JVC DLA-RS25 vs. Panasonic PT-AE4000
If you forget about feature differences like the Panasonic's Lens Memory (anamorphic) aspects, this is a straight case of very good projector vs. a rather amazing projector. (And an appropriate price difference.)
Consider the PT-AE4000 a poor mans JVC DLA-RS10, RS15, or RS25 projector. It can't match the black performance of the RS10, even with it's dynamic iris, nevermind the RS25's. That said, the Panasonic still has very good black level performance.
They both have 2:1 zooms, lens shift (the Panny has more), both lenses are motorized (although the PT-AE4000's lens shift is manual
Colors, Panasonic while most impressive is definitely not a match for the RS25. I would suspect the same is true compared to the RS15, but to a lesser degree. Haven't reviewed that one yet, but the older RS10 didn't have quite as sophisticated a color management system as the RS20, so you can't dial in quite as well.
It's a case of two grand vs $8000.
And of couse, all the JVC's (the old RS2 excepted) are at least 50% brighter in best mode, while being only about 90% as bright in brightest mode. That allows a much larger screen for people buying the JVC if they are only interested in movies, or don't mind watching sports etc with minimal lighting.
In a lot of ways the Panasonic reminds me of the JVC, but just not as good. I'm talking not so much about things like color, but wow factor. The JVC's extra special blacks (and other lesser aspects),when viewed side by side, tend to make the Panasonic simply look a bit dull by comparison, especially on darker movies. I watched some Red October side by side, and it didn't take long before I lost all interest in the Panasonic, as all those dark scenes with lots of bright lights inside the subs looked dramatically better on the JVC. On bright scenes, the difference is modest by comparison. Off topic: BTW, it's that "dullness" (by comparison), that is probably why I like the Epson over the Panasonic. The Epson UB, by comparison isn't as natural as the Panny, but like the JVC has plenty of wow factor on those same scenes. Not as good as the JVC, but a whole lot closer than the Panasonic comes.
If you find yourself seriously deciding between these two, it comes back to what I said above. If some of the extra goodies on the Panasonic are not important to you, there's really no comparison. It's Really Good vs. Awesome.
JVC DLA-RS25 vs. JVC DLA-RS20, DLA-RS15 and RS35!
Let's start with the RS25 vs. the original RS2. The short version is this: The RS25 is dramatically brighter and has better color management, more features, etc.! OK, with that out of the way, let's talk about the RS20 vs. RS25.
There's an improved color management system that immediately allowed Mike to calibrate the RS25 and come up with a touch better color than I've ever been able to get from my RS20, with its extremely tricky CMS. The difference is due, almost certainly, to the improved CMS. (color management system)
JVC has stayed with Silicon Optix Reon-VX processing, which, no doubt, gets improved each year or so, but there were no significant issues with the processing in older JVC projectors for that matter.
That brings us to the RS25 vs. the RS15. Since I haven't had a look yet, at the RS15, here's what I wrote about the RS20 vs. the RS10. the RS15 is, to the RS25, exactly what the RS10 was to the RS20:
Brightness is very close, in "best" mode (Cinema 2 on the RS20, Cinema 1 on the RS10), the difference is just a few percent. In brightest mode, the RS20 ended up slightly brighter, but, let's just say both projectors are pretty much equal in brightness.
There is still a notable difference in black levels favoring the RS20. On many mixed scenes, mostly dark, but with some bright areas, it's hard to tell the two apart, but on scenes that are pretty dark overall, the RS20 shows off its superior black level abilities. Between the two projectors (post calibration), I give a slight edge to the RS10 in showing off dark shadow detail. This isn't surprising, as the nearest thing to black is darker on a projector with better blacks, and therefore harder for the eye to discern. Call it a non-issue, adjusting Brightness by one number in either direction and one projector can go from being the better, to being the worse of the two in shadow detail.
While the RS20 is a tricky calibration (editor's note, 12/09, the RS25's CMS is much easier to calibrate), the RS10 without the CMS is much simpler, and I should point out, produces better results if you just do grayscale calibrations on both (no CMS with the RS20), you'll like the RS10's skin tones better, etc.
The RS20, though comes with the THX mode, which is probably more accurate in color handling than our RS10 calibration, but they are close. The RS10 after we calibrated, though has more pop to the image, we find THX to be a bit flat (probably technically correct, but a touch "boring" by comparison).
The RS10, of course costs a lot less, has the same 2 year warranty, and also supports an anamorphic lens solution with internal processing, however it does not offer an analog computer input, which may be a pain for some owners. If your computer outputs DVI or HDMI, though, it's not a problem.
Here are a few images showing black level, and also general differences - RS20 on the right:
OK, back to real time. ----
With the new RS25 vs. RS15, both get Clear Motion - creative frame interpolation, a feature not found on the older JVC projectors.
It really comes down to this: The JVC DLA-RS25 is expensive. For the most part, by buying the DLA-RS15 instead, you pretty much get the same projector, with a little less black level performance, and probably some other slight differences. We'll know more when the RS15 arrives.
As to the JVC DLA-RS35, JVC says the DLA-RS35's are basically identical to the RS25's but using only the best of the components based on a higher level of quality control. That means best of everything. I asked - will I really see a difference, compared to a typical RS25. The answer I hear from JVC is: Yes you will! I have requested a DLA-RS35, to determine the truth of it.
JVC DLA-RS25 vs. Sony VPL-HW15, VPL-VW85, Optoma HD8600
We're stil wating for the VPL-VW85 to arrive for review. In the meantime, here's what we wrote when we compared the RS20 to the HW10:
No contest in price, no contest in performance. The Sony is far less expensive, but black levels are not even remotely in the same league. Other lower cost projectors that do notably better black levels than this Sony (Epson UB projectors for example), still don't come close to the RS25. The JVC has a real but not great advantage in placement flexibility, but that's only an issue if the Sony won't work in your room and the RS25 will, and that's probably not more than 10% of potential buyers, and easy to figure out.
The Sony VPL-VW70 projector is the official competition for the JVC DLA-RS20, but we haven't reviewed that one yet (March 09, most likely). The Sony is also not a match in terms of brightness. As regular readers know, our old gear measured lumens higher than most other reviewers - 30%+ higher in some cases. Our new gear is in line with everyone else (more accurate). The Sony measured 836 lumens in best mode (old gear) which we translate to 597 lumens, not drastically less bright, but still well below the 775 calibrated numbers for the RS25.
The HW10 is the lowest cost LCoS 1080p projector out there. If you like the fine pixel structure of LCoS, want to avoid rainbow effect from DLP's, it is a worthy projector, but it's not playing in the same league as the RS25.
For your consideration, several images. Please note, to try to get the two projectors as close as possible in terms of brightness, I used different lamp modes and adjusted the JVC's manual iris. Since the Sony relys on a dynamic iris, if I shoot so that dark scenes are almost identical in brightness, then bright scenes make the Sony brighter, as you can see in the one daylight image. The Sony is on the left, JVC on the right:
That covers it. When the Sony VW85 gets reviewed, there will be a full VW85 vs. RS20 section.