The JVC RS1 has me sold. Of the six 1080p projectors reviewed so far, I consider the RS1 to be the best overall projector.
The reason the RS1 is exceptional, is its image quality. None of the other projectors come close to matching its black levels or shadow detail. The result is the most eye-popping movie watching I have enjoyed yet.
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Even the SIM2 C3X, my old favorite (a $20,000 3 chip 720p projector), may not surpass the dynamic look when watching movies, despite the C3X being at least twice as bright. I haven't yet had a chance to review the $50,000 SIM2 top of the line 1080p 3 chip DLP projector, nor the competition from Runco/Vidikron (with similarly stratospheric prices), nor have I had any of the premium priced single chip 1080p projectors from SIM2, Runco/Vidikron, Digital Projection or Projection Design. I would certainly hope those high priced 3 chip DLP 1080p projectors outperform the RS1. Of the those premium brand single chip 1080p DLP projectors, even the least expensive of these is several thousand dollars more, and I'm not sure there any reason to expect those single chip DLP's to actually surpass the JVC. I am, however trying to get them in for review, to find out).
It's not just about the "wow factor", of rich, dynamic colors, but also the fact that the color accuracy is excellent, the imagery is very natural looking, and that there really aren't any major issues that impact enjoyment or performance.
Everything I watched on HD-DVD and Blue-Ray looked great, and so were old fashioned standard DVDs. HDTV was also tremendous. I must admit to barely watching standard television. I generally consider the quality of standard TV to be so poor on a large screen, that the difference between projectors is pretty much the difference between lousy, and poor. As a result, personally, I don't see how performance on standard TV should be a real part of the projector selection process, certainly not for a projector in this price range, where people are primarly concerned with how good it looks on high quality sources.
That said, I better mention again, that the RS1 was great even on standard DVDs (such as the image above).
That's not to say the JVC DLA-RS1 is perfect. It has, like every other reviewed projector, it has a couple of limitations, and weaknesses. Those however are likely to be issues only to a small percentage of the potential buyers out there.
What could be changed to make it more perfect? Really only a few things:
1. HDMI 1.3 support for accepting more than 24 bit color. Tthe RS1 can handle the larger color palettes through its component video port for those who must have full 10bit per channel color.
2. It could be brighter in brightest mode, although it is exceptionally bright in its best mode.
3. More Aspect ratio control in 16:9, including support for 3rd party anamorphic lenses (for those wanting true Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio without letterbox. (That usually calls for very expensive multi-masking motorized screens - they can cost up to $10,000). I did pop in one standard DVD (I can't recall which anymore), that has an odd aspect ratio setup, and the RS1 could only fill the screen with the Zoom aspect ratio, which cropped part of the image.
4. It could be quieter, but that is probably only a serious issue for those needing the High Altitude setting who want to run in full (High) power lamp mode.
5. No analog PC input for hooking up your computer. To do so, there are 3rd party solutions that can convert to HDMI.
If none of these have scared you off, and the price is in your range, you should be out looking for the nearest JVC dealer.
That pretty much covers the most significant issues. There are minor ones as well, such as only having two HDMI ports.
How does the JVC stack up - head to head with it's competition? I've said so much within the review, that I'll keep this short:
JVC RS1 vs Sony VW50 Pearl
I was extremely impressed with the Sony Pearl - the last 1080p projector I reviewed, both picture quality, and price performance. The Sony has the price advantage, and it can muster up more lumens (approaching 20%) in brightest mode, but isn't as bright in best mode. The Sony has excellent black levels, and until the JVC, I considered it the best in that regard. However, even the Sony falls way short of the JVC in black levels and in a fully darkened room, its not hard at all, to see the extra shadow detail the JVC provides. Ultimately, the JVC has the better picture quality, and I believe, is the slightest bit sharper.
The Sony has motorized lens shift, zoom and focus - always a nice touch. The Sony's big strengths by comparison to the JVC are: Lower cost, and the ability to support anamorphic lenses for Cinemascope without letter box. (The latter is probably an issue for no more than 1 or 2% of potential owners. The Sony is definitely quieter.