Years ago, JVC made a splash with the RS1, which was their first 1080p home theater projector in reach of the average consumer. Since then, JVC's home theater offerings have always created a lot of buzz, especially their near-mythical black level performance.
Their newest projector, the DLA-X30, continues in this same tradition. At $3500, the X30 is less expensive than many previous JVC home theater projectors and more in line with the prices of this year's most popular 1080p 3D models. Like its predecessors, it has excellent black level performance and a dynamic, high-contrast picture. But with a lower price comes certain compromises, and these become apparent in side-by-side testing.
This review is a little different from our usual in one important way: we received our X30 from a reader who was interested in seeing our take on it, rather than obtaining a sample from JVC. It is not unusual to run into issues while testing a projector, and indeed this happened with the X30, but we have thus far not received a response from JVC. We will continue to follow up with JVC and update this review with any more information that we uncover.
The Viewing Experience
We put the X30 in our darkened theater space, turned off the lights, and powered it up. For a long moment, we weren't sure if the projector was on at all, but then the stark white D-ILA logo sprang to life. This is what is most immediately striking about the X30: in dark scenes, the projector is capable of amazing contrast. Black level is deep and dark, then suddenly a light will appear, stark white. Black level does not change, as it does on a projector with an auto iris. In brighter scenes, black level comes up somewhat, but it still ranks among the best in its price class when it comes to black level.
The JVC DLA-X30
During testing, we preferred Film mode, which gave the picture its most natural appearance. However, Film mode defaults to the 6000K color temperature preset. Not only is 6000K too warm, but it actually measured more like 5500K on our test unit, so adjustment was necessary. The other thing that needs adjusting is the projector's default gamma, which gives the picture a too-contrasty artificial appearance that crushes shadow detail. This is easier to fix: go into the Custom Gamma options and select the 2.4 preset, which actually measured 2.2 on our projector. Some people may enjoy the overdriven appearance of the default gamma, and it definitely makes the projector look more three-dimensional, but videophiles and those looking for a "pure" experience will want to make the change.
After adjustment, Film mode produced about 550 lumens on our projector, which is about perfect for a 120" diagonal image on a 1.3 gain screen. That's with the lamp at Normal power, too. Boosting up to High lamp gives you over 800 lumens, so it's perfect for really large screens or rooms with ambient light -- though that won't help you regain any of the black level you lose as soon as there's light in the room.