JVC DLA-X5900 D-ILA Projector Review
Improvements ensure this projector remains hard to beat
What is the JVC DLA-X5900?The DLA-X5900 is JVC’s latest entry-level D-ILA projector and it forms part of a new line-up that includes the mid-range X7900 and high-end X9900. The X5900 is essentially an update on the previous X5500, which itself was an update on the original X5000. As before the projector supports 4K but doesn’t use a native 4K panel, instead employing a 1080p panel and JVC’s e-shift technology to deliver a higher resolution image. The X5900 uses the latest version called 4K e-shift5, which employs new algorithms to deliver improved resolution and picture quality. The X5900 supports Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). The X5900 has a claimed brightness of 1,800lm and a claimed native contrast ratio of 40,000:1. The projector sports plenty of useful features including a dynamic iris, a lens memory and a low latency mode for gamers. When you consider it's extensive feature set, the X5900 remains competitively priced at £3,995 as at the time of writing (November 2017). That's the same as the two previous generations, so JVC appear to have resisted the temptation to pass on to consumers the increased production costs due to Brexit. All this means that if the X5900's performance can match its feature-set and price, then this latest addition to the JVC line-up is sure to please enthusiasts.
DesignThe design of the X5900 is the same one that JVC have used on their previous five generations of projectors. So you get a high quality centrally mounted lens and air vents on either side. There’s no motorised lens cover, however the lens controls themselves are motorised and there’s a lens memory feature, making the X5900 very easy to set up. The pixel alignment on our sample was excellent, although should you find there is a slight mis-alignment, you can correct this with the Pixel Adjust function. The lens itself is of a high quality for a projector at this price point and delivered very sharp images. There are some basic indicator lights at the top front left of the projector as you face it, whilst all the other controls and connections are at the rear. The build quality is excellent and the X5900 measures 455 x 179 x 472mm (WxHxD), and weighs in at 15.4kgs. The projector is available in a choice of black or white with a matte finish and silver trim.
It's business as usual in terms of the chassis but it remains attractive and well made
Connections & ControlThere is a set of basic controls at the rear, in case you misplace the remote, along with all the connections. As with the previous two generations of JVC projectors there are two HDMI inputs, an Ethernet port, an RS232 serial connector, a 3D emitter port and a 12V trigger. The RS232 connector and the LAN port can both be used for system control. Unlike many other projector manufacturers, JVC use HDMI 2.0 inputs that can handle transfer rates up to 18Gbps – which means they not only support HDCP 2.2, Wide Colour Gamut and High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma) but they also accept signals up to 4K60p, 4:4:4 and 12-bit.
The included remote control is the same black plastic design that JVC have been using for a while now. It includes a backlight and the buttons are sensibly laid out with keys for selecting the inputs, the Lens Control, Lens Memory and Lens Aperture controls, along with buttons for selecting the Picture Modes and directly accessing many of the calibration and setup features. As with previous generations the remote is comfortable to hold, easy to use with one hand and very effective.
The remote control remains excellent and both HDMI 2.0 inputs are rated at 18Gbps
Features & SpecsIn terms of its features the X5900 certainly impresses, despite not actually using a native 4K panel. In reality the projector uses three 6th generation 0.7” Full HD (1920 x 1080) D-ILA chips but also includes JVC’s 4K e-shift5 technology, which creates a greater perceived level of resolution by shifting each pixel 0.5 pixels diagonally and can also deliver a higher resolution image when receiving a 4K signal. The latest e-shift5 technology employs new algorithms to deliver improved resolution and picture quality compared to previous generations. The X5900 also includes the latest version of the Multiple Pixel Control image processor which has been improved with a new analysis algorithm capable of more accurate diagonal-detection between frames for both Full HD and 4K resolution signals.
The X5900 uses a 265W high output NSH lamp, with a claimed brightness of up to 1,800lm. The claimed contrast ratio is 40,000:1 and, as with previous generations, the JVC includes a user-selectable Intelligent Lens Aperture to deliver a dynamic contrast ratio that is claimed to reach 400,000:1. The X5900 also supports the Rec. 2020 wide colour gamut and High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and HLG). The projector will also automatically switch to the correct HDR picture mode when an HDR10 signal is received. The X5900 includes a Low Latency Mode which suppresses display delay for faster response when receiving signals from PC and game consoles. In addition, when the Low Latency Mode is active, high-bandwidth signals like 4K with 10-bit or 12-bit colour depth can be processed without compression.
