This year, however, things are very different with the £3,000 and below price point now filled with projector manufacturers jockeying for position. Already this year we have seen a number of excellent budget 3D projectors, including the Sony VPL-HW30 the Panasonic PT-AT5000 and the Optoma HD83, all of which have been aggressively priced. In fact Optoma have recently smashed the price barrier for budget 3D projection with their remarkable HD33, which has a retail price of only £1,350.
JVC are clearly aware of the competition and so this year they have been equally aggressive on their pricing, with the DLA-X30 retailing for £2,999, which once again includes two pairs of JVC's new active shutter glasses and an emitter. To reach this price point JVC has dropped some minor features such as the motorised lens cover but they have also included some new features such as a lens memory function. Overall though the DLA-X30 appears to be very similar, in terms of specifications, to last year's DLA-X3 which, for its time, was an excellent projector. However, a year is a long time in the consumer electronics business and 3D performance in particular has shown remarkable improvements, especially when it comes to crosstalk reduction. So the question is, in a crowded market place and at such a competitive price point, can the DLA-X30 deliver the kind of performance we have come to expect from JVC?
Design and Features
Otherwise the layout of the chassis is identical to the DLA-X3, with the lens centred at the front and flanked by exhaust vents. Whilst at the rear of the chassis are the intake vents, the power socket and the other connections. Since the DLA-X30 uses the same chassis as last year's model, it remains quite a large projector with a reasonably big foot print and bulk to go with it. The dimensions measure (W x H x D) 455mm x 179mm x 472mm and the weight is a hefty 14.9kg, so whilst the DLA-X30 might be JVC's entry level projector it still exudes an impressive level of build quality. The DLA-X30 also includes the same 220W UHP mercury lamp as last year, which has a rated lumens of 1,300 and no doubt much of the projector's size is related to cooling. However, despite all this brightness, size and cooling, the DLA-X30 - like its predecessor - remains impressively quiet; we measured an NC reading of 24 in Cinema mode which is below the threshold of 25 for a THX certified home theatre.
The DLA-X30 utilises three 0.7” Full HD D-ILA panels as well as a high performance 2x zoom lens within a large diameter all-glass lens system with 17 elements in 15 groups including 2 ED (extra-low dispersion) lenses. There is a motorised focus, zoom and shift feature which allows for flexible installation with a +/-80% vertical and +/34% horizontal powered lens-shift function. The DLA-X30 also includes the latest version of their optical engine resulting in a claimed native contrast ratio of 50,000:1, as well as the latest version of JVC’s Clear Motion Drive. Of course the DLA-X30 also includes 3D capability, which it achieves using the frame sequential method combined with an external emitter and JVC's latest active shutter glasses.
The rear connections of the DLA-X30 include two HDMI v1.4a inputs and a component video input using RCA plugs. There is also a 12v trigger, a remote terminal for connecting to an external light receiver, an RS-232C control port for custom installation and a 3D Synchro terminal for connecting the DLA-X30 to the PK-EM1 external 3D emitter. However, the DLA-X30 now includes a LAN socket for network control, a feature which was only on the DLA-X7 and DLA-X9 last year. Also, at the rear, you will find the connector for the power cable and some basic controls including Standby/On, Input, OK, Menu, Back and Up/Down/Left/Right. Finally, although it isn't mentioned anywhere in the menu, there is a small panel at the rear that can be removed to provide access to a mini-USB socket for firmware updates.
The DLA-X30 uses the same style of remote control as last year and since we rather liked that remote we're equally as impressed this year. The remote is slim and light, with a black soft rubber feel that is comfortable in the hand and it includes a backlight for use in the dark. We found the remote easy to use and the buttons are sensibly positioned. The choice of buttons is similar to the remote that came with the DLA-X3 but there are a few minor differences, the most obvious of which is the addition of the Lens Memory button. There are also new buttons for 3D Format and 3D Settings but the DLA-X30 now has only one User mode as opposed to the three that were on the DLA-X3.
As part of the package the DLA-X30 comes with the same PK-EM1 3D emitter as last year and two pairs of JVC’s new PK-AG2 active shutter glasses. The emitter itself is connected to the previously mentioned 3D Synchro terminal at the rear and thus provides greater flexibility for installation. The emitter is quite small so it can be comfortably placed on the top of the DLA-X30 and it can be easily directed so that you can bounce the IR signal off the screen, thus producing effective IR coverage over a wide area. Whilst this approach means that you are unlikely to suffer from a loss of sync, you might experience some issues with the emitter swamping other IR controls, although we had no such problems ourselves.
