The Art of Home Theater Projectors

JVC DLA-X70 Projector – Comments on 4K

JVC DLA-X70 projector - 3D, and "4K"


I mentioned in the last blog, that the JVC DLA-X70 home theater projector has arrived, and Mike is calibrating it. It will be working in my theater not more than an hour or two after I return from travels this Wednesday night.

One of the “interesting things of JVC’s DLA-X70 – and the X90, (and also the identical DLA-RS55 and and DLA-RS65 home theater, projectors), is the claim of 4K resolution.  None of those JVC’s though have 4K LCoS panels, instead they are doing some “pixel shifting” for lack a a precise term.  The tech isn’t that important, what is of interest is how much truth is there in the 4K claim.

Mind you I’m not at all criticizing the performance of JVC’s X70, X90, and their twins the RS45 and RS55, just concerned about calling what they are doing “4K”. That said, if you want to see real 4K, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES is the ticket, but it’s $25K, not around $8,000 to $12,000.

If you see a 4K photo on that Sony, it’s awesome.  No way the JVC can match the sharpness, with or without “4K”, with the Sony we’re talking about  1 for 1 pixel mapping (one pixel for each data point) at 4K.

So I do want to say, that the JVC’s tech does bring something to the party, but “true 4K it ain’t”.

So, let’s discuss further.  One person at EHX in the JVC demo area owns “4K JVC projector”, he said that after having it a bit, he and his son definitely thought that the JVC was more natural looking “film-like” (in some aspects) then it was in 2K.   He also noted that overall, in 4K, things seem a touch softer, than it 2K…  (that should be a clue).

I thought that a very interesting comment, since it makes sense the way JVC’s doing it.  Since they are doing 2K, then doing 2K again, a fraction of a pixel shifted, the pixel structure (already barely detectable in 2K) becomes smoother.  - My take is this is adding the “film like”, by virtue of the smoother, softer image.

The amusing part of the story, I think, Is that I told him how we did it in the “old days” before 1080p, even before 720p:

Data was lower res with standard DVD’s being 853×480, and that the highest resolution content around. Naturally back then, therefore, pixels were larger, and more distinct as well.  As a result, close ups of faces for example, didn’t look smooth at all.   Everyone (I was still a dealer back then), writing about home theater projectors back then, would talk about defocusing, many recommending it.

Defocusing a home theater projector?

That is:  Get the projector focused to its sharpest, then de-focusing to blur the image just a tiny bit, to smooth and soften everything, and make the pixels less visible.

Most folks liked that, after all, imagine the image if you were watching a 400″ screen at 10 feet instead of a 100″ screen – pixels and data would be much larger, more coarse to the view, and look terrible.  Don’t think so?  Go to the theater and sit in the front row.

Darn, of course, back then I don’t think any reviewers thought to claim higher resolution, the setup was 853×480 maximum (disk and projector).  JVC, is actually doing addressing 4K, but with a 2K chip, and the image shift.

The defocusing technique did not give non HD projectors HD resolution, but by defocusing, you ended up with a smoother, softer resolution.  Sound familiar?

Also Panasonic has been using their Smooth Screen technology for several years in the PT-AE series, ie the new PT-AE7000 projector.  Without getting into the details of their technology, Panasonic creates an image that seems a bit smoother, and a bit softer, than say, an Epson using the same LCD chips, but uses nothing like SmoothScreen.

SmoothScreen is one reason (especially in past generations, I often said that a PT-AE projector was a touch more film-like than the competing Epson.

So the fun begins.  This will be my first chance to really play with an JVC X70, with me in control, with the content I know, etc.

You better believe I’ll be discussing JVC “4K” again, extensively, in the full review, which should be up in about 10 days.

You folks hang in there.  -art

PS.  FACEBOOK As some of you are aware, we have had a Facebook page for the last few months.  We use that page, among other things, to let people know when a new review is up (or find that on our homepage), or other interesting things going on.  We also have a lot of friends, major manufacturers posting on the page.  Drop by and visit our Facebook page, and, hey, if you think we’re doing a decent job, feel free to Like us, that would be appreciated!

News And Comments

  • Matt P

    Is JVC’s technique any different from the wobulation technique used in most rear projection DLP sets? From what I read, I figured it was wobulation, and from my understanding, this has generally been considered a technique that gives resolution equal to double the pixels. Typically it was only in one dimension, say 960×1080, and it doubles the effective pixels from 960 to 1920. From what I gather, JVC shifts at an angle, in order to give the effect of double the pixels more H and V. Is there where the concern is? Is it simply the use of wobulation at all? If thats the case, then no DLP rear projection set ever made could have been consisered HD. If I recall correctly, reviews of the RPTV’s also showed they could resolve 1080P images perfectly fine, no evident loss of resolution from the technique.

    • Lisa Feierman

      Hi Matt,

      Sorry, I missed your post somehow, and just came across it. I never paid attention really to DLP big screens, and was totally unfamiliar until I just read your points.

      I assumed that modern DLP “Big Screens” (and they are still out there, are using DLP chips of HD resolution. The concept of “wobulation” seems useful, and it seems to be about what JVC’s doing here, but for the 90 degree angle shift. But, ultimately it comes down to 1:1 pixel mapping. As soon as you stop doing that, you have some blurring. You cannot get 4K out of a 2D device, the pixels are too large. If the JVC could support a 4K input, the end result would be far closer in appearance to 2K, then it could be to 4K. Just draw out some pixels patterns and see what happens. ie. alternating columns of red, green and blue, each one pixel wide. That is simple enough, yet even there some problems become obvious. Once you start getting complex, more issues. But, you do get to effectively hide all the pixel structure giving a smoother image. But then, so does defocusing the lens slightly, but, best I can tell, no one’s calling that 4K… Like I said, ultimately the image is very sharp, as good as any non-DLP we reviewed, but I still don’t think it’s quite as sharp as the best 1080p DLP’s. -art

  • Lisa Feierman

    Hi Mark,
    First thing is LED light sources have not yet hit the big time in projector land. There are few with any dramatic brightness, which becomes a double problem with 3D.
    There are only a few LED powered projectors. More common have been hybrids like Casio and some others – LED and Laser. Those, however, haven’t had great color in general. They haven’t yet figured out how to pack a lot of lumens from LED into a really small area. I don’t follow advanced tech too deeply. 3-4 years ago, I would have guessed that 1/3 of today’s projectors would already not be using conventional lamps. Goes to show ya, the real number is more like 1 or 2%.

    Well, the 250dpi is along the lines of the iPad’s “retina” display. I figure true, 4K projectors will start to surface in a year and a half. Should be little challenge for the manufacturers. TI and Epson have been producing 1080p resolution chips in volume for almost 5 years. Let’s face it 1080p projectors can be had for $700, So, no reason why, when 4K content comes out, that the projectors shouldn’t be far behind.

    And if anyone can appreciate 4K it’s projector owners. Like you really need 4K to watch a 50″ LCDTV – well, you do, if you like to watch it from about 2 feet away. -art