Best In Class Award (Tie): JVC DLA-X70R Projector
I'm a sucker for JVC projectors. I still own one, the RS20, but hardly get to use it, and the lamp is at the end of its life, and pretty dim. I love it for its black levels and dynamic range. Well, this X70R is the direct decendent three generations later.
The DLA-X70R starts off with the best blacks around. For five years running I haven't seen any projector beat this JVC series for black level performance. Below, from the beginning of Hugo (2D).
But, it's more than just the darkest blacks, or it wouldn't really matter with a couple of projectors like the Sony coming as close as they do. It's that JVC accomplishes it without a dynamic iris, so when you have scenes where, perhaps it's pretty bright in the upper right corner, but very dark everywhere else, on those others, the iris won't close because of too much brightness. Then the blacks won't be near as black. With this JVC X70, on those types of scenes, images are noticeably more dyanmic - more pop - less compressed, than what the competition puts on the screen.
There's JVC's e-Shift claiming 4K, to consider. It does provide a sharp looking image, but as I said in the review, calling what they are doing "4K", bothers me. I don't issue penalty points, though for marketing I don't like, I just don't want to get anyone's expectations up, that this projector can begin to do what the true 4K Sony VPL-VW1000ES does. Enough said.
The thing is, e-shift achieves its desired goal, and what I care about is a nice sharp image. As pointed out in the review, this is about as good as it gets from a 3 panel device.
Out-of-the-box color, was not as accurate as I expected, considering the X70 has a THX mode, probably in part the lamp in this particular projector, but the THX mode was definitely cool.
No matter, the projector calibrates very well, with Mike only finding one minor issue worth noting. (He's a man of few words.) Overall I was extremely pleased with the post calibration color. Combined with the lens, and e-shift, a very believeable picture. In a side by side, for things like close up images of faces, my experience would say excellent, but still say that the Sony is even more natural looking.
For 2D viewing, brightness is just fine - perfect for most home theaters (748 lumens). And then there's that Stage mode, while not a whole lot brighter (877 lumens) was the hands down favorite mode for everyone to pass through my theater during March Madness. That picture is a bit cooler, but really pops. 3D viewing brightness is better than last year's RS60, but still a problem for me, a little dim a 96" viewing in 3D. But, none of these other projectors in this group are dramatically better.
Add it all up, and the JVC X70 is not just hard to beat, it's hard to come close to. Now if only they could do 3D the way I like it - brighter and cleaner. If it wasn't for the 3D, and that the Sony definitely does it better, the JVC X70 very well may have been sole winner of this Best In Class award. We'll never know.
Best In Class - Runner-up: Mitsubishi HC9000D
Ahh, the poor HC9000D. Last year it was the Best In Class winner, but it's a bit older now, and has to play second fiddle behind both the Sony and the JVC. (That would make it third fiddle?)
Nothing's changed, performance wise, as far as this last year's winner goes. I just feel the HC9000D has been surpassed by the newer Sony VPL-VW95ES, which is also a lot closer to the HC9000D's price than the old VW90ES was last year. The JVC X70R costs even more than the Sony, and is stronger at 2D than the Mitsubishi. Neither is bright enough to be a really great 3D performer, though the Mitsubishi has the better picture in 3D I believe.
All considered the HC9000D is a full featured LCoS projector using Sony panels. It offers typical, which is to say very good "best" mode brightness in 2D, that is on par with most of the LCoS and DLP projectors in this price Class