Other features on the X5900 include the latest version of JVC’s Clear Motion Drive frame interpolation technology, along with the Motion Enhance feature which the company claims can minimise motion blur significantly by optimising the drive of the D-ILA panels. As with previous generations the X5900 supports active shutter 3D but, if you want to take advantage of this feature, you'll have to buy a 3D pack which includes the PK-EM2 3D synchro emitter and two pairs of PK-AG3 3D glasses. Other useful features include a lens memory control with five memories, which is very useful if you use a 2.35/2.40:1 screen and 143 screen adjustment modes. The Pixel Adjust function allows for precise colour deviation correction in 1/16-pixel increments and also segments the screen into 121 points for individual adjustment. There are two customised settings that can be stored in the memory.
There's an Auto Calibration feature, along with a 6-axis colour management system and a 2-point white balance control. The Auto-Calibration feature requires an optional third-party optical sensor but is capable of optimising essential elements in the image, including colour balance, gamma characteristics, colour space and colour tracking. There is also a 12-point manual gamma adjustment included in the Auto-Calibration software, which can be found on the JVC website and installed on your PC for free. Finally there is an improved Info screen in the menu system that not only shows you more information about the resolution, bit-depth and colour gamut of content that the projector is receiving but also displays the MaxCLL and MaxFALL mastering data available for HDR content on some UHD Blu-ray discs.
The X5900 sports an extensive feature set including a lens memory and low latency mode
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxAside from the expanded Info page, the menu system is still the same, remaining sensibly laid out and easy to navigate with related features grouped together. We ran the bulb in for thirty hours before we began testing and ultimately we chose the Natural Picture Mode and the Standard Colour Profile, along with a Colour Temperature of 7500K and a gamma of 2.4. This combination gave us the most accurate starting point, which the graphs below are based on:
As you can see the greyscale tracking could have been better and there was a deficit of red and a slight excess of both green and blue. This resulted in a slight cyan push to whites but it was very minor, with the DeltaEs (errors) just over the visible threshold. If you choose the 6500K setting instead, you get an excess of red in the greyscale and a slight red push that was more noticeable, so if you don't plan on getting your X5900 calibrated then 7500K is the more accurate option. The gamma was tracking out 2.4 target precisely, so overall this was a decent greyscale performance and very similar to the X5000 we tested previously.The big difference between the X5000 and the X5900 came when we measured the colour gamut against the industry standard of Rec.709. The projector's native colour gamut is much larger than the previous generation, which is great news for HDR but JVC are clearly struggling to rein it in when it comes SDR. In the graph above you can see that most of the colours are over-saturated, green in particular, and as a result images did tend to look a little over-cooked especially in the greens and reds. If JVC want to use a wider colour gamut, they need to be able to still track Rec.709 correctly, as well as Rec.2020. However the luminance of the colours, not shown on the graph above, was very accurate and we doubt most people would really notice the over-saturation and many would probably like a colourful image. The square in the middle of the triangle is D65, which is the industry standard for the colour of white, and you can see that it is slightly skewed towards cyan, which we would expect based on the greyscale measurements. So overall this is a reasonable greyscale and colour gamut performance but there is room for improvement.
The out-of-the-box accuracy could have been better but was improved after calibration
Picture Settings – CalibratedThe X5900 includes extensive calibration controls including a two-point white balance control – for some reason ten-point controls remain a rarity on projectors but it would be nice to see JVC add one. The X5900 also includes a full colour management system (CMS) with controls for hue, saturation and luminance. For those that are interested, JVC also offer an auto-calibration feature that works with a Spyder5 Pro for example and can be quite effective when optimising the greyscale and gamma, although we wouldn't recommend using it to calibrate the colours for reasons that we'll mention in the colour section.
All the measurements below are based on a manual calibration using a Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. For more information on how to correctly set up your Projector, you can take a look at our PicturePerfect Guide.
Since the gamma was already tracking our 2.4 target precisely, it was easy to adjust the greyscale using the two-point white balance control and we quickly had a reference greyscale performance with all the errors at or below one. You could use the auto-calibration feature to handle the greyscale and gamut but it wouldn't be able to deliver graphs that are any more accurate than the ones above.Once we had calibrated the greyscale, the colour temperature of white fell into place exactly and as you can see above the dot is now in the middle of the central square. Although the X5900 does have a colour management system (CMS), calibrating the colour gamut was more difficult than the greyscale. We started by bringing the colour control down by four, which reduced some of the over-saturation and we then used the CMS saturation and hue controls to fine tune the 25 to 75% tracking accuracy. However we were unable to reduce the over-saturation at 100% without seriously impacting the accuracy at 25 to 75% and since an image is more likely to be in this range of saturation, rather than fully-saturated, we feel this is more important. This is the reason why we wouldn't recommend using the auto-calibration control on the colour gamut, because it will calibrate at 100% and as a result the lower saturation points will be hugely under-saturated. Thankfully the luminance accuracy remained very good and after calibration the colour performance was much improved and the benefits of the much larger colour gamut will become apparent in the next section.
