Projector Reviews

1080p Projector Comparison Report-7

The JVC DLA-X70R or simply the X70, is the black level champion.  No other projector reviewed can match the black level performance, other than the X90, and the various predecessors in the JVC lineup.  World class blacks and more dynamic range to the image than the competion keep this a major contender.

3D is not a strength of the JVC X70 R, it’s not quite as bright as some of the competition, and I find it’s crosstalk to be worse than the competition.  For 2D only, however, this is a top projector, period!

Mitsubishi HC9000D projector

Using Sony LCoS panels, we were extremely impressed with the HC9000D when it released last spring/summer.  At the time it was far less expensive, and a better projector, I thought, than the Sony VPL-VW90ES, we had reviewed previously.     Rather than being the last released “1st generation” 3D capable LCoS projector, it seems the Mitsubishi HC9000D, really was the first “2nd generation” LCoS, as it seemes to do some things notably better than the 1st gen JVC and Sony’s, but be more similar to those companies “2nd generation” 3D projectors.

The HC9000D remains a serious projector in this price Class.  It’s got improved competition from JVC and in particular from the Sony VPL-VW95ES, the projector most similar to it.

Brightness, not surprising from Mitsubishi, is a bit lower than the other LCoS projectors, and is, for that matter, just above average for a “Best” mode, but below average in “Brightnest.

This projector belongs in a dedicated theater – it has little business in a livingroom type environment.  It can be done, but it almsot certainly wouldn’t be your best choice.

When it comes to black level performance, I stated it well last August, in our last report:  “only the two more expensive JVCs are likely able to produce blacks that are visibly darker than the HC9000D”.  Well, the least expensive of those JVC’s I’m talking about is about $2000 more.

3D brightness, is an issue, as you would expect, since I’ve said all the LCoS projectors are a thin on lumens when it comes to having fairly bright 3D.  Remember though, we like pairing this projector with smaller screens, so at least if you match up with say a 90″ diagonal screen, the 3D doesn’t have to handle as much square footage as most projectors matched with larger screens.

Runco LS5 projector

Planar purchased Runco more than a year ago. the Runco LS5 is an upgraded decendent of the Planar PD8150 we liked in previous years. It’s a solid single chip DLP projector though at this price, it’s one of very few projectors to lack a feature like CFI (motion smoothing). An excellent projector for movie watching. For sports and other HD digital content, it offers an exceptionally sharp image.

This is a movie first projector for folks who just want to enjoy. It is designed for a dedicated theater, as it produces a better than average 648 lumens calibrated in best mode, but it doesn’t much brighter than that. Turn on their SatCo feature (dynamic – think like Brilliant Color), our brightest mode made it to just shy of 800 lumens.

Runco projectors will be purchased by folks who want a painless experience – a well trained local dealer to do all the work, and a projector that just works well, seemlessly, that dissapears from your radar. Runco’s philosophy, it seems, is that projectors should be invisible, neither adding nor subtracting from the experience.

The same Runco owner, also expects superior post sales support and service as needed. It’s all part of working with a true high end company. Not for bargain hunters, but one for those who just want to watch!

Sony VPL-VW95ES projector:

The VPL-VW95ES at $6995, is thousands below last year’s VW90ES, and it’s a much improved projector as well!

The best thing I found about the VW95ES is the natural look to the picture.  Like the Runco, this Sony is good at being “invisible” – not seeming to add to the viewing experience. You know – just you and the movie.  Not you, a movie, and a projector that seems hard looking, or noisy, or weak skin tones.   Just sort of a smooth everything, from dynamic iris to skin tones.   Oh, sure, crank up some of the dyanmic features and those will show through, losing some of the natural qualities, but that’s true for any projector.

This Sony is an LCoS (SXRD is Sony’s name for LCoS) projector, of medium large size, black finish, and feature laden.  It offers Lens Memory for those wanting a “Cinemascope” shaped screen.

The Sony, seems to be the best combination this year, between black levels, natural picture quality, 3D, and brightness, in this price Class, where virtually all the projectors expect to end up in a theater or cave.

Ultra-high-contrast" projectors

We cooked up this phrase about 4 years ago, when a new breed of projectors started offering better overall black level performance. I started using it to describe the projectors that, one way or another, end up with black level performance meeting a subjective standard that I have defined as: Having contrast and black level performance that is at least a step up from the rest, but most importantly:

“It describes those projectors whose black level performance is so good, that very dark scenes (and some mixed scenes) are still sufficiently good, that other factors become increasingly more important.”

That is, you reach a point, and might say something like: “The blacks are pretty darn good. I’d like them better still (of course). But, you know what? I would rather have a slightly sharper projector with these blacks, than a different projector this sharp, with better blacks. Or the trade-off might be color accuracy, brightness, etc. The point is, these projectors all have impressive black level performance, even if there is a good deal of difference between the best and least of them.

The point is there are now many such projectors – with excellent blacks, and they start under $2000.