Posted on August 2, 2011 By Art Feierman
There hasn’t been much change in the brightness of JVC projectors since they launched the RS1 over two years ago. Only the RS2 which followed later, varied, having only about 2/3 of the lumens of the RS1 and all future JVCs.
Other than that RS2, all JVC projectors have had best mode measurements of between about 650 and high 700s and brightest modes typically about 100 to 150 lumens brighter.
The JVC DLA-RS15 is typical. In “best” mode, 657 lumens, and 746 in brightest mode. That actually makes it the least bright of the three JVCs reviewed for this report, though not by much. This may be, in part, just due to the variation in lamps?
Like all JVC’s brightest mode is somewhat limited. That makes it tough to own a larger screen and still want to be able to handle some ambient light for sports and HDTV. I get by with my RS20 (similar brightness), for sports viewing, but with my large 128″ screen, I’m always wishing the projector had an extra 300 – 500 lumens (and I’d settle for an extra 150 – 200 lumens if I knew where to find them.
The picture quality of the RS25 may be better than the RS15’s, but when it comes to brightness they should measure just about the same. As it turns out, the JVC RS25 was the brightest of the three JVCs, but not by much. Post calibration we recorded 727 lumens in “best” and 853 in “brightest” modes. Of note, that’s still a little bit less than average, so, while the projector has lots of muscle for movies on large screens, it has little to spare for ambient light.
It’s the same story with the RS35 as with the other two JVCs. Plenty of “best” mode lumens with 656, and a not so great 781 lumens in brightest mode.
The RS35 – which as you know by now, is built from the best components that go into the standard RS25. Apparently best components doesn’t necessarily make for a brighter projector, as the RS35 actually measured about 8% less bright (a small amount, surely), than the RS25 we reviewed.
Even so, the RS35 still has plenty of muscle for movies and nice sized screens with a “best” of 656 lumens, with really only the InFocus being significantly brighter. When it comes to brightest, though, again, the JVC doesn’t pick up a lot of extra lumens, weighing in with only about 20% brighter at 781 lumens. It’s the price you have to pay for the picture quality of this projector – not a whole lot of lumens for sports with ambient light. Life would be finer if this projector was 30% – 40% brighter in its brightest mode, but I “get by” with a similar JVC on a 128″ screen. It’s definitely doable.
This Optoma projector is one of the brightest in “best” mode, with almost 700 measured lumens. The HD8600’s 1166 lumens in “brightest” officially makes it the brightest projector in the group. That said, with optimal room placement, the InFocus (because of its unique characteristics, can blow past it in lumens.
The Planar PD8150 is average in brightness for 1080p home theater projectors although it is well lower than average for this group. Still, for movie watching, it’s got enough to handle some of the larger screens. The problem is that if you want some lights on – even at pretty low levels, the PD8150 projector is not going to cut it, with a measured 606 lumens. That makes it the dimmest of this group of projectors, in its “brightest” mode. Bottom line, The PD8150 is best as a small screen projector, and in most situations, you’ll want to limit your screen to a maximum of 100 inches diagonal, unless you are only interested in movie viewing.
I’ve been beating on Sony for quite some time about the limited brightness of their home theater projectors. This year’s Sony VPL-VW85 is an improvement in this area. There’s now a healthy 598 measured lumens in “best” mode. Once again, there’s only a modest increase in brightness in the brightest mode we could find. That ended up measuring 725 lumens. That’s still the third lowest, and really no lumens to spare for intentional ambient light.
If you are only interested in movies, in the dark, the Sony can handle a pretty large screen. It’s real thin, though, on lumens, for sports viewing – with any ambient light, unless you keep the screen size pretty small. Movies were reasonably bright when watching on my 128″ Firehawk screen.
Now, remember, this projector uses an LED light source. Although LED light sources also dim over time, dimming is limited over most of the life of the projector. Even at 10,000 hours – that’s 20 hours a week for a decade, it will still have most of it’s brightness, while projectors with lamps will drop down a full 50% by the end of each lamp’s life.
That said, in the long run you don’t need quite as many lumens, which is a good thing since the Vivitek H9080FD’s 367 best mode lumens are the lowest in this class, and one of the very lowest in this report. Brightest mode is over 40% brighter, but its still a paltry 526 lumens, dimmest in the class. Even if you factor in the advantage of the LED light source, the H9080FD is probably still the least bright, overall (in this class).
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