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JVC DLA-X35 - Design and Spec - Trusted Review

Info Gencom - Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Review of the JVC X35 Projector from TRUSTED REVIEW

By John Archer

Pros

  • Exceptional cinematic picture quality
  • Precise, motorised optical adjustment
  • No crosstalk on 3D
Cons
  • No colour management system
  • No auto switching to 3D picture settings

Review Price £2,600.00

Key Features: Full HD D-ILA projector; Active 3D playback; 50,000:1 NATIVE contrast; Motorised zoom and image shift; 5 Lens Memory slots

Manufacturer: JVC
JVC DLA-X35 - Design and Spec

Introduction

Even by JVC’s usually extremely high projector standards, the JVC DLA-X55 we tested recently was an astonishing bit of kit. The latest version of JVC’s ‘e-shift’ technology, with its ability to give normal HD pictures a 4K-like pixel density, worked exceedingly well on the X55, making its £4,999 price look a serious bargain in the process.

With this in mind, we can’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment that JVC’s entry-level 2013 projector, the DLA-X35, doesn’t have e-Shift. However, this disappointment is hardly fair considering that the X35 can be had for just £2,600 – more than £2,000 less than the X55. So let’s quickly put our unfair whingeing behind us and get down to finding out how the X35 shapes up in the context of its strikingly affordable (by JVC standards) price point.

JVC X35
JVC DLA-X35 - Design
You certainly get a lot of projector for your money. The JVC X35’s black or white body is as large as those of JVC’s higher-end models this year, and it’s also reassuringly heavy, raising hopes of some seriously high-quality innards. These hopes encouraged by the strikingly big lens for such an affordable projector.

There’s no sign of any manual zoom/focus rings around this lens, and nor are there any clumsy knobs or wheels for horizontal and vertical image shifting. Not because the X35 doesn’t carry such features, though; it does. The reason they’re not visible on the projector’s chassis is because the X35 lets you access all these key setup tools via the backlit remote control, using a motorised lens array. Such set-up sophistication really is a great find at the X35’s price point, and it’s underlined by both the range of adjustment of the zoom and shift features, and the finesse with which you can make your adjustments.

JVC DLA-X35 - Connections
Tucked away on the X35’s rear, meanwhile, is a solid set of connections. You don’t get a D-Sub PC port, but you do find two HDMIs, a component video port, a 12V trigger port (which you could use, say, for automatically firing up a motorised screen), an RS-232 control port, and a sync port to which you need to attach JVC’s 3D transmitter dongle if you want to take advantage of the X35’s 3D capabilities.

JVC X35
Neither this transmitter nor any 3D are included for the £2,560 price, though. A 3D kit including the transmitter and two pairs of glasses will cost £250-£300 extra depending on your retailer. Even with this cost added in, however, the X35 hardly looks expensive for the level of spec it offers.

JVC DLA-X35 - Specification

This spec includes, most startlingly of all, a claimed contrast ratio of 50,000:1 – an already-high figure that’s made even more startling by the fact that it’s a NATIVE figure. In other words, unlike most projectors, which derive their often rather fanciful contrast ratios by using dynamic iris systems to vary the light a projector lets through its lens, the JVC X35 can deliver its 50,000:1 contrast at all times. It doesn’t have to reduce light output during dark scenes and boost them again for bright scenes in order to record its contrast ratio figure.

This fact has profound implications for the potential dynamism and stability of the X35’s handling of dark scenes – potential which experience of previous JVC D-ILA projectors suggests the X35 will deliver on.

Awards
Recommended by TR


Summary
Our Score
9/10

JVC DLA-X35 - Features
A search for ways the JVC X35 improves on last year’s X30, meanwhile, uncovers a number of potentially significant developments. For starters, JVC has introduced new circuitry and a new optical engine to try and reduce the crosstalk ghosting noise that blighted 3D on last year’s models. The X35’s 3D performance should also benefit from newly designed active shutter glasses that use RF rather than IR technology, for more stable synchronisation and a greater operating range.

JVC also claims to have introduced an improved illumination system, including a new lamp and power supply, which should deliver a significant improvement in brightness over the life of the lamp.

The X35 also supports control by a new JVC Smartphone app; carries a new Eco mode that reduces power consumption in standby mode; and adds more lens memory slots, so that people with Cinemascope/2.35:1-ratio screens can easily adapt the projector’s output to optimise the appearance of a wider variety of source aspect ratios.

Heading into the X35’s attractive onscreen menus, there are a series of themed and for the most part respectably well calibrated picture presets, plus colour temperature and gamma presets, multiple noise reduction routines, lens aperture and lamp power adjustments, a reasonably sophisticated custom gamma system, and the option to turn on JVC’s Clear Motion Drive motion processing circuitry.