The DLA-X30 comes with two pairs of JVC's new PK-AG2 active shutter glasses and unfortunately we weren't as impressed with the new design, preferring the older PK-AG1s. The earlier JVC glasses are actually re-badged XpanD X103 glasses and as such we found them to be extremely effective due to their large and neutral coloured lenses, as well as the wide frames and sides which fitted comfortably over regular glasses and blocked out any ambient light. Their only downside was that they were a little on the heavy side and could become uncomfortable after a couple of hours. The new design addresses this with a much smaller and lighter frame but in doing so we found the build quality to be quite fragile and it was less easy to wear them over regular glasses. We also felt that the lenses, themselves, had a slight brown tinge to them and were smaller, thus providing a reduced field of view. Due to the smaller frame, the sides were also less effective at blocking out any ambient light. In another retrograde step, the glasses need to be turned on, whilst the previous design just turned on automatically when they detected an IR signal. However on the plus side the new glasses are rechargeable via USB, whereas the previous design required batteries.
Menus and Setup
The menu system on the DLA-X30 is exactly the same as the one used on last year’s models which is good thing as JVC’s implementation is excellent; it is sensibly laid out, intuitive to use and easy to read. There are six main pages within the menu hierarchy, Input Signal, Installation, Display Setup Function, Information and Picture Adjust.
The Input Signal menu allows you to adjust settings for HDMI, COMP, Picture Position, Aspect (Video), Mask and Progressive. The HDMI option includes a setting for the dynamic range with the default setting at Standard and a setting for Colour Space which should be left on the default setting of Auto. There is also the 3D Setting sub-menu which is new for the DLA-X30 and provides controls for 3D Format selection, 2D to 3D Conversion (which was not available on the DLA-X3), Parallax control, Crosstalk Cancel, Intensity and Sub Title Adjust.
The Installation menu gives you access to the Lens Control, Pixel Adjust, Installation Style, Keystone, Anamorphic, Screen Adjust and Black Level. The Installation Style relates to whether the projector is at the front, rear or on the ceiling and the Pixel Adjust function allows you to adjust each colour by increments of one pixel in cases of mis-convergence. As it happens on our review sample the three colours were perfectly aligned but since pixel alignment can often be a lottery at this price point, it can be a useful function in cases where they aren't. As mentioned previously, the Keystone function is best avoided; we left the Black level at zero and Anamorphic adds horizontal and vertical stretch for use with an anamorphic lens. The Screen Adjust setting is designed to optimise the DLA-X30 with different types of screen, in order to do this correctly you will need to select the code that relates to your screen, which you can find on the JVC website.
The Lens Control sub-menu includes controls for the Focus, Zoom and Shift, although these can also be accessed directly from the remote control. There is also the Lens Memory which is a new feature on the JVC line-up and allows owners of 2.35:1 screens to create different settings depending on the content. Since we had a 2.35:1 screen in our review room, we were able to take advantage of this feature, creating two settings - 1.78:1 and 2.35:1; although you can create a total of three. After you have adjusted a particular setting you save it to the Lens Memory which remembers the amount of zoom, shift and focus used to create that setting. Once you have saved a particular Lens Memory, you can also name it - if you so wish - and then you just select your required ratio and the DLA-X30 automatically changes to it. Unlike with Panasonic's PT-AT5000, you can change the Lens Memory setting quite happily whilst watching both 2D and 3D content.
We have been asking for this feature for a couple of years and now that JVC have finally included a Lens Memory we feel churlish complaining. However, there are a couple of issues we would like to point out, firstly make sure that when creating a setting you do it as smoothly and with as few moves as possible. This is because the Lens Memory will remember all the moves in the chain and repeat them rather than just remember a starting and finishing point and go directly between the two. As a result it can look quite comical if the grid is zooming and shifting all over the place before finally reaching its destination. Secondly, once the new setting has been reached you are asked if you wish to make any further adjustments. If you choose 'yes' you can then adjust as necessary but if you choose 'no' you end up back in the Lens Control sub-menu which you then have to exit - why not just exit entirely when you select 'no'?
The Display Setup menu allows you to adjust the Back Colour, Menu Position, Menu Display, Line Display, Source Display, Logo and Language. All these controls can be left in their default setting unless you have a strong need to change the location of the menu itself or not see the 'D-ILA' logo when you turn the DLA-X30 on.
