JVC DLA-X7000B (X7000) D-ILA HDR Projector Review
What is the JVC DLA-X7000?After a gap of two years spent turning JVC into JVC-Kenwood and deciding if projectors were still going to be a viable product line, the DLA-X7000 is the latest mid-range D-ILA E-Shift4 home cinema projector to be released in the UK. At a time of major flux and upheaval in the consumer electronics business with regards to new features like HDR, wider colour spaces, 10bit video, HDMI2.0a, HDCP2.2 and 4K Ultra HD resolution, the X7000 offers its own unique take on each and enables the end user to stay relevant and as future-proofed as you can be right now in January 2016. We've already reviewed the entry-level DLA-X5000 which can be picked up for just £3,999 and the higher-end X7000 currently retails for an equally tempting £5,699, especially when compared to the competition.
The design section of this review is going to be short on originality as the same chassis from the previous four generations is used to clothe new internal improvements that slightly increase the lumens count, introduce new wider colour spaces and the ability to playback High Dynamic Range (HDR) content. Add to this the return of features like lens memory functionality, excellent video processing, THX certification for 2D and 3D video along with ISFccc controls and those stunning blacks, and then take £2000 off the price compared to the outgoing mid-range machine and you have our full undivided attention. The competition is out there with native 4K machines from Sony in the guise of the VW320ES and VW520ES but is resolution really the be all and end all? Can the X7000 offer a mature stopgap in a turbulent market with the latest must-have features and brightness without compromising its legendary black levels and cinematic images? Lets find out…
If it ain't broke...
Design, Connections and ControlAs we said in the opening of the review, the JVC X7000 uses the same chassis as the previous four generations with a gloss black finish being your only colour option. The lens remains centrally mounted with an electric sliding cover to protect against dust when not in use and the air vents are situated at either side. There are four adjustable feet at each corner of the unit to help with levelling when table or stand mounted and around the back we have the connections and controls.
The X7000 has two HDMI 2.0a HDCP2.2 compatible inputs situated at the top left side of the back panel. Also present is the 3D emitter jack and a 12V trigger along with an RS232 control and a LAN port. To the right of these connections are basic menu buttons for accessing the projector should you lose the remote control. The remote has had an upgrade this year with some new button selections for the lens memory menu page and two saved memories and the picture mode area is cut down to offer more direct access keys to picture settings. In the centre the directional and OK keys remain for navigation with the menu and back/return keys underneath and the backlight key top right. Like previous generations of the remote it does still feel plastic to the touch, but it has a nice weight and sits easily in the hand allowing easy reach to most keys.
The big question has to be whether native 4K is really the be all and end all...
FeaturesAlthough it has been a long two years since we last saw a mid-range JVC D-ILA machine the company have not taken the easy route of just releasing a slightly tweaked X700. Instead we get an attempt to introduce a genuinely wider colour space that gets closer than ever to the DCI-P3 gamut used for digital cinema delivery. It also offers compatibility with HDR10 High Dynamic Range material, like the soon to be launched Ultra HD Blu-ray format, along with two 18Gbps HDMI2.0a inputs with HDCP2.2 copy protection for UHD material. The projector will also accept 10bit video signals at 4:4:4 and also processes video at 12bits to reduce even further the instances of gradation errors.
E-shift4 is also a refinement of previous generations offering a 0.5 pixel shift to up perceived resolution from the 1080p panel to 3840 x 2160 whether it is Blu-ray or native 4K material being fed in to the DLA-X7000. We ran a number of side-by-side tests with the X7000 and the native Sony VPL-VW520ES 4K projector to see if the differences in resolution are really a major issue at reasonable seating distances from the screen. We’ll cover that in more detail below.
With HDR compatibility also comes a new bulb and more lumens output to make the X7000 brighter and expand its dynamic range. It also means that the black floor in high lamp and full iris open settings is raised, but set the projector up for a bat cave environment and close down the iris and you get back to better dynamic range and better ANSI contrast with no lift in black details or gamma performance. As it’s a new bulb we put around 40 hours on the sample from arrival (it was a brand new sealed retail production unit) and we recorded no obvious dimming of the bulb in that time which is good news.
