Projector Reviews

JVC DLA-RS440U Review – A Serious, 4K Capable Home Theater Projector-Special Features: 2

JVC DLA-DLA-RS440 and X590 Special Features: IBT.2020/P3 Color Processing, HDR – Both HDR10 and HLG, CFI, 3D

BT.2020/P3 Color Space

Without getting into a lot of detail, consider those LED TV ads that talk about HDR, and the expanded color – that’s the BT.2020 standard. But nothing really achieves that so the goal is to map to P3, a subset, but one that still has a much larger color space than REC709, long the standard of color.  The advantage, get to P3 color and there are more possible colors, richer, more vibrant colors, and probably calmer softer ones as well. 

Sadly, few projectors get close.  The exception tends to be home theater projectors with laser light engines, which have far more ability than lamp based projectors when it comes to this color issue.  

CIE chart
CIE Chart showing color gamuts of REC709 (HDTV) the smallest triangle,, P3, and BT.2020 (largest).

That said, this JVC, does exceptionally well, according to Eric our calibrator:

P3:  Blue 100%, Red 90%, Green 95%, Magenta 100% Cyan 98%, Yellow 98%   

That is way better than any of the lamp powered 4K UHD projectors can do.  Rivaling some of the expensive laser projectors out there.  Nice.

Bottom line:  When you have 4K content serving up BT.2020/P3, this JVC is one of the few lamp based projectors that can take almost full advantage of the step up in color quality.

HDR – Both HDR10 and HLG – Hybrid Log-Gamma

Short version again.  HDR provides a different dynamic than our previous standards, with the goal of taking advantage of bright displays to expand the dynamic range of scenes.  The result is usually more wow, more pop to the image.  

Saturn photo
4K false color image (from Hubble) of Saturn, Projected with HDR10. Stunning colors, lots of “pop!”

There are basically 3 HDR coding systems, a hardware solution from Dolby Labs (less widely adopted), the mainstream HDR10, which is the standard for Blu-ray UHD discs (4K movies), and most other things.  Seems though, that streaming can have issues, so more recently another standard appeared and is also being found on most new models. That’s HLG, or Hybrid Log-Gamma.  The RS440U and X590U support both major formats.  Well done.  Now let’s talk HDR and brightness.

Problem:  Most LCD TVs (including most being sold today) aren’t bright enough to meet the brightness standard HDR is looking for:  1000 NITS.  (Wonder why you can look at LCD TVs and see a 4K UHD ones at 65” for $599, and another, same size, from the same brand for $2799?   Those expensive ones are often 2-3 times as bright, so as to take full advantage of HDR.

Today’s projectors aren’t that bright.  Roughly, most under $10,000 4K capable projectors with HDR, only have between 100 and 200 NITS.  (It should be a logarithmic think so that’s 2-3 steps down in brightness.  

As a result, projectors compromise, and each manufacturer seems to tackle those compromises differently.  It’s not necessarily better, or worse, rather different, typically one projector has more pop, but overall seems a little darker, the other, more vibrant most of the time, but just doesn’t have as much wow, on those big wow type scenes.

As a result, when talking picture quality and in competition, I’ll subjectively tell you whether I think they have done a great implementation, or whether others may have done better. As usual, if you are buying your first projector, it’s most likely going to blow away your expectations.

Bottom Line is that the JVC RS440U and X590U support both HDR10 and HLG!  They have you covered.  

Creative Frame Interpolation

JVC calls their system Clear Motion.  It works!  Multiple settings.  I’m only a fan of CFI for sports viewing, and even then rarely use anything but the lowest setting.  I wouldn’t turn it on for normal HDTV viewing other than sports, but you might like smooth motion more than I do.  I never recommend anyone have it on when watching movies – it creates “soap opera” like video, changing the director’s intent.  For example a scene where there’s a lot of shaking, might have part of that shaking smoothed out.  

Sports image RS440U
CFI is best for sports, on movies, it often creates a "soap opera" effect.

Because most movies are shot at 24fps, engaging CFI has a far more visible effect on those movies, than on other content, almost all of which is shot at 30fps or 60fps.  Overall, the JVC was fairly typical for CFI.  The lowest setting does a little more smoothing than some, but is still relatively subtle.

Handing 3D

I still have a very significant 3D collection and we’re still seeing some movies coming out in 3D on Blu-ray disc.  I’m a fan.   I think the current projectors out there should all support the 3D standard for Blu-ray, if for no other reason, to please the many owners upgrading to new projectors who already have 3D libraries.

3D emitter
One of JVC's optional 3D emitters

I must apologize.  I never did watch any 3D on the DLA-RS440U, because I didn’t receive an optional JVC 3D Synchro Emitter: PK-EM1, or PK-EM2.  The EM1 uses infra-red technology (older) while the PK-EM2 uses radio frequency, which is almost always better, because moving your head to the side doesn’t cause the signal to drop out. 

Although I didn’t test them, I would recommend the PK-EM2. 

And I had to ship the JVC projector back before I had time to ask for one.

Last JVC I reviewed had respectable 3D but with a bit more artifacts than say the Sonys or Epsons.  Not bad, mind you, but JVC was long playing catch up with others on 3D. My understanding is JVC has continued to improve their 3D (it’s been two generations since the last time I personally reviewed a JVC).  Even before it wasn’t bad, a bit more crosstalk.  

Since we’re starting to see some projectors without 3D, I’m mostly happy if a projector has optional 3D, and so haven’t been quibbling about minor artifacts, or less than ideal color, when viewing 3D on any of the 3D capable projectors.  Especially since 3D, like HDR demands a lot more brightness from a projector than standard 2D non-HDR content.  (3D calls for about 3X the brightness of 2D.)

Bottom Line on 3D:  You’ll need one of the two 3D modules.  3D may have improved since I last tested, but even if not, it should be fine for most folks.  And since word (on the street) is it has improved, then considering 3D is a secondary issue for most projector people, this JVC should serve more than well enough.