Review Contents
Shootout vs AE8000 and 5020UB
Best Home Theater Projectors
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Home Theater
JVC DLA-X55R Projector JVC DLA-X55R
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Street Price: $4,999
3D: Full HD 3D
Contrast:50,000:1
Lumens:1200
Weight: 33.3 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:D-ILA
Lens:2x powered
Lens Shift:H + V
Lamp Life:3,000 Hrs
4,000 (eco)
Lamp Cost:n/a
Warranty:2 year
Connectors:  Component, HDMI 1.4a (x2), Network, RS232, 12Volt Out
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 1080p/24, 1080p/50

JVC DLA-X55R
1080p D-ILA Home Theater Projector

Bill Livolsi, May 24, 2013

Shootout:
JVC X55 vs. Panasonic AE8000 and Epson 5020UB

Two hot performance-oriented home theater projectors this year are the Epson Home Cinema 5020UB and the Panasonic AE8000, both of which cost less than $2,999 in open distribution. If you are having trouble deciding whether to drop the big bucks on an X55 or purchase one of its less expensive competitors, read on.

Sharpness and clarity. While the X55 has 4K e-shift and the other projectors do not, we found a startling similarity. Both the AE8000 and the 5020UB have smart sharpening systems; on the AE8000 it's called Detail Clarity while the 5020UB calls it Super Resolution. While neither projector physically shifts the pixels, engaging the smart sharpening system created an image strikingly similar to that of the X55.

The AE8000's Detail Clarity system defaults to +2 on a scale of 0 to +7. In an A/B comparison between the AE8000 and the X55, the 4K e-shift's "Film" setting, the mildest enhancement available, was roughly equivalent to Detail Clarity +4. The X55's "SD" setting, which is more aggressive than Film, creates a sharper picture than Detail Clarity +6 at the cost of ringing and other artifacts in some material. The final two settings on the X55, named HD and High Resolution, were both aggressive enough that the Detail Clarity system had no matching setting, and artifacts were common when viewing HD material.

What we did not find was a unique qualitative advantage granted by the 4K e-shift2 system that would make it beneficial over a more conventional smart sharpening system like Detail Clarity or Super Resolution. Both systems provide very similar picture enhancements without the added cost and complexity. And, to their credit, Detail Clarity and Super Resolution were both easier to adjust than the X55's MCP system.

Light output. Both the AE8000 and the 5020UB have high light output modes that make them more suitable than the X55 for use in ambient light. The AE8000 has Cinema 2 mode, which produces around 1600 lumens, and Normal mode, which produces over 1700 lumens. The Epson 5020UB's Living Room mode measures around 1700 lumens as well. These image modes have good color saturation and contrast despite being tailored for use in living rooms and high ambient light situations. Therefore, the AE8000 and 5020UB can be used either as multipurpose units or as dedicated home theater projectors.

However, if we want to compare apples to apples, we can look at the three projectors' Cinema modes. The X55's Cinema mode measured 820 lumens on our test unit with the lamp at full power and the lens at its widest angle setting. Cinema 1 on the AE8000 measured 822 lumens, identical to the X55. The 5020UB's Cinema mode measured 914 lumens, which is functionally the same as the other two. So all three projectors offer the same number of calibrated lumens.

What you get with the X55 that isn't present on the other two projectors is customizability. The X55's manual iris allows light output to be fine-tuned until it is perfect for your screen, while the other two projectors' adjustments are less fine-grained and more approximate. Neither the AE8000 nor the 5020UB features a manual iris, so light output control is limited to zoom lens positioning and lamp power.

Contrast and black level. When it comes to black level, neither the AE8000 nor the 5020UB can match the X55, though the 5020UB comes closer in dark scenes thanks to its more aggressive auto iris. None of the three projectors has a problem displaying deep shadow detail, but the X55 manages to do it with deeper blacks and no automatic iris, giving it a more natural appearance.

As far as gamma is concerned, the X55's default gamma is the most accurate of the three projectors, and its gamma adjustment system is the easiest to use.

Color. All three projectors can be calibrated to 6500K grayscale and Rec. 709 color gamut, so there isn't any difference between them in this aspect.

