The Glorious JVC LX-NZ3 4K Laser Projector

UHD is a beautiful thing; a giant screen is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, affordable UHD projector that can properly project UHD content is virtually nonexistent. The reason being is the requirement for DCI-P3 colour space and enough light power to create approximately 30 ftL on a screen larger than 120” is very expensive.

In the world where so many UHD DLP projectors can’t even do REC709, JVC released LX-NZ3, the UHD DLP laser projector that can project full UHD pixel count using DLP shifting technology, surpass the REC709 colour space, 3,000 lumens which is calculated to be able to do 30 ftL at 140” with 20,000 hours of lamp hours lifespan, and most importantly, frame-adapt HDR tone mapping exclusive to JVC projectors (more on this later).

The price in the video is in US $

The physical size of the projector itself is pretty cute for a laser projector which, in most cases, always look like oversized monsters. The 13” X 16” X 5” compact size mated with 14 lbs of weight is serious enough for anybody to feel the seriousness of this projector.

Reviewing this projector is a blast too. Because of the DLP single-chip technology, there is no convergence that needs to be fixed. Unlike other technology (including 3-chip DLP) that requires a convergence to be done to align red, green, and blue into a single white dot all across the screen, there is nothing to be done here as there is only a single beam that a single-chip DLP is dealing with.

As for focusing, the LX-NZ3 features lens shift with a wide ± 60 % vertical, ± 23 % horizontal range, and is equipped with a 1.6x zoom lens that supports a projection distance of 9.8 feet to 15.7 feet for a 100-inch screen. This flexibility allows placement in a wide range of environments without the need for keystone correction, which will degrade image quality. In my home theatre, the setup is 14 feet for 86” 16:9 screen and 96” 2.4:1 screen. Alas there is no lens memory function for this projector so if you’re using a scope screen like I do, you will need to change the zoom and focus and lens shift to move back and forth between the two aspect ratios. For the price range, however, I don’t recall of any current 4K projector that has lens memory for $5,000 or lower.

The use of single-chip DLP also makes the image to be sharp as tack. The only way to make the image sharper is if the Digital Micro-mirror Device chip itself is natively 4K instead of using TRP (eShift-like) technology. However, as there is currently no native single-chip DLP 4K DMD exists at this time; this is the best DLP technology can offer. Quite honestly, unless I do an A/B direct comparison with my native JVC NX7 projector at double the price and/or use a 1-pixel on/off burst pattern from my Murideo pattern generator, I can’t tell the difference between the two. If there is any visible drawback is the rainbow pattern which unless you try to induce it yourself or you’re born with that hypersensitivity (my entire family can see the rainbow-effect at all times to varying degrees). This is not the fault of JVC but inherently part of the single-chip DLP technology’s side-effect.

Black Level
Black levels observed when playing back JVC 8K-mastered UHD Blu-ray is amazing. The inky blacks I experienced were below the black level of any projector below $12,000 I’ve ever observed. This is due to JVC’s use of BLU-Escent Laser Phosphor technology that by using its own dynamic dimming can turn the black levels to actual black nearly to the levels of OLED TVs. With mechanical apertures, there is some delay when adjusting light output but JVC’s laser light source can control light output instantaneously, so dynamic brightness adjustment is possible with little or no delay. By controlling the output of the laser according to the brightness of the scene, the blacks are simply black. Of course improvements still can be done once the laser phosphor can be turned off completely to create absolute black AND using grey screen, but as it stands, it’s near perfect!

High Dynamic Range is the most difficult task for any projector, even for a laser projector. However to combat this, JVC includes its exclusive Adaptive HDR tone mapping, a technology without any equivalent on any projector of any brand. The idea behind Adaptive HDR is because content brightness varies, a fixed setting cannot deliver optimum image quality. JVC‘s new Adaptive HDR solves this by instantly analyzing the peak brightness of each disc’s/source (such as AppleTV 4K) metadata using a JVC/Panasonic collaboration algorithm, and adjusting dynamic range to provide the best possible HDR image. Adaptive HDR works with any HDR10 content, but not on HDR10+ or Dolby Vision HDR. Adaptive HDR adjustments are based on analysis of the input HDR10 metadata signal. As a result, all HDR10 content, regardless of as long as it contains metadata, can be enjoyed with visually greater dynamic range and brighter perceived image quality than any other projector. I watched snippets of The Meg and Aquaman UHD discs and played them back using my Panasonic UB9000 THX Reference UHD Player. The Adaptive HDR preset analyzed the HDR content quite well, as if I was using an actual disc. Renting a couple of movies through iTunes and playing them back using the 4K AppleTV yielded similar results. This is a testament on how effective the Adaptive HDR tone mapping is. I need iterate that other projector brands are only using a single tone mapping curve for any content, not adaptive to the content metadata.

While there are cons on this projector (which product doesn’t?) such as non-true 4K and rainbow effect (both are inherent to DLP technology, not JVC’s fault), there are so many plusses such as 20,000 lamp hours, super bright image, super black blacks and frame adapt HDR tone mapping that tipped the scale to a very positive slant. Add all that to the mere $5,000 in Canadian funds, this projector is absolutely highly recommended to any 16:9 screen users who are not sensitive to the DLP rainbow effect… which makes more than 95 % of the world’s population.