JVC X35 DILA Projector Review

AVForums takes a look at JVC's brand new entry level projector

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Highly Recommended
JVC X35 DILA Projector Review
SRP: £2,899.00

Introduction

In a break with tradition, JVC are using the same chassis design for the third year in a row, which means that their new entry-level projector looks remarkably similar. In fact on paper there appears to be little to distinguish the DLA-X35 from last year's X30 and it's very much a case of evolution this year, with the revolution presumably being delayed until 2013. However the X35 is not identical to the previous model, with minor improvements in black levels, refinements to the feature set and an even lower price. JVC have also been working hard on the 3D performance, which is the one area where the Japanese manufacturer fell behind last year. At £2,899 including the new RF emitter and two pairs of glasses, the X35 certainly looks like an attractive proposition but how does it hold up in a crowded and highly competitive market place?

Design and Connections

JVC DLA-X35

As we mentioned in the introduction, the X35 uses exactly the same chassis as last year, which measures 455mm x 179mm x 472mm (WxHxD) in size and weighs in at 14.8kg. The build quality is good, although you can see that JVC are obviously trying to reduce costs wherever they can to hit such a competitive price point, so again there is no motorised lens cover. The lens itself remains centrally mounted, with exhaust ports on the left and right edges of the body and there are four adjustable feet underneath for table top mounting. The X35 comes in a choice of either black or white but this year they both have a matte finish.

JVC DLA-X35

Along with the chassis, the connections at the rear are also the same as before, with two HDMI ports, one component input, PC/VGA input, RS232C control port, a LAN socket, a 3D emitter port, a powered trigger and a remote jack. Underneath the inputs is the power connector and to the right of this are manual controls to access the menu system, in case you lose the remote.

The remote control supplied with the X35 is the standard long and slim JVC design, although this year they have dropped the soft rubber feel for plain black plastic. The remote includes a backlight and the key layout remains logical, it sits comfortably in the hand and the important buttons are within easy reach. There are buttons for selecting the inputs, as well as the Lens Control, Lens Memory and Lens Aperture controls. There are also buttons for selecting the Picture Modes, as well as directly accessing the Gamma, Colour Temp., Colour Space and CMD controls.

JVC DLA-X35
JVC DLA-X35

This year JVC have introduced their new 3D glasses and RF emitter, which is a definite improvement over the previous large and rather unsightly IR version. The new emitter is small and slots neatly into the connection port at the rear of the unit, where it is out of sight. We found the sync with the glasses to be faultless with no dropout at any time and the use of RF means that there are no IR signals to interfere with other remote controls. The new glasses (PK-AG3) are lighter than last year’s model and have large lenses which offer a wide field of view and sit over prescription glasses. They also let in a reasonable amount of light and are free of any obvious tinting.

Menus and Setup

Setup is easy thanks to the generous amount of zoom and shift available on the X35 and the inclusion of a Lens Memory feature is great news for owners of 2.35:1 screens. You can create up to five different settings depending on the ratio of the content you watch and you can even name them if you so wish. Once saved you just select your required ratio and the X35 automatically changes to it and you can change the Lens Memory setting whilst watching both 2D and 3D content. The panel alignment was good on our sample but even if you need to there is a panel adjustment feature, although it isn't as comprehensive as the one found on the X55 and higher.

The menu system on the X35 is exactly the same as the one used for the last few years, 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, Picture Adjust, Input Signal, Installation, Display Setup Function and Information. The Picture Adjust menu contains all the controls relating to the image, such as Picture Mode, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint, Colour Temperature and Gamma.
JVC DLA-X35
JVC DLA-X35
There is also an Advanced section within the Picture Adjust menu and this allows you to control Sharpness and Noise Reduction and choose the Colour Space. There are also controls for User Name Edit, the Clear Motion Drive (CMD), the 15-step Lens Aperture and the Lamp Power. Finally, within the Advanced sub-menu, there is a Custom Gamma feature which allows you to create up to three custom gamma curves

JVC DLA-X35
JVC DLA-X35

In addition there is a two-point White Balance control for calibrating the colour temperature, which can be accessed by selecting Custom 1-3 and combined the gamma control should allow a trained calibrator to create a reference greyscale performance. There is also the 3D Setting sub-menu which provides controls for 3D Format selection, 2D to 3D Conversion, Parallax control, Crosstalk Cancel, Intensity and Sub Title Adjust.