Fan noise. In low power, the X55 is the quietest projector of the three, but in full power mode it is the loudest. Therefore, if you want to install one of these projectors in a room where fan noise is a concern, you would be able to run the AE8000 or 5020UB at full power, but may need to run the X55 in Low power mode, thereby limiting its light output.

3D. Our 3D winner among this group is the Epson 5020UB due to its higher brightness. Between the remaining two, the AE8000's 3D performance is smoother and more artifact-free, while the X55 tends to show a bit of mild flicker in solid color areas.

Placement flexibility. While all three projectors have 2.0:1 zoom lenses and H/V lens shift, only the X55's lens has powered adjustments on all lens controls. The AE8000 has powered zoom and focus but no powered lens shift, while the 5020UBe has no powered adjustments at all.

Constant Image Height. Both the X55 and AE8000 have anamorphic stretch, so they can be used with an outboard anamorphic lens. The 5020UB lacks this feature, but the more expensive 6020UB includes it. Both the AE8000 and X55 also have Lens Memory for anamorphic display without an external lens. The X55 has the advantage of powered lens shift, but the AE8000 can automatically digitally shift the 2.4:1 image up or down in the frame (essentially changing the relative size of the top and bottom black bars), which can take the place of lens shift in this instance for most people.

Input lag. For gaming, the AE8000's 2.0 frame (34ms) delay in Game mode makes it a stronger contender than the X55 at 4 frames (68ms) or the 5020UB at 5 frames (84ms).

Conclusion

When it comes to pure home theater, the JVC DLA-X55R is a strong product with a clear focus. Every feature of the projector is designed to create a better home theater experience. Black level is the best we've seen in this price range. Color is nearly perfect without any adjustment at all. Light output is low compared to other home theater projectors, but only because the projector does not include a "dynamic" or "bright" mode for living room use. A 2.0:1 zoom lens with powered adjustments and an easy to use Lens Memory system opens up the possibility of constant image height use without an additional anamorphic lens.

However, no projector is perfect. While low lamp mode renders the X55 nearly silent, high lamp mode's increased fan noise can make the projector uncomfortably loud in small spaces. The menu systems can appear complex and convoluted, and sometimes adjustments are not where one would expect them to be. The projector's perfect cinema light output can be uncomfortably low when watching 3D on a larger screen, where every lumen counts. And the 4K e-shift2 system, while useful in its own right, does not offer a significant advantage over the smart sharpening systems found in several other home theater projectors.

The X55 does not have many flaws, but those flaws it does have tend to manifest when one tries to push the projector out of its niche. Within that niche -- say, on a 120" diagonal screen in a dark home theater -- the X55 is excellent, and at $4,999 represents a strong value in today's market.

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Limitations
Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Key Features Performance Limitations
  Shootout vs AE8000 and 5020UB

Reader Comments(14 comments)

Posted Feb 2, 2014 1:57:48 PM

By Khristal

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Hi my name is Khristal hunter I just brought a 130" IMAX 4K Pro-Curve screen it's ratio is 2.35:1 I need help in finding a projector screen best for me... Plz help

Posted Jan 15, 2014 6:41:01 PM

By Todd Krueger

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For those waiting to make the final decision and are waiting to hear some practical 'hands-on' experience, I dove in and purchased the JVC. As a collector of 35mm films and an avid video game player, the JVC has impressed me every step of the way. Even in the darkened theater scenario, it requires the viewing of the green power on LED on the projector itself, or the fan, to know the unit is on. Also, the 12' distance is more than enough distance for a theater room with this unit. The power lens shift, focus, and zoom with the five separate memory assignments make placement on a shelf that is off center a breeze and the unit works well with video games. The only negatives: Fan noise (when lamp on brightest setting), only two inputs (HDMI), and the requirements of a low light area to enjoy it.

