I’ll  give this JVC the advantage over the Sony in shadow detail..

The two year warranty, while not up to most in the price range, is a respectable one. Still I would have liked to see 3 years on a projector of this quality, as most of the competition comes with 3 years in this price range. Let’s say – not a bad warranty, but could be better.  No replacement program either.

If you have chosen a fairly small screen for your theater (100″ or less), you should be able to extend lamp life by running the JVC in Normal – (low power) lamp mode for your movie viewing. That will get you 4000 hours on the lamp. Every little bit helps! And this JVC goes from being fairly noisy for a home theater based projector, to a very quiet one, when you switch to eco-mode. Trivia:  The JVC at rest, waiting to be powered up by the remote, draws a pretty minimal 0.4 watts.

Bigger screens are not problem for JVC’s DLA-X35 when viewing 2D content.  703 calibrated lumens easily will tackle a screen like mine at 124″ diagonal (2.35:1 widescreen).  Even as the lamp ages this JVC should still be very happy on that large a screen.

I did setup Lens Memory, (not difficult at all), and can report (once again) that it works great. I’m using it with my 2.35:1 Studiotek 130, to go back and forth between 16:9 and Cinemascope wide content. You only need this if you go with a “wide” screen (2.35:1 or 2.40:1, not 16:9 which is 1.78:1)

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