Out-of-the-Box Measurements

The DLA-X35 ships in its Natural picture mode, with the Colour Temperature set to 6500K and the Gamma set to Normal, both of which are appropriate but the Colour Space was set to Wide. The CMD was set to Low, whilst the Lens Aperture was at zero and the Lamp Power on Low. We turned off the CMD feature and set the Lens Aperture to -15, which delivered a picture that retained lovely blacks but was still bright enough for our pitch black test environment. We chose the Standard colour space and then optimised the Brightness and Contrast settings. We found that at the default Brightness setting of zero, the X35 slightly crushed the blacks but a setting of +2 was ideal.

JVC DLA-X35

As you can see from the RGB Balance graph above, the three primary colours are tracking parallel to one another, with green close to our target and red about 10% above and blue about 10% below. This resulted in DeltaEs (errors) that were above our threshold of three and thus visible to the eye. The result was that the greyscale had a red tinge and flesh tones appeared slightly sunburnt, although it was still a reasonably good performance. The fact that the primary colours are tracking in parallel straight lines means we should be able to correct this with the two-point white balance control. The gamma was excellent, hitting our target of 2.2 exactly. If you have a very dark environment, you could use a gamma of 2.4, which you can select by entering the custom gamma setting.

JVC DLA-X35

The Standard colour space was reasonably accurate, as shown by the CIE Chart above, although there was a relatively large error in the hue of green which was affecting both cyan and yellow. The excessive amount of red in the colour temperature can be seen by white's position to the right of the target of D65. This is pulling magenta towards red as well, which explains the over-cooked skin colours because magenta is one of the main components of flesh tones. There were also some minor errors in blue, although these are less important because composes such a small part of the visible spectrum. The white balance control should allow us to accurately calibrate the colour temperature, which will improve the accuracy of the secondary colours. However the absence of a colour management system (CMS) will make it hard to completely correct any saturation and hue errors.

Calibrated Measurements

For these measurements we chose the User1 picture mode and selected the Normal gamma and Standard colour space. We also selected the Custom 1 setting for the colour temperature which allowed us to calibrate the greyscale.

JVC DLA-X35

After only a few minutes using the two-point white balance control we were able to reduce the errors in RGB Balance to below one, resulting in a perfect greyscale. The gamma was also perfectly tracking our target of 2.2 and overall this is an absolutely reference performance.

JVC DLA-X35

As we mentioned previously, once we had calibrated the greyscale we expected to see a noticeable improvement in the secondary colours and that proved to be the case. As the CIE Chart now shows, white is hitting D65 exactly and the three secondary colours are also nearer their target co-ordinates, especially magenta. As a result, this has eliminated the reddish tinge to flesh tones and improved the overall accuracy. Both red, blue and magenta - which is a combination of the other two colours - are slightly below their luminance targets but this is offset by red and blue being slightly over-saturated. There is still a relatively large error in the hue of green and based upon our measurements, the overall colour gamut also appears to be slightly restricted where green is concerned. We tried using the Colour and Tint controls to improve the performance further but in the absence of a CMS, we were unable to make the gamut more accurate. However overall this is an excellent colour performance and any errors are small enough as to go unnoticed by most people.

JVC DLA-X35

We measured the CIE tracking of the X35 at different saturation levels using 25% sweeps and the results are shown in the graph above. As you can see the overall performance is excellent with the majority of the colours tracking at or very close to their targets.

Brightness, Black Levels and Dynamic Range

If there are two areas where JVC projectors reign supreme, it's black levels and contrast ratios, and in general we find that the numbers quoted by the company actually reflect reality. JVC claimed a contrast ratio of 50,000:1 for the X35 and we actually measured it at 32,000:1, which is excellent. The blacks produced by the projector were superb, measuring 0.01 cd/m2, and the resulting dynamic range was impressive. We also measured 18 foot Lamberts on our screen with the lamp power on low and lens aperture wide open which equates to a calibrated output of 600 lumens. That is certainly bright enough for our pitch black environment and in fact we closed the aperture to the minimum setting and still measured 12 foot Lamberts off the screen. In 3D mode with the lamp on high power we measured the X35 at around 900 lumens, although there is obviously a lot more noise from the fans.