Posted Oct 10, 2013 5:08:00 AM

By william johnson

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Was looking at buying the x55r but I do a lot of online gaming. Is it going to be too slow to play shooters? if so what would be the best choice for gaming, movies, and 3d for me... price up to 5000.. I want the best I can afford. And I do a lot of gaming.. lol Thanks Bj

Posted Sep 13, 2013 5:03:58 AM

By jeremy

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yes you can as long as the projector has the cook up. like with XBOX just use HDMI

Posted Jul 26, 2013 12:03:34 PM

By bassa

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hey, I wanna know whats the minimum distance should we keep between projector and the screen. Is 12 feet enough for a good performance.?

Posted Jul 8, 2013 7:28:31 AM

By james H

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I was wondering if i can hook a gaming system to the projector. or any projector.

Posted Jul 7, 2013 9:35:19 AM

By james H

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I was wondering if i can hook a gaming system to the projector. or any projector.

Posted Jul 3, 2013 9:26:42 AM

By Vick Bhugun

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Hi.. for my situation. Fully light controlled room with dark grey walls and black roof and black carpet floor.. I should get a white screen with 1.3 gain ?

what screen would you recommend for size 120" 16:9

Posted Jun 20, 2013 2:49:50 PM

By Bardia

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Bill, I was set on the X55 until I read your comment about how it's an over kill for a family room. I plan to only use the projector at night witht he lights off and the only ambient light in the room would be begie walls, white ceiling and white furniture, which now sounds like plenty.. If I get a 120" diagona StudioTek 130, would I have washed out blacks when viewing?? What would be a better projector if this is not the right one for my set up. Thank you!

Posted May 28, 2013 12:35:09 PM

By Bill Livolsi

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Hi folks,

I see a lot of people are wondering why we didn't compare the JVC X55 to the Sony HW50 we reviewed back in March. The simple answer is that we returned our sample of the HW50 shortly after completing the review, so we did not have both projectors in-house at the same time.

When writing a shootout piece, we need to actually see both projectors side-by-side on the same screen. And yes, we could compare the two projectors on things like features, or our measurements, but that's something that any reader could do simply by reading both reviews. While we could write up a shootout based on our recollections and notes, we see a lot of projectors over the course of a few months and the human memory is a fragile thing that's often wrong. So, instead of not writing a shootout, we chose to compare the X55 to two projectors we did have in-house -- the AE8000 and 5020UB. The AE8000 comparison is particularly useful since we also shot it out against the HW50, and now our readers can look at both projectors compared to the same baseline.

The real value of a shootout piece comes from the insights we gain from actually shooting out the two projectors, side by side, in the lab. When we stop insisting on that, the quality of our articles as a whole suffers. I would have loved to do the X55 vs HW50 shootout, but the timing just didn't line up. I apologize for not being clear about the reasoning up front.

Posted May 28, 2013 9:58:17 AM

By Gerry

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Since the Sony VPL-hw50es uses LCOS technology like the JVC, shouldn't you have used the Sony to compare against the JVC?

Bill, you reviewed both JVC and Sony so I'm a little curious why you chose to compare the Panasonic and Epson instead.

Posted May 25, 2013 6:14:33 AM

By Gerry

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Nice review. You also reviewed the Sony VPL-hw50es, how does it compare to the JVC since both are LCOS projectors.

Posted May 25, 2013 2:50:20 AM

By singing italian

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GIVE ME A BREAK. The Epson projectors have the most inconsistent performance of all the big projector companies. In fact every unit I received 8500, 8700 or 9700 all had some significant flaw. The new 5020 after you perform panel alignment would be considered a joke after looking at JVC X55R or the Sony VPL-HE50ES. Also black and white movies exhibit poor uniformity on left and right sides of the screen with green and red tinting on a black and white movie, its very obvious ( but then again you guys never look at black and white material ) The other projectors listed do not experience anywhere near the inconsistencies of the Epson. Projector Central use to be far more objective. GIVE ME A BREAK the 5020 is no where near the same class of projector as the JVC X55, SONY VPL-HW50ES or Panasonic 8000. simply because of their poor quality control. Most Epson owners have a minimum of 3 returns. Don't waste your time on EPSON unless you got a lot of time to waste.

Posted May 24, 2013 7:47:47 PM

By Cory

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Hey Mike, So I've gotta ask the $1M question...how does it stack up against the Sony VW-50es.

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