JVC's DLA-X55R is a brand new 1080p home theater projector featuring their "4K e-shift2" technology. 4K, or 3840x2160, is a high-resolution video format with four times the pixels of 1080p. And while the X55 is not a native 4K projector, their e-shift lays claim to 4K levels of quality.
Built with home theater in mind, the X55 is a videophile's dream. JVC's home theater projectors have always had excellent black level performance, but the X55 takes this to a new level. Without the assistance of an automatic iris, the X55 manages the deepest blacks of any home theater projector under $5,000 we have seen to date. Flexible lensing, powered adjustments, and a whole slew of convenient home theater features make the X55 a great cinema projector for someone willing to take the time and set things up properly.
The X55 is not for everyone. These days, many people want the ability to use their projectors in rooms where light control is less than perfect. While many other home theater projectors give users the kind of flexibility needed for this multi-purpose use, the X55 is not one of those projectors. But if you have the space and the will to make it work, the X55 can be an excellent projector for serious home theater.
The Viewing Experience
The fact that the X55 is built for home theater becomes clear as soon as you turn it on. For a few moments, there's nothing, just blackness, before a brilliant white JVC logo springs to life in the middle of the screen. That's when you realize that the projector is already warmed up, and black level is really just that good.
The X55 has a 2.0:1 zoom lens with vertical and horizontal lens shift, and all of the adjustments are powered. That makes it a good candidate for rear shelf placement although most users will probably opt for ceiling mount due to its size. Rear shelf placement has the advantages of being easy to set up and not requiring any additional mounting hardware other than a shelf.
The X55 can display a 100" diagonal 16:9 image anywhere between 10' 2" and 20' 4", depending on how you set the zoom lens. That's a lot of leeway. It also means you can get a decently large image up on the screen in almost any room, from a tiny converted bedroom to a full-sized dedicated theater.
The X55 has excellent black levels and very good contrast, but those are not the only reasons to work on your room's ambient light control. While the X55 is rated at 1200 lumens maximum, its calibrated Cinema mode puts out about 550 lumens with the lamp at low power, and that number can go as low as 380 lumens at the telephoto end of the zoom lens. As such, having a room with no ambient or reflected light is ideal. Aside from turning off the lights, it is also a good idea to cover any reflective surfaces with dark-colored, non-reflective coatings.
To make a long story short, while the X55 is a wonderful projector in the right room, it is not for everyone. Even a little bit of ambient or reflected light can have a major effect on black levels, and anyone considering a purchase should prepare the theater room to take full advantage of the projector's performance. After all, you're paying a premium for it.
In a dark theater room, the best screen material for the X55 is low gain white. A screen gain of about 1.3 will reduce light scatter without creating hot spots. And with a projector this high in contrast, there's no need for a contrast-boosting gray screen.