JVC DLA-X55R Projector Review

Overall, great blacks and really good shadow detail!

DLA-X55R Black Levels & Shadow Detail

Let’s start with a a direct comparison between the JVC and the Epson 6020UB (same as the 5020UB for our discussion). As many of you know, the Epson offers exceptional black level performance for an under $3500 projector - the best we’ve seen for the price.    Well, this JVC is at least as good.

Below: Epson Pro Cinema 6020UB (left), JVC X55R (right):

Click Image to Enlarge

Before you look at the side by side image below, a note:  Both projectors were photographed with their default settings, no adjustment to even Brightness or Contrast.  As it turns out, however, that tends to favor the JVC if only slightly.  Why?  JVC’s default Brightness is zero, but based on testing, should be +2, which would raise overall black levels (and whites too).  The Epson, though is at zero, and should be there.  As a result, if we reset the JVC’s Brightness to +2, the letterboxing would brighten.  Even with all that considered, the JVC still has to be considered to be slightly better at blackest blacks.

Viewing the enlarged version of this overexposed “night” photo, you can see that the Epson is a touch brighter overall, but the letter box at top and bottom are a bit brighter still compared to the JVC.  In terms of blackest blacks, let’s say the JVC can get just a slight bit darker than the Epson at its best.  Still, very close by anyone’s observation.  The difference between, the JVC and Epson, is very slight, say compared to either of them compared to the Panasonic PT-AE8000 (which is still very respectable at blacks but no match for these two).

Now for a series of comparative images from competing projectors:

Here we again start, with the DLA-X55R, followed by the Sony VPL-VW95ES. Note: We have been converting most recent “starship” images to grayscale to remove the distraction of varying colors (which tend to be exaggerated on these many seconds long time exposures).

Black Levels Comparison

JVC DLA-X55 R Projector
Mitsubishi HC9000D
Epson Home Cinema 5020UB
Sony VPL-HW50ES
Sony VPL-VW95ES
Sharp XV-Z30000
JVC DLA-X55 R Projector
+Mitsubishi HC9000D

Sony VPL-HW50ES:  (about $1400 less)  The letterbox and background blacks are a touch lighter with the Sony, but note that the JVC image isn’t as overexposed (look at the starship and the pause button), so that has to be “compensated” for.

These two (JVC and Sony) are about as close as two different projectors will get in terms of blackest blacks.  But, of course, in brighter images, the blacks are blacker with the JVC due to not needing a dynamic iris.  Still, you really notice differences on dark scenes.  They all look really good at blacks when the scenes are primarily bright.

Sony VPL-VW95ES: (Sorry, we don’t have a more overexposed version of this image)  If we did, we believe you would find that the VW95ES can definitely do a bit better blacks than it’s lower cost HW50ES or the JVC X55R.

Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels):

Sharp XV-Z30000: Sharp was the first company to launch a home 1080p 3D capable projector.  This new Z30000 is a major upgrade from that old one.  (price competitive to the X35 not this X55).  A single Chip DLP, it really has very good blacks compared to a lot of other DLP projectors, but still not a match for the JVC.

Epson Home Cinema 5020UB:  Epson has reigned for years as the “black level champ” in the under $3500 price range, and can compete in blacks, rather easily with most over $5000 projectors.  Compared to the JVC – very close in terms of blackest blacks (depending on which images I view), but the JVC has the advantage in dynamic range:

Short version:  The X55R has excellent black level performance.  I expect that the X75R and X95R will still beat the X55R (as probably can the Sony VW95ES), but the X55R can hold its own, at least with every other projector we’ve reviewed under $5000.  As I’ve said many times, when blacks get this good, further improvement in blacks, for most of us, is usually less important than other features.  This JVC has achieved that level.

Shadow Detail Performance

Also very, very good, but not as good as the JVC’s black levels.  In our side by side with the Epson (again, the one projector we have with excellent performance that I will use off all year), the Epson is a little better.  We’re again quibbling, however.  Losing the last small amount of dark shadow detail is rarely going to be missed.  And, more to the point, when you get to a lot of these more expensive projectors (and some less expensive ones), often the difference you see is more a factor of the gamma setting you select, than actual differences in native ability. Note:  For the Starship and Train images except the side by sides, the JVC is set with the correct +2 Brightness  when photographed

Editor’s note:  We’re converting many of these “Bond train scene” images to grayscale, because color differences tend to be very distracting (and they are poor representatives of actual color on images overexposed by 4 or 5 f-stops (an incredible amount). 

DLA-X55R: Pretty good, or rather very good, but not the best.  Of course playing with features like e-Shift will further affect seeing the darkest shadow detail as the tendency is to boost contrast, which in turn tends to extract a price.

Ed. Note:  Almost all the images below have the PS3 pause icon in the lower left corner.  Comparing how blown out that pause is, helps determine if images are similarly overexposed, or if one is more so, compared to another.

JVC DLA-X55R
DLA-RS45
Sony VPL-VW95ES
Sony VPL-VPL-HW50ES
Epson's Home Cinema 5020UB
Mitsubishi HC9000D
JVC DLA-X55R
+DLA-RS45

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