JVC DLA-X95R Projector Review

JVC e-Shift2 and "4K" resolution

Watch our video on the JVC “4K” e-Shift2 detail enhancement technology.

I don’t approve of JVC calling their e-Shift2 technology 4K resolution.

I understand what they are doing, and I can see real benefit as a dynamic detail enhancement and sharpening solution, but it’s not true 4K nor does it come close.

Think comparable to Sony’s Reality Creation, except that JVC’s solution involves hardware, not just image processing.  Having the e-Shift2 is a good thing.

e-Shift2 (this year’s version adds the “2″), makes the almost invisible pixel structure of JVC’s LCoS chips essentially invisible, even at a couple of feet away.

Panasonic for years, on their PT-AE projectors such as the current PT-AE8000U, has had SmoothScreen. It’s done differently, but also does at least one thing similarly: It makes the pixels more invisible at normal seating distances.

Another “proof” about it not being true 4K, is that these JVC projectors with e-Shift2 cannot accept 4K source material. It basically takes 1080p (1920×1080), and fires twice, 1920×1080 the first time, then shifts the image about 1/2 pixel diagonally, and repeats the process. That blurs the image, and spreads out the light to where the pixel mask is, thus the lower pixel visibility.  (That more expensiveSony does support 4K source material.)

Thus, JVC is addressing 4K, but they are merely overlapping pixels. Even if JVC could accept 4K, it wouldn’t provide the sharpness and detail of a true 4K projector like Sony’s VPL-VW1000ES, which is currently my favorite home theater projector, and winner of last year’s Outstanding Projector of the Year award.  Of course, that Sony is just over twice the price. What’s extra $13,000 between friends?

Let’s look at the JVC’s e-Shift2 in action.  Below, we have an image of a newspaper, from the most recent Spiderman movie.  Below is a photo of the whole frame that we’re about to use (less some minor edge cropping). For the serious look at e-shift2 in action, we’ll start by cropping down to around 10% of the scene.

In the sequence below there’s plenty to look at. (For future subscribers, there will be a video on e-Shift, when our redesigned site launches in May).

Remember as you look at these closeups below, that the image above represents just about the full frame. So, what may seem fairly dramatic here, is less so viewing the full frame. Still at close “normal” seating distances, you can make out all the things I’m talking about.

You will find that some settings appear more contrasty. You’ll also find that as you look at different settings, despite all that enhancement, there is virtually no change in actual readability of very small text: More different than actually better. Folks if this was real 4K, the readability difference from going from 2K (e-shift2 off) would be more dramatic, even with 2K content.

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JVC e-Shift2 and "4K" resolution Slideshow

Off

Film

An immediate visible difference just by going into the Film setting of e-shift. More than this setting, I found to be over the top, with the movie losing some of its film-like nature.

High resolution

Notice the big jump in the shadows due to the slight fold and wrinkles in the newspaper. Noise is now visible around all the black text. Large or small, the paper now seems to be lighter right next to black text, and more gray in open areas without black text.

HD

High Resolution, however, is still two steps below the most "extreme" e-shift2 setting. HD and Dynamic (the next two) are the most over the top when viewing movies:

Dynamic

HD is a bit more intense, more shifts in the newspaper around black text, but very similar to High Definition. Now below, is Dynamic:

SD

There is also a nice softer SD mode, more similar, overall, to Film setting. I found SD to work pretty well with "low def." It seemed a good match for my many music videos that are standard DVDs, not Blu-ray:

One more e-shift vs Epson comparison – on a simple Preview image before the movie trailers:

Editor’s note: Basically here’s an FYI for you to consider: If you are wondering why in the image above, the JVC (on the left) looks brighter on the right side, and the Epson looks brighter on the left side, that’s due to the camera being placed straight back from the center, and that this is a 1.4 gain screen so straight back is going to be a touch brighter, due to some roll-off caused by the off angle viewing of the outer parts of both images. If the camera was straight back from the middle of the JVC’s image, then both sides of the JVC 95 image would be equal, and the center of the JVC image appear a touch brighter.

Click Image to Enlarge

Bottom line.  Consider e-Shift2 to be a detail and sharpness enhancement solution.  How good is it?  Well, the JVC has many settings options, but Film works best for movies. I find the others (HD, High Resolution, Dynamic) to be over the top.  I do like the High Resolution settting for  most digital content.  However, let’s focus on movies.

When I did some side by side images comparing the JVC to the Epson Home Cinema 5020 ($2699), I had the Epson set with its “Super-Resolution” detail enhancment set to 2 (out of 5), the highest setting before “over the top”. Next to it was this JVC with e-Shift2 set to Film.  I hate to say it, but there was no significant difference.  That said, you can push the JVC further before it’s obviously “over the top” than you can with Epson’s controls.

Pushing past 2 on the Epson even starts getting iffy with digital content, so, say, for a football game on High Resolution or HD (more images in the HDTV section), the JVC will produce the “sharper, more detailed, and more believable” seeming image, than the Epson would, when set to 3 (out of 5).  But on movies, it’s pretty much a tie, if you still want that film-like feel.   Hey, for sports, a little over the top is fine.  Less so for some other HDTV content, even if all digital.

Take a look.  JVC on left, e-shift2 setting is Film.  Epson 5020UB on the right, with Super-Resolution set to 2:

Bottom Line on e-shift2:  Again, JVC may doing some processing at 4K (so does Sony), but this projector is not true 4K.  It’s pixel shifting, but pixel size remains exactly the same as any other 2K projector.  That said, e-shift will definitely produce imagery that seems sharper with more detail, as do other projectors, such as the Sonys and Epsons with their own “detail and sharpness” enhancment tools.  I like having e-shift2.

It works well, and tastefully on almost all movies in the Film mode.  Other than that, you make the call, as to how much is what you prefer.  The more you use, technically, the less pure and faithful the original image.  Alas, the world is always filled with trade-offs.  Here you have Off and 5 settings worth of trade-offs to choose from, plus you can adjust each of them with three different sets of settings.  Have fun.

JVC X95R Manual Iris

This iris allows you to lower your overall brightness, and improve contrast (yes, black levels), if you don’t need the iris fully open for brightness.  The iris has 16 step settings.  I did move the manual iris down 3 positions from fully open, to match the brightness of the JVC to the Epson HC 5020.  (Both are about the same brightness calibrated with new lamps, but the Epson already has over 500 hours on its lamp, so has lost some brightness).

Don’t expect anything but a very small improvement in contrast due to stopping down the iris.  Improvement yes, a real difference maker: No.

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