JVC DLA-NX7 4K D-ILA Projector Review
JVC DLA-NX7 Performance
Color Modes. There are a bewildering number of picture adjustments in the DLA-NX7, including five preset color modes plus six customizable User Modes to make and store your own. Within each of these are multiple settings for gamma, color temperature, and color space. There's a full color management system (CMS) for adusting RGBCMY color points, and gain and offset controls for tweaking the grayscale.
I selected the Natural picture mode for 1080p SDR content with its D65 color temp and Rec. 709 color space defaults. The default gamma was 2.2 but I manually selected the setting for 2.4 that, with tuning, got me close to the desired target for the newer B.T.1886 curve. Measurements taken using CalMAN Ultimate software, a Murideo Six-G generator, and an X-Rite i1Pro2 photo spectrometer showed very good, though not perfect, color. The primaries read well within the desired Delta E error readings of less than 3, but the grayscale was off, with Delta Es that ran from 4.5 up to 6.4 for 100% white on my 92-inch, 1.3 gain matte white screen. Blue ran increasingly deficient as the image got brighter and red and green ran consistently too hot. Post calibration, however, Delta E for all brightness levels from 20% to 100% was under 2.
The DLA-NX7 automatically detects either HDR10 or HLG high dynamic range content and switches to its HDR picture mode. For HDR10 you can set it to default to either the HDR10 mode (with an option for Auto Tone-Map) or the dedicated Frame Adapt mode. I initially calibrated in the HDR10 mode (Frame Adapt was not yet available) and selected the Rec.2020 color space (which is used for the mastering of UHD HDR content) rather than JVC's custom HDR color space option. Measurements showed this selection reduced brightness by about 15% vs. the default HDR color profile, so some users with larger screens may prefer the latter option.
Out of the box, grayscale and color points with HDR10 measured similar to what I found in Natural mode, with good color primary and secondary points showing Delta Es under 3, but with grayscale Delta Es that exceeded 3 around the mid-brightness level and got increasingly higher until around 70% brightness where it leveled off. The gamma curve followed the desired ST2084 EOTF fairly closely, though. Post calibration results were excellent, with Delta E's for grayscale below 3 for most of the range and color point Delta E's below 2 (with targets set to the 50% saturation points for Rec.2020). CalMAN's P3 saturation sweeps inside Rec.2020—a critical measurement since HDR content is mastered today to P3 color-space limits inside a Rec.2020 envelope—were all below 3. CalMAN's ColorChecker also measured all of its 26 different color swatches with Delta E's less than 2. Color volume measured in at 98.8% of DCI-P3.
1080p/SDR Viewing. Along with judging how the DLA-NX7 fared with familiar SDR and HDR movie clips, I A/B'd it with my JVC DLA-X790 reference projector to get some idea of how this new model compares with the last-generation JVCs. As mentioned, the X790 is a native-1080p LCoS projector with JVC's e-shift technology, and was a $5,999, mid-line model in the previous product family. Until its recent discontinuation (coinciding with JVC's introduction of the LX-NZ3 4K DLP projector, $3,699), it was the entry level consumer projector below the NX models and offered at the discounted price of $3,999. Notably, its rated contrast ratio of 130,000:1 native, or 1.3 million:1 dynamic, is higher than any of the NX projectors, even exceeding the 100,000:1 rating for the DLA-NX9.
I started on the NX7's tuned-up Natural mode with one of my old standbys, the 1080p Blu-ray of Oblivion. In an aerial shot where we see Jack (the character played by Tom Cruise) walking from his quarters in his floating sky-station to his airship, the NX7 displayed the expected range of whites and off-whites evident in the clouds and the heliport landing platform, and in the stained, gray roof of the station. Moments later, as Jack settles into the sun-drenched bubble cockpit to perform his pre-flight routine, a close-up of his face revealed excellent skin tone, with just the right hint of appropriate extra warmth imparted by the sun.
Later, when the camera captures Jack eating his lunch on the top of a cliff, the shadow detail in the shaded rock wall beneath the cliff was nicely rendered, but not quite the equal of the X790. Up till now, the projectors looked essentially the same in most respects, with colors and contrast that tracked together nearly perfectly. On this scene, I did notice that the DLA-X790 managed a slightly darker black in this dark area of the picture. On another scene that showed a close up of his partner Vika's face, I also observed that the X790—again, a native 1080p projector with its pixel-shifting enhancement turned on—looked a touch sharper than the NX7, which is a native 4K projector that was scaling the 1080p signal up to fill out the 4K pixel count. There was finer detail in the skin texture around her nose and in the ribbing of her outfit. Some modest tuning of the Enhance control in the NX7's MPC (Multiple Pixel Control) menu made things look more even.
The Greatest Showman, an homage to the life of P.T. Barnum, is filled with bright, saturated colors...especially reds (think: circus). It's often lit to enhance the pink of fleshtones beyond anything in real life, but a few scenes shot outdoors in natural light are revealing of a display's capabilities. For example, just three minutes into the movie, we find the young Barnum staring into a store window imagining his future, and the camera gives us a close up of his face. The NX7 revealed every stunning detail: adolescent skin texture that was mostly smooth yet a touch bumpy, and a hint of dark shading where a future moustache might grow. There was superb sharpness and color in the boy's vest, which was green, with ribbing and subtle red speckles that ran throughout the fabric. His gray linen shirt also retained all its fine texturing and detail. By comparison, the DLA-X790 showed a little deeper black in the boy's hair, but with detail that looked obviously enhanced and not natural. Dialing down the X790's MPC control on this shot eliminated the artifacts and put the projectors on something closer to even keel, but the X790 just couldn't fully match the NX7's organic sharpness.
It's worth noting that there were several very dark scenes I viewed where the DLA-X790 demonstrated superior black level and better contrast than the NX7. On credit or title screens in which white letters appear on a black background, for example, the black on the X790 blended almost fully with the letterbox bars above and below the screen, while on the NX7 the bars were more obvious against the picture's grayer background. A scene in Gravity at about 13 minutes elapsed time, in which an astronaut in her white suit tumbles away from the camera to become a small white spec in a vast starfield, also showed an obviously deeper black and better contrast that not only brought out more of the less-bright stars, but also made all the stars brighter and more dimensional. And the now-classic black level/contrast torture scene at the open of chapter 12 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2, in which the Death Eaters assemble on a moonlit rock outcrop before their attack on Hogwarts, was another in which the NX7 fared very well but was outclassed by the X790, which showed deeper black and brighter highlights on the faces of Voldemort's disciples as the aerial camera shot swung down and around to ground level. Overall, I'd rank the NX7's blacks and contrast on the most demanding scenes as top tier. But I was also left with no doubt that JVC's published specs—which declare a significant contrast advantage for the X790—don't lie. As JVC did with their 1080p imaging chips and projectors over several iterations, I'm sure they'll make continual black-level improvements with their new 4K projectors as well.
|Review Contents:||Introduction, Features||Color Modes, SDR Viewing||HDR Viewing, 3D Viewing, Conclusion||Measurements, Connections|
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