The native colour gamut is wide, covering 100% of the DCI-P3 with accurate tracking
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeWe tested the X5900 by sending a 3840 x 2160 24p 10-bit 4:2:2 signal that includes HDR10 metadata and we used the Rec.2020 wide colour gamut, thus replicating the output of an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. When the X5900 detects an HDR signal it automatically goes into the HDR mode, which uses the ST.2084 curve and the Rec.2020 colour gamut. We completely opened the manual iris for HDR and also used the High Lamp mode to get the most dynamic range out of the projector, although it will never be able to deliver the kind of peak brightness seen on an HDR TV.As you can see in the graph above, the greyscale was tracking well and the X5900 delivered an accurate colour temperature compared to D65, which is the industry target for both SDR and HDR. There were errors where the projector's curve rolled off against the PQ target, which it did almost immediately. In testing the projector could still tone map up to 4000nits without clipping, so we suspect the difference in the curves is an effort by JVC to improve the overall brightness of HDR content. The X5000 certainly tracked the PQ EOTF closer when we reviewed that two years ago, so we suspect that the new curve is JVC's response to those who claimed that the earlier projector was too dim with HDR content.
In terms of brightness, we measured the X5900 at 600 lumens in the calibrated SDR mode with the low lamp setting and the manual iris fully closed, along with a maximum brightness of 1000 lumens with the manual iris fully open instead. We also measured the maximum brightness at 1,400 lumens using an HDR signal, with the manual iris fully open and the projector in high lamp mode. All these measurements were taken in a completely black room off a 1:1 unity screen that was 7 feet by 4 feet.In terms of its coverage of the Rec. 2020 colour gamut, the X5900 delivered an excellent 74%, which is a bit higher than the X5000 we reviewed previously. It isn't quite the widest we've measured, the Epson EH-TW7300 managed a massive 78%, but it was enough to cover 100% of DCI-P3 when measured using both xy and uv coordinates. The tracking against Rec. 2020 wasn't too bad either, at least within the limitations of the JVC's native colour gamut.
A display's ability to track against Rec. 2020 isn't actually that important because although material is delivered using that colour gamut, most content is created using the DCI-P3 colour gamut. So what is of greater importance is how the display tracks DCI-P3 within the Rec. 2020 container. As you can see in the graph above, the X5900 did an excellent job and tracked most of the saturation points very well, aside from some minor hue errors in magenta. The tracking was definitely better than the X5000 that we reviewed previously and is also superior to a lot of the competition. The fact that the X5900 can deliver 100% of DCI-P3 without resorting to a filter means that it's also a bit brighter than other projectors with such wide colour gamuts.
JVC DLA-X5900 Video Review
Picture QualitySince the X5900 is essentially a tweaked version of the X5000 that we previously reviewed and use as a reference projector, we had a pretty good idea what to expect in terms of performance and we weren't disappointed. In terms of the contrast ratios on the X5900, we measured the projector in low lamp mode and with the manual iris closed at 20,000:1 and in high lamp mode with the manual iris open the measurement came in at 15,000:1. Although using the dynamic iris control resulted in contrast ratios that ranged from 45,000:1 to 90,000:1 depending on how you set the projector up. These contrast numbers are consistent with the X5000 and since JVC appear to have made no changes in this area that would make sense. Of course to get the best out of the X5900 you really need to use it in a dark room, so if your room has white walls then the JVC will lose its contrast advantage and you might be better off looking at a different brand. The image was also clean with no bright edges, corners or other aberrations but, as is common on JVC projectors, you did occasionally get reflections within the lens – so if there was a bright object on one side of the screen, you might see a reflection on the other side.
