Comparing the Projector's Picture Quality
For the side-by-side images below, the Epson 6500UB is on the left, and the DLA-RS20 is on the right.
In my mind, there is no aspect of picture quality (keeping brightness out of the equation) where the Epson projectors can beat out the JVC projectors. That makes the real issue, "am I getting my money's worth when buying the much more expensive projector?" or "I realize the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB does a great job, but will I be truly happy, knowing that if I bought the JVC, I would have an even better viewing experience?"
The answers will be personal decisions, which will most strongly be determined by the level of perfection you demand, and the budget you have.
For both, out of the box performance could be improved. Forget for a moment that slight adjustments to controls like brightness, contrast and color saturation, are needed by virtually all projectors. Both projectors are off a bit on grayscale balance. Nothing bad, but we're talking about two projectors that are considered by folks who are really looking for best performance, and therefore, should be planning on maximizing the performance of either one. Still, the JVC has the better out of the box performance, one of the best seen in this review, while the Epson was, compared to the competition "very good", but so will improve even more from calibration.
I've got my JVC RS20 fully calibrated, and all I can say is "wow" when it comes to skin tones. (Remember, despite the accolades, I still find one projector in this report to be even better - however slightly - than the RS20, and that's the InFocus IN83.) Skin tones are gorgeous. I watched Pirates of the Carribean two nights ago for the first time since my RS20 was set up, and the first time in a while. The faces - any faces - light dark, tanned, pale, looked truly great, and natural. It looks just as good on Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight, and all the rest.
The Home Cinema 6500UB, by comparison, while still looking really good, isn't quite that good. With really good quality content, it comes very close. With movies that I don't consider to have great color to begin with the difference between the JVC and Epson increases. In such cases, skin tones tend to look a bit "hard". Bottom line: With both brand's projectors at their best, the JVC is definitely the winner in faithfully reproducing skin tones. The Epson will still do a really good job, but skin tones are not what it is the best at.
Black level performance
As great as the Epson does black levels (definitely the best of any of the projectors in its class), better than most of the more expensive ones, the JVC is unmatched at any price. The Epson, on dark scenes without any significant bright areas produces stunning blacks, dark, inky, and so good that few would be disappointed. In mixed scenes, the Epson's dynamic iris can't close down as far, and black levels won't be as good. On bright scenes, well, the iris won't be in use, so black areas won't be as dark. Still, keep in mind that black level performance is by far, most critical on dark scenes. The eye is drawn to the brighter areas. Let's say you have a black helicoptor in front of a brightly lit building, the blacks on the Epson may not be that black, but you aren't likely to notice, or have anything to complain about.
On the other hand, once again - the JVC is the best there is (excluding CRT projectors and try to find one of those in the 21st century). Blacks are so close to black that the letterboxing on movies is dark enough that you don't even notice the bars (at least not with a good HC gray screen). This may be a solid win for the JVC, and a key reason you would spend the extra for the DLA-RS20, but that doesn't diminish the fact that I can only think of two other projectors in the report, regardless of price, besides the RS20, that can beat the Epson, and those two are the less expensive JVC RS10, and the Planar PD8150. The first being $5000 and the other, even more expensive than the JVC RS20. In other words, JVC - best, Epson - one of the next best choices.