Projector Reviews

Best in Class – $2500-$5000 Performance Home Theater: JVC DLA-RS440U (And DLA-X590)

RS440 beauty shot.

The DLA-RS440U was the last projector I managed to finish reviewing and post that review before starting this report. How convenient, one of the best projectors, saved for last!

I’ve long been a JVC fan, having owned a couple (these days, I don’t own a projector for my theater, I get short and long-term loaners from manufacturers – nice!)

JVC DLA-RS440U Overview

The RS440U claims 1,800 lumens, and delivers on them. This is a fully 4K capable 1080p pixel shifting projector. Interestingly, this JVC wins the top award in this price range, but is the least sharp of the four projectors to win awards. Two of the others are 4K UHD single chip DLP projectors, and the last, is Sony’s real, native 4K projector! Still the differences in sharpness are relatively minor, only noticeable if you sit pretty close.

JVC has long been famous for the best black level performance around. That works for me. Even this RS440U and the identical, but for some trim, DLA-X590, which are JVC’s “entry level” LCoS projectors (they just launched their first DLP – a lower cost projector) have great black levels.

The RS440U comes with all the bells and whistles: Motorized 2.1:1 zoom lens with Lens Memory, 4K Content Capable with HDR and support for BT.2020/P3.

$2500-$5000 Best-in-Class-Best-Performance-Home-Theater JVC DLA_RS440U

This is a projector you want to put in a proper home theater or cave. Ideally, your room will not just be fully darken-able, but with dark surfaces if you can (my own home theater has very, very dark blue walls and ceiling, and dark carpeting too). Why? Because that will take maximum advantage of this JVC’s abilities to handle very dark scenes.

Now, this JVC can’t match the blacks of the more expensive JVCs, but its still darn impressive. It bests our favorite “reference” projector, the Epson 5040UB. This is basically your step-up projector for those wanting even deeper blacks and can afford the difference.

aurora at the window Passengers
RS440U. Dynamic, rich, great blacks.

Before I forget – not everything comes up roses, this JVC is not a good gaming machine. Fastest input lag times I could find were still over 100ms, which is too slow by most serious gamer’s standards.

If you are a movie-first person, pair this projector with a nice wide screen, 2.35:1 or so, to maximize the picture size when viewing most movies. Lens Memory lets you switch back and forth between different aspect ratio content at the touch of the proverbial button.

Color accuracy, right out of the box, isn’t as good as some of the competition, but it calibrates just fine. This is the kind of projector where it makes sense to get the best color possible, not that it doesn’t have some very nicely watchable modes. By the way, I did not try 3D, but it has it, via the optional plug-in module and optional glasses.

The Bottom Line on the JVC DLA-RS440U

This JVC RS440U is our top award winner in this price range, but in all fairness, I recommend the Sony VW285ES far more often. For us hard core enthusiasts, the JVC has the edge due to blacks, but for most, the Sony experience is every bit the equal, and native 4K.

Then there’s also that Acer, VL7860. It comes as close as anything to the JVC’s blacks, but doesn’t get there. Again, the Acer has less features, and is “rough around the edges.” But if you are into the less traveled path, it’s got that laser light engine. If you have that engineering sense about you, the Acer probably appeals.

Of all the projectors reviewed at this $5,000 price point and below, JVC’s RS440U/X590 is the one I would put in my theater.

JVC DLA-RS440U Review