Like previous mid-range generations of the JVC it comes with full THX certification for both 2D and 3D playback, with THX picture presets within the image menus for both. It is also ISFccc certified and contains a full Colour Management System (CMS) with full 3D 6-axis control and 2-point white balance and gamma selection menus. We also see the return and slight tweaking of the lens memory functionality with two new remote control keys to directly access the first two saved memories.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsThe DLA-X7000 and DLA-X9000 are THX certified and as such come with picture presets that attempt to get close to industry standards for Rec.709 playback of HD material. These modes are fairly close, but are also restricted to basic control set up options like brightness and contrast, with advanced settings greyed out. This is because the preset is programed by THX to reach a certain deltaE error value and attempt to be accurate for white balance and gamma. As such it is a very useable setting that would keep most normal viewers happy. However, it is possible to get slightly more accurate with some other selections out-of-the-box. In this case we selected USER 1 as the picture mode and selected Standard for the colour profile with a Colour Temp of 7500 (which was closer than the 6500 selection) and a gamma of 2.4 and then set brightness and contrast for the room with a closed down Iris.
As a result of these settings we obtained very accurate out-of-the-box images. As you can see the greyscale (top left) is tracking quite well with just an excess of blue and slight reduction of green and red in the brighter reaches of the scale, but this is not visible on screen with the vast majority of content. The gamma is also tracking flat and around the reference of 2.4 with deltaE errors all 3 and under, which is very good indeed. The standard colour profile also provides excellent out-of-the-box accuracy to the colour gamut (top right) with just slight errors at 100% saturation and some hue issues spoiling things a tad. However, as an out-of-the-box set up we doubt the vast majority of viewers would notice any of the errors without a reference point next to the image for comparison, and as such, we think the out-of-the-box accuracy is very good indeed.
Calibrated ResultsTo calibrate the image we used the USER 1 picture mode but with the Reference colour profile in place of the standard profile. The reason for this is that the reference selection is wider than the Rec.709 gamut, especially at the important Green area, so we can use the Colour Management System (CMS) to bring this back to the desired points. This does mean that we will be looking for the CMS to work correctly at all saturation points.
We started by correcting the greyscale (top left) and gamma to get reference results with no visible errors at all. DeltaE errors were all under 1 which is well below the visible threshold and that was proven on screen with no colour casts visible. Using the CMS it was also possible to get the very nice looking CIE chart with 100% results all bang on for the primary and secondary points. However, as we have mentioned in depth on numerous occasions having nice graphs is not the target of any review or test, it is all about image accuracy and fidelity and here the JVC fails to produce the same results in the more visible 75% saturation levels and below. The built-in CMS is not accurate in mapping the saturation tracking of the colours and as such it under saturates everything at 75% and below. As this is usually the level the vast majority of our content plays back at, images are undersaturated onscreen. It is something that has been fed back to JVC on a number of occasions now and we hope they will look at it again and fix the issue. We had no such problems with the Sony CMS on the VW520ES so it is possible to get it right.
As a result of the CMS issues we went back through the colour profiles to find the best match for all saturation points under 100% (because hardly anything on screen is ever a make-up of 100% saturation of any primary or secondary colour). We eventually decided on the Standard profile (top left) because it may have had some saturation and hue errors at 100%, but from 75% and under it was the most accurate. So we would recommend this solution if you don’t have an outboard 3DLUT device, as it gets things almost bang on where it matters and the slight errors are in areas not that noticeable to the eye.
We also finally had a brief look at the future and the DLA-X7000 should be able to match the likely DCI-P3 colour gamut that will be available on some future Ultra HD 4K content with (and without) HDR. As we don’t have any mastered material it is difficult to say just how accurate the gamut performance will be and we didn’t measure anything under 100% saturation, but looking at the result we did achieve (top right) the X7000 certainly gets to 90% of the coverage of the DCI gamut and the primary and secondary points get somewhere close to tracking correctly. We will test this is more detail when Ultra HD Blu-ray becomes available and we get both the Sony and JVC back in for an updated look.