The Function menu allows you to control the Trigger, the Off Timer, the High Altitude Mode and the Lamp Reset. There are also controls for selecting the Communication Terminal, as well as the Network and the remote code. Finally the Information menu shows you which Input is being used, what the Source is, whether there is Deep Colour, the Lamp Time and the Software Version.
The Picture Adjust menu contains all the controls relating to the image and includes obvious ones such as Picture Mode, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint, Colour Temperature and Gamma selection. Of the various Picture Modes available we found Cinema to be the best choice for 2D movie watching and 3D to be the best for 3D movie watching. Initially we left the Contrast, Brightness, Colour and Tint controls at zero and selected 6500K for the Colour Temperature and Normal for the Gamma. In addition there is a two point White Balance control for calibrating the colour temperature, which can be accessed by selecting Custom 1-3.
The greyscale performance was actually pretty good for an out-of-the-box setting, with all three primary colours tracking in a straight line with red tracking around 5% above the target and blue tracking around 5% below. These differences resulted in the DeltaEs (errors) measuring mostly below 5 with the exception of 80 to 100IRE which were a little higher. These errors were causing slight visible discolouration on a stepped greyscale but this wasn't especially noticeable with actual content. The gamma and luminance performance was very good, with the gamma itself measuring between 2.1 and 2.2 compared to our target of 2.2. Overall this is a very good out-of-the-box performance and given that the DLA-X30 has controls for greyscale and gamma, we should be able to produce a reference performance after calibration.
The out-of-the-box colour performance was also quite good and, with the exception of blue, all of the overall DeltaEs measured below 5 and most below the target threshold of 3. The most important area is the luminance (brightness) of colours because this is the element our eyes are most sensitive to. The DLA-X30 is showing reasonably accurate luminance measurements, with the exception of blue which is under saturated. However, as you can see on the CIE Chart, blue is the smallest part of the visible spectrum and thus our eyes are less sensitive to errors in that colour. Conversely green makes up the largest part of the visible spectrum and thus our eyes are most sensitive to errors in that colour, thankfully the greens on the DLA-X30 are reasonably accurate. Although the DLA-X30 doesn't have a Colour Management System (CMS) we should be able to improve the colour accuracy by calibrating the greyscale and using the colour and tint controls.
Since the three primary colours were all tracking in straight lines, it was a fairly simple task to calibrate the greyscale and the results speak for themselves. The DeltaEs are now all below 1 and as such this is an absolutely reference greyscale performance. The same is true of luminance and gamma, both of which are now measuring exactly at our targets. If you so wished, you could use the gamma controls to move the curve itself from 2.2 up to 2.4, which would darken the image and is often used as a setting when the projector is in a completely black environment. Overall, whichever setting you choose, this is an absolutely reference performance from the DLA-X30.
Quite often people don't appreciate the impact that the greyscale has on the colour performance of a display. If the greyscale is not accurate it will introduce discolouration which in turn will affect the overall colour performance. By accurately calibrating the greyscale we were immediately able to improve the colour accuracy of the DLA-X30 and with the exception of blue, all the primary and secondary colours now had overall errors that were less than 3, which is largely imperceptible to the human eye. The luminance performance remained the same but we improved the colour performance, so now aside from some over saturation in the colour of yellow and a lack of luminance in blue, the performance of both luminance and colour were very good. There were still some errors in hue which we tried to reduce using the tint control, which is essentially a global hue control that rotates the entire triangle to the left or right. Whilst some errors in the hue measurements remained, they were minimal and with actual viewing material the colour performance looked very good with a nicely accurate image overall. However, despite the generally accurate colour performance of the DLA-X30, it is surprising that JVC still don't include a CMS when the majority of their competitors do at this price point.
The DLA-X30’s was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the DLA-X30 also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format as well as the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. The DLA-X30 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, the text was always clearly readable without any shredding.
The DLA-X30 performed superbly in the tests on the HQV Blu-ray using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the DLA-X30 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests and showed excellent scaling and filtering performance, as well as good resolution enhancement. With 1080i material the DLA-X30 had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems.
As we mentioned in the section on menus, the default setting for HDMI is Standard where the video levels are set to 16 to 235 but - as the name suggests -this was clearly clipping peak white from 235 to 255. There is an option called Enhanced where the video levels are set from 0 to 255. This brings back peak white but also shows black detail below video level black (16) which we don’t want either. There is a final option called Super White which is intended to provide video levels from 16 to 255 which would be ideal. Using our S&M test disc we could see that there was detail up to video level 255 and nothing below video level 16, so we would recommend choosing this option.