Video Processing

As we have come to expect from JVC projectors the video processing was excellent and the X35 passed every one of our standard tests. It fully reproduced the SMPTE 133 test for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent and the X35 was equally impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the test images. In the cadence tests the X35 also performed flawlessly, correctly detecting the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format as well as the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. The X35 also had no problems with the test displaying film material with scrolling video text, which was always clearly readable without any shredding.

The X35 was equally as impressive in the tests using high definition content and with the player set to 1080i the X35 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 X35 had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems. The default setting for HDMI is Standard where the video levels are set to 16 to 235 but this was clearly clipping peak white from 235 to 255. It is best to choose Super White which shows video levels 16 to 255, a fact we confirmed using the Spears & Munsil test disc. We also confirmed that the X35 wasn't clipping the three primary colours either.

Finally there is JVC’s Clear Motion Drive (CMD) which is their attempt to smooth motion by creating additional frames using frame interpolation. In general such features will ruin the film-like quality of movies and make them look like video; so 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 X35 useful.

Picture Quality - 2D

As we have come to expect from JVC, the X35 delivered some truly fantastic 2D images and this is largely thanks to a combination of factors. The reference greyscale meant that the entire image had an accurate base on which it was built. The excellent colour gamut also helped, resulting in precise images with colours and skin tones that appeared natural. The beautiful deep blacks and the bright picture also help to give the images impact, with a large contrast ratio and an impressive dynamic range. Along with the deep blacks, the X35 was also able to deliver excellent shadow detail, never crushing images but retaining the carefully constructed layers of blacks and greys in the original content. The brightness was more than sufficient for our blacked-out environment but it is fair to say that the JVCs don't perform as well in less-than-ideal conditions. If you have white walls, the reflected light will wash out the blacks, robbing the X35 of one of its main attributes and the lamp may struggle to light up a big screen.

The excellent video processing meant that even standard definition content could look very watchable on a big screen although, how watchable will largely depend on the size of the screen and the quality of the content. If the content is heavily compressed, the precise imaging, clarity and detail that the X35 is capable of mercilessly revealing these limitations. When we moved on to high-definition content the excellent video processing again played its part, delivering some first rate deinterlacing that made 1080i TV broadcasts look superb. The image accuracy was also impressive, as was the contrast ratio and dynamic range, and the sharp and well-defined pictures brought out all the detail in the source content. Although an inherent weakness in D-ILA technology, the motion handing was still very good, although there was the occasional bit of smearing on fast camera pans. When it came to 24p content, the X35 handled that superbly with no judder or other artefacts. In fact 1080p/24 looked amazing with clean artefact-free images, smooth motion and incredible levels of detail.

We watched the recently released The Dark Knight Rises on the X35 and the JVC was able to rendered the images in breathtaking clarity, with very natural colours and lovely smooth motion. The day time scenes in the snow were suitably bright with perfectly delivered whites and at night the blacks were deep and overpowering. There was some crush in the blacks but this was part of the original design of the film and no fault of the X35, which expertly reproduced Wally Pfister's beautiful photography. We moved on to the amazing restoration of Lawrence of Arabia and again the X35 delivered the goods, capturing all the detail of the original photography and filling our Scope screen with widescreen vistas. There is a genuine film-like quality to the images produced by the X35 and whilst we have made this comment about JVC projectors before, it still remains true. Quite simply, the X35 produces the best 2D images of any budget projector we have seen this year.

Picture Quality - 3D

There's no question that JVC lost some ground to the competition last year when it came to 3D, with other manufacturers delivering images that had greater brightness and far less crosstalk. JVC have obviously been working hard to address any weaknesses and it would seem that their efforts have paid off. The use of an RF emitter is a good start, not just because it is more effective and robust but also because it's more discrete. The new glasses are also a success, they're light which makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time, the lenses are big enough to provide a wide field of view and there's very little tint, which lets in more light and keeps colours accurate. The amount of inherent brightness is still about the same as last year, which means the X35 can't deliver 3D images that are as bright as some of the competition but in testing we always found the pictures to be bright enough. However, the biggest area of improvement was in terms of crosstalk, which is much reduced when compared to last year. There's no doubt that last year's projectors suffered from this to a degree, even after a period of being warmed up, so JVC were determined to improve the performance in this area.