The latest version of e-shift worked extremely well, although we struggled to see any actual difference between e-shift4 and e-shift5. They both proved effective at upscaling high definition content, although we would recommend keeping the smoothing and noise reduction controls at zero and just using the enhance control - a setting of three worked for us. The result was a detailed and clean image that had plenty of perceived resolution and didn't appear over-processed, nor did it suffer from unwanted noise or artefacts. The e-shift technology also allows the X5900 to accept a genuine 4K signal and then via diagonal pixel shifting deliver a higher resolution image. This technology has been used by JVC for a few years now, allowing the company plenty of time to fine-tune the performance and e-shift5 certainly did an excellent job with Ultra HD Blu-rays.
JVC added a low latency mode to last year's projectors and this feature is included on the X5900 as well. In fact the projector defaults to the low latency mode this year because JVC feel it not only suppresses display delay for faster response when receiving signals from PCs and game consoles but also allows high-bandwidth signals like 4K with 10-bit or 12-bit colour depth to be processed without compression. We measured the input lag with low latency mode active at 37ms, so the X5900 is certainly a great choice of anyone thinking of big screen gaming. When you engage the low latency mode the Clear Motion Drive (CMD) feature is disabled because the whole idea is to bypass any unnecessary processing. The CMD feature applies frame interpolation to produce smoother motion and whilst it works, we would never use this feature with movies or TV dramas. However it can be useful with sports broadcasts or gaming, although in the case of the latter you'll have to make a choice between a low input lag or smoother motion. There's also a feature called Motion Enhance, which JVC claims can minimise motion blur significantly by optimising the drive of the D-ILA panels. To be honest we tested this feature in both its low and high setting and really couldn't see any difference but since it doesn't introduce smoothing with film-based content, we can't see any reason not to try this feature along with the low latency mode.
In terms of watching standard dynamic range content the X5900 immediately impressed with a detailed and highly natural image. Initially there was a slight cyan tinge to the whites and bit too much saturation but we doubt most people would notice and after calibration, the results were really impressive with accurate colours and a pleasingly bright image. Thankfully the inclusion of a manual iris control means you can adjust the X5900's light output to suit your screen and room but the black floor is slightly elevated compared to other JVC projectors, even with the iris closed right down. However it's still better than the competition and not only are the blacks good on JVC projectors but so is the shadow detail. You also have the option of using the dynamic iris to boost the contrast performance if you prefer. We have always found that JVC's dynamic iris works very well, applying its effects subtly and largely avoiding pumping the brightness or crushing the shadow detail. Although personally we prefer just using the manual iris to adjust the light output to suit our screen and room and then just let the JVC strut its stuff. The X5900 was suitably quiet in operation, although if you listen you can hear the e-shift device, which is physical in nature, actually working. As we would expect the JVC delivered a lovely film-like image and regular test discs like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Moana looked particularly nice with detailed images that really popped. The same was true when it came to streaming video and in shows such as Stranger Things certain scenes in particular looked very impressive in SDR, especially when projected on to the big screen.
When it came to high dynamic range content, the X5900 was a definite improvement on the X5000 but still struggled with the inherent limitations that we associate with all projectors when it comes to HDR. Due to their limited brightness and the manner in which a projected image is delivered, there's no way a projector can produce an HDR performance that can compete with a TV, which will be capable of much brighter specular highlights. However the X5900 was at least able to deliver images that tone mapped correctly and thus didn't clip detail. Despite the elevated black floor with HDR content, the X5900 was still able to deliver improved detail in the darker parts of the image, combined with more detail in the brighter parts that resulted in a picture that could have real impact. We did need to use the High Lamp Control setting, which obviously increased the fan noise, however we weren't normally aware of it when actually watching a film. As a result, a reference Ultra HD Blu-ray like The Revenant looked impressive on the JVC, although a lot of the film takes place in a brightly lit snowy wilderness. This disc was encoded at 1000 nits, which the X5900 had no problems tone mapping without introducing any clipping, and the same was true of a 4000 nits disc like Pan, with no clipping of the sun in the 'Arriving at Neverland' scene. When we moved on to streaming services the results were a bit more mixed with the HDR on a show like Star Trek Discovery looking quite good, whilst we found some of Stranger Things to be a bit on the dark side. The X5900 was able to take full advantage of all the other benefits offered by HDR such as the higher resolution, wider colour gamut and 10-bit video depth, so in some respects we find it makes more sense to strip the HDR metadata (either using a suitably equipped Ultra HD Blu-ray player or an HD Fury). That way you can enjoy all the other benefits of Ultra HD whilst still retaining the kind of contrast performance we expect from a JVC projector. The 10-bit video depth eliminates most banding and the wider colour gamut produces more vibrant and saturated colours, which the JVC was able to render with excellent accuracy.