Picture QualityLet’s start with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and the lack of available clips that can be played with metadata via outboard media players. We have no doubt that as time moves on we will get more content we can play and players that use HDMI2.0a, but as it stands we have two clips without metadata we can get our media players to play back. These are the Fox TV research fire clip and the Odaibna Sony CineAlta footage. As neither have metadata and the X7000 has no menu options to switch on any HDR mode, the clips play back without any HDR mode engaged. There is a gamma selection suitable for HDR material, as described in the user manual, but even so, it didn’t manage to give us the HDR performance expected. This is not the fault of JVC or the projector but rather the mess we find ourselves in at this time regarding HDR content and stand-alone media players. JVC however could help things along for non-metadata material by adding a HDR mode option like the Sony VPL-VW520ES.
As discussed in the Sony VW520 review, we ran both projectors side-by-side for some testing of the native 4K capabilities of the Sony versus the E-shift4 (3840 x 2160) of the X7000. We are the only UK review site to have done this so far. In terms of resolution and sharpness from a normal viewing distance of 8ft (from a 110” scope screen) with upscaled Blu-ray there is no visible difference between the two in terms of resolution. The differences seen in the two images are caused by other attributes like gamma and colour reproduction. Even with native 4096 x 2160 content there is very little difference with the Sony just slightly edging it in the sharpness stakes - it’s certainly not a night and day difference as some would have you believe and as said, other attributes are more prevalent. The E-shift4 technology is very impressive and certainly doesn’t handicap the X7000 in a head-to-head with the native Sony.
Genuine 4K material looks crisp, sharp and highly detailed and thanks to excellent gamma performance there is a solid depth to images as well. Colour reproduction using the standard gamut is also superb with no sense of undersaturation which is seen in the calibrated Reference mode. It is about time that JVC introduced a fix for the otherwise excellent CMS system so that it doesn’t automatically undersaturate the primary colours at 75% and below. Using the standard colour profile we get excellent saturation performance and a nice balance to pictures, even with strong primaries in the image. I have lost count how many times I have watched the Canada 4K footage and obviously know it like the back of my hand having colour corrected it personally, so it was fantastic to see the JVC play it back with superb colour and good sharpness. The lens on the X7000 has no issues resolving detail and the sharpness is excellent. The X7000 gave the Sony a tough fight with both neck-and-neck in many areas and the JVC standing out in two areas in particular - dynamic range and black levels.
JVC are famous for their black levels and above black detail in the shadows, providing an extremely cinematic image with plenty of depth and punch. Even with the increased brightness of the X7000 this year, set up correctly in a bat cave room like ours and the iris closed down, contrast was excellent and blacks remained deep and fluid like. The Sony VW520 may have upped its game in this department this year and competes well against the JVC - but the X7000 is just that bit better again. The scene from Jurassic World with the Raptors having their chat with the Indominus Rex in the darkness of the forest highlights the low light performance of the projector. Detail is easily visible in the darkest of the shadows with skin texture on the creatures and the bark of the trees standing out. The depth of the image is almost three dimensional in nature and while it was great on the VW520, it looked that little bit better on the JVC.
Our other favourite demo scene from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Caesar’s close up and slow pull out with the rain and thunder) just takes on a real cinematic gloss on the JVC with superb shadow detail and a strong sense of depth to the image, helped even more by the shallow depth of field in some of the focus pulls during the scene. Colours are muted, yet genuinely realistic. We have seen some cheaper displays struggling with the green moss, so much so that it looks luminous. Here there is an accurate gradation of green to the various trunks covered with moss, that while it is just a small part of the image, it adds to the realism of the surroundings full of CG monkeys. Detail also remains excellent for this upscaled Blu-ray image without any back door noise reduction or processing going on. Motion is also very good even with CMD and the new blur reduction feature switched off. Image blur is natural within the source with no induced blur or judder from the X7000. Watching clips from Lawrence of Arabia on Blu-ray projected by the JVC onto our 110” scope ratio screen at 2.20:1 has us wondering why we are all clamouring for the next big thing, when we actually don’t have it bad at all right now with images like this. But then again we wouldn’t have the progress of not being able to play new format HDR content and so on…
And to wrap up on the subject of new formats and the compatibility issues we noticed - when fed an Ultra HD signal from the Fire TV box via Amazon Prime or Netflix the screen would go blank for a few seconds as it switched to 3840 x 2160/24p and when the image returned it did so with CMD frame interpolation on full, even when in the menus CMD would be showing as off. This is clearly a bug as we were able to switch CMD on and the off again to clear the issue and turn off interpolation. We have fed this back to JVC. Also note that when switching to 3D mode the exact same thing happens.
