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JVC DLA-X55R - and DLA-RS48 Projector - "First Look" Review

JVC DLA-X55R Projector

Greetings Home Theater Projector Fans, This was going to be short, since I have much reviewing to do, but it didn't turn out that way. Let's get started with an overview of JVC's new DLA-X55R from their consumer group.  This projector is also sold by JVC's pro group as the JVC DLA-RS48U. So, what do we have here?  We have the DLA-X55 in house, but other than probably some very minor cosmetics, the primary differences are which dealers sell which model.  We work with the consumer group these days because we find them more press friendly (at least to us).  That is, it's simply easier these days to obtain a DLA-X55R than to get an RS48 from the other folks, as my primary contact on the Pro side, departed from JVC, and I can't seem to find a replacement contact.  Such is life, with my contacts on the consumer side, I don't have to worry about it. The DLA-X55R is a new projector.  The X55 is an LCoS projector (which JVC calls D-iLA - thus the DLA name designations).  The X55R is priced at $4995.  It seems this year, neither the JVC consumer group, nor the Pro are publishing brightness claims.  I haven't checked the manual yet, but I didn't see any brightness numbers for the X55R.  That's not too shocking, a couple years ago, when the pro group launched the first generation of this series, they published brightness numbers that many found overstated.  In fairness, best I can tell, they had been publishing a D65 brightness (calibrated), but then started publishing brightness the way most others do- maximum, not calibrated. The good news is that we have already measured this projector, both calibrated and not.  So here's the basics, the rest in the full review which will publish later this week. Calibrated, with the lens at mid-point on the zoom, 703 lumens. Uncalibrated, brightest mode, Stage (3D mode is similar), 872 lumens maximum. Mike measures rather conservatively (other reviewers at other sites tend to produce numbers from about the same as Mike's to 10% higher.) The JVC DLA-X55 is 3D ready.  It uses a plug in emitter, and RF rechargeable glasses, both of which are optional.  It will also work with last year's IR emitter and glasses.  I don't see a way to use both old and new at the same time. Based on JVC's CEDIA pitch, the X55R basically starts out as a DLA-X35R projector, a upgraded version of last year's X30 projector. But the X55 adds JVC's e-Shift which they refer to as 4K e-Shift2.  JVC's got an interesting technology here, and it provides some real benefit, but I do take issue with the 4K moniker, as it's far from being what I consider to be true 4K.  (I consider true 4K to be approximately 4000 discreet, non-overlapping pixels of data horizontally.  JVC's e-Shift (or now, e-Shift2), has the same sized (2K) pixels, it simply fires them twice, shifting the pixel..  That can be an effective tool, in several ways, but it isn't true 4K.  True 4K is going to be something along the lines of 3840x2160.  I am curious as to whether the JVC with it's e-Shift can produce images that appear sharper than the Sony with it's Reality Creation, which really impressed. So, getting beyond the marketing hype, what we have here is an impressive new projector, combining the features of last year's X30 plus the e-Shift2, and falling nicely between  the X35R and the X75R projectors.  The DLA-X55R with e-Shift engaged definitely seems to produce a "sharper" image than, for example, the Epson Pro Cinema 6020, when I had set up in a side by side comparison. Perhaps more importantly, the X55 projector also had slightly better blacks than the Epson.  That did not seem to be the case last year when we reviewed the DLA-RS45 projector.  I will be looking to confirm that the JVC DLA-X35 and the X55 are equal at black level performance, it should.  On both the starship and Bond, night train scene images, the JVC was able to produce images from about the same, to slightly blacker black than the Epson. Since the JVC X55R doesn't use a dynamic iris, more dynamic range.  Last year, with the RS45, the Epson had a touch darker blacks than the JVC projector.  I note that the manual iris on the X55R projector has 16 positions like last year's higher end models.  The older X30 and RS45 had simpler 3 settings on their manual irises.  We'll have to see if JVC has also increased the number of iris steps on the X35R and RS48U. Color is another story.  We've always found the high end of the JVC's to offer truly excellent color, but less the case for the entry level RS40, RS45, X30, etc.  In the past the $7500+ JVC's had more/better color controls, allowing for a better calibration. While we haven't seen the new higher end units, Mike's report from his calibration still indicates that the DLA-X55 won't calibrate as well as, say, the higher end X70 we reviewed last year. On the other hand, Mike reports some definite improvements.  He was able to get "very good" color, after both our usual grayscale calibration and a full CMS adjustment of the individual colors. That's more calibrating than we have done on any previous JVC. Brightness is still going to be a problem - at least for 3D interested folks.  Again, Mike measures conservatively, but none of the presets - even with the zoom lens at wide angle managed to measure even 1000 lumens, although calibrated it does offer a respectable 703 lumens.   Thus, a projector for dedicated theaters, that can handle large screens if you stick to 2D. The full review will have all the rest of the details, and my comments after extensive 2D and 3D viewing of movies, sports and whatever else.  I'll also do a basic lag times test for any gamers out there looking at a $5K projector. Stay tuned for the full review. I've already started writing the easy stuff (the Tour page, Warranty, and parts of the Overview). Photo shoot is already in process, being finished tonight. Hang in there!  -art  

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