Although the format is falling out of favour, 3D looks great projected on to a big screen and the X5900 delivered a superb performance in this area. The image certainly benefited from the increased brightness and delivered a 3D performance that was detailed and full of depth, whilst still remaining free of any crosstalk. The 3D in Transformers: The Last Knight looked stunning, with bright images, natural colours, plenty of detail and no annoying crosstalk. The same was true of Moana, where the colourful animation was bursting with depth and detail and, even when watching some 3D torture scenes on the Spears & Munsil test disc, the JVC still passed with flying colours.
Another very accomplished projector from JVC with great performance, features and price
- Excellent black levels
- Impressive dynamic range
- E-shift can be effective
- Supports HDR
- Accurate after calibration
- Great video processing
- Superb 3D images
- Attractive price
- Not native 4K
- Could be more accurate out-of-the-box
JVC DLA-X5900 D-ILA Projector Review
Should I buy one?If you're looking for a high quality projector at a decent price point then the answer is most definitely yes. The X5900 might be a tweaked version of the model that JVC launched two years ago but it remains an excellent performer with an impressive set of features. The design is attractive and the build quality is excellent, whilst the menus and remote make the X5900 easy to set up and operate. There are motorised lens controls and a lens memory, which is sure to please those with Scope ratio screens, whilst the low latency mode means you can use the projector for gaming as well. Other features include auto-calibration, pixel adjust, frame interpolation and a dynamic iris for those who would like to boost the already excellent contrast performance.
The X5900 delivers a fantastic performance with standard dynamic range (SDR) content, with great blacks and contrast ratios, although the increased brightness necessary for high dynamic range (HDR) has raised the black floor slightly compared to other JVC projectors. The colour gamut is also a bit wider and whilst this means the X5900 can deliver 100% of DCI-P3, it also means that JVC struggle to rein in the saturation with Rec.709 content. The out-of-the-box accuracy could have been slightly better but after calibration the projector was able to deliver a reference performance in terms of greyscale and gamma, whilst the colour performance was also generally excellent. When watching SDR content the projector delivered images that were detailed and natural, with a lovely sense of depth and decent motion handling.
When we moved on to HDR content the results weren't always as impressive, with the JVC struggling to deliver images with sufficient brightness in some scenes. The inherent limitations of HDR10 with static metadata, combined with the limited brightness compared to a TV, means that a projector is never going to be ideal for HDR. However the increased resolution, which the latest version e-shift handles very well, coupled with the wider colour gamut and 10-bit video depth do result in some excellent projected images. The format might be falling out of favour these days but the X5900 was a superb performer with 3D, delivering bright, natural and detailed images that were free of crosstalk. Ultimately the JVC DLA-X5900 is a great all-round performer and at £3,999 it should be considered a Best Buy.
What are my alternatives?At a price point of £3,995 the JVC X5900 has very few direct competitors, with projectors like Sony's VPL-VW260ES and the Epson EH-LS10500 really going up against JVC's DLA-X7900.
For the X5900 the main alternative is the superb Epson EH-TW9300, which at a price of £2,999 has to be considered a real bargain. This is an excellent projector that uses LCD panels, instead of the D-ILA panels used by the X5900, but matches the JVC in terms of features and even manages to add a few extra like a motorised lens cover and ISF calibration controls. We do feel that the JVC has the edge in terms of both SDR and 3D content but the Epson just beats the former in terms of HDR content. Like all LCD projectors, the light path of the TW9300 isn't sealed so there is a possibility of dust blobs but aside from that there really isn't a great deal between the two projectors. The JVC does deliver a slightly more film-like image but, at £1,000 less, the TW9300 is very hard to ignore.
The other obvious alternative is the Optoma UHD65 which also retails for £2,999. This is a DLP projector that supports HDR but lacks a wide colour gamut, motorised lens controls or 3D. It can deliver a highly detailed and very bright picture, with some lovely SDR images, but since it's a single chip device it does use a colour wheel and its black levels and contrast performance are poor. However, if your room has white walls then the poor contrast performance of the Optoma is less of an issue, as reflected light will raise the black floor and thus reduce the contrast performance of the JVC. In addition the HDR performance of the UHD65 is good and the price is attractive but make sure you don't suffer from rainbows caused by the colour wheel. Ultimately though if you do decide to go for the JVC DLA-X5900 projector, you're sure to be pleased with your choice.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £3,995.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels9
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money10
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