Talking about 3D we found that the X7000 offers a pretty convincing image that is fairly accurate colour wise in THX-3D mode and with reasonable brightness. There are instances of crosstalk visible from time to time and some blur in some backgrounds and with fast motion. But overall, if you still value 3D playback quality the JVC puts in a very good shift with just a few slight niggles here and there.
Finally there have been some reports of bright corners noticeable on the X7000 and other JVC models this year, from users on various forums. We could see bright corners on our review sample when the projector was performing its hand shake routine and it displays a blank black screen (in a complete bat cave cinema room with the lights off). Each corner had a splodge of lighter black which was noticeable. However once the hand shake was complete and an image appeared on screen, even very dark scenes (and when zoomed for 2.40:1 on a scope screen) we didn't see these bright corners at all. Checking with Steve who reviewed the DLA-X5000 brings back the same results, so it is something to check for if you purchase a unit to see if it is visible during playback of material. We didn't see it during normal playback, but a small number of reports online suggest that some units might be worse than others. Speak to your dealer if you are concerned and ask to check the unit you propose to buy. During handshake it's fine, but during playback it could be an issue if you can see it.
JVC X7000 Video Review
- Excellent black levels and shadow detail
- Superb cinematic images
- Good motion and video processing
- Excellent greyscale tracking
- Good future proofing with 18Gbps HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compatibility
- HDR Ready
- Wide colour space for future formats
- Excellent value for money
- Not native 4K
- CMS needs to be fixed to stop undersaturation when used
- No HDR on/off override
JVC DLA-X7000B (X7000) D-ILA HDR Projector ReviewThere is no doubt that the DLA-X7000 is once again a great projector from the company that doesn’t fail to impress with it’s cinematic images, strong black levels and stunning detail. We are also not convinced that it really misses out in the resolution stakes either with E-shift4 vs native 4K at normal viewing distances. We are the only UK review site to have performed this test so far this year and it is not as night-and-day as some would have you believe. Although a native 4K machine with even more improvements would be welcomed from JVC at some point. We will also have to wait to fully test the X7000 with the next generation Blu-ray format when it gets here, but the signs are promising for some benefits of wider colour gamuts and the JVC should be capable of getting close to DCI-P3. HDR also shows promise and while projectors will never get to the full capabilities of a flat panel TV in obtaining 30% screen coverage brightness over 500nits, the fact is that like OLED the strengths of D-ILA are the excellent black floor and dynamic range available in the right environments, so HDR should still offer excellent dynamics and punch to images, when it eventually works.
With native 4K material and streamed 4K video the performance is once again superb with excellent colour reproduction right out of the box and stunning sharpness. Motion is good for a D-ILA projector with no induced judder or unnatural blur and, despite a bug when feeding 4K signals that sets CMD on by default, the Blur reduction and CMD can be fully defeated. 3D performance is also strong for those still interested in the format, with only some slight crosstalk and blur seen now and again. Upscaled Blu-ray also looks stunning with no signs of back door noise reduction or processing getting in the way of the image quality. Also when set up correctly in the best out-of-the-box settings (or calibrated) we didn’t see any of the issues of video noise reported by some users online. In fact we are struggling to find much to complain about with the X7000, including the price which is around £2,000 cheaper than the X700 model it replaces in the line-up. Add in the fact that it should be able to make the new UHD Blu-ray format look good with wider colour gamuts and HDR and that it holds it’s own against the £8,800 native 4K Sony VW520ES in resolution terms, it becomes a bit of a Best Buy in our eyes.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £5,699.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels9
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value For Money9
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