Posted on November 12, 2013 By Art Feierman
The aging Darkchip3 IN82 is one of the weaker performers in this class, in terms of black levels, but it does extremely well on shadow detail. Black levels definitely fall short of the BenQ W20000. The good news is that the IN82 – despite being sold only through local dealers, is one of the least expensive in this class.
Oh dear! If only the IN83 had really great black levels. It sure has just about everything else in terms of picture quality, but black levels, while not bad, are definitely its weakness. It’s no match at all in black levels for the best projectors in this class – especially the JVCs, which reign supreme. Despite black levels that are so-so for this group, it’s one fine projector. Shadow detail, I should note, is excellent, an InFocus trademark.
My personal take is that someone at InFocus engineering (or management) should be shot, for not adding a dynamic iris to the IN83. The extra black level performance that a good dynamic iris should add, might well have allowed the IN83 to seriously compete for the top Best In Class award in this report.
OK, last year in our report, the RS2, and RS1 had the best black levels of any projectors reviewed. The RS2 simply blew away the competition, with only the RS1, and close behind, the Sony VW60, even coming close. So, what could we expect from the RS10? The answer is, pretty much what one would guess. The RS10’s black levels are just slightly better than the RS1’s, not enough to be of significance, and the RS10 still isn’t a match for the RS2, or its replacement, the RS20. Still, nothing like coming in second, losing out only to your own top of the line projector. When it comes to shadow detail, the DLA-RS10 does a very good job. I suspect that the older RS1 has a slight edge over the RS10 in terms of shadow detail, but, it’s a moot point. The combination of the RS10’s black levels and shadow detail make for a great combination only bested by the RS20.
Building on what I said right above, let’s be clear. Nothing I’ve reviewed to date, can match the black levels of the RS20. The older RS2 comes closest. I’m completely sold on the RS20 in this regard, and it is a large part of the reason I purchased an RS20 for myself less than a month after I reviewed the RS20. Shadow details, while not the best, are close enough, as they say. The combination is stunning. I watch a lot of sci-fi, action, etc, and they tend to be dripping in dark scenes, sometimes dynamic ones, some times muted. It doesn’t matter what I throw at the JVC RS20, blacks are stellar. Even in bright scenes, it is easily noticeable that the blacks are darker than any of the competition. No projector is perfect, but it is truly the black level performance that has resulted in JVC’s top of the line projectors taking our top honors, two years in a row.
Making assumptions based on the rest o the HD8xxx series of Optoma projectors, black levels are likely near the bottom of the pack. I’d also guess that shadow details are less than stellar. That noted, I’ve consistently found that Optoma projectors have particularly rich dark colors, so that despite overall weakness in shadow detail, my best guess is that the HD8000-LV still manages to provide solid performance on dark scenes.
I was very impressed with the PD8150 projector overall. As one of the DLP projectors, I didn’t expect truly great black levels (on par, say, with the JVC’s), but, Planar has a very good dynamic iris in the PD8150. The end result is the best black levels of any of the DLP projectors we’ve tested, and one of only DLP projectors I really consider to be a UHC (ultra-high-contrast) model. In fact, the Planar, at its best, can likely match the JVC RS10, or at least come close. In mixed dark and bright scenes, where a dynamic iris is less effective, though, the RS10 would win handily.
The strong black level performance, combined with shadow detail I described as comparable to the excellent InFocus IN83, makes this the strongest of any of the DLP projectors, and a serious overall contender despite its high price, thus the Special Interest award (the other going to the significantly less expensive InFocus IN83).
The XV-Z20000 is another excellent DLP projector. Black levels are very impressive, and as I pointed out in the Sharp review, that it came close to the JVC RS1. (This Sharp is another one of those projectors that’s been around for a while.) I count the Z20000 as a UHC projector, despite the relatively low contrast claim (12,000:1), which if anything, is more of an indictment of relying on contrast specs. Shadow detail was very good, but hardly exceptional, falling a touch short of the older JVC RS1 as well. The reason the Sharp did not win an award isn’t due to performance in this area, but rather more related to low lumens, and high price tag.
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