Imaging Devices

JVC DLA-X35 - Premium Projection On A Budget (Part 1)

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JVC’s latest entry-level D-ILA home cinema projector picks up where most of its rivals leave off. We go to the movies

It says much that JVC’s entry-level projector comes in where other brands’ high-end offerings sign off. Priced at $4,350, it looks a veritable bargain when viewed alongside the company’s $15,000 bespoke DLA-X95R flagship.

Not that there’s an awful lot to suggest that the DLA-X35 is a budget proposition. For starters. It’s beautifully built with a substantial chassis that tips the scales at just under 15kg. It’s a large beast too, some 455mm wide and 472mm deep. Both factors conspire to make this a serious install. The projector is just too big to be used as a special occasion pull-out. As with last year’s look like DLA-X30 offering, there’s a choice of black or white cabinet finishes. If the standard remote control isn’t to your liking, JVC also offers a smartphone app. Its principal competition comes in the form of the Sony VPL-HW50ES, and, to a lesser extent, Panasonic’s PT-AT6000E and Epson’s EH’TW9100.

At $4350, the X35 is JVC's most affordable projector yet

At $4,350, the X35 is JVC's most affordable projector yet

Now supporting RF 3D

Connectivity compresses two HDMIs, component and PC VGA inputs, plus Ethernet, RS232 and a 12V trigger. Ethernet is only used for control and not content delivery, while the trigger is used to sync the projector with electric screens. The projector is also 3D compatible. This year JVC has embraced RF active shutter glasses, which make for a far more practical solution that last season’s separate IR blaster. Supplied in the box is an RF Syncro Emitter (PR-ÈM) which plugs into the rear of the unit. You can still use the projector with previous IR 3D eyewear, but it’s not possible to mix and match IR with RF shuttering systems. Also bundled are two pairs of PK-AG3 RF active shutter glasses.

The DLA-X35 offers a variety of setup and calibration options. A2x motorized zoom lens and integrated test pattern makes short work of sizing and focus; there’s also 80 per cent vertical and 34 percent horizontal lens shift available. A five-mode Lens Memory function helps accommodate various screen ratios when using a CinemaScope ratio screen; for example, you can use one position to set 16:9 ratio content to give full height with black bars left and right, another to memorize zoomed ‘Scope images to correctly fill height and width, and a third to accommodate ‘Scope movies with captions. Each lens memory can be renamed to simplify operation. The JVC also boasts a dedicated anamorphic mod, should you want to use it with an optional lens.

The DLA-X35 offers a variety of setup and calibration options. A2x motorized zoom lens and integrated test pattern makes short work of sizing and focus

The DLA-X35 offers a variety of setup and calibration options. A2x motorized zoom lens and integrated test pattern makes short work of sizing and focus

Beneath the hood, the DLA-X35 utilizes a 0.7in Full HD D-ILA imaging device and NSH 230W lamp for which JVC quotes a life of 4,000 hours. As with last year’s model, brightness is rated at 1,300 lumens and native contrast ratio set at 50,000:1. It’s worth remembering that rival imaging technology needs to use a dynamic iris to get anywhere near that number.

Up and running

Once installed and calibrated, the most immediate impression is one of eerie silence. This big screen hero is whisper-quiet. JVC quotes 23dB with the lamp in its Eco Low mode, and it really does disappear when you factor in the noise from a home cinema system. Although the brightness spec may seem a tad low, the projector is perky enough to run on the low lamp setting without incurring any visual penalties. The huge dynamics of its images ensure a lively sparkle regardless.

The projector’s throw will suit most typical US living room spaces. A 100in diagonal 16:9 image can be thrown from 3.01m (wide), with 120in cast in 3.62m (wide). Large home theatres require between 6.06m (wide) and 12.30m (tele) to craft a 200in picture.

The projector’s throw will suit most typical US living room spaces

The projector’s throw will suit most typical US living room spaces

The key technical difference between the DLA-X35 reviewed here and the step-up DLA -X55R is the lack of 4K e-shift technology. Despite marketing hyperbole, none of JVC’s Despite marketing hyperbole, none of JVC’s fleet is actually 4K capable – the e-shift process is entirely optical. An additional lens is placed between the D-ILA device and the projection lens, which produces an offset sub-frame of the original image, thereby theoretically doubling both the vertical and horizontal resolution. It’s this that JVC claims as a 3,840 x 2m10 resolution projected image. I suspect that after auditioning the DLA-X35 you’ll find it difficult to justify speeding an additional $3,000 for such visual sleight of hand (the DLA-X55R does proffer additional more sophisticated picture processing modes, but the observation still stands).

The simple facts are the DLA-X35 is an astonishingly good performer regardless, offering rich, cinematic images. JVC continues to set a benchmark when it comes to black level performance and dynamics, one that other brands struggle to match. The amount of shadow detail and depth available is considerable. When the Black Window is being tortured at the opening of Evengers Assemble, you can stare deep into the shadowy recesses of the warehouse, giving the sequence a three-dimensional feel without recourse to any funny glasses. Greyscale tracking is excellent. A 20/20 black-to-white test chart looked superb, while color gradations are velvety smooth.

2D image sharpness is equally considerable; textures and fine detail zing from Blu-ray and broadcast DH sources alike, particularly when you utilize (sparingly) the Detail Enhance tool.

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