1080p D-ILA Home Theater Projector
JVC X500R vs. Sony HW55ES and Epson LS10000
The JVC X500R is a great home theater projector, but it exists in a world full of other home theater projectors. In this section, we'll compare the X500R against the Sony VPL-HW55ES, a $4,000 home theater projector, and against the Epson LS10000, another pseudo-4K projector with excellent on/off contrast that sells for $7,999.
X500R vs. Sony VPL-HW55ES
When placed head to head, there are some obvious PQ-related differences between the X500R and the Sony HW55ES. The most noticeable advantage of the X500R is its deeper black level, which edges the HW55ES in most scenes. However, the HW55ES has visibly higher ANSI contrast, so brighter scenes have more pop and depth to them. The HW55ES is visibly brighter on a 100% white test pattern, measuring 1370 lumens in Reference mode against the X500R's 1049 lumens. However, we saw little difference in brightness when watching movies, so that difference isn't as dramatic as the 25% gap would indicate. There's less digital noise on the HW55ES, but the X500R is both sharper and more detailed. The HW55ES has some slight softness in the corners of the image, while the X500R is razor-sharp from edge to edge. As for detail, the X500R renders 1080p content with exquisite definition. And once you turn on e-Shift, the detail advantage becomes even more obvious.
In terms of features, the X500R has a few capabilities that are absent on the HW55ES. The X500R has powered lens adjustments, lens memory, 4K e-Shift, a longer zoom range (2.0:1 vs. 1.6:1), and less audible noise (though both projectors are already very quiet).
In a nutshell, the HW55ES's brighter picture and higher ANSI contrast will appeal to many folks as will its lower price. Meanwhile the higher on/off contrast, superb detail, and the broader feature set of the X500R will be attractive to others. They are both excellent projectors, and the differences between them are not obvious unless you are viewing them side by side.
X500R Vs. LS10000
Both the Epson LS10000 and the JVC X500R create 4K images via pixel shifting. Epson has stated in the past that their 4K system is fundamentally different from JVC's e-Shift. That may indeed be the case, but in our testing we found little to differentiate the two.
With a little bit of fiddling, we could make the LS10000 appear more detailed than the X500R. However, we could do the same with the X500R, making it look better than the LS10000. From what we could see, the visible difference in detail between Epson's 4K Enhancement and JVC's e-Shift3 all comes down to how they're set up. If you set both technologies to a moderate level of enhancement, they appear functionally identical.
In fact, the two projectors are remarkably similar in many ways. Both have impeccable color. Both produce roughly 1050 lumens in their calibrated modes. The X500R is higher in ANSI contrast than the LS10000, while the LS10000 has a black level advantage in some scenes. In very bright scenes, the advantage evaporates, but it's visible on occasion during normal use. In very dark scenes, the LS10000 can effectively turn the laser completely off. Trying to measure on/off contrast on the projector is an exercise in futility, because full black reads zero. Still, the black level performance on the two projectors is closer than you'd think. There are times when the X500R has the advantage over the LS10000, usually in dark scenes that still have some bright content that prevents the LS10000 from dimming its laser, but overall these two projectors are remarkably close.
So, given that the picture quality is so similar, you might be asking why the LS10000 costs almost twice as much as the X500R. For starters, the LS10000 has a laser light engine that's rated to last 17,000 hours at full power or 30,000 hours in Eco-mode, while the X500R uses traditional high-pressure lamps. This also means that the X500R will lose light output more quickly than the LS10000, though there's no way of knowing exactly how quickly that will happen.
The LS10000 supports Adobe RGB and DCI while the X500R does not. DCI, found under "Digital Cinema" mode on the LS10000, is one of the proposed specifications for Blu-ray 4K. It is currently used in commercial movie theaters and has a wider color gamut than Rec. 709.
The LS10000 also supports HDCP 2.2, which lets you use it with native 4K sources like the Sony FMP-X10. The X500R will accept 4K inputs, but only those that don't require HDCP 2.2 protection. While the LS10000 is technically HDMI 2.0, both projectors are bandwidth-limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 color in 4K.
The LS10000 has super-quick lens adjustments, while the X500R feels pokey in comparison. And finally, for those who watch in a super-quiet room, the LS10000 is slightly louder in operation.
In short, both projectors offer super-high on/off contrast and the deepest blacks available in home theater. Both use 4K pixel shifting to create smooth, natural images with incredible levels of detail. There are some small differences in picture quality and some large differences in feature set, and the two projectors come in at vastly different retail prices. If the added features of the LS10000 sound appealing, you might find that the additional investment is worthwhile. If you're interested in bang-for-the-buck image quality to the exclusion of all else, the convenient features of the LS10000 might not be enough to justify the cost over the X500R.
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