We started by watching Pixar's 3D version of Finding Nemo and the results were spectacular, with vibrant colours and excellent motion handling. The level of brightness was certainly enough to deliver a 3D experience that had sufficient impact and, on a big screen, the effect is highly immersive. The new glasses and emitter worked well together and there was almost no crosstalk. We were impressed as the level of detail that the X35 could produce, from the shark's skin to the particles floating in the water. We also watched some old favourites like Avatar and Hugo both of which were made by directors who truly understand how to use 3D effectively. The shots were beautifully layered and the X35 reproduced the sense of depth and space perfectly. We also pulled out the torture test called Happy Feel Two, although we're referring to the potential for crosstalk rather than the film itself. The X35 handled the black penguins against white snow very well and there was very little crosstalk, in fact the JVC was one of the better performers we've seen recently when it came to this particular film. Overall the X35 proved to be a great 3D performer and a definite step up from the 2011 models, delivering images free of artefacts and other distractions like flicker and crosstalk.

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Reference black level performance
  • Superb dynamic range and contrast ratio
  • Excellent shadow detail performance
  • Reference greyscale performance when calibrated
  • Superb 2D images with a very ‘filmic’ look
  • Bright images, even in 3D mode
  • Excellent 3D performance
  • RF emitter and glasses included
  • Impressive video processing
  • Lens memory works well
  • 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

Cons

  • No colour management system
  • Slight restriction in colour gamut at green

JVC X35 DILA Projector Review

The DLA-X35 has the same chassis as previous models, with a centrally mounted lens and ventilation grilles at the front left and right. The build quality is reasonably good but savings are obviously being made and there is no motorised lens cover. It comes in a choice of black or white and there is a matte finish this year. At the rear there are a standard set of connections and there is a black plastic remote, that is backlit and well laid out. The X35 comes with JVC's new RF glasses and a small RF emitter that can be discretely connected and hidden away at the back.

The setup is very easy thanks to the generous zoom and shift and the Lens Memory function is a very useful feature for those with 2.35:1 screens. The menu system is the same as before and is well designed and easy to navigate but once again there is no colour management system (CMS). The out-of-the-box performance was reasonably good and once calibrated the greyscale was capable of a reference performance. Due to the lack of a CMS the colour gamut wasn't quite as accurate but it was still excellent, although there appeared to be some restriction on the saturation of green. Overall the image accuracy was excellent but with every competitor now offering a CMS in their budget models, JVC really need to step up.

The performance in 2D was superb, with the X35 delivering deep blacks, great shadow detail and an impressive dynamic range. The contrast ratio was excellent and coupled with the image accuracy and some superb video processing, resulted in pictures that looked natural and highly detailed. The motion handling was also good, especially with 24p but there was the occasional smearing on fast pans that we have come to expect from D-ILA panels. There was plenty of brightness for our blacked-out home cinema but if you have white walls the X35 may struggle and you'll rob the projector of its remarkable blacks, so bear that in mind. The 3D performance was a definite improvement on last year and the X35 delivered bright, vibrant and detailed 3D images that created an immersive three dimensional experience. The motion handling was good and the images were free of artefacts and other distractions like flicker and crosstalk.

The JVC DLA-X35 is another great entry level projector from the Japanese manufacturer that builds on all their usual strengths like superb blacks and detailed film-like images and then adds an expanded feature set and improved 3D. If you're in the market for a budget projector you owe it to yourself to demo the DLA-X35; it delivers the best 2D images at this price point and also holds its own when it comes to 3D - Highly Recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

3D Picture Quality

.
9

Features

.
.
.
7

Ease Of Use

.
9

Build Quality

.
9

Value For Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9

2D Picture Quality

.
9

Video Processing

.
9

Image Uniformity

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

10
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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