Posted on March 14, 2008 By Art Feierman
The JVC DLA-RS35 is the best 1080p projector we’ve ever reviewed. There may well be much better projectors out there. After all, you can buy a “home theater” projector for $50K (quite a few different ones, actually) or even $150K if you’ve got the budget, and determination. Since we don’t review those “high end” 3 chip DLPs, we’ll stay focused on those we have reviewed.
Most important to the conversation is “what is an RS35”?
JVC DLA-RS35 in a nutshell:
JVC created the DLA-RS35 projector as a “hand picked” version of the RS25. Best I can tell, JVC took the best power supplies, best light engines, best optics, and from the best guts, built a limited number of RS35’s with the idea that they would be visibly superior to the “average” RS25 out there. For the priviledge of owning the “best of the best” you get to pay $2000 more for the RS35 over the RS25. The JVC DLA-RS25 is $8000 and the JVC DLA-RS35 is $10,000.
Right about there, a big question lurks: “Is the RS35 worth an extra $2000 over the standard RS25”?
My answer is “Yes”! If it was “No”, then the RS35 could not receive the Best In Class Award. I will continue this section with just the briefest description of the RS35, and focus on why the RS35 got this award, and not, the RS25.
For those not familiar, all JVC projectors come in essentially the same box, give or take some cosmetics. All have power everything – zoom, focus and lens shift. All are LCoS, all are moderately large home projectors, and all have clean lines and curves and look attractive (for when the significant other is concerned about how it looks with the lights on).
But, the DLA-RS35 and its genetically identical, but physically inferior twin, the RS25, share the same light engine, including the same LCoS panels (which, BTW, JVC refers to as D-iLA, just like Sony calls their panels SXRD). They also share the same menus and the same color management system. The lowest cost JVC, the RS15, doesn’t have as good a color management system, or as excellent black level performance.
I did not have an RS25 here at the same time as the RS35, but I was able to compare the RS25 review unit to my older RS20. I later got to compare my RS20 to the RS35. I believe I have a very good understanding of how much difference it can make. Remember, ultimately they are using the same parts. Theoretically, the best of the RS25’s should be extremely close to the worst of the RS35s. Still, I’ve worked with quite a few JVCs over the last 3 years, and they are all very similar, making it easy to see the small differences. I think I can safely assume the RS25 I reviewed was a typical one, since it was a hair better than my older RS20. The difference between my RS20 and the RS25 was very slight. The difference between the RS20 and the RS35, however, in some areas could be described as dramatic.
This JVC RS35 has the best blacks to ever set foot in my theaters. Although not “dramatically” better than the RS20 here, it is a definite, rather visible improvement. By comparison, the difference between my RS20 and the RS25 would be “slight”.
The review RS25 I had received was typically sharp for a good LCD or LCoS projector. If anything, the perceived sharpness of my own RS20 is a hair better, which is probably due to the pixel convergence being a touch better on my projector.
But the JVC RS35 just looks sharper than either. It’s not that close. It has the kind of sharpness that is more typical of those “razor sharp” single chip DLP projectors. How can that be? First, I’ve never seen a 3 chip projector – LCoS or LCD with a pixel alignment this good. It’s not perfect but it’s close. I’ve got one vertical color off by no more than 1/3 a pixel and everything else is effectively dead on. That’s probably responsible for a good deal of the difference. The rest is no doubt due to the RS35s having the best of the lenses as well. A small improvement there, plus the excellent convergence, and you have what I call, a “sharper still” projector, rivaling all but the very sharpest. Note, I do use a minimal amount of dynamic sharpening tools to get that razor sharp look. I try to keep them set low enough to not visibly damage the natural look of the image.
I’m very happy with my RS20, but if there was one thing I always wished for, it was that extra sharpness. Yes, for movie watching but especially for all that gorgeous all digital content like sports and Discovery HD. The RS35 would give me nothing to complain about.
That’s not quite true. My other complaint with my own RS20 is the limited brightness in “brightest” mode. That hasn’t changed, in fact the RS35 measured less than my RS20, though not by any significant amount. The RS35 and RS25 are still two of the brightest projectors out there in “best” mode, no worries there at all, but both offer only about an extra 150+ lumens in “brightest” mode, for when you want some lights on. That’s ok, I have missed that last bit of sharpness more than the extra lumens. The Olympics looked stellar in terms of sharpness and color.
When it comes to watching movies, you are going to be hard pressed to find anything close to JVC’s RS35 projector. Not even the RS25. That’s right – the extra sharpness and slight extra black levels, actually do manage to combine to make a dramatic difference. Sort of “THAT’S WHAT’S BEEN MISSING!”
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