David Susilo is an ISF, Control4, THX Certified Professional,
CEDIA Trainer, CEA and HAA Member
The DLA-X30 (and its professional-market counterpart, the DLA-RS45) is the direct replacement of the DLA-X3 / RS-40 entry-level model in JVC’s 3D line. With an estimated street price of approximately CDN$4,500, this D-ILA projector has a similar specification of 1080p resolution and 120Hz Clear Motion Drive, two anamorphic lens modes, a 220-watt UHP lamp, and motorized zoom/focus controls but with several important improvements such as lens memory, perceivable better light output, contrast ratio and improved 3D performance. Just like most displays, JVC has chosen to go the active-3D route with its projectors, which use frame-sequential technology, in which the projector alternately flashes a full-resolution left and right image. Just like any active-3D approach, it requires active shutter glasses that syncs with the 3D-sync signal emitted by the PK-EM1 signal emitter streets about $80, plus another $150-ish for the glasses…. which by the way are an improvement over last year’s model by being lighter, rechargeable and more compact.
Setup & Features
In its design and build, the DLA-X30 / RS-45 certainly feels very substantial and looks professionally industrial with centre-mount lens that nowadays start to become a rare species regardless the fact that it is the best place to mount the lens. The high-gloss-black finish lends a flair of elegance to distinguish it from its chic industrial design. The lens is mounted in the center of the unit, and two curved ventilation ports run along each side. Buttons for power, input, menu, and navigation are located on the back–next to a connection panel that includes HDMI 1.4a, component video, RS-232, 12-volt trigger, remote control port, and a port to connect the optional 3D signal emitter. The DLA-X30 / RS-45 has a motorized lens cover that automatically opens and closes when you power up and down the projector. The included remote control, just like any JVC projectors is fully backlit and has a clean, logical layout. As per usual you also get dedicated input buttons, as well as direct access to many of the mostly utilized picture controls.
Physical setup was incredibly easy in my home theatre, due to its motorized zoom, focus, and generous lens-shift capabilities with lens memory to boot. This way, should you want to use a Constant Image Height set up, you don’t necessarily have to buy the usually costly anamorphic lens. This CIH lens memory set up used to be the monopoly of Panasonic starting with the oldie PT-AE3000U. This feature alone is enough for anybody to move from Constant Image Width setup to Constant Image Height with 21:9 screen AND buy this new projector, even if they’ve just bought the X3 / RS-40 last year.
I placed the unit on top of my SKB equipment rack about five feet high, directly behind my second row seating area, 14 feet away from my 96-inch-diagonal 1.0 gain Grandview Screen 21:9 CIH screen. Although the DLA-X30 / RS-45 lacks some advanced picture adjustments found in the step-up models, but it produces an excellent out-of-the-box image in its Cinema Mode and provides the essentials to fine-tune the image–beginning with nine picture modes (three of which are user modes). Within each mode, you can choose between 10 preset color-temperature options (from 5500K up to 9500K, plus a high-brightness mode) and access RGB gain and offset controls to fine tune the white balance. There are also a slew of selections for gamma presets and custom options. You can also select the lamp power between between a Normal and High lamp mode and precisely adjust the brightness by adjusting the lens aperture in 15 steps (with 0 being the brightest and -15 being the darkest). The one area where the DLA-X30 is a bit lacking is in color management. There are only Normal, Wide1, and Wide2 colour spaces in which I chose Normal mode for 2D content, as it to produces the most natural-looking colours.
JVC’s 120Hz Clear Motion Drive includes five different options: modes 1 and 2 insert black frames between existing frames to reduce motion blur (but with sacrificing some brightness); modes 3 and 4 use varying degrees of frame interpolation to theoretically reduce motion blur and film judder. Plus an Inverse Telecine mode that is designed to reduce judder by first doing a 3:2 pull down the 60Hz film image back to the original 24 fps and then converting it to 120Hz by doing a 5:5 pulldown. Alternatively you can just leave the CMD control off and the projector simply duplicates frames to get to 120Hz, which is my preference, by the way.
Finally: the 3D setup. As previously mentioned, you need to connect the optional 3D signal emitter to the DLA-X30 / RS-45 to communicate with the glasses. This is an IR-based emitter that has a 10-ft cable which allows you to position it for optimal communication. Quite honestly, I find the cable length to be awkwardly short for a home theatre set up. When you choose to watch a 3D presentation, your default lamp and aperture settings are overridden and set by default to the high lamp mode and brightest lens aperture to improve brightness, which is needed due to the brightness level being compromised by the shutter glasses. It also has a slightly higher colour temperature to compensate for the glasses’ yellowish-green tint. Of course, you can adjust these and other parameters, just as you would with a 2D image and store it in a different user-setting memory. The only function you cannot access is Clear Motion Drive, which is locked in the off position and as a movie purist, you don’t want to run CMD anyway.
Unlike its predecessor, the X30 / RS-45 3D functionality have been dramatically improved to a mind boggling proportions. It now comes with a 2D-to-3D Converter which I find to be rather effective in converting 2D program materials to 3D using technology reportedly derived from JVC’s professional 2D-to-3D converter. Also included are user adjustments for 3D depth and subtitle geometry correction. 3D presentation was also much brighter than previous models through the use of an improved driver that keeps the shutter on the active shutter 3D glasses open longer, thus allowing more light to enter, while at the same time minimising crosstalk. And most importantly, a Crosstalk Canceller to further reduces crosstalk through analysis of the left eye and right eye signals and applying appropriate correction and the ever so important parallax adjustment which allows the user to tailor the 3D image effect.
This was an easy review to do because the DLA-X30 / RS-45 is leaps and bounds better than the predecessor, the X3 / RS-40. Calibrating the projector is also a breeze. It’s relatively easy reach near the SMPTE / ISF / THX target point than most projectors. Less than an hour was utilized to get this projector to near perfect. Black level and contrast are also impressive. Using JVC’s D-ILA technology (JVC’s trademark of LCoS, or Liquid Crystal on Silicon) the projector does not use auto iris, so there’s no limiting or subtle shifting of image brightness and no whirring sound of the auto iris doing its job. With Pioneer Kuro 2008 and Samsung 2011 Blu-ray demo, my standard arsenal of black-level demos, blacks looked wonderfully dark, while bright objects remained bright—resulting an image with wonderful richness and depth, even in 2D mode.
The JVC DLA-X30 / RS-45 is first and foremost an outstanding 2D projector with very filmlike quality unlike most other digital projectors – with very good 3D performance thrown in, although admittedly not as good as the Panasonic PT-AE7000U (but then again the 7000U doesn’t have the filmlike quality in 2D). It’s not suited for someone with an insane screen size with uncontrolled light environment. That should not be a problem because for serious users, you’ll have a light controlled room anyway. Its price, although not cheap, is very affordable and offers an excellent value for true videophiles who are more into accuracy and analog-like film reproduction. The black level is the best I’ve ever witnessed in a projector at this price level and as I previously stated. Even if you’ve just bought the X-3 / RS-40, there are enough improvements here to upgrade.