Feel free to experiment with this latter feature, though we suspect from our own experience that you’ll probably prefer to leave it off, at least while watching Blu-rays.

The only feature conspicuous by its absence is a full colour management system – something we think you have a right to expect at the JVC’s price these days. Heck, we’ve seen projectors under £1,000 offering more colour management than the X35.

Previously the prospect of colour management has been used as a carrot to tempt people to step up from JVC’s entry-level models to its mid-range models. But with the X55 now offering e-Shift 4k as a step-up carrot, leaving a colour management system off the X35 just looks a bit stingy, to be honest. Especially as the absence of a CMS made it impossible for us to put right a marginally over-dominant green tone visible during some dark scenes.

JVC DLA-X35 - Picture Quality
Having set off on an unexpectedly negative footing, let’s add that pictures look just a touch soft, too. This is certainly the case if compared with the ‘4k’ X55, but that’s to be expected. More concerning is the fact that its pictures also appear slightly softer than those of the direct Panasonic AT6000 and Sony HW50 rivals. Those two models – one LCD, one SXRD – also deliver images post calibration that have a little more brightness and dynamism than those of the X35.

To be clear, these early comparisons aren’t in any way a sign that JVC has suddenly lost the projection plot. Rather it’s a testament to the major improvements Panasonic and Sony have introduced to their latest projectors. And crucially, the existence of much stronger competition than there has been before doesn’t stop us from still loving the X35 to bits.

JVC DLA-X35 - Performance
The main reason for this – as ever with modern-era JVC home cinema projectors – is the X35’s awesome black level response. For even with that faint sporadic green tinge we noted earlier, there’s simply no disguising how sensationally deep the JVC X35’s black colours plunge.

Making this already outstanding achievement all the more adorable is the fact that the X35 can produce such black level depth without having to compromise the image’s overall brightness, meaning the inky blacks can sit right alongside punchy whites and bold colours.

Even better, being able to deliver such terrific black colours without having to adjust light output via a dynamic iris means dark scenes look supremely stable, with none of the distracting brightness ‘shifts’ you can see with rival projector technologies.

This freedom from a dynamic iris also means you don’t have to worry about the sort of mechanical noise that some dynamic iris machines – especially Epson’s recently tested TW6100 – produce. In fact, if you’re using the X35’s ‘low’ lamp setting, the projector scarcely produces any running noise at all.

Motion is decently if not emphatically well handled by the X35 too, with good sharpness and minimal judder, while colours using some of the presets – especially the Cinema one - combine some strong blend precision with a mostly natural feel.

JVC DLA-X35 - 3D Performance

Switching over to 3D sources, the first thing we noticed was that the X35 still doesn’t automatically switch to its 3D picture preset when it receives a 3D source. And nor does it automatically switch out of 3D mode when you go back to watching 2D. The X35 really should do both these things, to make sure that viewers get the best 3D and 2D experience without having to worry about changing picture presets manually.

Why should you use a different picture setting for 3D than 2D? Because donning the 3D glasses results in a reduction in image brightness and a slight colour shift, both of which are compensated for in 3D preset mode, but aren’t in one of the 2D modes.

Once you’re switched to the 3D preset, the X35’s 3D pictures are actually really good. In particular, we were hugely relieved to find the projector suffering far less with crosstalk ghosting noise than last year’s equivalent X30 model. In fact, there’s hardly a trace of it now, leaving even notoriously crosstalk-prone shots and sequences like Tangled’s lantern sequence looking clean, sharp and focussed.

This in turn makes it easier to appreciate the full HD detailing that’s active 3D’s trademark, and to soak up the terrific sense of depth created through a combination of the X35’s 3D clarity and its ability to render dark 3D areas and shots better than any other projector in its class.

The 3D images of the Sony HW50 are a tad crisper and brighter, perhaps, but provided you’re in a fully blacked out room the X35’s efforts are wonderfully cinematic and immersive.

The only problem with watching 3D on the X35, in fact, is that switching the lamp to Normal from our preferred Low setting – as the 3D preset does - causes a really significant jump in the projector’s running noise, turning it from practically inaudible to something you don’t really want to have to sit very near.
Verdict
While the Sony HW50’s punchier, crisper images possibly make it a slightly better choice for people after a projector capable of functioning well in a relatively casual environment containing a bit of ambient light, when it comes to properly darkened cinema rooms black level remains king. And when it comes to black level, the X35 is still the one to beat.