Finally there is JVC’s Clear Motion Drive (CMD) which is their attempt to create additional frames using frame interpolation and thus improve motion and detail. Features like this are very much a matter of personal taste but as video purists we are not fond of them and wish manufacturers would stop including them on their products. In general all that features like the CMD do, is ruin the film like quality of movies and make them look like video; our advice is to leave it off. Having said that, if you watch a lot of fast moving sports, shot on video, then the CMD function can come in useful to improve the motion handling. There is one other useful function within the CMD controls and that is Inverse Telecine. This function uses 2:3 pull down on film material encoded at 60Hz in order to reproduce the original 24p frame capture and thus reduce judder. If you have a large collection of NTSC DVDs you might find this feature on the DLA-X30 useful.
Picture Quality - 2D
As is always the case, an accurate greyscale and gamma forms the backbone of any good image and here the DLA-X30 delivered in spades. In addition, as we have come to expect from JVC, the DLA-X30 has beautiful deep blacks that just wipe the floor with the competition. These blacks help create a base for wonderfully rich and fluid images that have plenty of shadow detail and a gorgeous film-like quality. The other advantage to the deep blacks is that although the DLA-X30 is the brightest projector out there, its dynamic range is truly impressive and the native contrast is achieved without resorting to any dynamic iris trickery. Of course to truly appreciate the DLA-X30's superb blacks you really need to be using it in a light controlled environment; if you use it in a room with white walls and ceiling then the blacks will be washed out - robbing the DLA-X30 of one of its greatest assets.
Thanks in part to the perfectly aligned pixels, the level of detail with high definition content was remarkable and thanks to the excellent video processing, even standard definition content looked impressive on the DLA-X30. Motion handling has always been the weakest area when it comes to D-ILA panels but thanks, in part, to the excellent video processing, the motion handling of the DLA-X30 was also very good and there was very little of the smearing that sometimes accompanies camera pans.
The generally good colour accuracy was also evident and whilst anyone used to watching a perfectly calibrated colour gamut might be able to spot minor errors, it is unlikely that most people would see anything amiss. In fact the colour performance was probably a slight improvement on the DLA-X30, with skin tones and the grass and sunflowers on the Spears & Munsil demo footage all looking very natural. Overall, most people should be very happy with the colour performance of the DLA-X30, despite the lack of a CMS and combined with everything else, there is no doubt that in terms of 2D performance, JVC remains the industry leader at this price point.
Picture Quality - 3D
Given the exceptional quality of the DLA-X30's 2D images, we would expect equally impressive 3D images and we certainly got that. Using the 3D setting on the projector the resulting images were wonderfully detailed and despite our concerns over the tint to the new glasses we found the colours to be reasonably accurate. As with the 2D performance, motion handling isn't really D-ILA's strong point but once again we found the general motion handling in 3D to be very good, with no excessive smearing on camera pans and the sense of depth maintaining its integrity. Obviously the review sample was brand new, so the bulb was performing at full brightness and in 3D mode at high power the 3D images had plenty of punch. In fact we were able to close the iris down to its minimum settings and still enjoy impressively bright 3D images.
All of this is largely in line with the DLA-X3 but where the DLA-X30 shows significant improvement was in terms of crosstalk. We often use the menu screen from Despicable Me because its bright white background and characters in extreme negative and positive parallax are a crosstalk torture test. The DLA-X30 performed better here than the DLA-X3, even without being warmed up and certainly handled the 3D as well as any of the competition. The 3D Blu-ray of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is exceptional, with some absolutely brilliant 3D photography and on the DLA-X30 it looked simply stunning. The 3D was rendered with a wonderful and largely crosstalk free sense of dimensionality and the level of detail within the frame was jaw dropping at times. Once you add in the superior image quality, the result was a 3D experience that was genuinely immersive.
Whilst the new glasses certainly worked well in conjunction with the DLA-X30, the improved performance didn't appear to be a result of the glasses themselves, despite JVCs claims that they have been optimised for use with the new projectors. We actually swapped between the new glasses and the old style whilst watching POTC: OST and there was no visible difference in performance, aside from a more noticeable tint on the new glasses. Certainly both types of glasses were capable of synching without any issues and the resulting 3D looked artefact and crosstalk free whichever pair wereused. This is good news if you are thinking of switching your DLA-X3 for a DLA-X30 and already have a few pairs of the older style of glasses, which in all honesty we still prefer.
