Projector Reviews

JVC launches two (pairs) of new home theater projectors – DLA-RS10 and DLA-HD350, and DLA-RS20 and DLA-HD750

JVC has been busy on the home theater projector side. Once again, they have launched, essentially two new models, but since they have two divisions – Pro and Consumer, each “real” new home theater projector, has two versions. For the most part, the differences between the Pro and Consumer versions seems to be strictly cosmetic.

What we have here, on the lower end is the DLA-RS10 home theater projector (Pro group), and it’s twin, the DLA-HD350 coming from JVC’s Consumer group. Up the food chain, and you find the DLA-RS20, and matching DLA-HD350.

According to JVC, these projectors aren’t (at least immediately) going to replace the existing DLA-RS1 and DLA-RS2 (or their consumer counterparts. That does tend to make things a bit murky, but it definitely looks like the new projectors have some advantages.

Before I get into individual models, let’s look at what all four new JVC projectors have in common:

  • A new 16 element lens with 2:1 zoom ratio (same 2:1 range as the older RS1 and RS2)
  • Customized gamma control – the lack of the ability to customize gamma, was always something I’ve missed on the RS1.
  • All have superb range in terms of lens shift both vertical (80%) and horizontal (34%), for easy placement. Lens shift is now motorized
  • All support HDMI 1.3 with Deep Color and CEC
  • Image processing – already good on the older projectors now uses the Silicon Optics Reon-VX
  • All four, are supposed to be available this November (you never can tell, until they ship)
  • All have a screen trigger – this can be used to control a motorized screen, or a masking system, or alternately can be used to control the motorized sled for an anamorphic lens.
  • And all four support an anamorphic lens, without needing an outboard (expensive) processor
  • JVC has moved the inputs and output panel to the side, as opposed to being on the back on the older projectors – more on this below.
  • These models are brighter than their older equivalents – RS10 vs. RS1, RS20 vs. RS2, etc.

Let’s start with the DLA-RS10. For the most part I won’t bother to also mention the second version, as it gets too tedious.

The JVC DLA-RS10, for openers, claims 17,000:1 contrast, a slight improvement on the classic RS1 (which I currently use in my larger (of two) viewing rooms. Interestingly, the DLA-HD350 only claims 15,000:1. Whether there is a real difference between these two, or if the divisions simply came up with different numbers on their own, for the same performance, I’m just not sure. (It’s not surprising considering all the smoke and mirrors associated with contrast ratios these days.).

JVC still manages to get the best black levels in the industry, without the use of a dynamic iris, in any of their models.

Back to the JVC DLA-RS10 projector: It’s a slightly smaller physical projector than the RS1 or RS2. In addition, to jazz it up, JVC has gone to gold trim, instead of silver, around the lens like the HD350. I should note that the RS – reference series – projectors come in a pearl black finish, while the consumer HD350 comes in glossy black, or a pearl white finish, and the HD750 comes only in pearl black.

As noted, JVC is using the latest in image processing, from Silicon Optix. The older models also used Silicon Optix, but not the Reon-VX (not sure about that), either way, Silicon Optix has a great rep, and we’ve always been pleased with the performance of their processing, no matter what brand projector it shows up in (Epson, for one, also uses Silicon Optix in some of their home theater projectors, as do some high end projectors).

JVC has set a price of under $6000 for both the DLA-RS10, and the DLA-HD350. Only time will tell what the street price will be.

OK, moving to the DLA-RS20 and DLA-HD750.

Perhaps the biggest news is that these two models are THX certified, and come with the THX movie mode, which JVC describes as “a pre-calibrated video setting for watching movies on DVD, Blu-ray HD or broadcast television”. Sounds good to me. Can’t wait to review these guys.

The new JVC DLA-RS20 is brighter than the older RS2, and is THX certified!

Both of these still spec the same 30,000:1 contrast ratio as the RS2. It will be interesting to see if black levels have improved at all, although, I’m certainly not going to worry about it, as I have yet to see anything that can match the RS2 in that regard. The new Epson top of the lines are claiming 75,000:1, the new Panasonic, 60,000:1, and a new Sony, at 72,000:1, but all of them rely on dynamic irises.

Along with the THX certification is further expanded color controls including 3D 6 separate channel color – R,G,B,C,Y,M. Considering that the RS1, when I bought mine, probably had the least amount of color control of any projector on the market, it’s nice to see JVC putting in the full range of controls on these (the RS1x added some controls, compared to my RS1). Tweakers will be thrilled. On the other hand, the older JVC’s are well known for excellent color out of the box, something few others came close to. (Not perfect, mind you, there’s always room for improvement.)

JVC’s DLA-RS20 and DLA-HD750 both have prices set as under $8000 (typically that means they haven’t decided whether it’s $7999 or $7995), but they could surprise us with lower prices. Again, MSRP is not the issue, but rather what the dealers will sell them for. (BTW, when the RS-1 was launched, they said “under $7000, and it actually launched at $6295, to everyones surprise and pleasure.)

As usual, JVC sells both lines through local installing dealers, rather than large internet resellers. We’ll see how that plays out, as well.

As far as I’m concerned, I liked what I saw, they had one of the new ones queued up, but not in a side by side with the older projector. Looked fabulous in a pitch black viewing area. I’m really looking forward to see how many more lumens these guys offer. Who knows, the RS20 just might replace my RS1, if bright enough for my large screen, and sports viewing. -art