The DLA-X30 also includes a 3D menu that is new to this year's models and allows for greater optimisation of 3D performance, if needed. We tried the various settings but found that they didn't really make much difference to the 3D performance and we largely left them off, centred or zeroed. In addition, JVC have now included a 2D to 3D conversion feature and whilst we remain sceptical of this technology on any display, we did note that JVC's implementation is better than most, resulting in a 3D image that actually bears some scrutiny and is free of any gross errors.
There is no question that the 3D performance of the DLA-X30 is certainly better than the DLA-X3 and at least as good as the current competition, resulting in detailed, beautifully rendered, crosstalk free and immersive 3D pictures.
- Industry leading black levels at this price point
- Excellent dynamic range and contrast ratio
- Reference greyscale performance when calibrated
- Excellent out of the box greyscale performance
- Superb 2D images with a very ‘filmic’ look
- Bright images, even in 3D mode
- Excellent 3D performance
- Excellent video processing
- Lens memory a welcome addition
- Clear Motion Drive can be turned off
- Full anamorphic control for an external lens
- Inclusion of a 12v trigger terminal
- RS232 and LAN system control
- Well designed remote and menu system
- Excellent build quality
- No industry standard (Rec.709) preset
- No Colour Management System
- Lens Memory implementation is a little clunky
- Design of the new glasses might need a rethink
JVC X30 DILA 3D Projector Review
The DLA-X30 is definitely a case of evolution rather than revolution and is essentially a refined version of last year's DLA-X3. However this is certainly not a criticism, as the DLA-X3 was a fantastic projector and the DLA-X30 takes that excellent starting point and improves upon it.
In order to hit a sub-£3,000 price point, JVC have removed a couple of largely cosmetic features such as the motorised lens cover and the gloss black finish, however neither of these impact on the performance and the build quality remains excellent. In return JVC have added some welcome new features including network control via a LAN socket and most importantly a lens memory function. Whilst the implementation is a little clunky, it is good to see JVC finally including this feature which allows owners to easily use their DLA-X30 in conjunction with a 2.35:1 screen.
The out-of-the-box greyscale and colour gamut are reasonably accurate and the included white balance and gamma controls allow for a reference performance after calibration. It is unfortunate that JVC still don't include a Colour Management System (CMS) on their entry level projector but after calibration we were able to produce a fairly accurate colour gamut that approximated the industry standard. The video processing was excellent, allowing the DLA-X30 to produce superb ‘upscaled’ images, even from standard definition content and whilst motion handling isn't a strong point of D-ILA technology, the DLA-X30 was able to impress in this area as well.
As you would expect from a JVC projector, the black levels and shadow detail are superb delivering an industry leading performance in terms of contrast ratio and dynamic range. As a result of all these factors, the DLA-X30 is capable of producing wonderful film-like images that are bursting with clarity and detail, delivering a 2D performance that is the best in its class regardless of whether you are watching standard or high definition content.
So far, so like last year but when it comes to 3D the DLA-X30 shows what remarkable improvements have been made in this area in such a short time. The DLA-X30 was able to produce wonderfully dynamic, detailed and dimensional 3D images that were virtually free from crosstalk. Compared to the DLA-X3 the crosstalk performance is noticeably better and the DLA-X30 is able to produce bright 3D images that are both immersive and largely artefact free. There is also a new 3D menu that allows for greater optimisation of 3D performance, if needed, and JVC have now included a 2D to 3D conversion feature. Whilst we remain sceptical of this feature on any display, we did note that JVC's implementation is better than most, resulting in a 3D image that actually bears some scrutiny and is free of any gross errors.
The DLA-X30 ships with an outboard emitter and two pairs of JVCs latest active shutter 3D glasses. Whilst these new glasses are lighter than last year's, they also have smaller lenses, are more difficult to wear over regular spectacles, more noticeably tinted and block out less ambient light. JVC claim that the new glasses are optimised for use with the DLA-X30 but we found last year's glasses were equally as effective and overall we still prefer the older design's benefits compared to the newer version.
Overall, the JVC DLA-X30 is an excellent entry level projector that remains the best in its class when it comes to 2D performance. Once you include the improved 3D performance, new features and competitive pricing and the result is an impressive combination that is hard to resist. Highly Recommended
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
2D Picture Quality
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
Our Review Ethos
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